Hot hatchbacks give you all the function and practicality of a regular hatch, and still manage to be incredibly fun to drive! Ever since the VW Golf GTI was first released, the standard for a hot hatchback has been pretty universal. You take a regular family hatchback, tweak the suspension, put a more powerful engine in, and use some nice detailing to give it a more sporty persona. The conventions surrounding hot hatchbacks has changed a lot since the GTI was released 40 years ago, and now there’s countless contemporary models all competing with one another. If you’re feeling spoiled for choice, here’s a list of some of the best hot hatchbacks on the market today.
Ford Fiesta ST
Seen as us car nuts are so obsessed with getting places quickly, I thought I’d kick this post off with the best car on the list. Sure, there are dozens of faster and indeed cheaper hatchbacks currently on the market. However, none of these competitors combine the handling, performance and value quite like the Fiesta ST. this car is fitted with a tasty 1.6-litre 180bhp turbocharged engine, which will take you from zero to sixty in under seven seconds. That’s exciting enough for most of us, but those who want even more thrills to their drive are free to spend another £5,000 on a Fiesta ST200. This sprints to sixty in a little over six seconds, and gives you 18 extra horses under the bonnet. The only drawback is that it’s a three door, and anyone sitting in the back seat is going to feel slightly cramped. Overall though, the Fiesta ST is a great work of engineering, making it one of the most popular hatchbacks on Autotrader and other car selling sites.
Seat Leon Cupra
If the compact size of the Fiesta ST puts you off, then the Seat Leon Cupra may be a little more up your alley. The Cupra’s roughly double the price of a Ford Fiesta ST, but the added space means that this hot hatchback is practical enough for a family. This variation of the Leon also offers three and five-door trims, meaning you won’t have to consign your friends and family to clambering awkwardly into the back every time you’re off somewhere. Its 286bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine does zero to sixty in 5.9 seconds, which isn’t bad at all! Furthermore, all Leon Cupras come with adjustable suspension as standard, and you can get a brilliant DSG gearbox in certain trims. If you need even more space and practicality, there’s also an estate version. By and large though, most people buy the Seat Leon Cupra for its fantastic performance on the road.
Skoda Octavia vRS
Although Skoda isn’t my favourite badge, I have to admit that the Octavia vRS is probably the most practical car on this entire list. This is mainly due to the massive 590-litre boot, but the helpful features certainly don’t stop there! The economy on this Octavia is brilliant, giving you 181bhp in the 2.0-litre diesel variation, more than 60mpg, and costing a tiny £30 in annual road tax. This may make the sound unbearably sensible and boring, but you’d only be half right! When you buy an Octavia vRS, you get a gorgeous body kit and boot spoiler, metal pedals, lowered suspension, and metal pedals. All these factors combined mean that you can tell you’re driving a hot hatchback the moment you lay eyes on the car, but the overall aesthetic design is far from ostentatious. If you want a recommendation for a precise model, then I’d go for the diesel. With this, you can upgrade to a four-wheel drive if you feel you want it.
Peugeot 208 GTi
The Peugeot 208 GTi is seen as something as a comeback to a lot of motor enthusiasts. Peugeot built a range of brilliant hot hatches in the eighties and nineties, and then saw a decline in performance closer to the millennium. As the standard in performance went down, the weight of the cars went up. The 208 GTi, however, turned all of this around and made up for Peugeot’s sins of the past. It’s good-looking, has a wonderful interior, and above all fun to drive. The 1.6 petrol engine gives you a decent 52.3mpg, yet does one to sixty in under seven seconds. Aside from that, the weight and responsiveness in the steering and brakes are way improved compared to some of Peugeot’s hot hatchbacks during their lull. While this is a truly great car, I certainly can’t put it before the Ford Fiesta ST, mainly because of the increased price.
VW Golf GTI
Here, we come to the earliest roots of the hot hatchback. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know all about the very impressive history that the Golf GTI has behind it, and that modern versions have certainly been living up to their reputation. The 2.0-litre 217bhp turbocharged engine leaps from zero to sixty in 6.5 seconds, and the acceleration has the perfect balance between feeling eager and smooth. That’s more than you can say for a lot of other hot hatchbacks! In terms of its overall performance and enjoyment for you, the driver, but it’s also extremely practical, and its interior is of a much better build quality than many other cars on this list. You can choose between a model with three or five doors, and the economical diesel version gives you 64mpg. You have to sacrifice a little speed compared to the petrol version, but for a lot of people the improved fuel economy is well worth it. the options don’t stop there though. If you want to help the earth and reap all the benefits of this great runner, there’s also a plug-in hybrid version, which apparently gives you 166 miles to the gallon.
If you were having trouble deciding on a hot hatchback, then I hope this post helped you out. Any one of these cars will give you a fun and dynamic driving experience, wrapped up in a practical, affordable shell.
** This is a collaborative post