The hot hatch offers a winning formula. It’s compact, relatively practical and easy to live with on a day-to-day basis yet fast enough to induce a wide-reaching grin within seconds. It’s why it’s such a popular segment and one which consistently produces some of the very best cars that the motoring world has to offer.
Though 2020 might not feature the wildest nor most ground-breaking of hot hatches, it’s still been a year packed with new releases. Let’s take a look at some of the best hot hatches on sale now.
Mini John Cooper Works GP
This latest GP follows on from a series of hardcore, no-excuses Mini models which have focused more on performance than the ease-of-use you’d usually associate with the hatchback. With a huge rear wing, massive boxed arches and a powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, this is one Mini which means business.
You can still use it every day, though the lack of rear seats does mean that only two of you will be coming along for the ride.
If it’s outright performance that you’re looking for, then the Mercedes-AMG A45S will be the car for you. As one of the most powerful hot hatches on sale today, it packs enough punch to scare even high-end supercars away from the lights.
Plus, this remains a very useable hot hatch thanks to a great interior, plenty of space and a well-sized boot. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it?
Ford Fiesta ST
Though the latest Ford Fiesta ST has been with us for a little while now, there’s no way of getting away from it – this still remains one of the very best hot hatches on sale today. It nails the usual brief; it’s easy and comfortable to live with yet alive and bristling when it comes to cornering and handling.
Its compact size means it’s not tricky to use around town either, but it’s also blessed with one of the sweetest chassis setups you’ll find in this segment.
We’ll admit, there was some outcry when BMW revealed that its upcoming M135i – a usual centrepoint in the hot hatch segment – would be using a front-wheel-drive layout. The plucky Beemer had held out with rear-wheel-drive for some time, but with this latest generation the switch forward finally came – while the performance-orientated M135i version also brought all-wheel-drive capability, albeit with a front-bias.
Fortunately, it hasn’t resulted in a car which is any less exciting to drive. Sure, it might have lost some of the adjustability that you only get with a rear-driven car, but this is still one seriously fun car to drive.
Again, much like the Ford Fiesta ST, the Hyundai i30N has been around for some time now, but it’s so accomplished at what it does that it can’t be discounted from this list based on age alone. Effortlessly involving yet well-priced and easy to live with, it’s a testament to Hyundai’s hard work and development process that this car – the company’s first hot hatch – left many established rivals quaking in their boots.
Honda Civic Type R
The Civic Type R is one hard-to-beat contender in this segment, offering brutish performance and handling wrapped in a head-turning skin. It’s easily one of the best hot hatches to drive, and having been an option in the market for some time, now represents great value-for-money. It’s also been recently updated, fine-tuning the car’s infotainment system among other features.
It might not be one of the most subtle hot hatches, but if you’re after a car with character in spades then the Type R is a great option.
Renault Megane RS
RS versions of the Renault Megane have been a long-standing feature within the hot hatch circle and the latest version of the French firm’s punchy hatch certainly lives up to expectations. Thanks to an involving chassis and great steering, the Megane is a hoot both on the road and on track, too.
It’s still immensely practical, however, with a decent boot and a good amount of interior space. It’s a great car for those who want a hot-hatch daily, that’s for sure.