The Best Compact Hatchbacks in Singapore



Compact hatchbacks are the ideal choice for drivers who want a car that’s easy to drive and park in Singapore’s tight urban space. CarBuyer.com.sg ranks the best of the compact hatchback bunch here


Why you should trust us:

CarBuyer.com.sg is the online version of CarBuyer Singapore, which is currently the only homegrown car magazine on newsstands here and has been in circulation since 1997, pointing out the good, bad, and ugly of Singapore’s car market.

What makes these cars ‘the best’? :

Cars here have been tested and voted on by CarBuyer’s editorial team. We have a combined experience of more than 70 years in the industry and have tested thousands of cars. In short, you can rely on us to tell you what’s worth your time and dollars – and what’s not.


SINGAPORE 

Welcome back to another instalment of our Best Cars Of Singapore stories, a guide series that will be updated regularly, and where we help you pick the best cars in each segment here in Singapore.

We’re looking at compact hatchbacks, a segment that’s popular among younger and/or first-time drivers, or simply those who don’t need such a big car in tiny Singapore.



We’re looking at compact hatchbacks, a segment that’s popular among younger and/or first-time drivers, or simply those who don’t need such a big car in tiny Singapore.

The appeal of compact hatchbacks here is clear to see. Their small dimensions mean that they’re easy to drive and park in an urban environment and there’s less to worry about dinging or scratching in tight spots.

The other advantage of a compact size is of course a compact price tag.

Most of these cars cost well under $100,000 with COE, making them the perfect choice as starter cars for the first time buyer. Overall running costs are lower too, as they incur lesser road tax due to their smaller engines, while usually returning decent fuel economy as well, and smaller insurance premiums. 

Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices affect these cars the most, which is why in recent years more people have simply switched up to a mainstream sedan or small SUV, which is also why Kia’s Picanto and Hyundai’s Getz have totally disappeared from local price lists.

However the best compact hatches still command a following, and for good reason. CarBuyer.com.sg makes it easy for you to zero in on the best you can get in Singapore, and below we sort out the wheat from the chaff to recommend the best compact hatchbacks you can buy here in Singapore in 2020, to ensure that your money is well spent.


What to look for in a compact hatch?

  1. Small size, good visibility
  2. Small engine less than 1.6-litres
  3. Fuel efficiency better than 6.0L/100km
  4. Ability to fit four adults, boot space of at least 250-litres

Honda Jazz

Our pick: Honda Jazz 1.5 RS from S$83,999 with COE (June 2020)
Read our review of the Honda Jazz here

We start with a disclaimer: the Honda Jazz is reaching the end of its current lifespan, and there will be a new model due by the end of 2020 that’s already looking extra-safe. 

However, the fact that it still ranks as among the best compact hatchbacks available to buy right now speaks volumes about its enduring and endearing qualities.

In many ways, the Jazz epitomises the very pinnacle of Honda engineering. Despite its tiny footprint, it actually offers plenty of room for occupants inside thanks to its smart packaging, and in some ways it is even more spacious than a few small SUVs.

It’s also very versatile, with its tall stature and clever ‘Ultra’ seats, in which the seat bases can be folded up, allowing you to accommodate larger and awkwardly-sized items that would normally struggle to fit in other cars of a similar size.

Beyond its interior tricks, the Jazz is also appealing from an enthusiast standpoint, with its fun-to-drive nature characterised by its zippy and spirited engine. The 1.5 RS model, our pick of the bunch, offers up a handy 130hp and 155Nm of torque, although there is also a 1.3-litre version of the Jazz with 98hp and 119Nm of torque that’s no less enjoyable.

Prices start at S$69,999 with COE for the 1.3 model, and for that you get a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay connectivity, keyless entry and paddle shifters. Plump for the 1.5 RS though (S$83,999 with COE) and you can have automatic climate control, LED headlights, and 16-inch alloy wheels, not to mention the more powerful engine.

It makes the Jazz an attractive prospect, but given that it is a runout model, you can probably expect even greater deals from local distributor Kah Motor in the lead up to the new model’s arrival later this year.


