Best used hot hatches

With scintillating pace, sensational handling, sensible prices and space for the whole family, used hot hatches have it all. Here are the best on the market today...

Best used hot hatches

Best used hot hatches

The recipe for creating the perfect hot hatch is simple: take a practical hatchback body. Add in a thumping great engine with lots of power. Garnish with a sweet suspension set-up that makes it great fun to drive. And… well, that’s about it, actually.

Hot hatches are immensely popular here in the UK because they manage to provide all things to all people. And that popularity has two huge benefits for buyers: firstly, there’s a wealth of different models to choose from, and secondly, there are plenty of examples around on the used market, which makes it easy to find a bargain buy.

But which used hot hatch is best for you? Well, to help you work it out, we’ve put together our top 10 list.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals from What Car?, sign up to our weekly newsletter here

Got a motoring question? Our experts are standing by to help. Just tweet us your question using #askwhatcar

Best used hot hatches

Best used hot hatches

10. Volkswagen Golf R

The Volkswagen Golf R is one of the most desirable hot hatches going – which perhaps explains why it’s so expensive. But if you’re prepared to stump up the price, you get fantastic all-weather ability, thanks to its four-wheel-drive grip, and vast reserves of power, plus all of the great traits of the Golf that we’ve come to know and love.

We found: 2015 R, 48,000 miles, full service history, £17,695


Best used hot hatches

You also get a practical, spacious interior finished in fine materials.

Read the used Volkswagen Golf review

Find a used Volkswagen Golf in the PistonHeads Classifieds


Best used hot hatches

9. BMW 1 Series M135i

It’s one of the most exciting hot hatches going, with a fabulous engine and an exhilarating rear-wheel-drive setup, but the BMW M135i has other strings to its bow.

We found: 2014 1 Series M135i, 38,000 miles, full service history, £17,692

Best used hot hatches

Thanks to high-quality materials, its interior is a cut above, and compared with many of its rivals, it's actually pretty decent value for money. In terms of practicality it loses out slightly, with a small boot, slightly cramped rear seats and tight rear door access, but if driving fun is the main consideration, the M135i is right up there.

Read the used BMW 1 Series review

Find a used BMW 1 Series in the PistonHeads Classifieds


Best used hot hatches

8. Mini Cooper S

If fast, fun and fashionable are your three top priorities, look no further. The Mini Cooper S combines all three, with its great looks, fantastic turbocharged engine, funky interior and involving chassis.

We found: 2014 Cooper S, 29,000 miles, full service history, £11,790

Best used hot hatches

Space is at a premium, especially in the boot, and you only get three doors, so it isn’t the most practical hot hatch. But if feel-good factor is the be-all and end-all for you, this car should be high on your list.

Read the used Mini Hatchback review

Find a used Mini Cooper S in the PistonHeads Classifieds

Best used hot hatches

7. Suzuki Swift Sport

With just 134bhp to its name and a naturally-aspirated, 1.6-litre engine, the Swift Sport might look outgunned here. But it’s fun in a way no other hot hatch is today: back to basics, with a terrific setup that allows you to make the most of the revvy, rewarding engine. What’s more, it has a strong reputation for reliability, it’s extremely cheap to run, and there are loads of low-mileage, historied examples around, all of which makes it simply cracking value at these prices.

We found: 2015 Sport, 33,000 miles, full service history, £8000


Best used hot hatches

What’s more, it has a strong reputation for reliability, it’s extremely cheap to run, and there are loads of low-mileage, historied examples around, all of which makes it simply cracking value at these prices.

Read the used Suzuki Swift review

Find a used Suzuki Swift in the PistonHeads Classifieds


Best used hot hatches

6. Volkswagen Golf GTI

As you’ll have read on Page 1, we like the Volkswagen Golf R very much – but we like the GTI even more. While not as powerful, it’s more affordable, and while making do with two wheel drive rather than four, that makes it lighter, more efficient and therefore cheaper to run.

We found: 2013 GTI 5dr, 39,000 miles, full service history, £14,895


Best used hot hatches

The Golf GTI, put simply, is a class act – rewarding and enjoyable on a back road, but also comfortable and easy to drive, and practical enough for almost any family occasion. Some rivals are cheaper, which is why it doesn’t finish higher here, but if you can stretch to it, it’s a delight to own.

