Best hot hatches 2018 (and the ones to avoid)

What's the best hot hatch money can buy? We name our favourites and reveal the ones to avoid at all costs...

Best hot hatches 2018 (and the ones to avoid)

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

A hot hatch needs to excel in several areas if it's to be the crowned the cream of the crop.

First, it must be able to get your pulse racing on a twisty back road; if it can’t get you from corner to corner without the edges of your mouth turning up, it has fallen at the first hurdle. So, handling prowess and power delivery are key here.

Ride quality is also important. A firm ride is inevitable on something so sporty, but the suspension must be able to deal with the worst that British roads can throw at it.

And hot hatches are likely to be used every day of the week, so they also need to possess a practical, comfortable interior and have reasonable running costs.

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Volkswagen Golf GTI

10. Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Golf GTI badge is well known among hot hatch drivers. It's been around for a long time, and the current version continues the tradition of being fun, fast and easy to live with. It's more expensive than some rivals, but it does have a high quality interior and impressive resale values.

Read our full Volkswagen Golf GTI review

Find a great Volkwagen Golf deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Volkswagen Golf GTI

10. Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen gave the Golf a facelift for 2017; the GTI gained a mild makeover and an upgraded infotainment system.

Read our full Volkswagen Golf GTI review

Find a great Volkwagen Golf deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Audi S3

9. Audi S3

Like the regular A3 family hatchback, the S3 is a premium car that oozes quality inside and out. There's a 306bhp petrol engine under the bonnet that makes it one of the quickest cars in this class.

Our pick: 3dr manual

Read our full Audi S3 review

Find a great Audi A3 deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Audi S3

9. Audi S3

The S3 is not the most exciting hot hatch to drive, and its price can quickly rise if you start adding options, but it has one of the classiest interiors around.

Our pick: 3dr manual

Read our full Audi S3 review

Find a great Audi A3 deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Ford Focus ST

8. Ford Focus ST

The regular Ford Focus is already a very competent family hatchback, so it makes sense that the go-faster version, the Focus ST, is a great all-rounder as well.

Our pick: ST-2

Read our full Ford Focus ST review

Find a great Ford Focus ST deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Ford Focus ST

8. Ford Focus ST

You can have it in either 182bhp or 247bhp forms, but whichever option you choose, you'll get engaging handling and a great driving position. The interior could do with being a little classier, but it's still a solid option in this market.

Our pick: ST-2

Read our full Ford Focus ST review

Find a great Ford Focus ST deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Ford Fiesta ST-Line

7. Ford Fiesta ST-Line

It may not be the fastest hot hatch, but the Fiesta ST-Line is the most fun you can have in a car for less than £20,000. It's more entertaining to drive than rivals thanks to its sharper steering and better body control.

Our pick: 1.0 Ecoboost 140

Read our Ford Fiesta ST-Line review

Find a great Ford Fiesta deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Ford Fiesta ST-Line

7. Ford Fiesta ST-Line

The Fiesta ST-Line is also cheaper to insure than rivals. And with its bespoke body kit and chunky alloy wheels, it even looks like a little pocket rocket.

Our pick: 1.0 Ecoboost 140

Read our Ford Fiesta ST-Line review

Find a great Ford Fiesta deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Audi RS3

6. Audi RS3

Audi has been locked in a power battle with Mercedes-AMG in recent years, but this revised RS3, which borrows the 394bhp five-cylinder engine from the TT RS sports car, puts the hot hatch firmly in the top spot for outright acceleration.

Read our full Audi RS3 review

Find a great Audi RS3 deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Audi RS3

6. Audi RS3

You’ll need a well-padded wallet to buy and own an RS3, though. If you’re after something more playful and cheaper, check out the BMW M140i and Ford Focus RS.

