Currently reading: Top 10 best crossover hatchbacks 2022
Demand is high for compact SUV-shaped family vehicles, and no segment is more competitive than the crossover hatchback one. Which cars make our top ten?

Many years ago, no self-respecting car manufacturer could do without at least one sleek two-door coupe in its model range. Mechanically, these cars would be largely identical to the mid-range hatchback of the day, but they looked far more exciting. Today, only the prestige manufacturers persist with low-slung coupes.

Taking the place of hatchback-based coupes in model line-ups are crossover hatchbacks. If you want something that’s not too exotic, but still has a bit more panache than the average small SUV, there’s a growing number of high-riding hatchbacks that may not be the most practical in their price class, but that distinguish themselves with more style or more engaging handling than their peers. Here are our top 10 picks.

1. Cupra Formentor

For years, Cupra was the sporting division of Seat – much like 'R' now is to Volkswagen – but today it stands as independent brand of its own, with unique designs and an altogether more athletic calibre than that of the old Seat mothership.

The Formentor isn't the first product of the reborn Cupra operation (that was the 306bhp Cupra Ateca, introduced in 2019), but it is by far the most convincing, being rakishly handsome, surprisingly spacious, good if unspectacular to drive, and generally interesting. We like it rather a lot.

The engine line-up is also usefully broad, ranging from downsized petrols to quick plug-in hybrids and the flagship 2.0 TSI, which uses the same four-wheel drive system and 2.0-litre TSI engine as the new Golf R. With the upcoming VZ5, Cupra will even go so far as to shoehorn Audi's thumping five-cylinder into the Formentor, though equally, this car doesn't such an exotic engine in order to appeal. 

Being well priced in relation to premium-brand rivals, and with a well-executed interior (infotainment aside), the Formentor does enough to top our list of family crossovers – at least for now.

Back to top

2. Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen’s first attempt at a crossover hatchback is a very impressive one. The T-Roc offers sharp, interesting styling, a well-made interior and handling characteristics that are more akin to those of a small hatchback than a proper SUV.

It’s not quite as good to drive as the Formentor, it isn't quite as practical, and the interior quality is questionable in places, but it still is easy to recommend. It will soon be facelifted, too.

The mid-spec model isn’t unreasonably priced, but like-for-like versions of the Skoda Karoq and Seat Atecaare still slightly cheaper.

3. Range Rover Evoque

The second-generation Range Rover Evoque sits on an all-new platform that allows for a broader range of engines and improved interior space. It’s also taken big leaps forward on mechanical refinement, interior space, luxury ambience and technological allure. While it isn’t the most practical car of its kind, it’s very competitive on that score, with plenty of room for adults in the second row – albeit behind a fairly high window line that restricts visibility a bit. If space and practicality are the number one priority, Land Rover will sell you a Discovery Sport instead.

The D200 diesel engine is the best pick, providing strong drivability and better refinement than we’re used to from Land Rover’s four-cylinder diesels. The P300e model, which squeezes into the UK's 6% benefit-in-kind company car tax band, is also seriously impressive, with an exceptionally slick plug-in hybrid powertrain, strong electric range and engaging handling. 

Back to top

4. Volvo XC40

Volvo’s first attempt at a compact sibling for its established XC60 and XC90 SUVs is a real success, and in the XC40, the Swedish marque has given us a car with the sort of instant kerbside appeal that really sells cars in this class.

With a design sufficiently charismatic and alluring to bring younger family buyers into Volvo showrooms, the XC40 backs up its funky exterior with a cabin of laudable richness, comfort, usability and quality. While this isn’t the most practical car in the compact SUV class, it certainly has plenty of luxury car ambience, not to mention all the in-car technology you’d hope for.

If you want even more style from your small Volvo crossover, a C40 is coming, which is essentially an XC40 with a sloping roof line. The Volvo C40 will only be available as an EV, though.

The engine range for the normal XC40 has been recently revised, with all diesel derivatives withdrawn. There's now a choice of two plug-in hybrid models, a couple of mild-hybrid petrols, and the fully electric, 402bhp P8.

The XC40’s ride and handling represent Volvo at its best and the small family 4x4 at its most relaxing. Rather than chasing other premium brands for driver appeal, the XC40 is happy to play the comfortable, refined, convenient and easy-to-use option – and it’s an effective one. If an SUV’s mission is to lift its driver above the hustle and bustle and filter out the pain from the daily grind, few do it better.