Read the used Volkswagen Golf review

Find a used Volkswagen Golf GTI in the PistonHeads Classifieds


Best used hot hatches

5. Ford Focus ST

Excellent value is the Ford Focus ST’s strongest selling point. Among other hot hatches of its size, it’s one of the cheapest, yet it doesn’t skimp on power, with more than a Golf GTI or a Skoda Octavia vRS.

We found: 2013 ST-2, 31,000 miles, full service history, £12,495

Best used hot hatches

True, the interior is rather busy, with lots of buttons and some cheap plastics, but it’s worth seeing past that for the balanced handling, lively driving experience, gutsy performance and warbling engine note. There are three versions to choose from – avoid the basic ST-1, and go for a better-equipped ST-2 or ST-3. There’s also an estate version, which is worth a look if you need the extra carrying capacity.

Read the used Ford Focus review

Find a used Ford Focus ST in the PistonHeads Classifieds

Best used hot hatches

4. Seat Leon Cupra 280

Want sharp looks and plenty of power for a very reasonable price? The Seat Leon Cupra might just be the car for you, in that case. With 276bhp, it’s one of the most powerful hot hatches around, and it has a high specification, with a limited-slip differential that helps the front wheels with traction, and adaptive suspension to control the ride quality.

We found: 2014 Cupra 280 5dr, 61,000 miles, full service history, £14,447


Best used hot hatches

The Leon’s still firm, mind you, and it isn’t as well finished inside as a Golf GTI or R, but it’s devastatingly quick, great fun to drive, and given all that it offers, superb value.

Read the full Seat Leon review

Find a used Seat Leon Cupra 280 in the PistonHeads Classifieds


Best used hot hatches

3. Renault Megane Renault Sport

Ever since the first fast version of the third-generation Renault Megane arrived on the scene, it has been the hot hatchback to beat. Its incredible blend of pin-sharp handling, sublime balance and a torquey, rev-happy turbocharged engine has made it the driver’s choice of the modern hot hatch crop.

We found: 2015 Renault Sport 265, 31,000 miles, full service history, £14,895


Best used hot hatches

Problem is, the firm ride, low-quality interior and a lack of space in the rear seats mean this isn’t the most family-friendly choice – but if the driving experience is all, no hot hatch is better. Oh, and did we mention it’s now temptingly cheap to buy, too?

Read the used Renault Megane Renault Sport review

Find a used Renault Megane Renault Sport in the PistonHeads Classifieds


Best used hot hatches

2. Skoda Octavia vRS

If you truly need your hot hatch to combine ultimate practicality with performance and fun, then the Skoda Octavia vRS is a top pick. The petrol version is based around the same mechanicals as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, but features a bigger boot and more space in the back.

We found: 2014 vRS TSI hatchback, 32,500 miles, £12,980

Best used hot hatches

There’s also a diesel version if you do lots of miles, and a capacious estate if you frequently need to carry heavy loads. True, the ride isn’t quite as composed as the Golf’s, and nor is its interior as classy, but it’s still pleasant enough – and what’s more, the vRS is considerably cheaper to buy and just as much fun to drive.

Read the used Skoda Octavia review

Find a used Skoda Octavia vRS in the PistonHeads Classifieds

Best used hot hatches

1. Ford Fiesta ST

If you’re a regular What Car? reader, it’s probably no surprise to see the Ford Fiesta ST take the top spot. It’s the most exciting used hot hatch you can buy at the moment, with a fabulously responsive engine and zingy handling, and the best part is that it isn’t expensive to buy.

We found: 2013 ST-2, 37,000 miles, full service history, £9491

Best used hot hatches

Yes, the ride is firm, the interior’s a bit downmarket, and if you’re looking for a hot hatch that can do it all you’ll need something bigger – but we can forgive those flaws for the unbeatable blend of value and exhilaration that the Fiesta ST delivers. Choose an ST-2 or ST-3, though – both have more equipment than the rather basic ST-1.

Read the used Ford Fiesta review

Find a used Ford Fiesta ST in the PistonHeads Classifieds ***

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals from What Car?, sign up to our weekly newsletter here

Got a motoring question? Our experts are standing by to help. Just tweet us your question using #askwhatcar

Related cars