A hot hatchback is the closest many of us will get to blending supercar levels of performance with the practicality of a family car.
The hot hatchback market is an exciting one whose origins can be traced back to the original 1976 Golf GTI, which brought high performance driving to the masses. Since then, hot hatches have gone on to deliver more power and precise handling in cars that are designed to be used every day.
Today, the market is as big as it has ever been, with many manufacturers offering hardcore versions of their hatchbacks for those looking for an adrenaline rush on their daily drive.
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Here are the best new hot hatches going on sale this year:
Hyundai i30 N
Hyundai is making its debut in the highly-competitive hot hatch segment this year and critics are already impressed by the Korean carmaker’s first attempt.
Called the i30 N, the racing-inspired hatchback has been developed on the 12.9-mile Nurburgring race track in Germany which is regularly used by manufacturers to hone their new performance cars. The car is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharge four-cylinder engine that delivers 247bhp to the front wheels.
The hatchback feels “heroically grippy” around fast corners, says Car magazine, “biting hard on turn-in and maintaining reassuring chassis balance mid-bend”.
On models fitted with the £3,000 optional performance package, the magazine says it feels “super-composed on track” and “comfy” on rough road surfaces. “This is a car you’d be happy to use every day”, it adds.
The hatchback is also packed with interior tech, says Auto Express, including a touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and sat-nav, electric sports seats, cruise control and a “class-leading” range of safety features.
Orders are open now, the magazine says, with prices kicking off at £24,995.
Seat Leon Cupra 300
Seat's most powerful production car ever, the Leon Cupra 300, reaches customers later this year and it's already a hit with the critics.
Along with a gentle facelift, Leon has had its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine upgraded to produce 296bhp and 280lb-ft torque. Seat has yet to update the acceleration figures, but the outgoing model does zero to 62mph in 5.7secs, so the new version should will be faster than that.
AutoExpress says drivers "in the market for a 300bhp hot hatchback" should add the Cupra 300 to their shopping list as it has an "extensive equipment list" and is an "extremely competent device" when pushed hard.
Evo agrees, saying the all-wheel drive ST estate version smooths out any torque reactions that drivers may experience on the front-wheel drive hatchback variant. It's also "ludicrously fast" and "simply devours the road".
Order books for the Cupra 300 are open now, with prices starting at £30,140.
Click here for more details about the Seat Leon Cupra 300.
Civic Type R
Production for the current generation Honda Civic Type R has come to an end after just two years of sales. The car will make way for a new version of the hot hatchback that's due to go on sale later this year.
The new Type R has been given an entirely new look with aggressive front-end styling and massive brake ducks. The car has a more coupe-like shape with a low rear window leading on to a large spoiler and diffuser. Three exhausts can be seen at the rear of the car, while carbon fibre winglets can be found on the front splitter and skirts.
"It takes just a few hundred metres to feel the massive improvement in ride comfort compared to before", says Evo. This means the Type R is "now no more difficult to live with than any other hot hatch".
The changes give the Type R a "dual personality", says AutoExpress, as the car is able to "comfortably do humdrum day-to-day stuff" while delivering "a completely addictive drive".
The Honda Civic Type R is now on sale for £30,995.
Ford Fiesta ST
Ford took the hot hatch world by storm with the launch of its seventh generation Fiesta ST, with critics praising the car's nimble handling and nicely-weighted steering.
With the unveiling of its all-new Fiesta earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before Ford announced a high-performance version. It did exactly this at the Geneva Motor Show.
The new Fiesta ST continues the downsizing trend with a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine replacing the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo in the previous model. It does, however, produce a massive 197bhp – around 19bhp more than the old car.
The new Fiesta ST also features a new track mode, which disables the traction control and prevents the stability management system from intervening while driving hard.
Prices have yet to be announced, but AutoExpress says it could cost around £19,000 and will launch at the beginning of 2018.
Toyota Yaris GRMN
Toyota revealed a high performance version of its Yaris hatchback shortly before the firm entered its first World Rally Championship event since 1999.
The Yaris will be powered by a 210bhp engine and feature new body styling to give it a sportier edge. Toyota says it will also make adjustments to the chassis setup in a bid to "improve overall comfort and handling".
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Volkswagen has given its seventh generation Golf GTI a facelift that includes new LED headlights and an extra 10bhp.
Critics have given the iconic hatchback the thumbs up, with Autocar saying it "sticks with the same sweet dynamic compromise" Volkswagen has perfected over the last 40 years. "It's more than fast enough to enjoy on country roads" and it's noticeably more comfortable than its rivals, the magazine adds.
AutoExpress, however, says drivers "frustratingly no longer get the shortcut keys either side of the screen" on the new infotainment system. The magazine argues that it may "look slick", but at £1,325, it "isn't cheap".
Orders are open for the 2017 Golf GTI and deliveries are expected to arrive in the spring. Prices start at £27,865 for a three-door with manual gearbox, while DSG models come in at £29,280.
Click here to find out more about the 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
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