Many new car buyers in the market for a budget-friendly small hatchback want one that they feel confident will last forever, that they can pass down to the next generation. While that is never really possible, there are a handful of models that seem to stand out and consistently deliver a strong level of both reliability and economy. These models won’t cost the earth and are well worth considering if you are looking for a hatch that can stand the test of time.

Toyota Corolla GX

$30,290 Toyota Driveaway Price (TDP): Practicality and efficiency

IMAGE Toyota Corolla hatch 2019 in Volcanic Red intext1

The Corolla hatch continues to present the practicality and efficiency it has delivered to generations of New Zealanders, with added technology and contemporary style.

The Corolla GX model has come a long way from the entry level Corollas of the past. Nowadays it features attractive 16-inch standard alloy wheels and possesses a far more engaging appearance. The interior also has added style with decent seats that are more “bucket-like” but don’t take things too far as to compromise comfort.

Even the entry spec safety isn’t given a back seat with the inclusion of Toyota Safety Sense. This system includes a Pre-Collision System with Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, and even All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Indicator-Linked Control and Road Sign Assist, just to name a few. At the Corollas heart beats a reliable 2-litre engine, which produces 125kW @6600rpm, it consumes a sensible 6L/100km and has a CO2 output of 139g/km. In the transmission department there is no longer a manual option but a modern buttery smooth CV. The Toyota Corolla was and still is a solid choice for a hatchback.

Honda Jazz

From $28,000 + $800 ORC: Class-leading space


The new to market Jazz is a winner in terms of practicality, and it’s hard to look past the Honda Jazz with its unique magic seats that can contort into 18 different combinations. The Jazz range starts with the entry-level Life, then moves up to the slightly higher-spec Crosstar and the e:HEV Luxe Hybrid completes the range.

The new look is minimalist and clean; because of new structural technologies the A-pillar is now just half the width of that found on the previous model, which vastly improves visibility and gives a gorgeous panoramic view. These skinny pillars remind you of the classic EB1 Civics of days gone by. Faithful and reliable models you could depend on. The new Jazz seats use anti-fatigue technology and has improved lumbar support for enhanced comfort. Under the hood is a 1.5L DOHC i-VTEC engine, which sips 5.8L/100km and produces 131g/km of CO2. The transmission is an Earth Dreams CVT automatic, which has been updated with Honda’s Next Generation Grade logic control; this means it allows smart stepped gearshifts during more exuberant driving.

Mazda2 GSX

From $29,190 + ORC: Style that sets you apart

Mazda2 intext3

The Mazda2 is designed to look good from any angle, drawing on Mazda's signature 'Kodo - Soul of Motion' design language, this means you get a very sleek well put together interior finished in quality materials. It’s the little touches like the leather-wrapped gear shift knob, handbrake handle and steering wheel that make the interior so special in this stylish compact hatchback. The GSX entry model features Mazda’s i-Activsense active safety technologies suite, which includes Advanced Smart City Brake Support-Forward (ASCBS-F), with night-time pedestrian detection and even Secondary Collision Reduction (SCR).

Powering the Mazda2 is a 1.5-litre engine that develops 82kW @6,000rpm, with a consumption of 5.3L/100km and 161g/km of CO2 emissions. Unlike the other two models the Mazda2 uses a conventional 6-speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission, so if you are not a fan of the CVT style of transmission, then this may well be one of the few models around still sporting one.


$28,750 + (ORC): The little one with the big attitude

Polo intext4

If you are looking for a European model these are one of the more reliable and economical choices out there. The new Polo uses Volkswagen's MQB platform, which standardises the parts of many of Volkswagen’s front-engine cars in order to cut down production time and reduce engineering cost.

The Polo TSI DSG offers a practical, competitively-priced hatchback with good quality European styling and finish. The majority of the latest Polo models are powered by a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine which produces 70kw at 4500–5500rpm. It ticks along frugally consuming between 4.9L/100km with 111g/km of CO2 emission.

The base model TSI is equipped with a swift seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which offers a more manual like feeling to its shifts. The standard Front Assist with city emergency braking can warn you in the event of critical situations, support you with braking or even automatically apply the brake in an emergency. Further standard safety features include, Side Assist (Blind Spot Monitor) with Rear Traffic Alert, and a reversing camera.

With so many generations of the Polo, Volkswagen have fine-tuned this model to be an enticing option for buyers who want a city car with euro flair that won’t break the bank.

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