what is the best hot hatch on the market?
from germany's golf to japan's civic.
If you've been reading this tribe's articles for over a month you would have seen that I have been through a lot of the main categories of cars on the market, except Hot Hatchbacks. The Hot Hatchback market is always growing and it is almost impossible to choose the best car, because each different car represents a different character, so at the end of the article there will be a quiz on which car represents you the best. But before you make your decision, have a look at my personal top 10.
volkswagen golf gti
We may as well start with the 'daddy' of the Hot Hatch market. With over thirty million built since the first model came along, the GTI is a hot hatch that you can rely on to be good, and this new, improved Golf lives up to it's predecessors. Starting around £27,000, this car is at the higher end of the market but the Germans deliver on the performance. The GTI Performance, which is £30,000, has a top speed of 155mph, which is limited and a 0-60 time in 6.2 seconds. This is thanks to a four-cylinder 2L Turbo Engine that produces 242bhp. Not bad at all. The Mk7 also looks good, much more nimble than the previous models. It's MPG isn't that bad either at 44 MPG. The Golf GTI buys you a reliable, comfortable, and extremely fast hatchback which you would not regret buying. The one con to this car is that you feel whilst that it is a brilliant car to drive, it doesn't have much character.
volkswagen golf gti
honda civic type r
Also starting at £30,000, the Honda Civic Type R is one of the few rivals to the Golf GTI. When road, driver and conditions gel as one in the new Civic Type R, this is a hugely exciting car. If I had to sum up this car in one word, it would be diverse. The 2017 Type R still has it's front-wheel drive layout, and has an extra 10bhp from it's predecessor, giving it 316bhp. Very impressive, but how does this relate to the acceleration and speed? Well Honda claim that the new Civic can do a 0-60 time in 5.7 seconds but are not quoting on it's top speed. The previous Civic Type R could do a staggering 167mph, and since it's successor is lighter and more powerful, surely it can go above the 170mph mark? The car overall is good, from the comfortable ride to the stylish interior, this car really does prove a fight to the Germans. Just in case your thinking of buying one, the new one, which is the one in this article comes to the U.K. in Summer 2017.
2017 honda civic type r
The face-lifted version of BMW’s brilliant M140i, which proved to be one of the real-world stars of the last few years. Along with Volkswagen’s Golf R the M140i became renowned for offering serious performance and involving dynamics at a realistic price tag – with seriously tempting lease deals to boot. This latest version gets a little more power and a sharper, more handsome aesthetic – the headlights have been reshaped and the taillights now reach into the boot-lid, while the front bumper boasts a more sculpted design. BMW isn’t claiming any chassis revisions, but the company does employ a policy of continuous improvement throughout a model’s life-cycle so there may yet be dynamic differences between this latest version and the original to report.
As for the performance, the turbocharged six cylinder engine produces 332bhp, more than the Civic R. It has a 0-60 in an impressive 4.7 seconds and can go onto 155mph, though limited like it's cousin the GTI. Again, the M135i buys you a reliable German car that can go fast and be a smooth car at the same time but it even has less flare than the GTI, and if you want to buy a Hot Hatch that it fast, comfortable and has character then I'm afraid the BMW is not your car.
ford focus rs
Now you may think that why is the Focus RS in this, I thought the Fiesta was the rival to the Golf GTI. If you scroll down you'll see the Fiesta is there but the Focus is the one that takes the fight to the Germans. Staring at £31,765, the Focus RS is right in the mix, £100 cheaper than the BMW, score! The Focus RS though, follows a completely different principal. Ford has taken high-tech engineering solutions to endow the RS with the ability to harness large amounts of power and drive with the agility of a smaller, lighter car. So the Focus RS might not fit our pre-existing mould for an unadulterated hot hatch. But, with a philosophy more akin to a Nissan GT-R, it’s still a recipe for a lot of fun.
The car itself looks amazing, and the interior is, well below average but still good, but what about what's under the engine? Well, it has a 0-60 time in 4.7 seconds, identical to the BMW and has a top speed of 165mph, which only the Civic Type R can say it has a higher top speed (I know the GTI is limited!). Despite it's four-wheel drive, the Focus RS is easy to launch of and is surprisingly nippy around the corners. This is all thanks to a 2.3L four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 345bhp, the most of the lot! The ride is average, and the mpg isn't the best at 37MPG. Overall I like this car a lot, and I think it really takes the fight to the Germans.
Ford Focus Rs
ford fiesta st200
Next is the baby brother of the Focus, the Fiesta. Now the Fiesta is more of a lower-end Hot Hatch for if you cannot afford a Hot Hatch over £30,000, which I can completely understand. But onto the Fiesta, specifically the ST200. The ST200’s shorter gear ratios give it punchier acceleration than the standard car, dropping the 0-62mph time to 6.7 seconds, down from 6.9. The top speed creeps up to 143mph from 139mph despite the shorter gearing. Now all of these stats may seem quite low compared to the previous cars in the article, but that's because of the price difference and the fact that the Fiesta has a 1.6L four-cylinder engine that produces just over 200bhp, more than 100bhp less than it's big brother. The Fiesta ST200 costs £22,900. That's nine grand less than the Focus, and do you want to pay that much more when you can have a perfectly decent Fiesta? I don't know either. Probably Not.
ford fiesta st200
peugeot 308 gti 270
So like Ford, Peugeot have two entries into this market, the 208GTI and the 308GTI. We looking at the 308GTI first, the more punchy of the two. Peugeot once had a reputation for a good Hot Hatch, like the 205GTI, but for the past two decades their cars have been below par but you can tell that their upping their game. With the 308 GTI, it has a 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder engine to produce 266bhp, and can go from 0 to 60 in six seconds flat. However, whilst the stats may be just below par, the engine is much more muscular and punchy. The top speed is the same to the GTI, 155mph and it's limited! At £28,000 the Peugeot is in no-mans land in the price, two or three grand cheaper than the GTI and the Focus but six grand more than the Fiesta ST200. I like this Peugeot, it looks good and is a real threat to the GTI but whilst the engine gives a punch the car lacks excitement and drama.
