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Best used hot hatches for less than £20,000

A budget of £20,000 could buy you a sensible family car, or you could inject some excitement into your life with one of these 10 used hot hatches...

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Oliver Young
Published04 July 2024

In the world of hot hatches, a budget of £20,000 is enough to get you into some seriously cool used performance machines. For less than the cost of a sensible Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf you could buy a hot hatch that’s only a few years old, produces two-and-a-half times as much power and can accelerate from 0-62mph in half the time.

Best used hot hatches for less than £20,000

So, settle back and enjoy our list of the top 10 best used hot hatches currently available. Some are stealthy and sophisticated speed demons, others are more hardcore track day weapons, and a few are inexpensive and just plain fun. It’s a varied list, but that just means there’s something to suit all tastes.

And, if you want to know which is our favourite straight away, it's the wonderful Renault Mégane RS.


  • Superb agility
  • Strong performance
  • Decently affordable relative to its main rivals


  • Firm ride
  • Rear space and boot not the largest

If you're after a rip-snorting hot hatch look no further. The Renault Mégane RS gets a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine packing 276bhp in standard form, and 296bhp in Trophy guise. Even with the base amount of power, it has plenty of pace. More importantly, it's tremendous fun and effortlessly capable when you're in the mood for a spirited drive - it's terrific when the road gets twisty. 

Few others can match it for sheer bang-for-pound and our budget will get you a good 2020 car. 

We found: 2020 Renault Mégane RS 280, 46,000 miles, £20,000

Read our full used Renault Mégane RS review

Search for a used Renault Mégane RS for sale


  • Sensational performance
  • Exhilarating handling
  • Remarkably practical


  • Looks won’t be for everyone
  • Awful infotainment
  • Not cheap to buy

Make no mistake, the Honda Civic Type R is an absolute blast of a hot hatch, yet it's one that’s also practical and easy to live with.

Chances are you’ll already know what you think about this 2017-2022 Type R. It’s not the kind of car you can sit on the fence about – not at least as far as its styling is concerned. 

But beneath those striking looks, the Civic Type R has more than enough bite to match its bark. It’s powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine kicking out 316bhp. Its performance is therefore thrilling, its handling is sensational and it sounds wonderful. Would give the Megane a closer run for its money if you could get a newer car for our budget. 

We found: 2017 Honda Civic Type R, 36,000 miles, £18,995

Read our full used Honda Civic Type R review

Search for a used Honda Civic Type R for sale


  • Fun to drive
  • Lively engine
  • Great driving position


  • Harsh ride
  • No automatic emergency braking option
  • Limited space in the rear

Just losing out here to the exceptional Mégane RS and Civic Type R, this Ford Fiesta ST captures the essence of what makes this class so great. At its heart, it's a driver's car. The punchy 1.5-litre turbocharged engine puts out a healthy 197bhp giving it strong performance, while its handling is an impressive balance of confidence-inspiring grip and smile-inducing fun. 

It's also practical, fuel-efficient and affordable. and, if you can't stretch to this later version, try the 2013-2017 Ford Fiesta ST, which likewise is one of our very favourite hot hatches. 

We found: 2023 Ford Fiesta ST-3, 26,000 miles, £18,000

Read our full used Ford Fiesta ST review

Search for a used Ford Fiesta ST for sale

Find a used one for sale here


  • Terrific performance
  • Lively handling
  • Confidence-inspiring reliability


  • Ride can get unsettled over some surfaces
  • Steering could be more communicative
  • Although it's great value, there are cheaper hot hatches out there

Most other hot hatches come with a turbocharged three or four-cylinder engine, but this previous-generation version of the old BMW 1 Series M140i has a stonking 335bhp twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six, making it the fastest car in this list by some margin. You also can revel in the playful nature of the rear-wheel-drive chassis, so it's a real blast to drive. 

What’s more, you can get it in five-door form, making it a practical family car. Oh, and the latest 2018-onwards BMW M135i is also a bit of a hoot, if you've got even more of the folding stuff burning a hole in your pocket. 

We found: 2019 BMW M140i 5dr, 40,000 miles, £18,500

Read our full used BMW M140i review

Search for a used BMW M140i for sale


  • Very quick
  • Comfortable and refined
  • High-quality interior


  • Relatively expensive to buy
  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
  • Mixed reliability – Golf as a whole

The Volkswagen Golf R is the chalk to the likes of the BMW M140i's cheese, with very understated looks and absolutely no histrionics. 

