The UK is the home of the hot hatch
, with more sold here than anywhere else. And 2013 looks like it's going to be a hell of a year for us lot. With all this eco crap (not to mention the recession), big, naturally aspirated engines are sadly becoming a thing of the past. That doesn't mean that you can't have fun on four wheels, though.
Hot hatches provide the everyday practicality of a boring city runaround with the edge-of-your-seat thrills of a sports car. Take a look at what we're getting excited about...
Ford Fiesta ST
Probably the most highly anticipated hot hatch of the year is Ford's new Fiesta ST. Everyone loves a fast Ford
as you'll have seen with the rave reviews of the latest Focus ST. Let's hope that magic is transferred to the Fiesta, then. Last time out the excellent chassis was let down by a less than charismatic engine, and this could be the case again. The new Fiesta's solid base should be wonderful if the ST boys sprinkle the same fairy dust they used on the Focus, but it's got the 1.6-litre turbo from the Focus Zetec S. Still, with 180bhp to play with in a smaller frame, it should be a blast.
Renault Clio RS
The previous Clio RS was widely regarded to be the hot hatch of choice since its release in 2009. One of the highlights of the package was an eager naturally aspirated engine.
That's why the motoring world let out a collective sigh when it was announced the new model would house a 1.6-litre turbo under the bonnet. It'll still hold around 200bhp so this isn't much of an evolution for the hot Clio. Oh, and there's no more manual 'box, only a DCT on offer.
The Renaultsport crew will have to work wonders if they want to retain their place at the top.
Peugeot 208 GTI
Inevitably the 208 GTI will be compared to the famous Peugeot GTIs of old, but here at CT we won't fall into that obvious trap. Cars will never again be that simple, so we might as well get used to it.
What we should do is compare it to modern Peugeots, and that's where the 208 fares a little better. It's not sexy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an improvement over the 207 which bodes well for a brand that really lost its way. And the RCZ
proves that it can get things right. So with a 1.6 turbo and 200bhp (are we noticing a theme here?) this could finally be a new benchmark for hot Pugs.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Ah, the VW Golf GTI. For so long it has been the reliable choice for anyone wanting rapid practicality and tartan upholstery. Shame then that pretty much everything else here has more character. Aesthetically, the new model shows more of the same from VW, but it's in the facts and figures that things get a bit more interesting. Producing 217bhp from its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine
it will laugh in the face of everything except the Merc A45 (below), and if that's not enough for you, just tick the Performance Pack box to add another 10bhp and improved handling. That should show those flamboyant Frenchies.
Volkswagen Up! GT
But wait, what's this? Proof the Germans can do quirky too, ja!
Sticking an exclamation mark in your car's name obviously shows you're totally crazy and super-fun-time guys, so the Up! GT should be an interesting budget hot hatch. Okay, with 109bhp it's more of a warm
hatch, but that 1.0-litre three-pot turbo motor should fizz and pop and bring the smiles. Funky motoring and German engineering sounds like winning
Mercedes A45 AMG
We've already driven an AMG A-Class
, and it left us feeling disappointed. Merc are hoping to remedy that with this crazy beast. The A45 has 350 rampaging horses that feed all 4 wheels
to provide epic grip levels and cataclysmic acceleration. And it sounds the dogs nads.
We can't wait to get behind the wheel to find out just what Germany's finest have done to the pleasant entry level Merc, but we do know it'll be a handful.
An A45 already got down and dirty
with the barriers at the Nurburgring. And will this finally be the nail in the (albeit much cheaper) M135i
's coffin? Let the battle begin!