Hot hatchbacks aim to offer the best of both worlds – squeezing a powerful engine into a practical hatchback body means keen drivers can have their cake and eat it too. In addition, many cost little more than a mid-range compact executive saloon meaning more buyers have access to this level of performance.
We’ve put together a list of the very fastest hot hatchbacks out there to help you pick which one you’ll want to seek your thrills in – many of them will embarrass much pricier sports cars, too. Put any of these cars in our deals page to see how much carwow could help you save or use our handy PCP calculator to get a better idea how much your new car could cost.
1. Ford Focus RS
A new fast Ford is always a big event, and the long-awaited Focus RS doesn’t disappoint. A Mustang-derived turbocharged 2.3-litre engine produces 345hp and delivers truly monstrous performance – 0-62mph is dispatched in just 4.7 seconds. Helping put that power down is a newly developed four-wheel-drive system that even includes a ‘drift’ mode to help the car slide into corners.
Step inside the Focus RS and things are a little less extreme than its attention-seeking exterior – the layout is pretty much identical to the standard Focus and less hot, but still capable, Focus ST. It costs little more than top trim versions of either, however, so represents an absolute bargain and a pretty unmissable opportunity for those wanting the ultimate hot hatch.
Check out our Ford Focus RS deals page to see what savings can be made.
2. Honda Civic Type R
Although most hot hatches are somewhat extrovert in their appearance, those after something that wears its performance potential with pride should check out the Honda Civic Type R. With its aggressive body kit featuring blistered wheel-arches, a deep front splitter and an almost comical rear spoiler, it leaves little doubt for even the casual observer that this is a very, very fast car.
Under the Honda’s bulging bonnet sits a 306hp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol. It’s capable of reaching 62mph from rest in just 5.7 seconds and features a limited-slip differential to cope with that much power. You also have a huge boot and ample space for five making it one of the more practical options on this list.
Take a look at our Honda Civic Type R deals page to see what savings can be made.
3. SEAT Leon SC Cupra 290
While looks are subjective, to our eyes, the SEAT Leon SC Cupra 290 is one of the most attractive hot hatches on the market. Attractive lines give the SEAT a sporty appearance, even when standing still, and hide a powerful 286hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that’s mostly shared with the Volkswagen Golf R.
Buyers also have the option of fitting either Sub8 or Sub8 Ultimate packs. The former adds larger Brembo brakes, new alloy wheels and high performance tyres, the latter removes the air con, extra speakers and central arm rest in the pursuit of reduced weight. If you want something a little more practical, you can get Cupra versions of the standard five-door car, or the ST estate variant as well.
Find your perfect SEAT Leon Cupra using our handy deals page.
4. Renault Megane Renaultsport 275 Cup-S
There may be a new Renault Megane around the corner, but it’ll be a while until there’s a new version of the Renaultsport Megane Cup-S, one of the most hardcore models you can buy. Its age might mean that its interior lags a little behind competition, but take it to a race track and you’ll see why there are still buyers queuing up to get one.
Its throaty 2.0-litre engine produces 275hp, but the body has been stripped back to make this one of the lightest hot hatches around. Very firm suspension, sharp brakes and prodigious grip all help the Renault stick to the road like a race car. It’s so like a race car, in fact, that it’s a little too uncomfortable for everyday transport but, as a toy, it’s hard to fault.
5. VW Golf R
The Volkswagen Golf is one of the most popular hatchbacks on the market, and the iconic GTI version remains very popular as well. Volkswagen has upped the ante, however, with this latest Golf R, which gets four-wheel drive and a more powerful 2.0-litre turbo engine making 296hp. The 0-62mph sprint takes just 4.9 seconds – faster than many super saloons that are tens of thousands of pounds more expensive.
Inside, the R shares its impressive cabin with other Golfs, with a few sporty touches and a higher level of standard equipment. There’s plenty of space for passengers and their luggage but, if you need more, Volkswagen also offer the Golf R Estate that mates massive practicality with its vast performance.
