Our partners – and new car review experts – at CompleteCar.ie have compiled a list of the best five family hatchbacks €25,000 can buy. While we all agree that the Volkswagen Golf is still the class-leader, the revitalised Focus runs it very close. Other than those two, the cars listed are not in any particular order – mainly because we can’t agree amongst ourselves on it! And for those with a hankering for something a little more exciting, we’re included a wild card used option for the same money.

1 – Volkswagen Golf – the classy one

Plus: Tangible quality, great all-rounder
Minus: Greatness comes at a price

  • Pricing: from €19,995 to €35,035
  • Popular engines: 1.2 petrol, 1.6 diesel
  • Power output: 110hp
  • Fuel consumption: 3.8- to 4.9 litres/100km
  • Road tax: Band A2 to A4 (€180 to €200)
  • Safety: five stars from Euro NCAP, including 89% child occupant protection

The Golf name has been a major part of the family hatchback segment for almost as long as the segment itself has existed. Now into its seventh generation the Volkswagen continues to set the benchmark both in terms of build quality and overall desirability. Available in three- and five-door versions, as well as an estate and high-roofed SV models, the Golf offers a range of petrol and frugal diesel engines – there’s even an electric variant. Where the Volkswagen excels though is in how good it feels from behind the wheel. It might not be the cheapest car in its class, but it has the feel of a car costing even more. Strong residuals help offset the initial purchase price too.

2 – Ford Focus – the one for drivers

Plus: Improved looks, great to drive
Minus: Now on the wrong side of pricey

  • Pricing: from €20,695 to €30,490
  • Popular engines: 1.0 petrol, 1.6 and 2.0 diesel
  • Power output: 95- to 150hp
  • Fuel consumption: 3.8- to 6.3 litres/100km
  • Road tax: Band A2 to C (€180 to €390)
  • Safety: five stars from Euro NCAP, including 82% child occupant protection

We still think the first-generation Focus looks great and it drove far better than anything else at the time. After a few less interesting versions Ford is back with a new Focus that recaptures that specialness. Updates to the styling give it a much smarter appearance, while the look and feel of the interior have been greatly improved – although this has also been reflected by an increased price tag. Supple suspension and involving steering serve to justify this, however. Many will be drawn to the diesel engine range, but our pick would be the surprisingly efficient 1.0-litre petrol EcoBoost engine – ideal for those that don’t travel more than 15,000km a year.

3 – Peugeot 308 – the one for gadget fans

Plus: Stylish looks, good specification
Minus: Rear seats slightly cramped

  • Pricing: from €19,215 to €29,895
  • Popular engines: 1.2 petrol, 1.6 and 2.0 diesel
  • Power output: 82- to 150hp
  • Fuel consumption: 3.6- to 5.8 litres/100km
  • Road tax: Band A2 to A4 (€180 to €200)
  • Safety: five stars from Euro NCAP, including 79% child occupant protection

In the style stakes Peugeot’s 308 is quite a handsome contender in what is often a more practical-centric segment. The interior features a very minimalist design, with many of the additional controls, such as air conditioning, operated via the dashboard-mounted touchscreen. Perhaps the most divisive thing is the 308’s small steering wheel, but trust us, you do get used to it. On-road manners greatly improved over its predecessor and while the diesel engines perform well, we’d also recommend looking at the new PureTech petrol engine. Peugeot has also put together some well-equipped trim levels, with many usual optionally extras coming as standard.

4 – Kia c’eed – the value-for-money one

Plus: Stylish looking, seven-year warranty
Minus: Not as much fun to drive as some

  • Pricing: from €19,104 to €27,190
  • Popular engines: 1.4 petrol, 1.4 and 1.6 diesel
  • Power output: 90- to 128hp
  • Fuel consumption: 4.3- to 6.0 litres/100km
  • Road tax: Band A4 to C (€200 to €390)
  • Safety: five stars from Euro NCAP, including 88% child occupant protection

Less than the length of a new Kia’s warranty ago, the Korean car maker was guilty of producing somewhat dull cars. Nonetheless, the latest cee’d has been designed with European markets and tastes in mind and from the outside it does appear smart. It feels solid too, the doors shutting with a reassuring thud and inside, the plastics look and feel more expensive than in previous Kias. Dynamically it doesn’t rival the Focus, for example, but the Kia is a good car by any measure. Factor that seven-year warranty and keen pricing into the mix and it makes a good case for itself.

5 – SEAT Leon – the stylish one

Plus: Solid drive, good value for money
Minus: Interior is a touch basic

  • Pricing: from €19,395 to €29,225
  • Popular engines: 1.2 and1.8 petrol, 1.6 and 2.0 diesel
  • Power output: 86- to 184hp
  • Fuel consumption: 3.8- to 5.9 litres/100km
  • Road tax: Band A2 to B2 (€180 to €280)
  • Safety: five stars from Euro NCAP, including 92% child occupant protection

If you’re not overly concerned about what the badge on the front of your car says then the SEAT Leon makes a lot of sense. Under the stylish bodywork are effectively much of the same mechanicals as the class-leading Volkswagen Golf. As SEAT continues to try to lose its ‘runt of the litter’ image within the Volkswagen Group, its prices have remained highly competitive, especially given how well the car drives on the road. The interior isn’t quite as plush as the Golf’s, but it is still far from sub-standard.

Wildcard choice
How about spending your €25,000 on a used hot hatch instead? There’s plenty of choice for that amount of money. Here we look at one of the most extreme.

Mégane Renaultsport

Plus: Incredible dynamic ability
Minus: Thirst for petrol

  • Engine: 2.0 petrol
  • Power output: 265hp
  • Fuel consumption: 8.3 litres/100km
  • Road tax: Band E (€677)

Let’s not beat around the bush here; the Mégane RS is one serious hot hatch. End of. It has a slick manual and it’s powered by a feisty 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 265hp. And to top it off it has one of the finest chassis in the segment. Are you sensing our enthusiasm at the prospect of this as an alternative family car? Hands down it is a terrific car that is as good on track as it is on your favourite B-road. You may have difficulty convincing the other half that you’ll fit child seats in the back, however…