The Top 7 Hot Hatches

For thrill seeking drivers, they often find that they’re eyes are drawn towards fast sports cars. However, most of these are far from practical considering the limited space, high emissions and running costs. Fortunately, the breed of hot and hyper hatchbacks could be the perfect compromise between performance and practicality. Stylish and fun to drive, these cars can transport your kids to school in the morning and transform into mean machines in the evening devouring tracks and back country roads with poise and elegance. As an added bonus, a number of these cars are available with four-wheel drive capabilities.
These vehicles are available from most manufacturers. Here, together with Lookers, we take a look at seven of our current favourites including:

Ford Fiesta ST

This car has made our selection due to its recognised greatness. It has been awarded 'best hot hatch' for three years running at the WhatCar? Awards, the Fiesta offers stunningly good looks, excellent value for money and great performance. Spacious enough to fit three adults in the back and compact enough to comfortably navigate the tight city streets, the Fiesta has a well-built interior and comprises of excellent practicality.
The Fiesta ST has a relatively large turbocharged engine at 1.6 litres. It produces 180bhp or 197 on overboost, a function that boosts output for short bursts of time.
If you’re searching for more power behind the wheel you can choose the ST200, a limited-edition flagship model that boasts 212bhp. Other trim levels include ST-1, ST-2 or ST-3 which come with different equipment levels.
Other upgrades that you can make include through Ford's partnership with Mountune where you can upgrade to as much as 227bhp, without any repercussions on warranties. The power is delivered to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and the car is only available as a 3-door hatchback unless you specify ST-2 or ST-3 trim level which are available in a 5-door variant.

Golf GTI

One of the icons of Volkswagen, the Golf GTI has long been a benchmark in performance hatchbacks, it offers subtle and grown up good looks, which could easily make the car pass off as a family car, while offering breathtaking performance. Available in a 3 or 5 door variant, it offers the perfect blend of practicality and versatility, making it of the best hatchbacks on the market.
The GTI is definitely one of the more powerful Golf models. Coupled with a manual and DSG gearbox, the GTI offers 217bhp from a 2.0 litre turbo charged engine. For those looking for extra performance, there is a performance package available which adds 10bhp, larger brakes and an electronically-controlled mechanical limited-slip differential. The limited edition clubsport pushes the power up to 286bhp with improved aerodynamics.
The fastest production hatchback that Volkswagen has produced is the Golf R with 296bhp. To the untrained eye, the Golf R looks like just another family hatchback. However, the car buffs among us will know that the R will do a 0-62 time of 4.9 secs with a DSG gearbox or 5.1 with a manual one.

Seat Leon Cupra

You can purchase this car as either a three or five door to meet your preferences. The 5-door also comes as an estate with a larger boot, not strictly a hot hatch but a choice nevertheless. While transmissions choice ranges from manual to the DSG gearbox which is equipped with launch control.
The Seat Leon SC Cupra is an affordable hatchback which offers excellent performance and practicality. Closely related to the Golf GTI, it drives well and is just as much at home on the motorway as it is on the twisting and turning country roads.
The Seat Leon Cupra hasn’t gone unrecognised either. Named as the hot hatchback of the year 2014 and 2015 by AutoExpress, it delivers 296bhp from a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, with generous equipment levels.
The spec inside is up-to-date too —  including a touchscreen navigation system, Adaptive Cruise Control, Emergency Brake Assist and Lane Assist.