Peugeot 308 gti 270
peugeot 208 gti
Now you've just read all about the Peugeot 308 GTI so I won't bore you a lot. Simply, like Ford, Peugeot have put the 308 GTI at the top to compete with the likes of the GTI, Civic Type R and the Focus RS and then they've put the 208GTI and the lower end of the market to challenge the Fiesta ST200. The Peugeot 208 GTi is an impressive hot hatch in standard specification and a spectacular one in GTi by Peugeot Sport trim, continuing Peugeot’s recent (and very welcome) return to performance road car form.
The best of all of the possible models for the 208 is the Peugeot Sport, the only one that can challenge the Fiesta ST200. The price's for the Ford Fiesta ST200 and the Peugeot 208 GTI done by Peugeot Sport and practically identical, and the stats for the 208 GTI are this. It can do 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and tops out at 143mph. This is almost identical to the Fiesta ST200, just slightly faster in the 0-60 department. I cannot believe that I'm about to write this, but I think the Peugeot 208 GTI is better than the Fiesta ST200! The Peugeot beats the Ford! I haven't heard that since the 1980's.
Peugeot 208 gti (sport)
renault megane 275 trophy
This, the 275 Trophy, is a more user-friendly version of Renaultsport's Nürburgring-focused hot hatch, the Trophy-R. It mixes the firepower of the R with the usability of the regular 275, to become one of the most capable and well-rounded offerings in this segment. At £29,000, the Megane is at a similar place to the Peugeot 308 GTI, cheaper than the Golf GTI but more expensive than the Fiesta ST200 and the 208 GTI. The 275 Trophy is both sharper and more powerful than its predecessor, the 265 Trophy. Power's up from 261bhp to 271bhp (at 5500rpm), but torque remains the same - it peaks at 265lb ft between 3000 and 5000rpm. It takes a claimed six seconds to reach 62mph, and top speed is a quoted 158mph. The car's six-speed manual gearbox is unchanged, but that added oomph makes it feel noticeably more eager once rolling.
Overall, it’s extremely hard to fault the 275 Trophy. It even sounds more appealing than the 265 thanks to the new Akrapovic titanium exhaust, which adds a bit of growl on the way up the rev range and some overrun pops on the way back down. The steering could perhaps be a smidgen tighter immediately off-centre, the touchscreen is too hard to reach (even with my long arms) and I’m not sure the Recaros hold you quite as securely as you need given the cornering forces encouraged by the chassis (the R gets huggier buckets), but these are minor niggles given the rest of the car’s talents.
renault megane 275 trophy
seat leon cupra 300
The Seat Leon Cupra 300 is similar to the Megane in many ways, from price to power there similar, but is it better than the French cars? This is the latest version of SEAT’s top of the range hot hatch, based on the recently face-lifted Leon; a car that began life with either 261bhp and 276bhp, then moved to just one power level of 286bhp, and now, as the name implies, boasts 296bhp (300PS)
Despite having an unfashionable power output that still began with the number ‘2’, the Cupra has always channeled its relatively light construction and the effectiveness of the TSI engine into a package that feels as rapid as just about anything in the class. It's 0-60 is 5.6 seconds and the top speed is limited to 155mph. The one downside to the Seat is that it should be more engaging to drive, instead of the car doing the work for you. However 155mph performance for under £30,000 (from £29,840) is a compelling headline, and the Cupras are well specified overall, even if a DSG-equipped five-door with the Orange Performance Pack and Michelins no longer appears such a bargain at £34,440. There are plenty of rivals at this price point, including the Renault, Honda and Volkswagen.
seat leon cupra 300
mercedes a 250 amg
Now, there are about a dozen different types of A-Classes from £19,000 to the stunning Yellow Edition at £47,000 (There will be a picture of the Yellow Edition at the end of the gallery), but I've picked somewhere in-between, the A250 AMG. It starts at around £30,000, slightly less than it's cousins, the BMW and the Volkswagen. It has a six speed manual gearbox, and the 0-60 is in 6.3 seconds, quite below average. It's engine produces 215bhp and it's top speed is 149mph, again, below average. The Mercedes is below average, a bit overpriced, and it's looks are average. Sure, it's reliable, but it's nowhere near the top.
mercedes a 250 amg
The cars that just missed the cut:
renault clio sport
kia picanto (ish)
so... which one should you get?
As I said at the beginning of the article, each Hot Hatch represents a different person's personality. But I'll give my PERSONAL OPINION. The Volkswagen Golf GTI is always been a safe bet, and a very good one. The Honda Civic Type R is a great rival to the German and is one of the fastest. But my personal favourite is the Ford Focus RS. Here's MY list:
Please leave your opinions in the comments