What follows are six of our own suggestions for hatchbacks that are worth exploring -- some of which are more luxurious, more performance-oriented or more unique than the typical hatches.

7 - Volkswagen R32

MSRP: $32,990 - $32,990 || Get a Price Quote

Fuel Economy Range: 23 mpg Hwy, 18 mpg City

NHTSA Driver Crash Rating: N/A

The R32 is new to the U.S. market for the '08 model year. It's a pricier and much more well-appointed alternative to some of the hatchbacks previously listed, but even hatch fans like a chance to grab for a little luxury if they have the wallet for it. The R32 borrows its name from the 3.2 liter, 250hp, six-cylinder engine that powers this little luxo-box. Transmission is the VW DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox), an automatic which also allows for manual operation via paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The R32 also features all-wheel drive and a more aggressive sporting character than the Rabbit it is based on.

8 - Dodge Caliber SRT4

MSRP: $14,320 - $22,705 || Get a Price Quote

Fuel Economy Range: 29 mpg Hwy, 24 mpg City

NHTSA Driver's Crash Rating: Five Stars

The Caliber comes in many flavors when it comes to trim levels and engine sizes. For the sake of providing an alternative to the standard hatch, we're picking the sport-performance SRT4 edition. It comes with the burliest engine the Caliber offers: a 285-hp, turbo-charged 2.4-liter with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Like all the other Caliber flavors, the SRT4 is versatile machine that synergizes the virtues of a wagon, hatchback and SUV.

9 - Chevrolet HHR SS

MSRP: $16,730 - $22,925 || Get a Price Quote

Fuel Economy Range: 30 mpg Hwy, 21 mpg City

NHTSA Driver's Crash Rating: Five Stars

Launched in 2006, the Chevy HHR has done well, due in part to the retro appeal of its boxy body style. But it's not just eye-catching. Here, form dictates function, as the HHR is much roomier than many vehicles in the hatchback segment. The HHR is available in three trim levels: LS, LT and, new for '08, the SS. We're choosing the SS because of its fun factor. It's a higher-performing 260 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine means it has more to offer than mere functionality. It also comes with a sport-tuned suspension, fog lights, polished 18-inch forged alloy wheels, a performance driver's seat and unique upholstery -- all standard

10 - Volvo C30

MSRP: $22,950 - $25,700 || Get a Price Quote

Fuel Economy Range: 28 mpg Hwy, 19 mpg City

NHTSA Driver Crash Rating: N/A

A new model for 2008, the C30 is Volvo's first foray into this market segment. It's a sporty hatchback designed to appeal to young buyers looking for punchy performance and crisp handling without breaking the bank. It maintains Volvo's usual high safety standards, and is powered by a 227 hp turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five cylinder engine, hitched to a six-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is optional.

11 - Mini Cooper Clubman

MSRP: $19,950 - $19,950 || Get a Price Quote

Fuel Economy Range: 37 mpg Hwy, 28 mpg City

NHTSA Driver's Crash Rating: N/A

The MINI Cooper Clubman, a brand new model for 2008, is roomier than the regular MINI -- it's almost 10 inches longer, and comes with split, van-style cargo doors. But it's just as much of a blast to drive as the standard MINI, and it sports the same distinctive, squat profile. It also allows the buyer to choose from an array of trim and color options, and is highly affordable. The Clubman gets its power from a 118-hp 1.6-liter 16-valve inline four-cylinder engine hitched to a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional.

12 - Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited

MSRP: $15,285 - $22,930 || Get a Price Quote

Fuel Economy Range: 24 mpg Hwy, 18 mpg City

NHTSA Driver's Crash Rating: Four Stars

The Chrysler PT Cruiser also taps into the nostalgia factor with a retro style that evokes the touring cars of the late 1930s. It comes in three trim levels: LX, Touring, and Limited. But, again, as an alternative to some of the more utilitarian and practical models in this segment, we the chose sportier, more luxuriously-appointed entry. In the PT Crusier's case, that means the Limited, which is powered by a beefier 180-hp turbocharged 2.4L engine, and comes with such amenities as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather-trimmed seats with heated front seats.

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