The term ‘hot hatch’ has changed over the past few decades. When VW and Peugeot first gave their hatchbacks a sporty makeover they made less than 150bhp. Instead, they focused on handling and lightness.
Now however, even cars striving for fuel economy and low emissions can reach those figures with ease. To be considered a hot hatch these days, 300bhp is the bare minimum and even then, you’ll be left in the dust. This horsepower war has meant even our smallest cars are now found with four driven wheels; unthinkable 10 years ago.
If you want a car that keeps most supercars humble but can still carry the kids and shopping you can’t go wrong with an RS3. Nearly 400bhp is produced by the 2.5 litre five-cylinder engine, that’s impressive in itself. Power is put to the ground via all four wheels and a dual-clutch gearbox ensures you don’t shred you tires every time you accelerate.
Mercedes A45 AMG
Without the Aero pack, unless you’re a keen car fan, you’d never know what the little Merc was capable of. However, after being left behind with their A250, they blew the opposition out of the water with this 376bhp monster! Four-wheel drive is once again employed to put the power down properly, this means it’s capable of keeping up with a Ferrari F430 in a drag race!
VW Golf R
The Golf GTI has always been a cult favourite amongst petrol heads. The R takes the GTI and gives it a more grown-up feel while also turning the volume up to 11. Once again, all four wheels are driven helping to put down the 306bhp. While this figure seems conservative, the speed at which it accelerates is mind-blowing. Due to VW using a smaller engine it has less weight over its front wheels, this makes it far more fun through twisting back roads than its rivals.
Ford Focus RS
The previous Focus RS had a special edition with 345bhp, it put this to the ground via its front two wheels. This was impressive to say the least however it raised the question, how much faster would it have been with four-wheel drive? The Focus RS answers these questions then, 0-62 is now dispatched in 4.7 seconds. If you decide this isn’t fast enough, a company called Mountune will give you an extra boost of power, it’s all covered by your Ford warranty too!
“I love hot hatches, they’re often the underdogs at the lights which makes it so much sweeter when I leave everyone in my dust! They offer a great blend of performance and practicality; my Focus is surprising fuel efficient too!” Mark Simons, Jagtechnic.