Beneath the surface lurks a 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and a four-wheel-drive system, as used in the Audi S3. Like the S3, the Golf R has little trouble getting all that power down off the line, but it has lighter steering so it feels a bit more nimble. It's devastatingly quick, and that performance is very easy to access safely. It's refined, too, and you get all the practicality the basic Golf is renowned for. 

We found: 2019 Volkswagen Golf R 5dr, 49,000 miles, £19,995

Read our full used Volkswagen Golf R review

Search for a used Volkswagen Golf R for sale


  • Sweet and precise handling
  • Responsive engine
  • Comfortable ride for a hot hatch
  • Well equipped


  • Interior is bland
  • Performance version doesn’t have the pace of rivals
  • Boot is smaller than a Golf GTI or Civic Type R

Hyundai hit it out of the park with the Hyundai i30N, and it's clear from how this car looks, drives and sounds that the manufacturer was serious about kicking up a storm in the segment. 

With 271bhp in Performance form, it's quick enough to thrill, while its exhaust is raucous enough to make you grin from ear to ear – without making your neighbours frown, of course. It's fun on a twisty road and practical, too. Reliability is strong, and used prices are now nicely competitive. 

We found: 2019 Hyundai i30N Performance, 40,000 miles, £19,000

Read our full used Hyundai i30N review

Search for a used Hyundai i30N for sale


  • Great handling
  • Strong performance
  • Refined


  • Some rivals offer a fierier drive
  • A little expensive relative to rivals

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the car that does everything, and the one that every other brand tries to emulate yet never quite manages to.

One moment it's a classy hatchback that quietly, comfortably and efficiently deals with the daily grind, the next it’s a rapid point-to-point sports car that few twice-as-expensive models can keep up with. That's partly down to the 227bhp 2.0-litre engine fitted to GTIs equipped with the Performance Pack, but the excellent chassis dynamics play their part, too. It's a crushingly competent hot hatch, this Mk7 Golf, with plenty of good examples on the used car forecourts. 

We found: 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 5dr, 51,000 miles, £17,500

Read our full used Volkswagen Golf GTI review

Search for a used Volkswagen Golf GTI for sale


  • Impressive performance
  • Balanced handling and lots of grip
  • Well equipped


  • Used Fiesta STs are cheaper and more exciting to drive
  • Smaller boot than rivals
  • So-so infotainment

It may be one of the class's more recent entries, but the Hyundai i20N is a delightfully old-school hot hatch. It's small, quick, relatively affordable used and only available with a manual gearbox. In fact, it neatly supplements the Korean firm's larger offering, the Hyundai i30N, which was its first-ever hot hatch and which also appears in this top 10.

Used prices are competitive, and only the car's relative sparsity on the used market (only a set amount of i20Ns were put aside for export to the UK) prevents it from finishing even higher here. 

We found: 2020 Hyundai i20N, 40,500 miles, £20,000

Read our full used Hyundai i20N review

Search for a used Hyundai i20N for sale


  • Fun to drive
  • Low running costs


  • Not as practical as some rivals
  • Some cheap materials inside

The Mini hatchback has always been a rip-roaring success, and the hot Cooper S version is a wonderfully dynamic car.

Its cheeky character, stylish interior and nippy handling make it one of the most loveable and fun hot hatches on our list. Plus, the Cooper's 2.0-litre petrol engine gives you 192bhp to play with, which pushes it from 0 to 60mph in just 6.8sec and on to a top speed of 146mph. It's a true pocket rocket.

You can also get the JCW version for this budget, and that packs a 228bhp punch for a 6.3sec 0 to 60mph time. 

We found: 2021 Mini Hatchback 2.0 Cooper S 3dr, 42,600 miles, £18,500

Read our full used Mini Hatch review

Search for a used Mini Cooper S for sale


  • Terrific performance
  • Four-wheel-drive dependability
  • High-quality interior


  • Rivals are more exciting to drive
  • Can be a little cramped in the back
  • Running costs could be high

For the more discerning hot-hatch buyer who doesn’t wish to be too flashy about the performance of his or her car, there’s the previous-generation version of the Audi S3.

Aside from a few S3 badges and the four tail pipes, there's not much to differentiate it from the regular Audi A3. Behind the unassuming exterior hides a 296bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, as well as four-wheel drive, so the S3 has prodigious traction for the 'traffic light grand prix' if that's your thing.

We found: 2018 Audi S3 TFSI Quattro 5dr, 59,000 miles, £18,995

Read our full used Audi S3 review

Search for a used Audi S3 for sale

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