Read our full Audi RS3 review

Find a great Audi RS3 deal

Best hot hatchbacks

Volkswagen Golf R

5. Volkswagen Golf R

The potent Volkswagen Golf GTI is already on this list, and the faster Golf R is even better. It's even more potent than a GTI, with increased performance and four-wheel drive. In fact, it's tremendous fun to drive.

Our pick: 3dr manual

Read our full Volkswagen Golf R review

Find a great Volkswagen Golf deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Volkswagen Golf R

5. Volkswagen Golf R

It has 296bhp. four-wheel drive and a 0-62mph time of just 5.3sec. It's also reasonably practical to use every day, and its interior is top-notch.

Our pick: 3dr manual

Read our full Volkswagen Golf R review

Find a great Volkswagen Golf deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Mercedes-AMG A45

4. Mercedes-AMG A45

There's no getting over the fact that the Mercedes-AMG A45 is an expensive choice. What that price buys you, though, is some blistering straight-line speed and impressive cornering ability.

Read our full Mercedes-AMG A45 review

Find a great Mercedes A-Class deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

4. Mercedes-AMG A45

Combine those talents with a mighty 375bhp engine and a quick automatic gearbox, and this is a very capable hot hatch. Just be aware that most rivals listed here have similar talents for considerably less money.

Read our full Mercedes-AMG A45 review

Find a great Mercedes A-Class deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Hyundai i30N

3. Hyundai i30N

Hyundai has gone from zero to hero with the i30N, bettering established rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST with its first serious attempt at building a hot hatch.

Read our full Hyundai i30N review

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Hyundai i30N

3. Hyundai i30N

There are two versions: regular and the more hardcore Performance model. We reckon you'll have more fun on the road in the regular car.

Read our full Hyundai i30 N review

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Ford Focus RS

2. Ford Focus RS

We're well into five-star car territory with the Ford Focus RS. With a total of 345bhp on tap, it's one of the most powerful hatches around, it has four-wheel drive and can sprint from 0-62mph in less than 5.0sec.

Read our full Ford Focus RS review

Find a great Ford Focus RS deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Ford Focus RS

2. Ford Focus RS

The Focus RS is also surprisingly affordable, with a starting price of £31,765. That makes it significantly cheaper than some of the more premium choices on this list.

Read our full Ford Focus RS review

Find a great Ford Focus RS deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Honda Civic Type R

1. Honda Civic Type R

The Civic Type R has never been a wallflower, but all that outlandish looking bodywork has a practical purpose – it helps to keep the turbocharged 2.0-litre-engined car glued to the ground. At speed, the Type R feels utterly planted, and although it may be a fraction of a second slower than the Golf R or Focus RS on paper, it doesn’t feel like its lacking in performance when you're driving it.

Our pick: 2.0 VTEC Turbo GT 5dr

Read our full Honda Civic review

Find a great Honda Civic Type-R deal

Best and worst hot hatchbacks

Honda Civic Type-R

1. Honda Civic Type R

Just as impressive is the practicality of this sizeable hot hatch. There’s enough leg room in the back seats for lankier teenagers, and the boot is massive by class standards, meaning families don’t have to make too many compromises to live with the Type R.

Our pick: 2.0 VTEC Turbo GT 5dr

Read our full Honda Civic review

Find a great Honda Civic Type-R deal

Worst hot hatchbacks

Alfa Mito Quadrifoglio Verde

Alfa Romeo Mito Quadrifoglio Verde

The Alfa Romeo Mito Quadrifoglio Verde (QV) falls behind key rivals in too many areas, making it impossible to recommend.

Read our full Alfa Romeo Mito review

Worst hot hatchbacks

Nissan Juke Nismo RS

Nissan Juke Nismo RS

Nissan's sporty crossover offers fast performance, but isn't very good to drive.

Read our full Nissan Juke review

Worst hot hatchbacks

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

The standard Corsa is a great small hatchback, but this performance version has a fidgety ride and needs a better engine.

Read our full Vauxhall Corsa review


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