The 10 safest used family hatchbacks

Your next family car doesn’t need to be a brand new, top-of-the-range model.

These cars received five star NCAP safety ratings between 2012 and 2015. And if you’re buying used, they can all fit comfortably within a £10,000 budget.

Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf is a solid all-rounder at the top of the family hatchback class. Its impressive build quality, practicality, and reliability help justify the price premium over its rivals.

Even a standard Golf is packed with impressive tech; the safety kit includes seven airbags, stability control, brake assist, post-collision braking, and electronic tyre pressure monitoring. A driver and four passengers can fit comfortably – with plenty of room in the boot for all their luggage.

Kia Cee’d

A bit of an underdog in the class, the Kia Cee’d combines the qualities buyers look for in a great family hatch. Even the most basic model ticks boxes for practicality, reliability, tech, and design.

Five adults can fit comfortably in the Cee’d – although taller passengers might feel a bit cramped on longer journeys. The boot capacity is one of the best in class; trumping favourites like the VW Golf and the Ford Focus.

A decent safety kit comes as standard, with plenty of features including six airbags, two sets of ISOFIX mounts, electronic stability control, brake assist, and six airbags – with a passenger airbag deactivation switch.

Volvo V40

The Volvo V40 is one of the more premium models in the class. And for some, it’s well worth the money. Volvo nail the luxury factor that other manufacturers miss – without compromising on staples like practicality and reliability.

The V40 is ideal for younger families; older children and teenagers might get a bit cramped in the back. The boot capacity isn’t exactly best in class – some rivals offer more space. But crucially, the V40 sets the standard for safety; it’s absolutely packed with safety technology. And it was even named as the NCAP safest car of the year in 2012. If that’s not reassuring, what is?

Vauxhall Astra

The Vauxhall Astra is a strong contender in the family hatch class; leading the list for engine efficiency and running costs.

The Astra is spacious and comfortable, with plenty of internal storage and a large boot. And thanks to the wide doors, fitting car seats in the back is a breeze. Drivers in search of an efficient engine won’t need to look too far; Vauxhall claims that the Astra’s capable of an impressive 85mpg. An equally impressive safety kit comes as standard – complete with electronic stability control, six airbags, blind spot assist, parking assist, and lane-keep assist.

Astras also come equipped with Vauxhall’s OnStar system, which can automatically contact the emergency services if there’s a crash.

Seat Leon

Think of the SEAT Leon as the younger brother of the VW Golf, wrapping up a selection of the best qualities in a sleek, sporty, and slightly cheaper package. It’s not quite as spacious as the Golf, but it’s not far off.

The Leon is comfortable enough for families, with plenty of interior storage and boot space to hold all the luggage. Even the standard models boast a decent specification and a strong reliability record – the Leon came seventh in AutoExpress’ Driver Power 2018 survey.

The safety record is just as good, with a kit including stability control, tyre pressure monitoring, and six driver and passenger airbags.


One of the sportier family hatches, the Mazda3 is a great option if you’re after a strong reliability record, great design, and a lot of technology.

The fuel economy and running costs are pretty competitive for the class, too. The 3 is ideal for young families; older children and teenagers might get a bit cramped in the back. The boot isn’t best in class either, although there’s plenty of storage inside the cabin. However, you can definitely tick the box for safety. Even standard models come with six airbags, stability control, and Smart City Safe support; the brakes are applied if a low-speed collision seems likely.


Hyundai i30

Some drivers might find the Hyundai i30 a bit boring, but it’s hard to argue against its value for your cash. All models boast economic engines and low insurance costs – meaning the i30 can be pretty cheap to run.

There’s plenty of space for families, with a decent boot for all the luggage. However, taller passengers might struggle in the back on longer journeys. And true to the Hyundai badge, the i30 has a strong record of safety and reliability. Even the most basic model features autonomous emergency braking, anti-lock braking, lane keep assist, front collision warning, and seven airbags.

Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is known as a good value, fun-to-drive all-rounder. That’s why it’s so popular. It’s spacious and comfortable enough for young families, although older children might feel a bit cramped on longer journeys.

The boot capacity is fine for typical family life – but some rival models can offer more space.

The Focus has always held a strong record for reliability and safety. Even the most basic model comes with driver, passenger, and curtain airbags, anti-lock braking, traction control, power-assist steering, lane-departure warning, and a driver attention alert.

Mercedes A-Class

It’s not the most affordable to run or the most fuel efficient. But if you want a piece of luxury at a reasonable(ish) price, a used Mercedes A-Class is well worth looking at.

The classic Mercedes style, interior, and build quality are almost unrivalled in the class. And there’s plenty of space for families and all their luggage; although the seats themselves aren’t overly comfy. The wide rear doors take the stress from fitting a car seat, though.

Although style and design are prioritised over comfort and affordability, safety isn’t. The standard safety kit includes driver, passenger, and side airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, driver attention warning, and collision-prevention assist.

Renault Megane

Often overlooked, a Renault Megane can be a practical, comfortable, and affordable family hatchback.

Some might find the Megane a bit, well, boring to drive – that’s because Renault prioritised comfort and practicality. There’s plenty of space for families, lots of interior storage, and a large build.

Renault is known for producing a fleet of safe cars, and the Megane is certainly one of them. As standard, the Megane features six airbags, a speed limiter, anti-lock braking, traction control, power-assist steering, and ISOFIX seat locks.

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