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Best Of

First published: 12th August 2016

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Best Of

Top 5 best Hot Hatches

With the sheer amount of excellent models on offer, hot hatch buyers have never had it so good. But, which models are most worthy of your consideration? Find out here...

First published: 12th August 2016
Traditionally, British car buyers have had something of an obsession with the humble hot hatch. Why? Because the hot hatch offers performance-car motoring that’s accessible to the masses, and accessible in a number of ways.

The first way is cost. You can have a fast car for not much cash, and given its power and speed, it won’t cost you all that much to insure or put petrol in, either. It’s also accessible in terms of practicality. It’s a fast car that you can still put your kids and their clutter in, so your hot rod can double as your everyday runaround.

The thing with hot hatches is that they come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s one to suit every taste. So, we’ve compiled a list of our favourites to help guide you through the countless options available.

Top 5 best  hot hatches
Top 5 best  hot hatches
Suzuki Swift Sport 3dr – the cheap one
Fourteen grand. With a lot of superminis, you can’t even get a basic cooking version for fourteen grand, let alone the fast one. With the Swift, however, that sum is enough to get you the range-topping Sport. It develops 134bhp from its 1.6-litre engine, which admittedly doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough to get this little car moving at a surprisingly rapid rate, and its rev-hungry nature also adds to the fun. However, the Swift’s appeal lies more in its handling than its pace, with its weighty steering and adjustable chassis giving it a very chuckable character. It’s the best way to have fun on a limited budget, and we absolutely love it. So will you.

Read the Expert Review | Find one in our classifieds
Top 5 best  hot hatches
Top 5 best  hot hatches
Ford Fiesta ST – the bargain one
You have to spend a few more grand on the Fiesta than you do on the Swift, but it’s still a massive bargain starting at less than £18,000, and you get so much more for your money. While the Swift is fun in a raucous and uncivilised kind of a way, the Fiesta is more poised and polished. It’ll demolish a set of bends with real grace and accuracy, and thanks to the feel you get through all the controls, you always feel right on top of the action. The 180bhp 1.6-litre engine doesn’t have as much power as competitors like the Renaultsport Clio and Peugeot 208 GTI, but the ST’s handling prowess makes it far more enjoyable than its rivals nevertheless.

Read the Expert Review | Find one in our classifieds
Top 5 best  hot hatches
Top 5 best  hot hatches
Renaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S – the involving one
The Megane 275 is one of the oldest offerings in the mid-size hot hatch class, having first been brought to market back in 2010. Despite its age, though, the Megane is still the best front-wheel drive hot hatch money can buy. Provided, that is, you go for the Cup-S version, which comes with a stiffened suspension and a limited slip differential that helps the front end dart into corners even more ferociously. This makes the car exceptionally precise, but it’s the sensations you feel that really get you. The detailed feedback you get through the steering; the snick you feel when you ram the gearlever home; the g-forces you pull as the featherlight body turns; it’s all completely intoxicating. What’s more, the Megane costs several thousands less to buy than its direct rivals. Why wouldn’t you?

Read the Expert Review | Find one in our classifieds
Top 5 best  hot hatches
Top 5 best  hot hatches
Ford Focus RS – the complete one
The Focus does absolutely everything you expect a good hot hatch to do. Its 345bhp turbocharged 2.3-litre engine makes it insanely fast in all circumstances, its clever four-wheel-drive system gives it unflappable grip and traction, while the adaptive suspension gives the car exceptional sharpness and control. What’s more, it does all these things at a sufficient level to beat most rivals, and all told, it all makes the car very exciting to drive. Very exciting indeed. However, it also has another trick up its sleeve in the form of Drift Mode. Select it, and more power is sent to the rear wheels while the dampers, steering and traction control are all optimised to have you sliding sideways in dramatic fashion. Dynamically, this car is hugely advanced and completely bonkers all at the same time, and that’s what makes it so very special.

Read the Expert Review | Find one in our classifieds
Top 5 best  hot hatches
Top 5 best  hot hatches
Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic – the powerhouse one
If you want your hot hatch to give you ultimate bragging rights, then the A45 is it. It happens to have the world’s most powerful four-cylinder production engine, with a staggering 376bhp being produced from its turbocharged 2.0-litre, and importantly, that officially makes it the hottest of all the hot hatches. Never mind the numbers, though. It’s the sensation of speed that’s the really appealing bit, with simply mind-blowing acceleration and a truly fearsome soundtrack. The four-wheel drive also gives the car barely believable grip and traction in corners, which really encourages you to adopt a maximum-attack driving style. And, when you’re not in gung-ho mode, the car still has the comfort class and quality you get from any regular Mercedes A-Class. Granted, you pay top-dollar for the pleasure, with prices starting at around £40,000, but if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.

Read the Expert Review | Find one in our classifieds
Top 5 best  hot hatches

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