Hot Hatches need to become great again
How manufactures are missing the mark
The hot hatch has always been a popular and successful prospect ever since the first Golf GTI. If manufactures get them right, they are the perfect blend of fun, speed and every day usability, all at a relatively affordable price. Since the Golf there have been various iterations of the hot hatch, from different manufactures. Rear wheel drive, all wheel drive, from Alfa Romeo to BMW, we’ve had everything. Traditionally, the “go to” hot hatch brands have been Renault and Volkswagen. VW started the game, the MK5 GTI reset the benchmark, and the Clubsport S of 2016 was a gem. Renault has produced some of the sweetest handling, thrilling and hardcore hatches to date, the Megane R26.R and Clio 182 Trophy are still among the best of the breed. Of course there are still other hot hatch legends, such as various Peugeots, Ford RS and ST models, the monstrous Lancia Delta Integrale, and of course numerous variants of Honda’s phenomenal Civic Type R. But, in my opinion those icons are yet to be beaten. Take a look at the latest crop of hot hatches. The Golf R and GTI lack exicment, and the new TCR is not worthy of the GTI badge. Renault’s latest Megane RS is good, but the four wheel steering is slightly unnecessary, and the last generation was more thrilling. Oh, and the new Trophy R is £72,000. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Trophy R, but £72,000 would buy a Mercedes AMG C63 or Alfa Romeo Giulia QV. Plus the Trophy R only has 296 bhp, the same as a nicer, more practical Golf R that costs £38,000 less. Mercedes and Audi also have a price problem, with the A45 AMG and RS3 both costing nearly £50,000. The Merc also has an over complicated interior, and Chris Harris recently called it the most disappointing AMG he’d driven. Toyota’s Yaris GRMN was brilliant, but £26,000 is a trifle to expensive for a Yaris. Hyundai is also asking too much from its customers, would you pay £27,000 for one? Didn’t think so. BMW used to produce a lovely rear wheel drive hot hatch, with a 335 bhp straight six. That car has now been replaced by an ugly, four wheel drive, four cylinder hatch. How interesting. The hot hatch scene needs a new, unique newcomer. All of today’s hot hatches are turbocharged, four wheel drive and expensive. What if Alfa Romeo squeezed the Giulia Quadrifoglio’s V6 into a hatch? That would be something. But it won’t happen. In my opinion manufactures need to try harder to hit the sweet spot. The only all round brilliant hot hatches on sale now are the Ford Fiesta ST and Honda Civic Type R. All of the others just are’nt as good as their predecessors. For instance, recently I saw a 2011 Renault Clio RS on the road. I couldn’t get over how good it looked from behind with its wide archers, compared to today’s rather odd looking Clio. Something needs to be done to save the hot hatch. Till then I’ll take that Clio.