Hot hatches have been around for decades now and remain a popular choice for UK car buyers. As a result, more brands now offer high-performance versions of their hatchback ranges that contain more powerful engines, improved suspension and brakes, and sportier designs.
The appeal of hot hatches is that they are true all-rounders, offering an exhilarating driving experience but with all the practicality of regular hatchbacks at affordable prices.
With a greater selection available to car buyers now, we’ve chosen seven of the best hot hatches on the market for 2018.
Those familiar with the Audi brand will automatically recognise the Audi S3 sportback, as a sportier version of their A3 compact hatchback car, with clear racing influences. But this is not to say that it loses its Audi elegance.
Whilst many other cars in the hot hatch class opt for an all-out sporty design, the mature interior is very much recognisable as Audi and is underpinned by an abundance of car tech and high-class materials.
The S3 Sportback’s impressive performance stats from its 296bhp 2.0-litre TFSI engine reflect just how fun it is to drive. It will take you from 0-62mph in under 5 seconds and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system allows for impeccable grip, even on slippery roads.
One drive in the M140i and you can feel the M Performance tuning throughout. It's M Performance TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine brings the M140i to life with a 0-62mph time of just 4.8 seconds and a 155mph top speed. Choose the optional 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and you can expect even greater acceleration with a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds.
Additionally, the M Sport suspension contributes to the M140i's sporty dynamics with a lowered chassis of 10mm, while an interior packed with M Perfomance design features ticks all the boxes of a great hot hatch.
One of the most recognisable models in the hot hatch segment is the Honda Civic Type R. This is partly down to its appearance which is clearly focussed on performance. Low front bumpers, large alloy wheels and a huge rear spoiler all contribute to its famously sporty and muscular aesthetic.
After Honda gave a global debut of the prototype of the all-new Civic Type R at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the fully developed version is now for sale and Honda fans are loving it. The release of the new Civic Type R immediately saw a new lap record at the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit!
The Type R has a long-standing reputation within motor sports and the 2017 model is already continuing this tradition. Its refined 2.0 litre VTEC turbocharged engine, coupled with a newly introduced six-speed manual transmission, delivers an exhilarating 0-62 speed of just 5.7 seconds.
The best hot hatches are also incredibly versatile. The new Civic Type R provides this in abundance, as drivers can now effortlessly switch between three driving modes depending on their mood and environment - Sport (default), R+ and Comfort.
The design of the Mercedes-AMG 45 clearly draws influence from motor sports, with a prominent spoiler lip and four vertical fins at the rear. However the luxurious Mercedes design still shines through.
The AMG A45’s sporty yet classy exterior design is matched inside with a plush interior and a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine which generates an impressive 376bhp and a 0-62 mph time of just 4.2 seconds.
Its hot hatch status is epitomised by the DYNAMIC SELECT driving modes feature which allows the driver to choose the RACE mode, specifically designed for race track performance.
All MINIs are fun to drive, but the high-powered John Cooper Works option takes the MINI experience to the next level, resulting in a terrific hot hatch.
Sporty features are apparent throughout the car to accentuate its motor sports feel – including new-design 18-inch alloys, a roaring dual exhaust and a race-inspired chassis, which makes the JCW lower than any other MINI.
But what lies beneath the bonnet lives up to its sporty design. Its 1.6-litre engine can achieve a top speed of 148 mph and 0-62 mph in just 6.5 seconds.
The ŠKODA Octavia is one of the most reliable cars on the market. That’s why the 2018 vRS version of the ŠKODA Octavia is a perfect example of a hot hatch that excels equally as a practical family hatchback as it does whizzing round a race track.
The new 2.0 TSI engine of the 2017 ŠKODA Octavia vRS produces 230 hp and achieves 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds, with a 155mph top speed.
The design of the new Octavia vRS is sportier than ever while retaining subtlety of the regular hatchback. The new model is distinguishable by a wider front grille, wider intakes for a more dynamic performance, while a rear spoiler accentuates the sporty look. The sporty atmosphere continues inside the car with very supportive vRS-Sports seats and a multi-functional sports steering wheel.
But what really sets this car apart from other hot hatch models is its unrivalled interior space, which is an appealing feature for those wanting a real all-rounder.
With an all-new Oettinger body kit, including a re-designed spoiler and bespoke splitter, the Golf R looks the part too. Other additions to the updated Golf Performance range include stainless steel quad exhaust tailpipes with exclusive valve control, for an even sportier sound.
Underneath the sporty exterior is a turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engine which takes the new Golf R from 0-62mph in as little as 4.6 seconds, making it the fastest production hatchback Volkswagen has ever built. But all that power requires supreme handling, which is why the Golf R’s 4MOTION four-wheel drive is the perfect partner in creating such a great hot hatch level of performance.
Despite its power, the Golf R remains a Golf at heart. Therefore you get the quality of space, reliability and safety so synonymous with the Golf range.
You can find out about the availability of all of these hot hatchbacks at one of our official dealerships. Get in touch with your local Jardine dealer for more information, or feel free to enquire online.