We'd like to welcome the hatchback Class of 2012, a strong group of newcomers. By sheer force of numbers — along with sizable horsepower output — cars such as the Ford Focus ST, MINI Coupe and Volkswagen Beetle Turbo are combining city-friendly proportions with driving fun, along with fuel economy that won't break the bank.

A couple of our longtime favorites — the MazdaSpeed3 and VW Golf GTI — aren't listed only because they're not significantly brand spanking new in 2012. And while hatchbacks are often handy when it comes to hauling stuff, not all the cars in this list would be our first choice for a run to Ikea. For fun, we've even included the current King of the Hatchbacks, an Italian budget-buster that serves up 651 bhp and will set you back more than $300,000.

Our best hatchbacks of 2012:

2012 Ford Focus ST

The new Ford Focus is already a standout performer in the realm of hatchbacks, thanks to its attractive styling, high feature content and solid steering. True, you can always opt for the Focus sedan. But that would mean missing out on the (arguably) better looks of the hatch, along with the hotter performance of the upcoming Focus ST. There's nothing wrong with the 160-bhp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine found in the standard car. We just think a 246-bhp turbocharged 2.0-liter sounds, well, a lot more exciting. Ford has even stated that the Focus ST will deliver "significantly better fuel economy" than previous models, which were sold in Europe.

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

The Fiat 500 is another recent European transplant now making a name for itself in the U.S. market. You can't talk about the 500 and not mention "huggable," at least once. Although chic, the 500 Coupe and Cabrio are definitely no speed demons. A 101-bhp 1.4-liter 4-cylinder is good on gas, but lacks the high-revving fizz that enthusiasts crave. Be patient, because the upcoming Abarth sports model will offer a turbocharged 170-bhp 4-cylinder, along with other go-fast goodies like a lowered suspension, beefier brakes, larger alloy wheels, and a vicious body kit. The Fiat 500 starts at roughly $15,500, but we expect the Abarth model to start well past $20,000 when it goes on sale next year (likely as a 2013 model).

2012 Hyundai Veloster

The Veloster looks like a hatchback coupe, but this strange little car has three doors: one on the driver's side, and two on the passenger's side. While not a traditionally beautiful car — that front end can look very busy from certain angles — it's definitely a bold new design. We guarantee you will never lose a Veloster in a parking lot. A direct-injected 138-bhp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine will deliver more than 40 mpg during highway driving. A 6-speed manual or a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission are available. Hyundai is also working on a turbocharged Veloster that could offer upward of 200 bhp.