I wasn’t old enough to remember anything from the 1970s but some seriously cool stuff came from that decade such as Star Wars, the first consumer video games, Sony Walkman, pocket calculators, floppy disk and microwave ovens to name just a few things. In terms of the automobile industry, the 1970s was an era of price increases, safety concerns and emissions controls and the 1973 oil crisis caused a move towards smaller, fuel-efficient cars. The 1970s also saw the decline and practical failure of the British car industry. The 70’s also and most importantly for the relevancy of this article saw the dawn of the hatchback car. Hail the hatchback! Now it seems every car manufacturer has one hatchback in its lineup and here we showcase 10 of our favourites from the past few years – we call them ‘cool’ but really that means these are hatchbacks with great looks and are real quick!
Audi RS3 Sportback
We’re big fans of Audi’s and the RS3 is one of our favourites. The RS3 is a slightly belated entry into the realm of serious hot hatchbacks. There’s a shed load of performance packed into this little hatchback car. It boasts 335bhp and essentially it’s an Audi TT RS with the added practicality of a five-door hatchback body.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The best know hatchback in the World is still one of the best hatchbacks in the World. This new 7th generation model GTI is significantly lighter than the one it replaces, if not as light as the original 1975 model. The VW Golf has the full package, offering quality, style, badge appeal, and an exhilarating driving experience. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that develops 217bhp in standard form, or 227bhp when specified with an optional performance pack.
New Honda Civic
The Honda Civic was introduced in 1973, and sold well due to its high fuel-efficiency. The Civic has undergone numerous plastic surgeries in recent years but now the new Civic is even better looking than before. Fuel economy is extraordinary with the 1.6 i-DTEC Civic with average figures of around 78 mpg. And if that’s not impressive enough, the Honda only produces 94 g/km of CO2. Being British, it’s nice to know at least some cars are still built in this country with the Civic, the Jazz and CR-V all built in the UK.
Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
The A45 AMG should be one of the hottest hot hatches ever, thanks to a power output of 355bhp from its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine. Standard four-wheel drive should help to keep things under control though, just about! We reckon this is the coolest looking out of all the hatchbacks. See what you think:
MINI Cooper S
The original MINI was a huge success and the BMW remake has captured a huge volume of sales both in the UK and internationally. The Cooper S is the pick of the bunch, has plenty of power and is great fun to drive.
We also love the Mini Paceman John Cooper which gets all the usual JCW hot hatch upgrades, including a 215bhp 1.6-litre engine and aggressive bodykit. Four-wheel drive is standard. Beware, the bone-crunching ride is borderline uncomfortable on longer motorway journeys.
Renault Mégane Renaultsport
The latest in a long line of potent Renaults packs 261bhp and manages 0-60mph in just 6 seconds. In terms of driver enjoyment, it’s one of the best hot hatches on the market – but the trade off for that is a particularly hard ride like the Mini Paceman John Cooper above.
Ford Focus ST
Fords latest hatchback model, the Focus ST, has already proved its quality. The ride isn’t as firm as some of the rivals in this top 10 and therefore it’s more usable for everyday driving, and yet it’s still blisteringly quick on a twisty back road. Spacious and practical, too, the Focus ST represents a great-value package.
BMW 1 Series
The basic BMW 1 Series is currently one of the best family hatchbacks on sale, and the flagship M135i takes the experience to another level. A massive 316bhp makes it capable of 0-60mph in less than five seconds, making overtaking slower traffic a doddle. Quality’s top notch, too, and the driving position is superb – the M135i makes a real case for being the most premium hot hatch if not the hottest of all.
SEAT Leon hatchback 2.0 TDI FR
The new SEAT Leon arrived in the second half of 2012 and made various improvements over the model it replaced. A high-powered Cupra model isn’t due until 2014, so for now we must make do with the potent 2.0 TDI FR. Its well-weighted steering makes it a joy to drive, and the engine provides loads of power where you need it. Plus, it’s as frugal as a hatchback should be thanks to the diesel engine.
Renault Clio RS 200
The new Renaultsport Clio is a totally different car to the one it replaces. The turbocharged hot hatch is only available with five doors and comes without the option of a manual gearbox. That said, it is immensely quick and very satisfying to drive, with pin-point steering and sharp brakes.
The Proceed GT is Kia’s first hot hatch. It certainly looks the part, and although its 201bhp output (again, it gets a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine) means that its not as powerful as some rivals, it’s likely to be a lot cheaper. A five-door Ceed GT will follow in 2014.
Skoda Fabia vRS hatchback
The flagship Fabia is possibly the biggest surprise here on this top 10 list. It’s powered by a 178bhp, 1.4-litre TSI engine, combining a supercharger and turbocharger for effortless acceleration at any speed. It’s great value too – undercutting many of its rivals by several hundred pounds. It also gets the desirable seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox from the VW Polo GTI, making for seamless gear shifts at any speed.