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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.

Audi S3 Sportback - Second half

The incoming new-generation Audi S3 hot hatch will, for the first time, come to Australia in the second half of 2021 with an engine matching the European car after a change in the local ‘hot climate’ classification.

This means 228kW/400Nm from a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, which is a noticeable jump from the 213kW/380Nm on offer in the current car.

Paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive means a 0-100km/h run in 4.8 seconds, so expect the new S3 to be as exciting as ever.

Audi RS3

Audi RS3
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

BMW 128ti - Second quarter

BMW is looking to expand its performance hatchback footprint with the introduction of the 128ti in the second quarter of 2021, with it to slot in below the already-on-sale M135i xDrive.

Whereas the M135i xDrive will send 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.

BMW M135i

BMW M135i
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

Hyundai i20 N – First half

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 Yaris GR?

Much like the Ford though, the i20 N will be Hyundai’s only offering in the light hatchback space from 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 6.7 seconds.

Hyundai i30 N - First half

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 the first half of 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 is driving 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 four-door Octavia 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 – Second quarter

For those that think a 200kW/370Nm all-wheel-drive manual Yaris just isn’t quite enough, Toyota will offer the even more hardcore Rallye version in the second quarter.

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 drive-away, with pricing expected to revert to $54,500 before on-road costs once the first batch are snapped up.

Volkswagen Golf – Second quarter

Arguably the hatchback yardstick that others are measured against, Volkswagen will roll-out its eighth-generation Golf in the second quarter of 2021.

It looks to retain much of its class-leading interior finish and enough technology to keep it future-proofed for some time to come, but whether the carryover 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine and MQB underpinnings are starting to show their age will have to wait until we’re behind the wheel.

Aside from the standard range, the tasty Golf GTI hot hatch will also be making its return in 2021, while the even more hardcore R variant will arrive some time thereafter.

Honda Civic – Mid-2021

Honda isn’t quite ready to reveal its 11th-generation Civic hatchback, but has previewed what it will look like with a Prototype.

Australia will lose the sedan shape when the Civic moves to the next generation, but the hatchback should look pretty close to its four-door sibling.

Styling will be a little more mature, while the interior will also be simplified for a more timeless look compared with the sharp angles and creases of the current car.

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.