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Best hatchbacks arriving in 2019

These hatches coming in 2019 look like a very sweet bunch of low riders indeed.
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist
CarsGuide

21 Dec 2018 • 10 min read

It's often forgotten that what's killing the sedans we use to all buy in such great numbers is not just the crushing weight of what seems like a billion SUVs, but the sweet and low down temptation of buying a hatch instead.

Yes, an SUV is increasingly the dominant body style for Australian buyers, a trick they're pulling off partly by becoming more hatch sized (hello Mazda CX-3), but the fact is that the almost equally practical (at least for families with small kids), and more economical choices like Toyota's Corolla, Mazda's 3, the Volkswagen Golf and the Hyundai i30 are still hugely popular as well.

Which is why there'll be much excitement about the hatches to come in 2019, which look like a very sweet bunch of low riders indeed.

Here are the five hatches you should be most excited about in 2019.

Mazda3

The new Mazda3, unveiled recently amid much hullabaloo at the Los Angeles Auto Show, looks like an absolute belter. The new Mazda3, unveiled recently amid much hullabaloo at the Los Angeles Auto Show, looks like an absolute belter.

The funny thing about Mazda's incredible run of local sales success is not so much that it makes us unique (Australia is, per capita, the Japanese brand's best-performing country), but that it makes you wonder why the rest of the world doesn't get it the way we do?

Cars like the CX-5 are wildly popular down under, and yet the outgoing 3 hatch is currently selling even more than Mazda's mid-size SUV. We snapped up 28,780 3s locally between January and November, despite the fact that the model is effectively in runout.

Those few who've waited will be happy they did, because the new Mazda3, unveiled recently amid much hullabaloo at the Los Angeles Auto Show, looks like an absolute belter. And it really is all about the looks, so far, because we're yet to drive it, but the new styling is as slick as it is lovely, with curves in all the right places. And the new and improved interior is equally impressive.

We're expecting to be offered a choice of either a 2.0 or 2.5-litre petrol engine, with the diesels being offered overseas unlikely to make it here. An even more exciting engine will follow later in 2019, featuring Skyactiv-X technology; which uses diesel-style compression ignition matched with a supercharger to reduce fuel economy by as much as 30 per cent, while boosting torque.

What Mazda has done so well lately, and really nailed again here, is making its cars look and feel almost as premium as European offerings, while continuing to sell at Japanese prices. This new 3's quality feel and looks will see it, once again, selling like sausage sandwiches on election day this year.

Kia Cerato

Becoming a design-led brand, one that can create desirability through its looks, has really raised the Cerato's profile. Becoming a design-led brand, one that can create desirability through its looks, has really raised the Cerato's profile.

If you were asked to look at the sexy side profile of this car and to quickly pick which brand you'd expect to find on its nose, you might just struggle. Or go European.

It is, of course, the 2019 Kia Cerato, and it's typical of the renaissance that's been going on at the brand, which has become something of a style leader.

Of course, Korean affordability is still its big selling point, but becoming a design-led brand, one that can create desirability through its looks, has really raised its profile.

While the cute Cerato hatch will start from $20,990 on Australian roads and will be offered in S, Sport and Sport+ trims, the one we're really excited about is the turbocharged GT version.

Wearing the same proud GT badge as the exciting GT Stinger, this Kia hot(ish) hatch will arrive early in 2019 and will boast a hefty 150kW and 265Nm from its 1.6-litre turbo engine.

Audi A1

Small but perfectly formed, this tiny Audi will actually get slightly bigger when the new, 2019 A1 Sportback arrives in the first half of 2019. Small but perfectly formed, this tiny Audi will actually get slightly bigger when the new, 2019 A1 Sportback arrives in the first half of 2019.

Parked at the very shiniest end of the hatchback carpark is a vehicle so stylish, cool and trendy that it could be a Hermes handbag, if it wasn't for the wheels and the engine; Audi's A1.

Small but perfectly formed, this tiny Audi will actually get slightly bigger when the new, 2019 A1 Sportback arrives in the first half of 2019. The new version is 56mm longer, meaning it's now just a tiny bit longer than four metres, but is close to the same width at 1.74m. Helpfully, though, boot space is now some 65 litres larger, at 335 litres.

Practicality is probably now why anyone buys an A1, of course, so potential buyers - already taken in by that funky exterior design - will be thrilled to hear that all new A1s will also get the company's futuristic and mega-fabulous Virtual Cockpit digital instrument, which are lushly displayed in front of the driver on a 10.25-inch screen.

And it can even park itself, if you need help parking something this small.

The engine line-up is unconfirmed but expect a choice of a 1.0-litre turbo making 70kW or a 2.0-litre version making a more enjoyable 147kW.

Nissan Leaf

The new ZE1 Leaf will be offered in just a single trim level with all options included. The new ZE1 Leaf will be offered in just a single trim level with all options included.

Every year we seem to be told that the EV revolution is coming, and while that's certainly the case in Europe, for example, and California, the wave of change seems to be taking rather longer to cross the Pacific and get to us.

Already available overseas, the new, second-generation Nissan Leaf will finally arrive in Australian in the middle of 2019.

There are no details on price yet, but we know Nissan is taking this attempt at an EV conversion of our market, because it's offering the Leaf through no less than 89 of its dealers.

The new ZE1 Leaf will be offered in just a single trim level with all options included. Vitally, it will offer a 270km range, which is plenty when you consider that very few people drive more than 50km a day. A couple of recharges a week will do you.

Of great interest is that the Leaf also offers 'bi-directional charging capability'. This means that you could charge it up at one of the many, free NRMA charging points that are starting to crop up, then go home and plug your house into your car - rather than the other way around - and use the energy in its 40kWh battery to run your home, rather than taking it out of our expensive grid.

Price will, of course, be the big thing. The last Leaf was killed by a sticker that most people weren't willing to stretch to. If Nissan can get the Leaf to our market at a desirable price point, this might just be the year of the EV at last.

Ford Fiesta ST

The Fiesta ST, built in Germany and imbued with the speed-loving madness of that country, will be offered in just one, highly specified model here. The Fiesta ST, built in Germany and imbued with the speed-loving madness of that country, will be offered in just one, highly specified model here.

Enthusiastic drivers will be most excited about the arrival of one very zesty little hot hatch indeed; the new Ford Fiesta ST, which arrives here in March.

You'll need to be an enthusiast to buy one, of course, because the cabin of this hugely fun little car will be no place for people who don't like to use their left leg.

The Fiesta ST, built in Germany and imbued with the speed-loving madness of that country, will be offered in just one, highly specified model here, and will be offered with a manual gearbox only, at least at first. A dual-clutch PowerShift automatic may well turn up late in the year, but early buyers will probably all be keen fans of shifting gears anyway.

The bad news is that the price of the new car will rise, at least slightly, above the $27,490 asked for the last one, but it should still come in under $29,000.

The last Fiesta ST was an absolute bag of fun to drive and the new one should be even better, and quicker, with its 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbo engine making 147kW and 290Nm, all of which is on offer from 1600rpm to 4000rpm.

You can expect a faster 0 to 100km/h dash for a start, because its claimed time has dropped by almost half a second to just 6.5sec. Sharp steering and a stiff chassis will also combine to make this the new hot hatch to be seen in in 2019.

What's your pick of the hatchback bunch? Tell us in the comments below.