We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Coronavirus Read our latest advice
Reviews based on facts
Our rigorous tests find the facts, and our impartial reviews tell you the truth about how products perform. First month £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel anytime.
Try Which?
6 October 2020

Best medium cars for 2020

Medium cars are the most popular type in the UK. Thanks to our rigorous tests, we can reveal the best new and used medium cars - as well as the worst.
Best medium cars 1
DN
Daljinder Nagra

Looking for the best medium car? This car class is dominated by popular hatchbacks, including the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, along with more premium models, such as the VW Golf and Audi A3. 

But while they may all be around the same size, not all medium cars are worth your money. The best medium cars are reliable, practical, safe and reasonably cheap to run. Yet the worst are much more likely to break down, or be uncomfortable or poorly designed. 

Only cars that score highly in our tough lab and road tests are Which? Best Buys. You'll find our top recommendations for the best new and used medium cars in the tables below. Plus we reveal three medium cars that aren't worth your money. 

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations below. If you’re not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access to our tables and all of our online reviews. 

The best new medium cars

Find out which models came out on top in our rigorous lab tests - with some surprises in store.

Sign up to reveal product image
72%
Best Buy
£24,386
Reviewed

This brand's first ever performance hatchback is an absolute belter. It might not have the outright power of it's most aggressive rivals, but it's plenty fast enough. Add to that sublime handling, generous standard equipment and a practical interior, and you've got a superb all-round hot hatch.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
71%
Best Buy
£21,434
Reviewed

Eye-catching styling and an appealing price sees this five-door hatchback stand out from the crowd, but it's more than just a pretty face. It's got a great cabin and plenty of standard equipment. It's very satisfying to drive, too. Just watch our for pinched rear cabin space and a compromised rear-view.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
71%
Best Buy
£26,353
Reviewed

It might not have the design appeal of its smaller hatchback siblings, but this hatchback-cum-MPV really hits the spot as a medium-sized family car. It's got a huge, high-quality interior, and it's loaded with safety-tech, too. A decent range of engines offer a good blend of performance and economy.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
70%
Best Buy
£22,018
Reviewed

It may just be a five-door hatchback, but it's been one of the UK's most popular cars for decades. There's nothing you'd particularly single it out for being great at, but it's overall blend of talents make it supremely easy to live with. It's practical, safe and comfortable, and available with a decent range of engines. It's a deserved Which? Best Buy.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
69%
£22,985
Reviewed

This model majors on fuel efficiency, but also delivers a safe, serene driving experience and a high-quality interior. Rear passenger and boot space are at something of a premium, but overall it's comfortable, well made and relaxing.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in

The best used medium cars

Buying used in a great way to get an exceptional car for a lower cost - just make sure you select a great model to avoid making a costly mistake. Our experts select the very best models to choose.

Sign up to reveal product image
73%
Best Buy
£7,630
Reviewed

Anyone looking for dependable, economical transport should take a closer look at this hybrid hatchback. It may not be the most exciting car to drive, but it's spacious, comfy and should prove very frugal around town.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
73%
Best Buy
£2,560
Reviewed

Hybrid technology in a conventional hatchback package. This model appeals with its familiarity and ease of use. A rock-solid reliability rating, based on our in-depth survey of owners, further boosts its appeal as a Best Buy used car.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
71%
£5,977
Reviewed

Its styling may be a bit of an acquired taste, but you'll soon get used to how easy this model is to live with as a family car. The boot is massive, it's got plenty of passenger space and it's safe and secure on the road. Awkward rear visibility can make it difficult to park in tight spaces, though.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
70%
Best Buy
£8,010
Reviewed

This hatchback-cum-crossover SUV isn't the most spacious for rear seat passengers, but that's a small gripe in what otherwise is a successful family car package. It's well-equipped, safe, feels secure on the road, and has a sense of style missing from so many of its rivals.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
68%
Best Buy
£6,302
Reviewed

With a small rear cabin and miserly boot space, you wouldn't think this sporty hatchback would make this shortlist. If you prioritise a fun driving experience, though, you're in for a treat. This is amongst the most driver-focussed medium hatchbacks available and it feels as high quality as you'd expect of a model from this manufacturer.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in

Not found the car for you? Go straight to all our medium car reviews.

What to avoid when buying a medium car

Medium cars need to be jacks of all trades: great family cars, with space for a pushchair and a fortnight's luggage, but compact enough to park easily in town. They should be easy to drive, comfortable and smooth - all while being cheap to run. Our testing has found medium cars that are master of one or more of these desirable traits, while some don't manage any.

By their very nature, medium cars should be more spacious than small ones. While most models have plenty of room in the front, some are cramped in the rear, while headroom and legroom can leave a lot to be desired. We use human-sized dummies to measure exactly how much room there is in every seat in a car. 