Back to top

5. BMW X2

The X2 is one of the more unusual additions to BMW's X-branded range of cars, those models with greater practicality and a raised ride height. It’s more hatchback than crossover, but that's no bad thing, because there is the BMW X1 carry that role.

It might be one of BMW’s first front-wheel drive cars, but those who cherish driving should put the X2 at or close to the top of their wish-list. In both turbocharged petrol and turbodiesel forms, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines offer a muscular and refined power delivery. The top of the range X3 M35i is no doubt the most fun to drive, but for daily driving duties, the regular versions are a better compromise.

The steering is also enjoyably direct, while body control is excellent by the standards of the class. There are more practical alternatives, but perhaps none that are as dynamically convincing.

Back to top

6. Mazda CX-30

We like the CX-30 – its silky handling and plush interior stand it out in this class, and the attractiveness of the exterior design is matched only by the Cupra. 

Neither is it an especially complicated device in concept: there is a choice of two petrol engines, and either front-drive or four-wheel drive. Either way, you get Mazda's mild-hybrid technology, and very nicely judged handling traits, by the class standards. 

It falls down a touch in terms of interior space, and both the engine's lack the easy-access torque of rivals, so they need to be worked harder than you might expect. Otherwise, the CX-30 is arguably the dynamically gifted car in this class.

6. Toyota C-HR

Stylistically, the Toyota C-HR was a breath of fresh air when it came out, as it showed crossovers needn’t look dull. It has been around since 2016, but it still stands out next to more athletic rivals. It has the handling to back those sporty looks up, too.

While the original, 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain is a bit gutless, the newer 2.0-litre version with 182bhp is usefully brisk, if still not in any way rapid. And while that sloping roofline may look great, it eats into rear head room. Toyota's infotainment system is also left wanting when compared with rivals, though the facelifted version does get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as standard.

Back to top

8. Mercedes-Benz GLA

Where the original Mercedes GLA was little more than a ruggedised A-Class, the latest one is the result of a much more considered effort. It’s still not the cheapest or most practical option – the Mercedes GLB offers more utility and if you’re looking for value you shouldn’t look to Stuttgart anyway – but it will be much more appealing to anyone after a stylish crossover.

The latest generation capitalises on the A-Class’ appealingly designed and materially upmarket cockpit and versatile MBUX infotainment system. It also manages to tick the all-important SUV box of a high hip point. Despite big wheels and AMG Line suspension, it even manages to deliver good ride comfort. 

If you want to go fast in your crossover hatchback, none will go faster than the – deep breath – Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Plus. Thanks to a faintly ridiculous 416bhp will sprint to 62mph in 4.3sec. £66,000 is a lot of money for a crossover, but it’s a surprisingly serious performance car.

Back to top

9. Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar's follow-up act for the successful F-Pace will certainly catch your eye when you first see it. As you’ll likely guess from the look of its curvaceous bodywork, it’s not the most practical compact SUV in the segment, but the richness of its interior for the most part convinces you that it feels like the luxury prospect you took it for.

A facelift for 2021 has introduced Jaguar Land Rover’s excellent new Pivi Pro infotainment system and few mild tweaks to the baby Jag’s exterior, but it’s beneath the surface where the biggest changes have been made. The old Ford-related D8 platform has been replaced by the same PTA architecture that underpins the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

This change is significant. Not only does it help to improve the slightly lacklustre dynamics of the original, but it also means you can now have your E-Pace with a range of mild-hybrid petrol and diesel engines, or even as a plug-in hybrid. The PHEV is the only example of the updated E-Pace that we’ve driven, but on the handling front, things look good. There’s a definite edge to the way it gets itself into a corner, and its ride is comfortable, too. It certainly feels more like a junior Jaguar SUV than its predecessor.

10. Kia Xceed

Given the success of the standard Kia Ceed, the Xceed crossover, which follows a familiar recipe of raising the hatchback's ride-height and beefing up the looks but without really altering anything oily, was the model that Kia had to make. 

Back to top

This is an attractive crossover with better-than-average driving control and a reasonably fluid ride, but there are more frugal and spacious cars among its peers. On the other hand, it is the only Ceed derivative available as a plug-in hybrid, since the regular Ceed, Ceed Sportswagon and Kia Proceed became petrol- and diesel-only.

 

Add a comment…