What is a hot hatch?

Lost yet? Ok, let me explain. I wanted to strike up a discussion about what YOU consider to be a hot hatch as it can often be applied to a hatchback that looks a bit sporty and has had a sprinkling of performance. Take the new Renault Twingo GT as example. Yes, it's rear-engined (like a sportscar) and has rear-wheel drive (also like a sportscar), but it's minuscule engine offers just 108bhp.

Sure, the car is small and light, but even so you get a 0-62 time which is just under 10 seconds and a top speed which almost makes the car of yesteryear look a bit racy. I can't ignore the fact that it has beefed up suspension or that it has revised engine mapping and a lower ride height, but it's still not what I'd consider a hot hatch.

I'm a big fan of the Swift Sport but sadly it's not a 'true' hot hatch

The same applies for the Suzuki Swift Sport, a car that is very likeable and won my heart the first time I ever drove it. However, with a power output of 134bhp and a 0-62 time of over 8 seconds I wouldn't class this as a hot hatch either. These are 'warm hatches', which still have their place in the motoring world but they cannot be classed as TRUE hot hatches.

So after that rather long tangent, let me get back to the main question - what is a hot hatch? Well for me I'd say it has to offer at least 150bhp and is able to get to 60 (or 62) in under 8 seconds. Now that puts me in a precarious position because that means my very own Ibiza FR would be exempt from that ranking. My car produces 148bhp (close enough surely?!) and has a 0-60 time over 8 seconds, although I was able to get to 60mph in 7.1 seconds at Santa Pod so I think my car should be welcomed.

The cars that help create and define the hot hatch era. Source: Golf GTI Sportline

At this point some of you will be up in arms because that means legends like the original Golf GTI and the Peugeot 205 GTI would be banished as well but as they are much older than modern hot hatches so I will of course give them an honorary membership to the hot hatch club. Without them this genre would not exist in the first place after all.

But the Twingo GT? Nope, sorry pal, you're name's not down so you're not coming in. Now go back to Renault and tell them to make a proper hot hatch. One with a manual gearbox preferably. Yes Clio RS, I'm talking to you.

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Comments (2)
  • Thank you Dimitri - and yes you're right, it will get to a point where some hot hatches are too fast to enjoy on the road without losing your license!

    2 years ago
  • Good points - A hot hatch is probably something that in its time is fast, like the original Golf and Peugeot GTi were quick for their time. Nowadays to be a hot hatch, the little cars probably have to be too fast for today's roads...

    2 years ago

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