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Looking for a great family hatchback? 3 must-see models that often get overlooked

The market leaders can carry higher prices. Here are some alternatives.

shutterstock_634960820 Source: Shutterstock/Grisha Bruev

FOR MANY YEARS the Volkswagen Golf has widely been considered the benchmark in the hatchback segment.

Its appealing style, class-leading handling and solid residual values place it high on many buyers’ shopping lists.

But there are many alternatives that give the Volkswagen Golf a good run for its money, and some of these are often overlooked, making them that bit more affordable on the used market.

1. SEAT Leon (2012-present)

Source: DoneDeal

This car is an obvious choice given that the Leon shares much of its mechanical underpinnings with the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf. There are some differences, mainly in the interior where the quality isn’t quite as high as the Golf. That’s not to say that the SEAT is shabby inside, you’ll just find that some of the plastics look and feel a little bit cheaper.

If you can live with that, then there’s a compelling argument to choose the Leon over the Golf. It will be cheaper to buy though it is less likely to have as high a residual value, which some people may want to consider.

Like the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT also offers some faster versions of the Leon, starting with the 184hp Leon FR. This diesel is similar to the Golf GTD offering and gets some visual and performance tweaks. At the top end of the performance spectrum is the Leon Cupra, which depending on the year of manufacture comes with between 280 and 300hp and either front- or all-wheel drive. If you’re considering a Golf R, this is one car that deserves a look.

2. Kia Cee’d (2012-present)

Source: DoneDeal

When it comes to space and practicality, the Kia Cee’d concedes (sorry, couldn’t resist) little to the Golf. It offers the same 380-litre boot capacity, and with the rear seats folded has an additional 78 litres of volume.

Kia’s engine range is sufficient to suit most buyers in Ireland, with the 1.6-litre diesel proving one of the most popular models. The facelifted version arrived in early 2016 and brought tweaked styling along with a new 1.0-litre petrol engine, which will suit those sticking to mainly urban driving.

There’s also that well-known seven-year warranty to consider, but remember this is also limited to mileage up to 150,000 kilometres, so look out for lower mileage cars to make the most of it.

3. Peugeot 308 (2013-present)

Source: DoneDeal

Before you dive straight for the comments section to lambast us for choosing a French car, it’s worth pointing out that in the most recent JD Power Dependability survey the 308 outperformed the like of the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Audi A3.

Another strong draw for Peugeot is that it typically provides a higher level of standard equipment than most of its rivals, so even opting for a mid-level grade gets you plenty. Inside it’s a roomy car and has a minimalist cabin design. Almost everything is controlled via a large touchscreen. The instrument display can take a bit of getting used to as it’s set high to be viewed above the smaller-than-normal steering wheel.

The 1.6-litre diesel scores well in fuel economy and emissions, costing €180 per annum to tax. The smaller petrol engine is worth considering, and its EAT6 automatic transmission is one of the better ones out there.

More: How to buy a savage SUV on a €12k budget – and 4 models to check out>

More: How to buy a car that will run for years – and 3 models to check out first>

About the author:

Dave Humphreys

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