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Best hatchbacks arriving in 2021

The next-gen Golf GTI is set to arrive in Australia at the same time as the rest of Volkswagen's small-car line-up.

New-vehicle buyers might be flocking in droves to high-riding SUVs, but that doesn’t mean the humble hatchback should be ignored.

A small – but practical – package that is designed to ferry occupants comfortably with some gear in the boot at an affordable pricetag is surely an attractive offering after all.

And with such a breadth of ability, from luxury to sport, there is a hatchback arriving in 2021 to suit nearly everyone’s needs.

BMW 128ti - May

BMW expanded its performance hatchback footprint with the introduction of the 128ti in May, with it slotting in below the already-on-sale M135i xDrive.

Whereas the M135i xDrive sends power to all four wheels as an Audi S3 and Mercedes-AMG A35 rival, the 128ti is strictly a front-drive variant with a meaty 180kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine.

This lines it up against more mainstream fare like the VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST in performance, while its $56,900 before on-road costs sticker price should mean BMW will have no trouble finding more than a few homes for the 128ti.

Hyundai i20 N – Third quarter

After the success of the i30 N, how could Hyundai not introduce a bona fide rival to the critically successful Ford Fiesta ST, Volkswagen Polo GTI and Toyota GR Yaris?

Much like the Ford, though, the i20 N will be Hyundai’s only offering in the light hatchback space from the third quarter of 2021, as buyers flock more and more to SUVs and crossovers like the Venue.

Propelling the new pint-sized powerhouse is a 150kW/275Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine, which is paired exclusively to a six-speed manual, for a zero-to-100km/h run of just over six seconds.

Hyundai i20

Hyundai i20
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

Hyundai i30 N - July

Hyundai’s first crack at a proper hot hatch, the i30 N, was a rock-solid critical hit when it landed in early 2018, but a new version due in July 2021 will address one of its biggest flaws.

Though the first car was paired exclusively to a six-speed manual gearbox (great for purists), the updated i30 N will also be offered with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (great for everyone else).

A peppy 206kW/392Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine drives the front wheels, but a two-pedal set-up should broaden the appeal of Hyundai’s VW Golf GTI-rivalling hot hatch.

Hyundai i30

Hyundai i30
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

Skoda Octavia - April

Not a hatchback in the traditional sense, the Octavia four-door liftback – or five-door wagon – should nonetheless be on your radar if shopping in this segment from April.

Underpinned by the all-new Volkswagen Golf's MQB platform, the fourth-generation Octavia wraps handsome styling, practical space and a tech-loaded interior into a package with an attainable pricetag.

Variety is also key here, with a high-riding Scout wagon possibly available to those who don’t want an SUV, while a performance-focused RS can be had by those that want a bit more pep in their step.

Toyota GR Yaris Rallye – April

For those that think a 200kW/370Nm all-wheel-drive manual Yaris just isn’t quite enough, Toyota started offering the even more hardcore Rallye version from April.

What’s different? The Rallye scores stickier Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, 18-inch BBS alloy wheels and Torsen limited-slip differentials on both axles to make it an even bigger track-day terror.

However, Toyota is only offering the first 200 special-edition Yaris GR Rallyes at $56,200 driveaway, with pricing expected to revert to $54,500 before on-road costs once the first batch are snapped up.

Volkswagen Golf – June

Arguably the hatchback yardstick that others are measured against, Volkswagen rolled out its eighth-generation Golf in June. It retains much of its class-leading interior finish and enough technology to keep it future-proofed for some time to come.

Aside from the standard range, the tasty GTI hot hatch also made its return, while the even more hardcore R variant will arrive in 2022.

Honda Civic – Fourth quarter

Honda Australia will shelve the sedan version of the new-generation Civic and offer up only the hatchback when the box-fresh small car lands in local showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Launching with a carryover 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, outputs have been bumped up by 4kW/20Nm, to 134kW/240Nm, but plans are underway for a hybrid powertrain in 2022.

Styling inside and out will be all-new, while tech has leapt forward thanks to available equipment including a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, a wireless smartphone charger and a 9.0-inch touchscreen.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

Renault Megane RS - January

Not content to leave the Honda Civic Type R to play in the go-fast front-drive hot hatch segment, Renault rolled out its updated Megane RS in January.

Headlining the changes to the Megane RS are larger digital instrumentation and multimedia screens, low-speed autonomous emergency braking and a shark-fin antenna, while the spicy 221kW/400-420Nm 1.8-litre turbo-petrol engine carries over.

The line-up has shrunk though, with the Sport and Cup versions no longer available, leaving the just the top-tier Trophy grade on offer.

Mini Hatch - April

Style has always been at the forefront of the Mini brand, and its refreshed three- and five-door Hatch (and Convertible) line-up certainly put its most glamorous foot forward in April.

Changes are subtle, including new front and rear fascias, but key to the update is much more personalisation offered with a wider mix of engine and trim options.

Five trim levels are offered across three different engines and three body-styles, so Mini is hoping there will be a hatch in its new line-up that catches your eye.