Many of us love the excitement and show-stopping looks that go hand-in-hand with hot hatch ownership. That joy can soon be ruined, however, when the prospect of petrol stops and insurance costs loom into view.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to thirsty petrol hot hatches. A huge choice of diesel-powered sporty options are available, offering much of the performance while slashing fuel costs. We take a look at 10 of the best. Use our handy PCP calculator to get a better idea how much any of these cars will actually cost.
1. VW Golf GTD
It takes the keenest of VW fanatics to tell the Volkswagen Golf GTD apart from its petrol GTI brother. The pair share the same purposeful bodykit, with only minor such as the exhaust design and silver grille stripe (in place of the GTI’s red setting the two apart. Even the same 19-inch alloy wheels are offered on each.
On the road, the GTD’s suspension is set up for a more relaxing ride than GTI drivers will be used to, but it’s a character that perfectly matches the torquey diesel engine. The 2.0-litre unit offers up 181hp, helping the GTD to a 7.5-second 0-62mph time. That may fall one second short of the GTI, but the petrol variant can’t match the GTD’s 64.2mpg…
Take a look at the Volkswagen Golf GTD deals page to see how much carwow could help you save.
2. Mini Cooper SD
The Mini Cooper SD proves great fuel economy and fun aren’t mutually exclusive. The 2.0-litre diesel under its retro nose might weigh a touch more than the petrol equivalent, but only the keenest driver will be able to notice the difference. To everyone else, the Cooper SD feels darty, grippy and hugely composed.
It’s no slouch in a straight line, either. Power output stands at 168hp, enough to crack the 0-62mph dash in 7.3 seconds. Opt for the auto gearbox, and that time drops by another tenth. The cabin may be a little cramped in the back and the boot is also quite small but the build quality and detailing are hard to knock, so it’s a very easy machine to get along with.
3. SEAT Leon SC FR TDI 184
If the Golf GTD feels just a little too pedestrian, relief comes in the angular shape of the SEAT Leon SC. Even regular Leons are more than distinctive enough to draw admiring glances – particularly in three-door SC form – but, thanks to add-ons such as 17-inch alloy wheels and twin chromed tailpipes, the FR will gain nods of approval when you pull up to the petrol station.
Not that you’ll be stopping at one often – under the skin, the Leon shares all the important stuff in common with the Golf GTD – including a diesel engine capable of returning 62.8mpg or 61.4mpg if you pick the DSG automatic gearbox. It offer the same 181hp and 280lb ft of torque as the Golf too, helping it cover the 0-62mph dash in 7.5 seconds.
Spec up a SEAT Leon SC through our deals page to see the savings on offer.
4. Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo 160
The latest Vauxhall Astra is proving to be something of a revelation in the family hatchback segment. Not only can it genuinely be considered the best handling car in the class, but it combines that fun factor with a ride as comfortable and refined as the very best in class, too.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine is down on capacity compared to the competition, but it compensates with two turbos – resulting in headline figures of 158hp and 258lb ft of torque. The extra boost helps generate competitive performance – 0-62mph takes eight seconds – with a fuel-sipping 69.3mpg possible with a light right foot.
Head over to the Vauxhall Astra deals page to see the latest discounts available.
5. Skoda Octavia vRS TDI
Don’t let the unassuming looks of the Skoda Octavia vRS TDI fool you – beneath the subtle body, it shares plenty in common with one of the best in the business, the Volkswagen Golf GTD. The engine churns out the same 181hp as it does in other applications, but the added weight dulls performance ever so slightly – a 7.9-second 0-62mph time is a couple of tenths behind the equivalent Golf. Its 64.2mpg matches the VW.
Where the Skoda is unmatched, however, is in its practicality. Cabin space provides ample room for five, while it’s rare to find a 590-litre boot in many estate cars – let alone a sporty family hatch such as this. Styling-wise, the vRS diesel differs little from its petrol twin so the only way most people will tell the pair apart will be based on the number of fuel stops you make.