Suzuki Swift

Our pick: Suzuki Swift 1.0 Standard from S$71,900 with COE (June 2020)
Read our review of the Suzuki Swift here

The Suzuki Swift’s heyday was arguably the mid-2000s, when historically low COE prices helped it gain favour among car buyers looking for an affordable compact runabout.

But the Swift’s appeal stretches beyond just its competitive price tag. For the money you get a well-built, high-quality Japanese car that’s fun to drive and cheap to run, and the latest version, launched in 2018, continues that tradition.

At well under 4.0 metres in length (3,840mm to be exact), the Swift makes for a very manoeuvrable little car for the city. But more than that, the car is also light, weighing in at just 940kg. This makes it very chuckable and entertaining to drive spiritedly, something rarely found in compact hatches, and despite the Swift’s own efficient 1.0-litre turbocharged engine producing just 109hp and 160Nm of torque.

2018 Suzuki Swift - CarBuyer.com.sg - Singapore

The latest one is also reasonably well-equipped, with six airbags, LED headlights, paddle shifters and keyless entry available on the basic Standard trim level (S$71,900 with COE). The Premium spec costs 3 grand more (S$74,900 with COE) and tacks on a dealer-fitted audio system with a reverse camera installed.

There are downsides, though. The Swift is a compact hatchback and feels it – fitting five adults is possible but it will be a squeeze, and the boot space is a little tight, even if it’s larger than the previous generation at 268-litres. 

But as a car for the youthful driver with few family commitments, the Swift offers plenty of smiles per mile, without asking for too much of your money in return.


Volkswagen Polo

Our pick: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Beats from S$96,900 with COE (June 2020)
Read our review of the Volkswagen Polo here

A German hatchback for under S$90,000? The Volkswagen Polo is proof that you can have Teutonic engineering without having to fork out an arm and a leg.

And you’re not getting a cut-price inferior product either. The latest sixth-generation Polo is a well-sorted product that’s mature and upmarket. It feels like a much more expensive car than it is, in terms of overall quality and equipment.

The Polo’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine is not the most powerful around, producing just 115hp and 200Nm of torque, but it is refined and smooth, and gives it a big car feel that makes it almost a Golf Lite. It also handles pretty well thanks to its lightweight MQB platform architecture, while the quoted average fuel consumption of 4.9L/100km is a big bonus too.

For your money, you’re getting a lot of car with the Polo. The entry-level Comfortline spec (S$89,900 with COE) offers automatic headlights, keyless entry, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay connectivity.

There’s also a funky Beats edition (S$96,900 with COE) that throws in a premium-branded Beats sound system, an eye-catching red interior with unique upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, Park Assist, and Volkswagen’s pretty neat Active Info Display digital instrument cluster.

If you can stretch to it, the Beats version is the one to go for. But even the Comfortline variant is a very accomplished car in its own right, and you won’t go much wrong with the Polo if you want a compact hatchback that makes you feel like you’re driving a much more expensive car.


Also Consider:

Mazda 2

Read our review of the Mazda 2 here

While the Mazda 2 is getting on a bit now, having been around since 2015, it remains an excellent choice as a compact hatchback. It still looks fresh and sharp despite its age, and it boasts an interior that can easily rival the Volkswagen Polo in terms of build quality and material finish.

It’s also quite a hoot to drive, with its clever torque vectoring control system making it extra-stable in corners too. The 1.5-litre engine, with 115hp and 149Nm of torque, is tuned for efficiency with its Skyactiv technology, but performance is somewhat wheezy and the engine sounds unrefined when pushed.

Interior space is also not a particularly strong suit of the 2, but it does come decently equipped. The base Standard trim ($46,888 without COE) nets you an engine start-stop system, keyless entry, and engine push start button. 

The Deluxe trim ($52,888 without COE) adds a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, sat-nav, cruise control, LED headlights and a reverse camera, making it one of the most feature-packed cars in this segment.


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CarBuyer Team
CarBuyer Singapore / CarBuyer.com.sg brings the most relevant, accurate and useful car news to Singaporeans in both print and online formats.