Ford Focus ST

Ford isn’t new to the hot hatch scene and has a range of existing cars that meet the requirements of the category. The Ford Focus ST is no different and offers an excellent ride quality and practicality. For those looking for extra versatility, the Ford Focus ST is also available as an estate, again, not exactly a hot hatch per say, but an option if you require extra room.
Get personalised and choose between three trims levels, which include ST, ST-2 and ST-3. Power is delivered through a 2.0 litre petrol engine producing 247bhp which will sprint from 0-62 in 6.5 seconds or a 2.0 TDCi diesel engine producing 182bhp with 0-62 sprint time of 8.1 seconds. The Ford Focus ST can be coupled with a six-speed manual or a six speed powershift auto, with power going to the front two wheels. If 247bhp in the petrol guise doesn't sound appealing enough to you then Ford's official tuning partner, Mountune, can stick on a performance upgrade to take the power output up to 272bhp and torque to 400Nm.
The Ford Focus RS, has to be crowned the king of hot hatches and it was also named as AutoExpress Hot hatch of the year 2016. The Ford Focus RS uses a 2.3 litre EcoBoost engine to churn out a noteworthy 345bhp and thanks to its all-wheel drive and torque vectoring system, all of it can be put to good use road helping it break 0-62mph in claimed 4.7 secs! You also get a drift button and launch control and once again, if 345bhp doesn't launch you quick enough then you can always take your car to RS to Mountune and get 370bhp! All with your warranty intact too!

Vauxhall Astra VXR

The Vauxhall Astra offers the driver power, practicality and class all in one. Practical enough for everyday use, the Astra VXR offers exceptional grip through corners. Available only as a 3 door, the adaptive suspension setup allows you to switch between different modes to make the Astra VXR's suspension sportier or more comfortable. Powered by a 2.0 litre petrol engine producing 280 bhp, 400Nm of torque and a 0-62 time of 5.9 secs, it's no slouch either, just be careful in how hard you floor the throttle as power is delivered through the front two wheels.
Vauxhall don’t offer any extra tuning packages but you can order an aero pack with the Astra VXR. This upgrades the 19" alloys to 20" and extended side sills for an even more aggressive and sporty look.

Audi S3

The Audi S3 has been designed based on the Audi A3 and offers the similar high-quality ride, recognisable build and levels of practicality. Subtle and grown up good looks enhance S3’s appeal for drivers. Powered by a 2.0 litre TFSI (turbocharged fuel stratified injection) four-cylinder engine, it delivers 306bhp to all four wheels thanks to Audi's renowned Quattro system and comes standard across the S models. Both the six-speed manual gearbox and the S-tronic gearbox dispatch 0-62 mph in under 5 seconds.
Choose from three or five doors, whatever your preference. A four-door saloon or open top Convertible are also available in the range. Not strictly hatchbacks but noteworthy in the category nevertheless. If the S3 with its 306bhp doesn't satisfy your need for performance then you also have the option of a more powerful alternative. Known as the RS3, it ushered in the era of "hyperhatch", the new one packs in a staggering 395bhp and 480Nm of torque, thanks to a reworked 2.5 litre turbocharged 5-cylinder engine.
Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox helping RS3 crack 0-62 mph in 4.1 seconds, almost supercar territory that.

BMW M140i

The list simply wouldn’t be complete without the 1 Series BMW. The hottest 1 Series was formerly known as the BMW M135i and became a firm favourite among driving enthusiasts. The 2016 update sought to build on that and brought in more power to the rear wheel driven car. Now known as the BMW M140i, it boasts of 335bhp, up from 321bhp, delivered by a 3.0 litre 6-cylinder engine and an extra 50Nm of torque, now up to 500Nm.
The performance is unlike no other. Tied to the automatic or manual gearbox, the BMW M140i rips through the gear range with smooth power delivery helping it go on to 0-62 mph in just 4.6 seconds from a dead start and hit a claimed 155mph top speed. Similar to its predecessor, it’s available as a three and five door variant. Rumour has it that we may never see a 6-cylinder engine in a hot hatch again as car manufacturers inclination of downsizing to 4 cylinders seems to be the way forward for the foreseeable future. Grab one while you can, once the era of six-cylinder hot hatch has foregone, it’ll quickly become treasured goods! BMW already stands atop the rear wheel drive hot hatch market with very few competitors, if any at all.

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