slideshow

The best hot hatches you can buy today

What's the best hot hatch money can buy? Here we count down our current top 10 – and reveal the models that are best avoided.....

13 Nov 2019 17:59

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

Hot hatch compilation image

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.

However, hot hatches are likely to be used every day of the week, so also they need to possess a practical, comfortable interior, have reasonable running costs and not be so firm that you quickly tire of them.

Below we count down our current top 10 – and reveal the models to avoid. And don't forget, if any of them take your fancy, our New Car Buying service could potentially save you thousands.

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10: Suzuki Swift Sport

Suzuki Swift Sport

The latest version of the Swift Sport isn't the steal that its predecessors were, but it's well equipped, cheap to run and fun to drive at sensible speeds.

10: Suzuki Swift Sport - interior

Suzuki Swift Sport - interior

If you're looking for an entry-level hot hatch, it deserves a place on your shortlist.

9: Peugeot 208 GTi

Peugeot 208 GTi

Few manufacturers have as much hot hatch pedigree as Peugeot, but unlike the iconic 205 GTi whose styling it apes, the 208 GTi relies on straight-line performance for its thrills rather than having particularly agile handling.

9: Peugeot 208 GTi - interior

Peugeot 208 GTi - interior

You also get a high quality interior, but have to put up with a lot of wind and road noise.

8: Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R

The Golf GTI features further up this list, but it's actually the R that's the fastest Golf.

8: Volkswagen Golf R - interior

Volkswagen Golf R - interior

True, it's not as much fun as the very best rivals, but standard four-wheel drive gives it all-weather ability and few hot hatches are as easy to live with.

7: Audi RS3

Audi RS3

The new Mercedes-AMG A45 has taken the RS3's title of most powerful hot hatch, but Audi's offering is still incredible fast, thanks to a 394bhp five-cylinder engine that's also used in the TT RS sports car.

7: Audi RS3 - interior

Audi RS3 - interior

Early 2000s supercar levels of performance, combined with Audi build quality and all wrapped up in a practical hatchback body - we'll take one.

6: Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Few people haven't heard of the Golf GTI. And the latest version continues the tradition of being fun, fast and easy to live with.

6: Volkswagen Golf GTI - interior

Volkswagen Golf GTI - interior

It's more expensive than some rivals, but compensates with a high quality interior and impressive resale values.

5: Volkswagen Up GTI

Volkswagen Up GTI

A gutsy engine and tidy handling make the Up GTI the best budget hot hatch you can buy today.

5: Volkswagen Up GTI - interior

Volkswagen Up GTI - interior

And while it's ultimately not going to set any speed records, the car's small size helps it feel faster than it is.

4: Hyundai i30N

Hyundai i30N

Hyundai has gone from zero to hero with the i30N, bettering established rivals such as the Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST with its first serious attempt at building a hot hatch.

4: Hyundai i30N - interior

Hyundai i30N - interior

There are two versions: the regular car and the more hardcore Performance model. However, we reckon you'll have more fun on the road in the former.

3: Renault Megane RS

Renault Megane RS

The Megane RS isn't the fastest hot hatchback in the world, but Renault instead focussed on handling fun, and boy has it delivered.

The Megane RS offers agile handling and quick, accurate steering, but is also a quiet cruiser by the standards of this class.

3: Renault Megane RS - interior

Renault Megane RS - interior

Add in the fact that it's cheaper than most rivals and it's easy to recommend, particularly in Cup form.

2: Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Fiesta ST

With a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine under its bonnet, the latest Fiesta ST isn't short of punch – in fact, it puts out 197bhp, meaning you can cover the all-important 0-62mph sprint in just 6.5sec.

2: Ford Fiesta ST - interior

Ford Fiesta ST - interior

It also offers superb handling and a great driving position, but falls just short of the number one spot.

1: Honda Civic Type R

Honda Civic Type R

The Civic Type R has never been a wallflower, but all the outlandish looking bodywork on the latest version has a practical purpose, helping to keep this turbocharged 2.0-litre-engined car glued to the ground.

1: Honda Civic Type R - interior

Honda Civic Type R - interior

It offers awesome performance and precise handling, yet it’s also a practical and comfortable everyday car. That’s why it’s our reigning Hot hatch of the Year.

So what about those hot hatches to avoid...?

Abarth 595

Abarth 595

This go-faster version of the Fiat 500 is startlingly quick and wonderfully stylish.

Abarth 595 - interior

Abarth 595 - interior

Unfortunately, this isn't backed by composure in corners and the bouncy ride can become extremely wearing.

Skoda Octavia vRS

Skoda Octavia vRS

While you won't be disappointed by the way the Octavia vRS accelerates, it's feeling its age in other areas, in particular in the way it handles.

Skoda Octavia vRS - interior

Skoda Octavia vRS - interior

Unless you need the vast space it offers, there are plenty of better choices.