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What Are the Best Hatchback Cars?

What constitutes the best hatchback car is a matter of personal opinion. For some, it will be the handling on the open road that counts most, while others will be looking for a nippy and highly manoeuvrable car that makes driving in town much easier, something hatchback cars are particularly noted for, of course. Then again, you might want to focus on fuel efficiency, while others might value boot space over all other considerations. As such, not one person can truly say what the best hatchback cars are.

However, what we do know is what the Irish car buying public makes of all the various hatchbacks that have been sold in the country over the last few years. Read on to find out more about which models have tended to perform the best in both the brand new and used car markets in Ireland over the recent years.

  • Ford Focus

  • VW Golf

  • Opel Astra

  • Mazda 3

  • Toyota Corolla

  • Honda Civic

  • Skoda Octavia

Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is a highly consistent performer and has sold very well in Ireland for several years. Although you may see fewer Focus cars in continental Europe than you would find in the UK, this car seems to suit drivers throughout the island of Ireland because of its reliability, boot size and comfort. Surprisingly spacious inside, the Ford Focus may be one of the older designs on this list, but it has been refreshed several times by its designers and still looks reasonably youthful.

The hatchback car handles well and is a joy to drive, whether you opt for an automatic or a manual transmission model. Many drivers say that they like driving a Ford Focus because it offers them balanced handling, whether they're eating up miles on a trunk road or getting through heavy traffic in the city.

With relatively cheap parts and insurance costs, this top hatch will likely remain popular in Ireland for many more years to come.

VW Golf

Considered by many car enthusiasts to be the ultimate in hatchback design, the VW Golf has been a constant feature on European roads since it was first launched way back in 1974. However, this is no old-looking hatchback. Launched in 2019, the mark 8 version of the Volkswagon Golf looks fresh and exciting. With many mark 7s and mark 8s now available in the used car market in Ireland, the VW Golf is a sensible choice for people who want a fun driving experience behind the wheel as well as lots of practicality from their car.

Consider, too, that VW has recently launched electric versions of the Golf hatchback. That means the VW Golf hatchback is a good choice if you are considering your ecological credentials when purchasing your next hot hatch.

Opel Astra

The Opel Astra hatchback car has sold very well in Ireland

The Opel Astra hatchback car has been selling very well in Ireland, gaining a solid reputation for offering a lot of value for money. Cheaper than some of the other hatchbacks featured in this list, the Opel Astra will rarely disappoint. First launched in 1991, it wasn't an instant hit in Ireland but has gone on to perform much better since the turn of the century. Newer Astra hatchbacks are considerably lighter than the earlier models, which means they tend to deliver very well in terms of fuel efficiency.

This hot car would suit many types of owners, from business professionals looking for a smart car to commute to work inside to parents looking for something suitable to get their kids to school safely while negotiating city or country lanes. Overall, this is a well-balanced car that deserves a spot on the list of top hatchback cars.

Mazda 3

Perhaps a little more costly than other hatchbacks in its class, the Mazda 3 is a great choice if you are looking for something with a sporty feel. Sitting inside a Mazda 3, whether you are the driver or a passenger, feels good. The cabin design is exemplary among hatchbacks, and the amount of space you get, especially in the front, means it doesn't feel cramped whatsoever. It is hardly surprising that so many Mazda 3s have been sold in Ireland.

However, it is worth checking whether or not the model you might be interested in purchasing on the second-hand market has been modified in any way. Mazda 3s are sometimes customised by their owners. That's fine so long as you know that a modified Mazda 3 version is likely to set you back more when you come to insure it.

Toyota Corolla

Globally, the Toyota Corolla is the best-selling hatchback there is. That's an impressive feat in a crowded marketplace. Okay, the Corolla might not be an everyday sight in Europe, but it still sells well in all markets around the world. One of the key factors in the long-term success of the Toyota Corolla is its undeniably strident styling. The car looks muscular and powerful even before you get behind the wheel. However, this belies the fact that the car is very fuel-efficient and reasonable to run.

What's more, Toyota's leading hybrid technology is available in many Corolla vehicles, so this is an environmentally responsible choice to make when considering a new hatchback to own. Even better, the cabin layout is very impressive, with lots of gadgets and tools to play with that will keep even the most ardent technology fan interested for some time.

Honda Civic

The Honda Civic is regarded as one of the most reliable car models in Europe

Civics have been driven on Irish roads since the 1970s, so this is another great hatchback with a rich heritage. What's more, the car can be found in many different model variants with enough choice to suit anyone from occasional drivers to petrol-heads who want a hot hatch driving experience.

Newer models offer an incredible amount of storage space in the boot, although the curved design doesn't make it practical for every kind of load. That said, the rear seats on the latest Civics flip up, which is handy. With a low centre of gravity, handling performance with a Civic is top-notch, earning it a top spot among the best hatchback cars.

Skoda Octavia

The Skoda Octavia mark 3 is built on the same VW platform as the mark 7 Golf. Despite this, you can buy Octavias as saloons and estates as well as hatchbacks. Despite it not being a true hatchback in terms of its design DNA, it has sold well in this form in Ireland for some time.

It has certainly outperformed its smaller cousin, the Skoda Fabia. Because it is larger, the room in the back for passengers is particularly impressive. This car is the ideal hatchback if you plan on driving around with five adults in the car. Even better, it is one of the cheaper cars to buy in its class.

Why buy a hatchback car?

Hatchbacks are multi-function cars offering all sorts of owners something that will truly suit their needs. Unlike most saloons, for example, the raised tailgate at the back makes accessing the boot very easy.

Equally, hatchbacks can function perfectly well as family cars accommodating up to three children in the back with ease, while they also perform well as more prestigious cars. So-called hot hatches are popular among the younger population across Europe, not just in Ireland.

Overall, people tend to buy them because:

  • They are easy to manoeuvre, especially when it comes to parking.

  • They tend to offer good visibility both when looking ahead and out of the rear windscreen.

  • Hatchbacks tend to be lighter than most saloons which means they offer good levels of performance without being inefficient in terms of fuel consumption.

  • If looked after, they tend to retain value, so they offer owners a reasonable return on the second-hand market.

  • You get plenty of boot space and, even more crucially, boot accessibility with a hatchback.

  • Hatchbacks are popular, so there tends to be a lot of spare parts around, meaning that these cars are cheaper to maintain than less popular car classes.


If you are considering purchasing a hatchback, you don't necessarily need to buy one of the models listed above. A Ford Fiesta, a Citroen C4 or a Toyota Auris, for example, would also make a good choice. What makes the best hatchback car for any single driver won't be the same as it is for everyone else. That said, Irish car buyers have tended to stick to certain models because they provide a good all-around motoring experience. Therefore, if you will be looking to sell your hatchback in a few years' time, then sticking to something you already know is popular in Ireland is likely to be a good idea.


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