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Hot Hatch Heaven

If I wanted to buy a hot hatch in 2024, what would the best ones be?  A hot hatch is considered hot because it is a small hatchback with plenty of get up and go, handles fast cornering really well (and thus is a hoot to drive), and also offers decent practicality to double up as an errand runner or commuter when you’ve stopped being a rapscallion at the traffic lights. 

Back in the eighties, the VW Golf GTi, Renault 5 GT, Mazda 323 Turbo, Toyota Corolla GTi, Fiat Uno Turbo, and the Peugeot 205 GTi were the hatchbacks to go for if you wanted a relatively cheap to buy and quick little car that brought you smiles for miles.  In fact, these were the cars that caused people to call this type of car a hot hatchback in the first place; they are still considered legendary classics.

The nineties saw other car manufacturers getting into a slice of the popular hot hatch pie, so the Ford Escort RS Cosworth, Ford Fiesta RS Turbo, Nissan Pulsar GTi, Peugeot 306 GTi, Renault Clio Williams, Honda Civic Type R, Lancia Delta Integral, and Subaru WRX joined the gang.

The decade following the turn of the century cemented the Honda Type R, the VW Golf GTi, the Subaru WRX, the Renault Megane R26, and the Ford Focus RS as the hot hatch quickies. 

Recently, 2010–2020 have seen the VW GTi, the Renault Megane RS Trophy, Ford’s Focus and Fiesta RS models, and the Honda Civic Type R dominating the hot hatch arena.  But today, what’s there to carry the hot hatch name on?  There are plenty of hatchbacks, in fact, that allow the hot hatch dream to live on. 

In 2024, some of the best little hot hatchbacks you can buy are cars like the AWD Toyota Yaris GR, offering great value for money, bringing a neat little 3-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol turbo engine to the party with a slick shifting 6-speed manual gearbox, a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 5.4 seconds, and a top speed of 230 km/h.

For similar money, Hyundai offers a hot hatch, namely their front-wheel driven i30N in 2.0-litre petrol turbo form, capable of whipping the 0–100 km/h sprint in 5.4 seconds and running on to a top speed of 250 km/h.  They don’t just stop with the i30N because you can also try the smaller and equally fun Hyundai i20N.

There is still a sparkling new VW Golf GTi with front wheel drive and169 kW available for you to buy, but you can also purchase the even quicker Golf R.  This AWD package tweaks the Golf GTi’s engine even further to pack a 250-kW punch that can send you from zero to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds. 

If you are after the quickest petrol-powered hot hatch of 2024, then the intense Audi RS 3 takes the cake.  The RS3 runs with a rather special 5-cylinder, 2.5-litre turbo performance engine and Quattro AWD to put all that power to the ground.  A 3.8-second 0–100 km/h sprint time says enough.

Honda’s Civic Type R is still doing the business in 2024 and is a very nice bit of kit that handles really well, using a sweet 6-speed manual gearbox, a front-wheel-driven chassis, and a free-revving 2.0-litre petrol turbo motor to do the job.  A 0–100 km/h sprint can be done in 5.4 seconds, but the car will also happily run right up to 275 km/h. 

The 2024 Ford Fiesta ST is probably closest to the hot hatchbacks of old.  The Fiesta ST is quick, well equipped, and has low running costs that help make it an affordable and great little daily driver.

Still some other fine petrol-powered hatchbacks for the hot hatch hunter include:

  • Mercedes Benz AMG A45 (0-100 km/h, 4.4 seconds)
  • BMW M135i (0-100 km/h, 4.6 seconds)
  • Mini Hatch JCW (0-100 km/h, 6.0 seconds)
  • Abarth 695 (0-100 km/h, 6.9 seconds)
  • Cupra Leon (0-100 km/h, 5.7 seconds)
  • Renault RS Trophy (0-100 km/h, 6.0 seconds)

EV hot hatchbacks:

  • MG 4 XPower (0-100 km/h, 3.8 seconds)
  • Cupra Born (0-100 km/h, 6.7 seconds)
  • Abarth 500e (0-100 km/h, 7.0 seconds)

Of course, the decade’s not over yet, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the iconic hot hatches of the twenties will be.