Best hot hatches 2019 (and the ones to avoid)

What's the best hot hatch money can buy? We name our favourites and reveal the ones to avoid at all costs...

Author Avatar
What Car? team
22 January 2019

A hot hatchback needs to excel in several areas if it's to be the crowned the cream of the crop.

First, it must be able to get your pulse racing on a twisty back road; if it can’t get you from corner to corner without the edges of your mouth turning up, it has fallen at the first hurdle. So, handling prowess and power delivery are key here.

Ride quality is also important. A firm ride is inevitable on something so sporty, but the suspension must be able to deal with the worst that British roads can throw at it.

And hot hatches are likely to be used every day of the week, so they also need to possess a practical, comfortable interior and have reasonable running costs.

Below and over the next few pages, we'll reveal our favourites and tell you which models to avoid. And don't forget, if you're interested in buying any of these cars head over to What Car? New Car Buying and see how much we can save you on your next car.

Used Volkswagen Golf R 2016-present

The potent Volkswagen Golf GTI features further up this list, but for a more hardcore experience it's worth considering the Golf R. It's even more potent than the GTI, with increased performance and four-wheel drive. In fact, it's tremendous fun to drive. It has 296bhp and a 0-62mph time of just 5.3sec. It's also reasonably practical to use every day, and its interior is top-notch.

Read our full Volkswagen Golf R review


9. Audi S3

Audi S3

Like the regular A3 family hatchback, the S3 is a premium car that oozes quality inside and out. There's a 306bhp petrol engine under the bonnet that makes it one of the quickest cars in this class. The S3 is not the most exciting hot hatch to drive, though, and its price can quickly rise if you start adding options, but it has one of the classiest interiors around.

Read our full Audi S3 review


8. Audi RS3

Audi RS3

Audi has been locked in a power battle with Mercedes-AMG in recent years, but this revised RS3, which borrows the 394bhp five-cylinder engine from the TT RS sports car, puts the hot hatch firmly in the top spot for outright acceleration. You’ll need a well-padded wallet to buy and own an RS3, though.

Read our full Audi RS3 review

Next: more of our favourite hot hatchbacks >

Page 1 of 4