Best small hot hatchbacks

Small hot hatches are just as fun as larger ones but, because they’re smaller, they’re easier to park and drive around town. They’re usually lighter too, which helps handling and fuel efficiency. Plus, they’re usually cheaper to buy in the first place so more buyers can share in the fun.

If you’re looking for a small hot hatch, here’s a list of the best ones currently on sale today.

Fiat 500 Abarth

The Fiat 500 Abarth is a seasoned veteran in this marketplace, but somehow the magic has never faded. It may not be the fastest – it only has 135hp in base trim – but there’s something special about it that draws buyers in.

The looks alone might persuade some. It’s definitely a head-turner – menacing and purposeful, just how a hot hatch should look – thank the twin exhaust pipes and the gapping front bumper for that. Despite its aggressiveness, it still retains the ordinary 500’s cuteness factor – hard to achieve but Fiat’s nailed it perfectly.

The best feature about this car though is the noise it makes. It’s unlike any other car at this price and indeed any other hot hatch. There’s a deep purposeful growl when you accelerate which just makes you feel so special. The drive is good as well with enough power – 0-62mph in less than eight seconds – and cornering talent to keep you entertained.

Spec up a Fiat 500 Abarth in our car configurator to see what discounts are available.

Ford Fiesta ST

The Ford Fiesta ST has caused something of a coup among motoring journalists and looks likely to be remembered not just as one of the best cars of its generation, but as one of the best cars ever made.

The engine is a masterpiece – a 1.6-litre EcoBoost developing 182hp and 213lb ft of torque. Its raspy exhaust note and free-revving nature are normally found in racing cars. On top of that, it can even return 47.9 mpg on the combined cycle.

The best feature is the chassis, however. The normal Fiesta is a hoot to drive but the ST takes it to another level. Few cars from any class are better to drive. The combination of the quick, communicative steering and the adjustable chassis means the Fiesta ST makes driving about as much fun as it can be.

Pick your perfect Ford Fiesta ST in our car configurator to see what deals are on offer.

Suzuki Swift Sport

With its 136hp 1.6-litre engine, the Suzuki Swift Sport won’t be winning many drag races, but this doesn’t matter simply because the Suzuki – like the Fiesta ST above – was designed simply to be the most amount of fun possible.

The interior could be improved somewhat with only the sports seats giving away the car’s performance credentials but, for £13,999, it doesn’t matter one bit. Especially when you find it comes with bags of standard equipment including Bluetooth and Xenon headlights.

To find out what discounts are available, put the Suzuki Swift Sport in our car configurator.

Peugeot 208 GTi

The Peugeot 208 GTi comes with a 1.6-litre turbo developing 200hp – enough for a 6.8 second 0-62mph time and a 143mph top speed. Impressive stats, especially when you look at the trip computer and find it returns mid-40s mpg on average. It’s not as racy as the Fiesta ST – the exhaust note isn’t as appealing and most of the torque is in the mid-range. This doesn’t encourage you to thrash it but, instead, makes for a more peaceful drive and this is where the 208 GTi’s strength lies.

It’s one of the most comfortable and refined hot hatches on sale today but, when faced with a series of challenging corners, it doesn’t run away and hide – it can devour them like the very best in this group.

See the offers available by putting the Peugeot 208 GTi in our car configurator.

Volkswagen Polo GTI

Sporting a brand-new turbocharged 192hp 1.8-litre engine, the VW Polo GTI flys to 62mph from rest in just 6.7 seconds. The previous model was criticised because it was only available with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox.

This new Polo GTI is now also offered with a six-speed manual for true enthusiasts. This makes the Polo a more engaging car to drive and, ultimately, makes it a more fun car to own. VW has improved the styling as well over the previous model making it more aggressive looking with a much sharper front-end.

The marque hasn’t fiddled about with the undersides meaning the Polo GTI is still a very comfortable and refined car but one which can go round corners at an astonishing rate. The interior is still as great as ever with a slick design and using high quality materials.

Find out how much carwow could help you save by popping the VW Polo GTI in our car configurator.

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

VXR products have always been bonkers, and this is no different with the new Vauxhall Corsa VXR. Few things are as extrovert in the small hot hatch world so you’ll get noticed on a regular basis. Still, it means you won’t loose it in the car park.

Like the previous model, it’s powered by a 1.6-litre turbo but power has swelled to 202hp with 180lb ft of torque available on tap. The previous Corsa VXR was a lairy thing to drive with a spiky throttle response – Vauxhall has tried to solve this by broadening the torque curve meaning there’s be less turbo lag and a more linear delivery of power.

To improve the handling, the VXR is fitted with special Koni dampers and sits 10mm closer to the tarmac.

Audi S1

Audi ‘S’ cars have always been understated, and the S1 is no exception. The only thing giving away its performance credentials are the mighty quad exhausts. It’s powered by the same 2.0-litre turbo from the VW Golf R but de-tuned to produce 227hp. It’s still mightily fast though, accelerating to 62mph in just 5.8 seconds and with a maximum speed of 155mph.

Inside, it has a beautifully sculptured and well made interior and there’s even a manual gearbox and manual handbrake – a rarity these days. As is typical with ‘S’ Audis, it’s four-wheel drive so will be great fun to drive all year round. The only problem is it costs more than £25,000 – the same as a Golf GTI.

Put the Audi S1 in our car configurator to see how much you could save on one.

Mini Cooper S

The Mini Cooper S has always been an iconic car thanks to its ‘go-kart’ like driving experience. It’s probably one of the best handling cars on this list and, with its German build quality, it’s a great purchase.

The Cooper S isn’t known for its ride quality, but it’s definitely more comfortable than previous generations. The interior is better than ever thanks to high quality materials and generous use of BMW switch gear but it still retains that funky Mini feel. It’s also available for the first time with five-doors.

RenaultSport Clio 200

Read a few reviews of the RenaultSport Clio 200 and you might not think it’s a very good car. This is mainly because previous versions were known for their hardcore edge but the modern version now has a more forgiving ride and an automatic gearbox.

Despite its ‘softening’, the Clio 200 sprints from rest to 62mph in just 6.7 seconds, achieves a 143mph top speed, returns 44.8 mpg on average and is still able to do the weekly shop. It looks great with much classier styling than generations gone by and the interior has been designed to feel more upmarket with black gloss trim, soft touch materials and a large colour touchscreen.

Find out what discounts are on offer by putting the RenaultSport Clio 200 in our car configurator.

Citroen DS3

The Citroen DS3 doesn’t really count as a hot hatch bar one engine in its range. The unit in question is a 1.6-litre turbo developing 161hp and 177lb ft of torque.

With this engine fitted, the DS3 can sprint from zero to 62mph in 7.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 135mph. That makes it quicker than the Fiat 500 Abarth and way quicker than the Suzuki Swift Sport. Because it’s not a hot hatch, however, you can drive around all day and feel like you’re in a normal car but, when the need arises, you can put your foot down and the DS3 will happily play ball with the big boys.

Check out the Citroen DS3 in our car configurator to see the discounts on offer.

Small and speedy

If you like the look of any of the cars on this list, head over to our car configurator to see what discounts are on offer. For more options, check out our deals page to see our latest discounts.

Ford Fiesta ST

Inexpensive fast hatchback is huge fun to drive
£17,895 - £22,895
Read review Compare offers

Volkswagen Polo GTI

Fast and fun hatchback is still practical for daily use
£19,125 - £21,000
Read review Compare offers

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Small fast hatchback is huge fun to drive
Read review Compare offers
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