The family hatchback was once the mainstay of the Australian new car market, but the increasing popularity of SUVs over the past five years means the hatchback is now out of favour.
This is good news for buyers looking for a bargain because it means there are plenty of used cars sitting on dealer forecourts looking for a new home. So let's look at seven of the best-used hatchbacks you can buy today for less than half the price of a new one.
1. Mazda 3 2019 - Present
The current-generation Mazda 3 has been around for three years now. But you’d never guess it looking at the sharp styling. The Mazda was an impressive machine when it launched and it still leads the pack today in terms of safety and handling today.
Most buyers opt for the Mazda 3 because of its sharp styling, but this is also a great handling car. Take it out on some twisty roads and you can’t help but be impressed by the precise steering and excellent body control.
Inside, the Mazda is well equipped and comes with all the safety tech you would expect to find in a new car. The only downside is the expensive servicing costs from main dealers, and the slightly firm ride and expensive servicing costs.
Expensive servicing costs
Smaller engines lack power
2. Toyota Corolla 2018 - Present
The Toyota Corolla needs no introduction. Families love this car for its unassuming looks, forgiving ride, good handling and excellent value. And of course, being a Toyota, it offers predictable running costs.
Outside, the Corolla doesn't have the rakish good looks of the Mazda 3, but this is a smart-looking car nonetheless. The inside interior is spacious and feels well put together. Most models also come equipped with all the latest safety technologies.
On the road, the Toyota handles well, but it can’t quite match the Mazda's sharp steering. The fuel economy from the petrol engines is extremely good, however. And when combined with the low servicing costs, the Corolla should make for a trouble-free option.
Lots of safety kit
Plenty of powertrain options
Low running costs
CVT gearbox a bit sluggish
3. Volkswagen Golf 2013-2019 (Mk7)
You can’t review used hatchbacks without mentioning the VW Golf. Specifically the previous generation Mk7 model. When it launched back in 2013, it brought new levels of refinement to the sector. The interior is high class and the ride is smooth and refined.
But the Mk7 Golf also came with a new range of fuel-efficient engines. And, unusually for a Golf, it also came pretty well equipped. Some buyers may not like the touchscreen infotainment screen, however, which feels clunky compared to modern rivals.
But the Golf is a great all-rounder and makes a sound second hand buy. The Golf was priced on the premium side when new though and used prices have remained on the high side, so it’s not the best value car on the used market.
Costly to service
Not the best value used
4. Suzuki Swift 2017 - Present
Suzuki launched the Swift back in 2017 and while it may be getting on for 5 years old now, this remains one of the best small hatchbacks money can buy. The handling is crisp and the performance of the 1.0L turbocharged engine is exhilarating.
The Suzuki Swift is the smallest car on this list. But while it may be small on the outside, it’s surprisingly spacious on the inside. There is plenty of leg and headroom in the front and back, although that seems to have come at the expense of luggage space.
On the road, the compromise for that sporty handling is the firm ride. So this is not a long-distance cruiser. But if you are looking for a cheap runabout that puts a smile on your face and is cheap to run, you won’t go far wrong with a Suzuki Swift.
Funky exterior design
Surprisingly spacious interior
Some interior plastics feel cheap
5. Hyundai i30 2017-2020
The Hyundai i30 is almost the antithesis of the Suzuki Swift. This is a grown-up family hatchback that offers plenty of room for a family of four and it comes with all the latest safety equipment as standard.
Most buyers bought the i30 new because it offered exceptional value for money, and that remains true for used buyers. The i30 has a spacious, well-equipped interior and all the latest safety kit is included as standard.
But this is not the most dynamic of cars to drive. The steering lacks feel and the suspension feels a little soft. But it is hard to argue with this as a family hatchback, especially when you consider it comes with a 5-year manufacturer's warranty.
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Great value for money
Cheap servicing costs
Lots of safety equipment
A bit dull to drive
Some interior plastics feel cheap
6. Honda Civic 2018-2021
The latest crash regulations have resulted in safer cars for passengers and pedestrians but the downside is that cars now have the same homogenous look across brands. This is not the case for the 2018-2021 Honda Civic.
This car takes edgy styling to the extreme. And love it or hate it, you have to congratulate Honda engineers for being brave enough to release it. Underneath the extreme exterior though is a pretty solid family hatchback.
Performance from the frugal 1.0L VTEC engine should be good enough for most. But a 1.5L engine is available for buyers looking for more oomph. While the styling may put some buyers off, this is a solid if unconventional buy for families looking for something different.
Excellent fuel economy
Expensive servicing costs
Rear lacks headroom
Complicated infotainment system
7. Kia Cerato 2018 - Present
The Kia Cerato is based on the Hyundai i30 and plays the value proposition to its sibling. This is a family-sized hatch for the price of a VW Polo. As a result, buyers get a lot of car for their money.
The Cerato comes well-equipped in all trim levels and it has a spacious, comfortable interior as well. And unlike some other budget brands, the Kia doesn't feel cheap. The interior plastics are of a quality you would expect in a car costing twice as much.
Reliability is another Kia bonus. This is not a complicated car so there is nothing much to go wrong. But if it does, Kia's comprehensive 7-year warranty has you covered. All this makes the Kia Cerato a compelling choice for budget-conscious second-hand buyers.
Cheap to run
7-year manufacturers warranty
Interior feels dated
Lacks some safety equipment
Hatchbacks are a practical alternative to gas-guzzling SUVs. And with so many used examples on the market now, it is an excellent time to find a bargain. Buying second-hand will also save money on dealer fees, depreciation and insurance.
The above list represents just a small selection of the cars available on the used market. But we reckon these are the best choice for families looking for a cheap family runabout. And with some manufacturers now offering 5-7 year warranties, used buyers now get all of the benefits of buying new, without the hefty price tag.