Use our Volkswagen Golf R deals page to see the discounts offered.
6. Audi RS3
The Audi RS3 manages to blend a desirable and practical hatchback with supercar-worrying performance in a massively appealing package. The 362hp 2.5-litre five cylinder engine is a little larger than in most rivals here and its layout and unique sound harks back to Audi’s legendary Ur Quattro rally car – it also features quattro all-wheel drive as standard.
Like the standard Audi A3, the RS3 features a beautifully appointed interior full of leather and soft-touch plastics, and the practical five-door body style also means there’s plenty of space for passengers and luggage. The only fly in the ointment is price – the RS3 is a good £10,000 more to buy than a lot or cars on this list, even if it is quicker.
Take a look at our Audi RS3 deals page to see the savings on offer.
7. Mercedes A45 AMG
If you’re after one of the craziest and most powerful hot hatches money can buy, this is it. Mercedes’ tuning arm, AMG, has turned the A-Class hatchback into a truly monstrous machine, with a heavily tuned 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making an unbelievable 381hp. This means the Mercedes A45 AMG can reach 62mph from rest in just 4.2 seconds – the same as a Porsche 911.
Inside, it’s business as usual with high quality materials and lots of technology, including Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system. There’s also a reasonable amount of room despite the four-wheel-drive system. However, the Mercedes is also rather expensive so you’ll need to be sure this kind of performance is what you want.
Use our Mercedes A45 AMG deals page to see how much you could save.
8. BMW M135i
The BMW M135i isn’t an out-and-out M car, but holds its own in this company thanks to a fantastic driving experience, silky smooth, 325hp 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine and a 0-62mph tima of 4.9 seconds with the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox. Like most BMWs, the M135i is also rear-wheel drive – giving drivers more sensation through the steering and greater agility on the move than some front-wheel drive rivals.
Sit inside the BMW, and you have a layout that’s very similar to most of the brand’s other vehicles – no bad thing, especially when it includes the fantastic iDrive intotainment system. Interior space isn’t bad and you can get the M135i in either three or five-door formats. Impressively, BMW has resisted the temptation to charge sky-high prices for its hottest hatchback, although you need to watch the options list as there’s potential to add a lot to the bottom line.
Our BMW M135i deals page has all the latest savings you can make.
9. Peugeot 308 GTi
The Peugeot 308 GTi has an engine size that’s nearly half that of the BMW M135i yet, despite having just 1.6-litres of displacement, the engine can produce up to 270hp. This healthy output is fed through the front wheels via limited-slip differential and a six-speed manual gearbox – helping the car hit 62mph from rest in 6.0 seconds.
The Peugeot features all the performance upgrades you’d expect from a car with this level of power – large brakes, lowered suspension and fatter tyres ensure the car remains planted firmly on the road. Passenger space is smaller than some rivals, but the 308 counters by having a very large 470-litre boot.
Check out our Peugeot 308 GTI deals page to see the reductions offered.
10. Audi S1
If you prefer your fast hot hatchbacks on the small side, the Audi S1 might just be what you’re looking for. Based on the Audi A1 supermini, an entire four-wheel-drive system has been squeezed under the skin, giving it levels of grip and traction far beyond anything else its size. Coupled with a 230hp 2.0-litre petrol engine, the Audi can get from 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds.
Inside, there’s the same high quality interior as the regular car, with a couple of sporty details including the flat-bottomed steering wheel and aluminium trim. The S1 might be quite expensive when compared to other supermini-based hot hatches, but none of those offer this level of performance and quality.
Use our Audi S1 deals page to see how much you could save.
Save money on your next hot hatch
Put any of the cars featured on this list in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. For more options, head over to our deals page or, if you’re still on the hunt for your ideal new vehicle, check out our car chooser. Once you’ve picked your ideal new car, our PCP calculator will help give you a better idea how much it’ll cost.