For many UK motorists, 70mph roads like the M1 are vital driving routes that link up key destinations in the quickest and most efficient way. When they work, motorways work brilliantly - although some cars are definitely better set to take full advantage of them than others. Handily for the 21st Century buyer though (so that's all of us), most modern cars can handle motorway duties without breaking a sweat. And that includes the humble hatchback, Britain's favourite car type for the past few decades.
So, to celebrate the vast supply of motorway-worthy hatchbacks out there, we've picked out 10 top performers from the segment that are especially handy on the nation's 70mph roads. They're listed below, in no particular order.
The fact the Hyundai i30 comes with a five-year warranty when new should tell you all you need to know about its reliability – and most used ones should have a good proportion of this left.
For motorway driving, the 1.6-litre diesel is especially appealing as it should comfortably give you 65mpg. Although in truth, all versions of Hyundai's VW Golf are brilliantly capable, and come with plenty of driving tech like cruise control and lane keep assist. The i30 really does punch above its class weight.
If you’d like to combine some solid motorway practicality with more than a little French “je ne sais quoi”, the C3 should be high up on your shopping list. It’s doesn’t just look distinctive, it’s also great to drive on motorways, as well as being nippy around town.
Citroen also equips its smaller models with more mod-cons than you'd expect, with well-equipped variants getting cruise control and climate control to keep you comfy.
Here’s another French car that ticks all the boxes when it comes to motorway driving. Not only has the 308 achieved a five-star safety rating in Euro NCAP tests, it also feels like a good, solid car when you’re behind the wheel. The Blue HDi diesel engines deliver remarkable economy so you can make those miles in fewer gallons.
Peugeot has also pulled out all the stops when it comes to the interior to make it easy to use, with a clutter-free dashboard and quality materials throughout.
The Renault Megane has always been a decent motorway cruiser, but the fourth-generation model is the most mature one yet. It rides comfortably at pace, comes with a range of efficient engines offering up to 70mpg and, no less important, it looks absolutely brilliant.
Best of all, Renault fits its cars with a generous supply of driver assist and safety technology to take the stress out of higher-speed driving.
The Seat Leon has proved to be the make’s most successful car yet in the UK with over a quarter of a million examples sold here. If you’re looking for the sorts of safety features that are important for motorway driving, you’ll find plenty.
The latest models to enter the used car market include an adaptive cruise control system that uses satellite and GPS data to automatically set a safe speed for the car to travel. A nice touch to help you on those long, straight motorways.
The Ford Fiesta has evolved over eight generations from a compact city car into a supermini capable of nearly everything you can throw at it. The current car's Sync3 infotainment system is one of the best ones you'll find in a small car – while well-specced models get powerful sound systems and decent noise insulation.
The Fiesta's main party piece is its handling and accompanying punchy performance. The 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine will give you over 50mpg on a run, which is quite a feat for a petrol engine.
Space may be the final frontier - but it’s also a big selling point of the Skoda Fabia. If your motorway journeys involve transporting sizeable passengers and lots of luggage, this is a perfect choice.
Although compact from the outside, there’s plenty of space and headroom, front and back. The boot is class-leading. All the engines post-2018 are a 1.0-litre petrol, and while all are strong, for motorway driving, we'd recommend the 115hp version.
The Golf has always been the hatchback against which all others are judged. After all, it virtually invented the category eight generations ago, arriving as the first hatchback that could do big car things.
All the expected technological features are present and correct in all Golfs - from economical fuel consumption to great handling and quality construction. But VW has also gone the extra mile on safety equipment with adaptive cruise control and “turn-off-assist” that can sense an impending impact and apply the brakes automatically.
The A-Class is the baby in the Mercedes line-up. Put it on a motorway, though, and you’ll find that it shares many of the winning attributes as its bigger siblings.
It’s also absolutely packed with safety systems that include automatic lane-change assist, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot assist to let you know if another vehicle has crept up on you without you noticing. Go for a higher-grade version and the A-Class feels truly premium, too.
We started on a long-warranty car in the Hyundai i30, so let’s end on one with an even longer one. With seven years warranty - or 100,000 miles (that’d cover you for over 500 trips along the M1) - you can be confident the Kia Cee’d is a quality car that shouldn’t let you down. And if it does it’s going to get sorted for free.
The 1.0-litre petrol engine should be powerful enough for most and deliver 50mpg – so fewer fill ups at service stations’ exorbitant fuel prices. Sounds like a winner to us.
Time to hit the road
Any one of these 10 cars will do you proud if you’re eating up the miles on the motorway. It’s just a question of picking the one to suit your style, needs and budget – and cinch is here to help.
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