In the EU as a whole, one in every three cars sold is a family hatch. In 2013, UK sales totalled over half a million (588,000). Which is a lot. Manufacturers might be pushing cute little baby crossovers - no fewer than six of the swollen superminis were launched last year - but don’t be fooled. Despite those mini-SUVs’ in-yer-face styling and brightly coloured, lifestyle marketing campaigns, it’s still the humble family hatch that dominates Europe’s car market.
No two ways about it, though, these are not what you might call glamorous cars. This is the hard graft of the motoring world, the blindside flanker and the central defender, the unsung hero where utility is key. A to B via football practice and the supermarket, without fuss. It’s a balancing act for the makers, as their cars still need a character, but they also have to fit within a uniform, one-size-fits-all blueprint - no sliding-door trickery or coupe-style enchantment here. So does anyone manage interesting and practical? Time to find out…
Pictures: Lee Brimble
This feature first appeared in Top Gear magazine