Hot hatches: they deliver the kind of cross-country pace to worry the average supercar driver, yet at the same time offer the space and practicality to cater for at least four people and all their stuff. We’ve rounded up 10 of the fastest point-to-point bargains on sale today.
When you’re ready to buy, take a look at our car configurator to help you sniff out all of the latest deals which could help you save thousands on your next new car.
1. Ford Focus RS
It doesn’t matter what you meet on a country road when you’re driving a Ford Focus RS – it’s covers ground at a rate that little else can match at any price.
The RS’s 2.3-litre turbocharged engine is good for 345hp, and thanks to a four-wheel drive system the RS covers the 0-62 dash in only 4.7 seconds. Grip and traction are immense, too, so that performance can be used in almost any conditions without wheelspin.
Perhaps the best thing about the way the Focus RS delivers its epic performance, is that it doesn’t come at the expense of precision or finesse. The chassis is wonderfully balanced and that four-wheel drive system allows for some oversteery antics – most notably in the wonderfully juvenile ‘Drift Mode’. It’s a car that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at £31,000 it’s one you should give serious consideration.
Take a look at the Ford Focus RS deals page to spec up your perfect car and see how much you could save.
2. Honda Civic Type R
Few hot hatches draw attention on the road like the Honda Civic Type R. A huge spoiler, deep front splitter and outlandish air vents make this hot hatch look like it’s up for a scrap. And boy is it.
Gone are the days of Honda’s high-revving engines – the latest Civic Type R makes use of a turbocharger to extract its performance. It’s still a special engine, though: the 2.0-litre unit pumps out 306hp and feels incredibly exciting as you go through the rev range. 0-62mph? Just 5.7 seconds, placing it among the fastest front-wheel-drive cars on sale.
All of that power is kept in check thanks to a chassis that delivers immense grip, allowing the Civic Type R to pummel any back road into submission. Oh, and it’s a beauty to drive on track too.
Check out the Honda Civic Type R deals page to find the latest savings.
3. Volkswagen Golf R
The Volkswagen Golf R could just be the most usable performance car money can buy. When you’re in the mood it’ll cover the 0-62mph dash in 5.1 seconds (thank its four-wheel drive and 296hp 2.0-litre turbo lump for that thrust), and it’ll grip to the road like little else.
Equally impressive is how it behaves in everyday driving. Driven sensibly, it’s no trickier to drive, no less refined and just as practical as a regular Golf. The cabin is well-built, there’s room for five, and it almost tops 40mpg in official tests. There’s even a Golf R Estate, which matches the same driving thrills with an enormous boot.
Spec up a Volkswagen Golf R through our deals page to see the savings on offer.
4. BMW M140i
The BMW M140i does things just a little differently from our other contenders. Thanks to the humble family car beginnings of most of these fast hatches, each generally sends their power to the front wheels – or occasionally all four.
Not so the BMW: the rear-drive-only drivetrain promises a more balanced chassis and a more satisfying feeling of the car being pushed rather than pulled. It means that a huge amount of power – 335hp and 369lb ft from a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six – can be cleanly applied to the road. A 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds is among the fastest here, too.
5. SEAT Leon Cupra 290
If you enjoy hooning around a racetrack at breakneck speed, the SEAT Leon Cupra 290 is one of the best places to head for your hot hatch thrills.
As with the chassis, the 286hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine shares plenty in common with the Volkswagen Golf R. However, it ditches the Golf’s four-wheel drive system in favour of a front-drive layout. Although this compromises acceleration off the line – its 5.8-second 0-62mph time is 0.7 seconds slower than the VW, it also means it weighs 81kg less.
The upshot is that driven flat out on a track, the SEAT will more often than not put the Golf in the shade. It’s just as practical too, and around £3,000 cheaper. And there’s a Cupra ST estate version if you want to scare the dog.
Take a look at the SEAT Leon Cupra deals page to see how much carwow could help you save.
