Hot Hatches in the Market: Comparison of the Top ModelsPublished Sunday, January 29, 2023
Are You Looking for the Best Hot Hatch to Add to Your Collection?
Australia loves its hot hatchbacks. From performance to fun and affordability, what's not to love?
The hot hatch formula hasn't really changed since its introduction in the 1970s.
Increase the engine's output, equip sports seats to keep the driver and front-seat passenger firmly in place, tinker with the suspension, add sticky tyres, and have stronger stopping power. The end result is a powerful performance vehicle that can also be used for regular driving and driving to the grocery store.
When choosing the ideal hot hatch, there are a number of models, brands, and factors to consider. Let's look at a few.
The Renault Megane RS has temporarily been reduced to a single model in Australia, and while it is still well-regarded and holding up well despite its age, it lacks the youthful appeal of the more recent competitors. The Ford Focus ST and Ford Fiesta ST are also pretty popular options, and rightfully so.
Although the Suzuki Swift Sport offers a lot of performance and value for money, we believe the Hyundai i20 N—its closest competitor on price—outperforms it in a number of areas.
You certainly can't leave out Mercedes and BMW on the list of hot hatches.
Do you want to know what the best hot hatch is? Let's dive in!
The Best Hot Hatches in the Market
Hyundai i30 N DCT
The Hyundai i30 N has to be on our top hot hatch list for various reasons.
More power, new suspension and steering, sticky Pirelli tyres, and—most importantly—a new, quick-responding, eight-speed twin-clutch automatic that transforms the car's breadth of ability in comparison to earlier manual-only versions—were all included in the most recent update, which also brought substantial modifications that came with a facelift.
This hot hatch provides top-tier performance both on and off the track while still being manageable in the daily grind.
The Hyundai i30 N fits well, in many ways, between the refinement and plushness of the VW Golf GTI and the bare-bones hardcore hot hatches. This is a winning combination.
Furthermore, the Hyundai i30 N is one of the fastest hot hatch options on this list.
It's the perfect everyday car but has actual racing performance when you need it.
At the touch of a button, it can switch between a loud mode and a setting that won't wake the neighbors.
The Hyundai i30 N has advanced to a new level thanks to the aforementioned changes to the power, suspension, steering, sticky tyres, lightweight wheels, and the impressive eight-speed twin-clutch auto that can really take the punishment.
These changes, along with a mechanical limited-slip differential and numerous driving modes, have also improved the Hyundai i30 N.
Ford Focus ST and Ford Fiesta ST
Over the past couple of decades, the Blue Oval has produced some eminently noteworthy, chart-topping hot hatchbacks; in fact, one of them continues to dominate our hot supermini ranks for "pocket rockets."
The modern Ford Focus ST comes close to attaining that distinction, but not because it isn't a tremendously efficient and engaging driver's car or because it lacks speed, power, or mechanical specifications.
Ford hasn't held back with the design of this ST, despite the fact that STs are usually hot hatchbacks with a slightly subservient appearance. It is the first Focus ST to include an electronically controlled limited-slip differential for its driven front axle and adaptive dampers, which is still rather uncommon on vehicles in this price range and unquestionably improves the handling appeal of the vehicle.
The ST Edition is available if you're looking for something even more specialized and hard-core. It features lightweight alloy wheels and a very unique, manually adjustable coil-over suspension, and it pushes the ST's dynamic recipe to new heights for handling incisiveness and body control.
Furthermore, the Focus ST has rich verbal and motivational performance-car character, direct, flexible handling, and solid body control. Even while it lacks the performance and raw grip of other fast Fords from the past, it is the kind of hot hatch designed to make even the most tedious road miles fun, and it succeeds in doing so.
Perhaps that strikes the ideal balance for a Focus ST model: a car that is more of an exuberant daily performer than a particularly purposeful, hard-hitting track racer. It's not quite enough to make this car our current top hot hatchback, but it's still a serious candidate. This could be the final fast Ford we witness because the Focus is rumored to be dying soon.
However, the Ford Fiesta ST is also a great option to consider. The main difference is that the Ford Fiesta ST does not have the same high-performance capabilities as the Focus range.
Hyundai i20 N
The Hyundai i20 N, a highly contested vehicle, comes the closest to the original hot hatch model in many ways.
This vehicle is small, reasonably priced, incredibly capable, and enjoyable to drive. It also adds a level of customization and adjustment never previously seen in the city-sized hot hatch class.
Additionally, the Pirelli tyres provide exceptional grip, and the brakes can withstand significant abuse both on and off the racetrack. Because of the neutral handle, it is forgiving in inexperienced hands.
Although the Hyundai i20 N's exhaust note is pleasant and has hot hatch undertones, it is not as loud as the Hyundai i30 N's.
The rev hang isn't the greatest, which is the time it takes for engine revs to stabilize between manual gear changes.
Furthermore, the tyre roar is also not the biggest selling point, even though firm-ish suspension is to be expected in a hot hatch like this.
While the Hyundai i20 N is a superb example of a pure hot hatch, it proved less practical than the other vehicles for daily driving.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The VW Golf GTI has reflexes that get the job done without unsettling the body because it is so capable and skillful.
