While many of us may be drawn to attractive sports cars like a BMW M5, Porsche 911, or Aston Martin Vantage, the truth is that there are many situations in which they are rather impractical. In a small peaceful shire, where there are not many long roads to cruise down and people value their tranquility, such boisterous, flashy vehicles are seen more as disruptions than objects of envy.
Instead of buying a new BMW sedan or some equally ostentatious coupe, you may want to consider something a little more low-key and more suited to the town environment. Unlike in the USA, hatchbacks are still very much popular due to their small footprint and disproportionately high cargo capacity. However, a compact crossover would be just as practical, and these configurations generally boast far better safety ratings than similar small automobiles.
But just because you’re shopping for a small car, that does not discount the possibility of something fun and expressive. There are more than a few hot hatches available and many SUVs offer on- and off-road capabilities to suit a variety of tastes. Here are some of the best models across several categories for those looking to feel at home in their idyllic community.
#1 Ford Fiesta
While the Blue Oval’s hatchback may be dead and buried on its home shores across the pond, it is actually one of the most popular vehicles almost everywhere else in the world. In fact, it was the top seller in the United Kingdom for 2020. The latest generation is powered by a three-cylinder engine developing 125 metric horsepower. This may not sound like much, but it is more than enough to get the small, light hatch around town and it also means that fuel economy is beyond reproach. However, an available 85 metric hp diesel engine boasts even better mileage figures.
Inside, it is relatively spacious, though the back seat can be tricky to access with only two doors. However, the boot is a little small for the segment, with only 311 litres of cargo capacity on offer. On the plus side, it is easily accessed, and the rear seats can be folded down to increase this to 1,093 litres.
#2 Volkswagen Golf
The four-door hatch from the German automaker has remained popular in the UK. The most potent motor develops 148 metric hp, which is enough to move a car of this size from 0-62 mph in around 8.5 seconds. There is a hybrid variant too, which lowers the sprint time to 6.4 seconds and improves the overall miles per gallon.
Four doors make it much easier to live with for a family, with more space to go around for heads and legs. The boot is not much larger than what you’d find in the Fiesta, though.
#3 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
If you are after something a bit more premium but do not want a full-blown sports car, then something along the line of a Merc A-Class or similar from BMW or Audi may be your cup of tea. Naturally, even a base model is far pricier than you would expect from some of the humbler nameplates on this list.
Of course, you definitely get your money’s worth. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder paired with an automatic transmission gives it respectable acceleration, while fine German craftsmanship means that it delivers in the fun department, too. The cabin is not as spacious as some may like, especially for those in the rear, but cargo capacity is respectable at 370 litres. On the plus side, the materials used are all very high-grade, and the styling and comfort are without reproach.