See how much you can save on a new Skoda Octavia vRS by trying out our deals page.
6. BMW 125d
If outright speed is the most important quality to you, the BMW 125d is the must-have diesel hot hatch. Its 2.0-litre engine isn’t just the most powerful here – 221hp is unmatched against rivals that all fall short 200hp – but, with 332lb ft, it out-punches its next torquiest rival by a hefty 37lb ft.
Performance isn’t just impressive by diesel standards but, by the level of hot hatches in general – 0-62mph takes 6.3 seconds, making it faster than a petrol-powered Ford Focus ST. It’s worth bearing in mind that this performance comes at a price. Costing from £30,485, the 125d is the most expensive car here and its 61.4mpg figure is the lowest which, in theory, makes the 1 Series the dearest to run.
Take a look at the BMW 1 Series deals page to spec up your perfect car and see how much you could save.
7. Ford Focus ST TDCi
From the outside, the Ford Focus ST TDCi looks little different from its petrol-powered brother. There’s the same angular body kit, the same 18-inch alloy wheels, and even the option of the same lurid ‘Tangerine Scream’ paint finish. The biggest change comes under the bonnet.
A 2.0-litre diesel engine makes the ST much cheaper to run than its petrol equivalent, returning a combined 67.3mpg in official tests. Peak power stands at 182hp and, with 295lb ft, the Ford marginally out-torques its closest rival, the VW Golf GTD. In the real world it means the Focus ST feels quicker than the 8.1-second 0-62mph time suggests.
Check out the Ford Focus ST deals page to find the latest savings.
8. Peugeot 308 GT BlueHDi 180
Peugeot has earned a reputation for building some of the finest hot hatches available. The Peugeot 308 GT is one of the French brand’s most grown-up performance offerings, but it’s more than up for letting its hair down when aimed along the right road.
The suspension setup feels forgiving yet sporty, allowing it to flow rapidly along the sort of country roads that might be too harsh for the most stiffly-sprung rivals. The 2.0-litre diesel engine kicks out 178hp and 295lb ft which, mated to an automatic gearbox helps the 308 GT towards an 8.4-second 0-62mph time. Returning an official 70.6mpg, it’s one of the most frugal cars in our top 10.
Find all of the latest discounts for the Peugeot 308 on our deals page.
9. Mazda 3 2.2d
In a class where style counts for an awful lot, the Mazda 3 gets off to a great start. It may not sport deep spoilers like the most extreme hot hatches, but we reckon it’s one of the most eye-catching hatchbacks on the market. Things remain just as promising behind the wheel – the 3 is one of the sharpest handling hatches on sale, but that driver involvement doesn’t come at the expense of ride quality – it isn’t as firm as some alternatives here, so it’s easy to live with every day.
An official 68.9mpg figure is more than agreeable, too. The 2.2-litre diesel unit always feels strong, producing 148hp and 280lb ft of torque, enough to return an 8.1-second 0-62mph time.
Try out our Mazda 3 deals page to discover all of the latest discounts for this sporty diesel hatch.
10. Mercedes A220d
The Mercedes A220d stands out in this company for offering a level of prestige few other hot hatchbacks can match. The Interior feels a cut above many rivals, and the three pointed star on the steering wheel never fails to feel special in a way that cheaper brands cannot compete with.
On the move, a firm ride gives the A-Class a sporty feel. With 177hp on tap from a 2.2-litre diesel, it’ll cover the 0-62mph dash in a competitive 7.5 seconds, while the option of four-wheel drive gives added all-weather traction to keep the performance in check. A claimed 67.3mpg isn’t to be sniffed at, endowing the A-Class with a potential 740-mile range.
Want to save money on a new car? Head over to the Mercedes A-Class deals page to find all of the latest offers.
Save money on your next new car
Keen on any of our top 10? Our car configurator will find you the best offers on all the models featured here. If you can’t quite figure out what your next car will be, the car chooser is here to help or, if you’ve already picked your perfect new car, use our PCP calculator to get a better idea how much it could cost.