Hot Hatches: Mankind’s Greatest Mystery

Who on earth is it that actually buys hot hatches? You know the type; they’re fast, they’re loud, they’re small hatchbacks with a nuclear bomb in the engine bay.

If only we could see who’s driving. VW Golf GTi.

A few of the stars: The Ford Fiesta ST, the VW Golf GTi and the ludicrously expensive BMW M135i. Then there are the supporting acts: A smattering of Peugeots, Skodas, Vauxhalls and usually a Renault Clio with some assortment of the letters ‘R’ and ‘S’ plonked next to the name badge by a Frenchman whose dream of being Alain Prost or Zidane crashed and burned at the feet of 3 ungrateful children.

I have recently become 19 years old. So, naturally, a car the size of Dawn French’s penis with an engine the size of Dawn French is very exciting. God, I hope Dawn French doesn’t have a penis. With 8 billion horsepower going to the front wheels and a big fat handbrake in the middle, the concept of a hot hatch is as brilliant as the name is ridiculous. ‘Hot hatch’ sounds like something Dawn French has between her thighs. Right, enough about Dawn French.

The author’s attempt at being a teenager.

Anyway, the best statistic I could find for the huge popularity of the hot hatch comes for the poster boy: The Golf GTi. In its first five generations, from 1975 to 2008, Volkswagen sold 212,136 GTis in Britain. Two hundred thousand – that’s insane. A more modern stat comes from our transatlantic cousins – 23 thousand sold in the US last year. But then again, I’ve just returned from the States having been sacked from my first proper job (a story for another day) and, take my word for it, it’s a country full of Amish people taking selfies (honestly) and 12 year-olds that ask ‘Does the Queen have a royal dildo?’ So, in short, we’re not interested in them, especially as their contribution to the hot hatch world is… nought.

Two hundred thousand from just the Golf GTi alone. Let’s not forget that’s not the only rocket-propelled training shoe made by VW, with its oxygen-deprived younger brother, the Polo GTi. Let’s also not forget the dozens of other hot hatches on the market. And let’s definitely not forget the other 195 nations of car-lovers beyond Britain. This is not an article for the forgetful, clearly. These things sell like hot cakes.

Conventionally, we think these hot hatches are for my yobbish teenage counterparts. Flared wheel arches, massive alloys and a bellow from 40 exhausts to distract the opposite sex from almost any breakout of acne. Sounds like the perfect recipe for someone that would replace 007’s Tom Ford tuxedo and Walther PPK pistol with a bread knife and a tracksuit.

Under his hat are there keys to a 30 grand BMW?

But these yobbo’s, the type that strike fear into the weak hearts of Britain’s senile and would chrome their underwear if they could, simply can’t afford hot hatches. Fiesta ST? 17 grand. BMW 1M - at least 25 grand for a decent one. Focus RS? A mind-boggling 31 grand. Mercedes A-Class AMG? You honestly don’t even want to know.

That’s serious money. As a student it’s the sort of money that I would perform unspeakable acts for. And for our case study, the yobbo, the young man that spends the occasional tenner burning green plants in his mouth? Simply unattainable.

So, we wave goodbye to the ASBO as the man that will both ask and deliver the financial goods in a showroom and walk away with the most fun you can have on four wheels.

Surely then, the person buying this mobile madness must be the young professional? Wrong. He is 27, he pretends to live in London and he sold his soul to smash buttons in front of a screen for 8 hours a day. Yes, James who commutes from Reading every morning can come up with a sufficient number of digits in his bank account, but mobile madness? Fat chance.

He shops here.

He wants a BMW 3 Series, perhaps the equivalent Audi or Mercedes or if he’s feeling adventurous a Porsche Cayman or an Alfa. Ten years on, he’ll want an M3. Ten years after that, he’ll want a Jag and another 10 years down the line he’ll want a Bariatric Sentra EC Wheelchair after his premature cardiac arrest.

And it’s the same story for anyone who can actually afford hot hatches. City high-flyers? Nope, Aston Martin Vantage, please. Middle-aged women? A Volvo XC90 or a Land Rover Discovery. Our yobbo’s Dad? He’s in Spain. It simply doesn’t make sense.

Who buys these cars? Who has the money and the madness?

The answer: 21st century Britain is now a country full of 17-year-old mafia masterminds. Al Capone now listens to Drum N’ Bass and uses Tinder. It’s the only plausible answer.

That, or perhaps Volkswagen have fiddled with their figures. Perhaps they’ve been doing it for years …

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