6. Renault Clio RenaultSport Trophy
The RenaultSport Clio Trophy is the latest in the long line of performance heroes from the French brand. When you’re driving quickly there are very few rivals that can compete with the Clio: body control is staggering, while the way it grips often makes it feel completely unshakeable.
In its most potent Trophy iteration, the RenaultSport Clio’s 1.6-litre turbo is good for 217hp. It’s enough to propel the souped-up supermini from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds and towards a 146mph top speed.
In a departure from most of the competition, the Clio is only available with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. The ability to change gear with a mere flick of a paddle means that even those most recently initiated into the world of hot hatch driving can cover ground at a searing pace.
See the reductions available by finding your ideal Renault Clio RenaultSport Trophy on our deals page.
7. Audi RS 3
The Audi RS 3 has a set of seriously impressive numbers to back up its smart looks. Most of them are bigger than the hot hatch average – a 2.5-litre engine offers up 362hp and 369lb ft of torque – while one, the 0-62mph time, is smaller: the 4.3-seconds sprint is dispatched as quickly as almost any other five-door hatchback money can buy.
It isn’t just the way the RS 3 performs which is special, either. The five-cylinder motor – a configuration which evokes memories of the iconic Quattro rally cars – makes a glorious noise under acceleration. It gives the RS3 character unmatched by any of its four-cylinder rivals.
There’s just one more big number to consider: the price. At £40,795 before options, it’s the most expensive car here.
Head over to the Audi RS 3 deals page to see the latest discounts available.
8. Mercedes-AMG A45
If straight-line speed is your thing, then look no further than the Mercedes-AMG A45 – a 4.2-second 0-62mph time makes this the fastest accelerating hyper hatch of all.
That pace can be credited to an impossibly powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged engine – at 376hp it offers up more power than Ferrari‘s Nineties icon, the F355 GTB. A four-wheel drive system applies that power to the road in devastating fashion, making the A45 keep pace with many modern supercars on the right road. We’ve drag raced one against a more powerful V8 Mercedes-AMG C63 Saloon and the A45 thrashed it off the line.
The A45’s cabin quality is a step above many rivals here, while a dual-clutch automatic transmission makes extracting much of that performance straightforward.
See how much you can save by using our Mercedes-AMG A45 deals page.
9. Mini Hatchback JCW
The Mini Hatchback John Cooper Works sits towards the hardcore end of the hot hatch spectrum. The suspension setup is very firm, giving a razor-sharp driving experience – perfect so long as you’re willing to accept a slightly unforgiving ride. The 2.0-litre turbo engine provides a healthy 228hp, enough for a 6.3-second 0-62mph time. Automatic models are faster still, passing the same test in only 6.1 seconds.
The automatic may be quicker, but the manual is more fun. It features automatic rev-matching: a function that blips the throttle to match the engine speed on every downshift. It’ll make you sound like a rally-driving king on the way to Tesco.
The Mini’s relatively compact size means that it’s a little tighter in the back than some here, and the boot is tiny. From behind the wheel though, you’ll spend far too much time grinning from ear-to-ear to even slightly care.
10. Peugeot 308 GTi
The Peugeot 308 GTi sits at the more subtle end of the hot hatch offerings, making it an ideal choice for those who want a fast handsome car without shouting too loudly about it. Unless of course you choose the ‘Coupe Franche’ paint scheme: with the front half of the car painted bright red and the rear half black, it’ll be sure to make anyone take notice.
Its straight line speed should attract attention from other drivers, too. The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine may be modest in size, but it produces 266hp – enough to help the 308 cover the 0-62mph dash in 6.1 seconds. The chassis setup is a touch softer than some rivals, so despite the excitement which comes with that performance, it remains civilised in daily driving.
Try out the Peugeot 308 GTi deals page to see how much money you could save on a new car.
Save money on your next new car
Are any of these sporty hot hatches the car for you? If so take a look at our car deals page, where all the latest offers will help you save cash on a new model. If you’d like to do a little more research first, our car chooser is here to help.