On the road, this hot hatch provides a life of luxury, yet at the touch of a button or a squeeze of the throttle, you can also release its full ability. Top-notch engine power, steering precision, tyre grip, and braking ability are all present.
The front and rear seats are extremely comfortable. When it comes to interior presentation, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is certainly at the top of the list.
Other hot hatchbacks, such as the VW Golf GTI Clubsport are also quite popular; however, are not available in Australia.
Toyota GR Yaris
The Toyota Yaris is certainly deserving of making this list. It might not have nearly as much room or functionality as the other cars on this list, but in terms of real-world point-to-point speed or driver satisfaction, it is one of the best hot hatch options.
Moreover, it performs far above its weight in terms of actual power and is priced more like a full-sized hot hatchback alternative than a "pocket rocket" hot supermini.
This vehicle saw an interesting development after being initially designed as a rally homologation car but ultimately succumbing to a WRC rule change that could have terminated the project in its tracks.
It speaks a lot about Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda's dedication to changing public perception of the company for which he is responsible for introducing thrilling new driver's vehicles into its model lineup at various price points.
The GR Yaris boasts a 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 257 horsepower and four-wheel drive, which allows it to go from 0 to 62 mph in just 5.5 seconds (mechanical torque-vectoring diffs are optional).
Furthermore, the GR Yaris is a special and rare affordable performance car that previously fell out of fashion; however, we're thrilled to see it revitalized so successfully.
It has surefooted cornering balance, communicative controls, four-wheel drive, and an uncanny dynamic composure that promotes greater speed and more fun.
Honda Civic Type R
The Civic Type R comes as close to the mega-hatch mantle as one can without truly surpassing it.
The hottest new Honda is more capable than ever, but it's also refined and practical. It is just as functional as any other Honda Civic, minus the fact that there are just two rather than three rear seats.
Given the Honda's 316bhp of power, speed, and most importantly, how nice it is to drive, its price tag, which initially appears to be quite pricey, actually represents great value.
Although its characterful, grunty engine is paired with one of the best manual gears ever, it could also easily defeat many supercars on the road. This is exactly why it makes the list of the best hot hatches in Australia.
Volkswagen Golf R
The Volkswagen Golf R is equally at home driving through town as it is on a winding road. This sporty hatchback with four wheels is undoubtedly one of the best all-rounders in the industry. It ticks all the appropriate boxes: it's quick, fun to drive, and efficient.
Renault Megane RS
The Mégane RS is available in many different configurations and at many different price points, but we believe the base model, which still has a 276bhp 1.8-liter turbocharged engine, is the best variant altogether.
However, we recommend you choose the Cup Chassis Pack, which is an optional extra and is included with the non-R Trophy model. It includes a limited-slip differential for better traction and a sharper, more ingenious suspension. Four-wheel steering and incredibly enjoyable handling are features of the chassis. Although the interior may not be the most unique of hot hatchback interiors, there is plenty of grip and a solid steering feel.
The focus here is on the chassis abilities, so the Renault RS still has plenty of appeal as a whole even though it isn't quite as close to the cutting edge in this class as it once was. This is true even though Renault's fundamental performance falls slightly behind some of its competitors.
Mercedes AMG A 45-S
Not that long ago, 200 horsepower would have been more than sufficient to meet the requirements for true hot-hatch designation. Mercedes' initial A 45 model, which had 376 bhp, completely rewrote the performance playbook, and now the 415 bhp A 45 S has done the same.
AMG started from scratch and increased torque and power to sports car levels since it was literally impossible to extract any more power from the previous model. The A 45 S's 0-62 mph acceleration time of 3.9 seconds is aided by four-wheel drive, making it a family hatch that accelerates faster than its sibling.
The engine, which is the most potent four-cylinder production motor in the world, enjoys being revved. Thanks to Mercedes' eight-speed automatic gearbox's manual option, you may enjoy even more excitement by pushing the vehicle to its absolute limits. This is a step above the average six-speed manual gearbox.
Furthermore, the AMG 45 S's beautifully furnished inside sets it apart from the other hatchbacks on this list. Although it may not be the most crucial factor for experienced drivers, it does contribute to the car's luxury appearance.
BMW 128ti and M135i
The performance version of the new BMW 1-Series, the M135i xDrive, actually became a superior hot hatchback in many circumstances despite a 50% reduction in engine cylinders and a move away from the rear-wheel drive.
The powertrain and chassis of the previous M140i had their moments, but the M135i xDrive, which debuted in 2019, was a more composed performance vehicle that was easier to drive, quicker down a challenging section of B-road, and better communicated its adhesive limitations.
The driving experience received a very slight update in 2022 that improved torque vectoring, firmer dampers and springs, and an additional two degrees of negative camber for the front suspension. The end result is a four-wheel drive car that is pointier and more nimble than before.
Hot Hatches in the Market Comparison: Which Pick Is Your Favourite?
Do any of the cars on this list appeal to you? Whether you're interested in the Hyundai i30 N or the Volkswagen Golf GTI, we at Westside Auto can assist! If you're looking to become a hot hatch driver, contact our dealership today for the best deals!