People's high expectations of medium cars extends to how cheap they are to run. A manufacturer's claimed mpg is usually high, and almost always too good to be true. We conduct our own fuel-economy tests, so you get an accurate figure, and will know exactly how much the cars on your shortlist will cost you to run. 

We don't only provide you with an overall mpg figure, we also tell you the car's mpg for city, out of town and motorway driving, so you will know you're buying the right car for where you drive the most. To top it all off, we also tell you the cost of filling the tank each month and over the course of a year.

Here are the models you should steer clear of, to avoid disappointment when buying a new or used medium car.

Medium cars to avoid

Sign up to reveal product image
53%
£6,217
Reviewed

This hatchback comes with a reputation for handling prowess, so it's disappointing to discover this generation has poor brakes and can feel unstable in corners. It's behind the curve as a family car, too, with a low-rent interior and a small boot.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
52%
£3,054
Reviewed

Despite a stylish, unique design and a range of powerful engines, we can't recommend this sensible five-door. It's not terrible, it just doesn't meet the standard for practicality and ride comfort we'd expect from a family hatchback. It is, however, very safe and secure on the road.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in
Sign up to reveal product image
45%
Don't buy
£19,575
Reviewed

It's easy to be seduced by this car’s styling and sporty petrol engines. However, its talents really are just skin deep. It's not particularly refined or spacious in the back, and its latest Euro NCAP assessment saw it awarded just three stars out of five for safety. You'd be better off with a newer Best Buy medium car instead.

Sign up to reveal product
First month only £5, then £9.99 per month, cancel any time
Already a member? Log in

How to buy the best medium car

We look at passenger comfort, safety and practicality as well as driving pleasure to help you choose the best medium car for you. Here are our top buying tips and things to look out for.

Should you buy a hatchback or saloon?

We’d avoid buying a mid-sized saloon unless it’s second hand. When it comes to medium cars, the UK is a nation of hatchback buyers - we simply don't go in for saloon versions of models such as the new Honda Civic and Ford Focus (now available used only) in great numbers.

Medium saloons are often less practical, with smaller boot apertures and ultimately less available space for luggage, though this does depend on individual models. 

You can use our car reviews to check how much boot space is in a car and to compare between different models. We measure only the usable space in the boot so you'll know how much room you really have for your luggage.

Which medium cars have large boot space?

If you are considering a medium-sized model as a family car and you have small children, check that the boot will be large enough for your requirements.

Despite most medium cars taking up a similar amount of space on the road, there are often huge differences in terms of luggage space. The previous generation BMW 1 Series (2011-2019) for instance, has a relatively small boot, as its rear-wheel-drive robs space in the name of a better driving experience.

However, other models are designed specifically with practicality and ease of use in mind. The Honda Civic, for example, offers an exceptionally large boot.

We don’t rely on manufacturer's claims. Our independent tests assess just how much usable boot and passenger space there is in each model, so you can make an informed choice.

Best medium cars for passenger comfort and safety

We’d recommend a five-door model over a three-door, particularly if you’ll be installing a child car seat. Not only is it more practical, but newer models are often just as sporty looking as their three-door counterparts. 

Given their increased appeal, newer iterations of family favourites such as the Ford Focus and Renault Megane are now only available with five doors.

In recent years, the traditional boxy hatchback silhouette has given way to more stylish coupe-esque designs. While these often look more appealing, sloping roofs can compromise interior headroom, as well as cause problems for taller passengers getting in and out.

Consider legroom for both children and adult rear-seat passengers. We measure the space inside each car we test, so in our car reviews we can tell you what height of person will fit in each seat. This means you will know you're buying a car that's suitable for your passengers, without having to take them with you on every test drive. 

If your children or grand children need a child car seat, check to see if there are Isofix mounting points and make sure that the rear doors open wide enough for easy access.

Also, make sure the rear window frames are not so high that a small child wouldn’t be able to see out (this can exacerbate car sickness, making a mess of your lovely new car). 

Medium cars for thrills as well as practicality

You don’t have to sacrifice driving pleasure just because you need a practical medium-sized car. If you want a sports car but have a family, a hot hatch like the Volkswagen Golf GTI or Ford Focus ST is a great compromise between performance and versatility.

Watch out for higher insurance costs, though. Plus you'll need to make sure that all your family can cope with a firmer ride - large wheels and low-profile tyres, not to mention sports-tuned suspension, may not give an experience your passengers would call comfortable.

And before you get too carried away, make sure that if you need to use child seats or baby carriers that these will be compatible with the heavily sculpted sports seats that are often fitted to performance models.

Alternatively, if you've got the money to spare, you can buy yourself a sports car as a second car. See our best sports cars.

We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else

Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations. And because Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about every car we test.

Each car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track, and on real roads – and we really clock up the miles, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.

Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs

To tell you which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.

To take the guesswork out of choosing your next car, join Which? and you'll receive access to all our expert reviews and advice.

View all New and used cars