Luxo hatchbacks: the group test

It also explains why the BMW 1-Series is rear-wheel drive. Sure, there are nice engineering reasons, but there's also a powerful marketing message in there - that driving matters. The Volvo V40? That's potentially the odd one out here. As we'll see, it has a slightly different outlook, like the whole car has been approached from a distinct perspective.

Engine-wise, these are the cars you're most likely to be looking at. Decent diesels, each with between 134 and 148bhp. With the exception of the Mercedes, all can be had with these engines for less, but we're assuming you'll want yours to look and feel the part, which means taking a step or two up the spec ladder. So we're talking a lot of money, which, with the odd optional treat thrown in, ups the ante to, ooh, a LOT more money if most of these cars are representative (clue: they're not - they're overdone, especially the Merc).