Evening all, welcome back to my kitchen table, and to another article of sorts. As the end of the decade approaches, I put up a post a few days ago asking for the communities' picks for the best hot hatches of the 2010s. Now the results are in, and I have compiled a list of the top 7 cars that were most popular in the poll, along with some personal picks of my own, for your reading pleasure. So, without further ado, let's jump in!
7. Volkswagen Golf R (2012-)
Kicking off the list is the most powerful Golf available, the 288 bhp Golf R. Introduced in 2012, the R quickly made a name for itself as the Golf GTi with a larger set of teeth, more finely tuned for drivers' tastes, and cemented its place as one of the finest hot hatches of Volkswagen's history – and according to the DriveTribe community, one of the finest hot hatches of the decade. And with the instant popularity and pedigree of this model, you can't argue that the car has earned its place on this list.
6. MINI JCW GP (2013)
One place up from the Golf R lies the MINI John Cooper Works GP, a brawny, track-bred variant of the already beefy John Cooper Works Challenge. Packing a 1.6 litre engine churning out 220 bhp, a six-speed gearbox along with race-tuned suspension, purpose-made high performance tyres and an adjustable race ECU, all topped off with lashings of carbon fibre, bucket seats and muscular bodykits and air intakes. It's enough to turn Alec Issigonis' creation into a blisteringly fast pocket rocket – it lapped the Nurburgring in 8 minutes and 23 seconds, faster than a Honda NSX and an E36 M3. Not bad at all then.
5. Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup (2009-2013)
Renault's Cup chassis has been working wonders with their performance models since Renaultsport's inception. From the Megane to the Twingo, the sharpness and accuracy of the handling given by the chassis, coupled with tuned, powerful engines and a Renaultsport badge make them loved equally by the motoring press, the petrolhead community and the mainstream.
So when Renaultsport took a humble Clio and fiddled with it to produce a remarkable 197 bhp, combined with an extremely low weight of only 1200 kg, and the Clio 200 Cup became a cracking little car with genuine performance pedigree, and it takes its place as one of the best hot hatches of the decade. Despite it being released a year before, but it's too good to miss. Sorry.
4. Honda Civic Type R (2017-)
It would be a sin to not include the ever-brilliant Honda Civic Type R on this list, and you guys certainly didn't disappoint, with the Type R having a large presence in the comments section of my earlier post.
The current Type R arrived in 2017 and quickly made a name for itself by proving itself to be an excellent car, both on the road and the track, showing up the competition in championships such as the BTCC.
Powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder block crammed with 316 horsepower in Europe and Japan, yet only with 306 hp in other markets. Again, in the 2010s the Civic Type R has proven itself to be a genuine white-knuckle hot hatch with the guts to blow the competition away, and we hope to see that trend continue into the 2020s.
3. BMW M140i (2015-2019)
When it was released, the BMW 1 Series was dismissed as being a cheap way for the masses to cash into the BMW name for a bargain-bin price, as it was reportedly based on an old Rover design, and had an underpowered engine and bad styling.
But since then, the 1 Series has been going from strength to strength, and it culminated in this, the M140i, the M Power variant of the meek hatchback. It was powerful enough to embarrass cars that were thought to be far superior, as the M140i could easily catch up with the likes of the Audi S3, and could even put cars such as the Jaguar F-Type in its sights, with 335 bhp under the bonnet, with performance-tuned suspension and a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds – which proves that this car is no joke.
2. Hyundai i30N (2019)
This was one I certainly didn't expect. When putting the question post together, I expected some of the entrants on this list, but I was extremely surprised at the success of the Hyundai i30N.
But I shouldn't have been so short-sighted, as according to community member Ben Tullett, the Hyundai i30N earned its place for "showing the likes of Ford and VW that the cheap Korean car company aren't messing about anymore and are starting to catch up". And when you read the reviews of this car and have a look at the specs, you'll soon see why. 271 brake horsepower drive the wheels, along with a 6 speed gearbox. The i30N could have been the most unexpected success story in hot hatches, and it shows that Hyundai aren't stuck at the bottom making bargain bin cars any more, and are beginning to step up their game. On to number one then..
1. Ford Focus RS (2019)
While the Focus RS could be considered a typical choice for a list such as this, you can't argue that Ford's latest generation of the performance Focus is nothing short of a jump jet for the road. With a specially tuned version of Ford's usually quite tame 2.3 litre EcoBoost engine, the block now chugs out a vicious 350 hp, with 400 to come in the New Year, and with a top speed of 165 mph, the Focus RS could comfortably compete with contemporary sports cars, and it has unarguably earned its place as the finest hot hatch of the 2010s.
And that's a wrap! Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it. Thanks for a great last few months, and I'll see you in the next article!