AA Buyer's Guide: Hatchbacks that feel like they could last forever, new and used
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
Many new-car buyers in the market for a budget-friendly small hatchback want one that feels like it could last forever, so that it can be passed down to the next generation. There are a handful of models that consistently deliver a strong level of reliability and economy; they don’t cost the earth and should stand the test of time. Not a new-vehicle buyer? Click here to see used hatchbacks under $20k, or below for DRIVEN listings of individual models.
Toyota Corolla GX ($30,290)
The Corolla continues to present the practicality and efficiency it has delivered to generations of New Zealanders, with added technology and contemporary style.
The GX model has come a long way from the entry-level Corollas of the past. Safety certainly isn’t given a back seat, with the inclusion of Toyota Safety Sense (TSS). This includes a Pre-Collision System with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, and even All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Road Sign Assist.
At the Corolla’s heart beats a reliable 2.0-litre engine, which produces 125kW; it consumes a sensible 6l/100km and has a CO2 output of 139g/km. There’s no longer a manual option, with a smooth Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) as standard.
Honda Jazz (from $28,000)
The new-to-market Jazz is a winner in terms of practicality, with the Magic Seat system that can contort into 18 different combinations. The Jazz range starts with the entry-level Life, then moves up to the SUV-style Crosstar (below) and the e:HEV Luxe hybrid.
The new Jazz seats use anti-fatigue technology and have improved lumbar support for enhanced comfort. The standard engine is a 1.5-litre, but the Luxe uses a clever hybrid system that can operate as a range extender, with the petrol powerplant generating electric to power the electric motor.
Mazda2 GSX (from $28,595)
The Mazda2 is styled to look good from any angle, drawing on Mazda's signature “Kodo: Soul of Motion” design language. There are little touches like the leather-wrapped gear shift knob, handbrake handle and steering wheel that make the interior a bit special.
The GSX entry model features Mazda’s i-Activsense safety equipment, including Advanced Smart City Brake Support-Forward (ASCBS-F) with night-time pedestrian detection and Secondary Collision Reduction (SCR).
Powering the Mazda2 is a 1.5-litre engine that develops 82kW, with consumption of 5.3l/100km and 161g/km of CO2 emissions. The Mazda2 uses a conventional six-speed automatic transmission, so if you are not a fan of CVT, this will certainly appeal.
Volkswagen Polo TSI ($28,750)
If you are looking for a European model, the Polo is one of the more reliable and economical choices. It uses Volkswagen's MQB platform, which standardises the parts of many of its small-medium cars.
The majority of the latest Polo models are powered by a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 70kW. It ticks along frugally, consuming 4.9l/100km with 111g/km of CO2.
The base model TSI is equipped with a swift seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which offers a more manual-like feel to shifts. The standard Front Assist with city emergency braking can warn you in the event of critical situations, or support you with braking. Further standard safety features include Side Assist (with Blind Spot Monitor), Rear Traffic Alert and a reversing camera.