Britain loves a hot hatch, there’s no denying that. Combining practicality with performance, these little runarounds have been a favourite on these shores ever since the Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI arrived in the ‘70s.
The problem with modern hot hatches though is they’re getting faster, more complex and also more expensive — leaving a gap in the market for more affordable yet fun cars. Step in the ‘warm’ hatch — a segment that’s quickly growing with joyous but not financially ruinous machines. We take a look at what’s on the market…
Suzuki Swift Sport
Now in its third generation, the Suzuki Swift Sport might be the closest thing that comes to a full-blown hot hatch in the ‘warm’ segment. With a characterful turbocharged 1.4-litre engine pushing out 138bhp while linked to a snappy gearbox and mounted in a 975kg chassis, the Japanese machine delivers a thrilling driving experience while remaining incredibly capable as a daily machine.
Ford Fiesta ST-Line
Ford’s Fiesta ST is, in most circles of the motoring world, considered to be the best hot hatch on the market – and fortunately some of that fizz flows through to its softer sibling. The Fiesta ST-Line boasts a delightful chassis powered by zippy EcoBoost engines, resulting in a truly fun car. It’s not hard to see why the Fiesta consistently tops the UK best-selling chart.
Hyundai i30 N Line
Hyundai shocked the world when the i30 N was introduced, as its first attempt at a hot hatch instantly became one of the best on the market. It’s no surprise then that it wanted to capture some of that spirit in its more mainstream offerings — and that’s what the i30 N Line aims to achieve. Fitted with racier suspension, grippier tyres and more aggressive bodywork, it brings life into the regular car without compromising on usability.
Kia Ceed GT
Kia doesn’t make a full-on hot hatch, with the Ceed GT coming as close to the mark as any of the firm’s offerings. That’s not to say the figures don’t make for interesting reading — after all, it chucks out a touch over 200bhp. The chassis is fairly lively too, and it looks dead cool.
Volkswagen Up! GTI
Anything from Volkswagen with a GTI badge slapped on is sure to be a hit (well, maybe except the MkIV Golf), and that’s certainly the case with the Up! GTI. Its 1.0-litre turbocharged engine knocks out 113bhp which, in a car of this size, feels three times as much — with a chassis that’s as excitable as a puppy meeting its new family for the first time.
Toyota Yaris GR Sport
The limited-run, skunkworks Toyota Yaris GRMN was one of the Japanese firm’s finest modern creations — and it has tried to capture some of that limited-edition car’s magic in the Yaris Hybrid. Granted, its electrified and economical powertrain is a far cry from the full-blown car’s Lotus-tuned supercharged 1.8-litre powerhouse, but an enhanced chassis does allow for some fun. With suspension and tyres directly taken from the GRMN, it’s a lively thing indeed.
What’s a hot hatch if not an arrogant, shouty little thing trying to prove that, yes, it is a supercar? That’s the box the Abarth 595 ticks — albeit with performance levels that make it just shy of a proper performance hatchback. That said, it looks cool, comes with stickers, drives like a joy and has one of the best sounding exhaust notes this side of a Lamborghini. What’s not to love?