Very few makeups much of a dent in the blue-chip contenders’ proven strength. The typical hatchback family as we once knew it doesn’t even exist any more. These vehicles, once a modest day-to-day transporter of people and their luggage, have now been converted into striking five-door dream machines that give something for all, whether you are looking for a frugal diesel, a peppy little turbocharged gasoline car, bargain transport or something with an upmarket flavour or a sporty lilt.

1. Ford Focus

Image credits: Ford.co.uk

With its excellent handling and superbly pliant, well-resolved run, Ford’s new Focus has claimed back its old place at the top of the hatchback pile in the Autocar family. Having arguably been in slight decline since the Focus mkI ‘s demise, the best-treated hatchback family in history has undeniably returned to its strongest driver appeal.

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2. Volkswagen Golf

Image credits: Autoexpress.co.uk

Still, the family hatchback benchmark that most of the class aspires to beat and still remains one of Europe’s biggest-selling vehicles, the Volkswagen Golf is a very classy choice. Supremely well-rounded to drive and it does plenty to justify its high price tag while not the cheapest.

3. Seat Leon

Image credits: Autoexpress.co.uk

With its streamlined and edgy styling, the Seat Leon looks superb and it works well and also manages with keenness. There are a number of body types and engines on offer, such as the Golf, including the vibrant Cupra 300 and R; and even if you can only run on a lower-order FR trim and mid-range engine, it will give you more driver appeal than others of its kind.

4. BMW 1 Series

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Cracking into the top half of this list is something of a surprise for BMW, whose 1-Series hatchback – regarded as the first car in the class to attempt to wear a modern-day rear-wheel-drive frame – has what we might term a dynamically troubled history.

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5. Mazda 3

Image credits: Carmagazine.co.uk

The fourth-generation Mazda 3 may well be the best-looking family hatch on sale right now. And, the joy of joy, it maintains all the attributes that made its predecessor in this highly competitive class such an enticing contender: good value for money; spry handling; and a range of atmospheric petrol engines.

6. Kia Ceed

Image credits: Autocar.co.uk

The Ceed is still quite off the class leader spot but is still a worthy competitor in an extremely competitive category. The Proceed compact shooting brake, meanwhile, has design appeal, and no small amount of driver appeal, to increase Kia ‘s family hatchback range.

7. Honda Civic

Image credits: Motor1.com

The Honda Civic has gone through a multitude of changes over the course of 10 models, from the ordinary to the controversial. This new-generation car is the largest vehicle ever to be produced and is just as impressive as its predecessors but in a more traditional way. The car is better to run, dynamically than ever.

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8. Audi A3 Sportback

Image credits: Autocar.co.uk

The best premium-badged family hatchback on the market, combining the best from the Volkswagen Group, including a range of peppy TSI and frugal TDI engines and low ownership costs, with Audi’s detailed design and construction appeal.

9. Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Image credits: Mercedesbenz.co.uk

Mercedes’ new take on the compact family hatchback is a more traditional model than fans of the A-Class would be used to, but it’s definitely no worse for the trade-in ways that will appeal to most owners.

10. Vauxhall Astra

Image credits: Arnoldclark.com

A mid-life redesign has put in more than a slightly updated exterior to this new Vauxhall Astra. There’s a range of new line-up of freshly built three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, though changes have also been made to the suspension of the Astra in an effort to smooth out an already problematic journey.

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