Finding the best fast hatches you can buy right now
Want a car that can get your pulse racing on a twisty back road, without pummelling you to submission in the city and generally coping with everything life can throw at it? You need a hot hatch. The best also won’t cost a fortune to run despite their potent performance engines. Here are 10 of the best you can buy.
10. Volkswagen Golf GTI
The hot hatch that kicked off the entire sector. Today’s Golf GTI is, like many of its predecessors, a fast and fun-to-drive machine that’s nevertheless easy to live with. It was enhanced last year with a minor facelift that bought an improved infotainment system. It’s pricier than many of its rivals, but its quality and retained values justify this.
9. Audi S3
Audi fits a 306bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine and four-wheel drive to the S3, meaning it’s a potent machine despite its relatively understated looks. True, others are more exciting to drive, and it’s far from cheap, but the interior is exceptional and it combines impressive performance with effortlessness.
8. Ford Focus ST
You can take your pick with the Ford Focus ST – either a 182bhp diesel or 247bhp petrol. All build upon the regular Focus’ competence with more engaging handling and great all-round talents. Inside, the driving position is excellent, but it’s a pity it doesn’t have the classy finish of others in this group.
7. Ford Fiesta ST-Line
Currently the hottest Ford Fiesta, the ST-Line leads the way for fun cars priced at under £20,000. It has excellent body control and sharp steering, while the tidy bodykit means it looks like a performance car even if it doesn’t quite have the power. The upside of this are lower than average insurance costs.
6. Audi RS3
If you like your hot hatches powerful, Audi has just the thing for you: a 394bhp RS3 with a five-cylinder turbo engine from the TT RS. Acceleration is incredible, aided by four-wheel drive, although the price you pay for this is a lack of the playfulness you get in the (cheaper) BMW M140i.
5. Volkswagen Golf R
Like your hot hatches Golf-shaped but wish for more power than the regular GTI? Enter the Golf R, with a 296bhp that delivers 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds. It’s just as practical as the GTI and the interior is even nicer.
4. Mercedes-AMG A45
Like many Mercedes, the AMG A45 is far from cheap. But it has an amazing 375bhp engine that’s paired with a crisp automatic gearbox, for performance that’s absolutely outstanding. It corners hard too, but we’re not sure this is enough to justify it over cheaper, equally talented alternatives.
3. Hyundai i30 N
Hyundai’s first ever hot hatch is fantastic. Straight from the off, it betters stalwarts such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST, particularly in the Performance version that’s more hardcore than the regular standard one. Saying that, our pick is the normal car, simply for its sheer value for money.
2. Ford Focus RS
The Ford Focus RS is a five-star car that, thanks to 345bhp from its 2.3-litre turbo engine, servers up 0-62mph in just 5.0 seconds. It does this while also being surprisingly affordable – less than £32,000 makes it a bit of a bargain compared to some cars on this list.
1. Honda Civic Type R
If you want to stand out, get a Civic Type R. It’s the most extreme-looking hot hatch you can buy right now. All those wings and spoilers are there for a reason though – to stick it to the ground at high speed. Handling is immense and the engine is exciting. Honda hasn’t forgotten practicality either, as this is one of the best all-round hot hatches to live with.