Winner of What Car? Car of the Year 2013, the Audi A3 is significantly more upmarket than your average hatchback. Combining style with practicality, the spacious interior provides plenty of legroom for the kids (particularly if you go for the 5 door Sportback model) while the sharp lines and large grille give the exterior an executive look to get heads turning.
A range of engine options allow you to strike your own balance between economy and power, with the 1.4-litre petrol (with turbocharging to improve performance) the standard choice and the 2.0-litre diesel offering 4-wheel drive and extra grip. Whatever your needs as a family, the A3 is an ideal mix of refinement and practicality.
The Vauxhall Astra has been a household name for years, and it's easy to see why. A huge range of choice means you can pick the Astra to suit your needs. The 5-door hatchback is the most popular bodystyle with families, although an estate version is available if you need extra space. You can also decide whether you want the 6th or 7th generation. Both are great value for money, but the more recent version is a step up in terms of style, tech (such as a 4G wi-fi hotspot), and choice of engines, with the ecoTec diesel recording a stunning economy figure of 85.6mpg.
Add in a spacious interior, and the Astra is a great stylish all-rounder.
The car against which all other family hatchbacks are measured, the Volkswagen Golf deserves its reputation for excellence. With an instantly recognisable appearance, enjoyable drive, and superb performance (particularly in the GTI or R versions), this is a car for all the family to enjoy. It's also spacious and has impressive safety tech, plus there's even an electric version.
The Golf is a classless, premium quality car which will earn you widespread admiration from the kids to your work colleagues.