Blast from the past: 10 of the best old school hot hatches

Who doesn't love an old school throwback?

2y ago

These days our modern hot hatches feature obscene amounts of power, gizmos and electronic driving aids which, in my opinion, are becoming less and less like what the name originally stood for. I know it's how times are and it will never change so here's a short list of what I'd consider to be 10 of the best old school hot hatches in no particular order.

10. Peugeot 106 Rallye S1/S2 (1994)

Talking a blast from the past, the Rallye proves that you don't need lots of power and fancy gizmos to have fun. Firstly it came in S1 guise featuring a tiddly 1.3 litre engine built for homologation so it could compete in international rallye events for cars with under 1400cc engines. Built on that came the S2 with a 1600cc 4 cylinder that produced a modest 103bhp which doesn't sound like much but with a kerb weight of only 865kg you can imagine it's an exhilarating drive that only a French hot hatch can offer.

9. Alfa Romeo 147 GTA (2000)

I feel like the GTA deserves a place in this list purely for the uniqueness. A lot of hot hatches (especially back then) featured smaller engines to try and keep the kerb weight down, so what did Alfa do? They stuck a massive 3.2 litre V6 in it producing 247bhp making it seriously quick and matched with that ol' Alfa charm, it was certainly special.

8. Audi S3 (1999)

The original Audi S3 paved the way for what is now one of the best modern cars for sale, let alone hot hatches. Separating itself from the masses by using a complex AWD system which was similar to Quattro but not quite, the S3 had a 1.8 litre turbo 4 cylinder engine which produced just over 200bhp making it more than adequate in keeping up with the competition.

7. Nissan Sunny GTI-R (1990)

This is a personal favourite of mine because its bonkers and sums up the 90s car scene perfectly. It was built under homologation for rallying and came with an over the top body kit including that huge bonnet vent but hey, that's cool right? The standard Sunny is completely drab and boring but the GTI-R came with a 227bhp 2 litre 4 cylinder engine with an AWD system making it a complete pocket rocket. Some even class it as the Japanese Lancia Delta Intergale.

6. Peugeot 306 GTI-6 (1996)

Another Peugeot on this list in the shape of a 306 GTI. What could be mistaken as just another boring hatchback to many was actually one of the best to come out of the 90s, With a 2 litre engine with 170bhp, sharp steering and a responsive chassis, it's everything a hot hatch should be.

5. Renault Clio Williams (1993)

Arguably one of the best hot hatches ever made, the Williams, like the 106 Rallye, used the same concept of moderate power with a small kerb weight and a small wheel base. Known to be great at flicking its rear end up, the Clio featured a 4 cylinder engine with 148bhp and a 0-60 time of just 7.6 seconds making it one of the fastest hatches at the time.

4. Lancia Delta Intergrale Evo 2 (1993)

Ah, the Intergrale. A car that is on many, many bucket lists, the Evo 2 was dressed for the party with rallying pedigree making it the ideal hot hatch. Underneath the bonnet resides a 2 litre turbocharged engine producing 215PS as well as AWD making it a weapon under any conditions. Add some Lancia Italian charm to the mix and you've got yourself a winner.

3. Renault Clio 182 Trophy (2005)

Okay so old school might not strictly apply to a car that is only 13 years old but it deserves a place here. One of the last 'manual' hot hatches, the Clio has possibly the best chassis that I've ever experienced and offers a lot of car for the money. It's tight, agile and has plenty of driver feedback making it very easy to drive quickly, even for average people like me.

2. Ford Focus RS Mk1 (2002)

The first generation of the Focus RS was marmite regarding looks and on paper it didn't look particularly impressive but deception was at work here and is one of the more interesting cars to drive from Ford. It must be doing something right as they're starting to creep up in value and are starting to become somewhat of a collectors item.

1. Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 (1976)

Here we are with the what can be described as the original hot hatch - the Golf GTI. Born in 1976 under the watchful eye of Alfons Lowenberg, the hot hatch market was a completely new concept and Volkswagen took full advantage of that with the Golf which is still ruling the hot hatch market to this day. Stripped back to bare essentials, the Mk1 featured a 1.6 litre engine with 108bhp and a snappy 4 speed gearbox which doesn't like much but with a 0-60 time of just 9 seconds, it went like stink.

So, here's 10 of my choices. What else have you guys got?

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Comments (45)

  • Surprised not to see Peugeot 205 1.9 Gti, Renault 5 GT Turbo and Fiesta RS Turbo aren’t on this list, although looking at the cars I suspect it’s just a generational thing.

      2 years ago
  • Where is Peugeot 205 GTI?

      2 years ago
  • I am bumping into these cars (homologation Renault 5 and 205, Clio V6) quite often on shows. Their prices are now insane. You get really-really nice cars for their asking prices...

      2 years ago
  • Peugeot 205 GTi

      2 years ago
  • I race a Lancia Delta integrale 16v, Fiat Uno Turbo, Renault Clio 182 and also have a 182 road car

      2 years ago