For many, a car is more than just a means of commuting or a way to get from point A to point B. Instead, it’s an expression of who they are and what they like. The car you drive is your statement to the world about your personality, interests, and values – which explains why so many people make such an effort to personalize their rides. From subtle changes like new rims and exhausts to major overhauls like swaps, conversions and full-on restorations, there are lots of ways you can give your ride that personal touch. Indeed, for many people buying their first car feels like the ultimate coming-of-age moment. It’s a big purchase that says volumes about you as a person. And when you’re at this stage in your life when the image is everything, it makes sense that so many potential owners look for something with character as well as style. For these reasons – and because we love all things fast and furious – we take a closer look at the best hot hatches on the market right now.
Kia is a brand on the rise. It’s blossomed in recent years, adding an array of stylish, well-priced and well-equipped models to its range to become a real contender in the hotly contested small car market. For drivers who like the idea of a Korean hatch but want a bit more power, the Rio is a good choice. That said, it’s the top-of-the-range Rio GT-S that we’d recommend. It’s a proper hot hatch with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that produces an impressive 182 PS. There’s also a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is not something you find in many hot hatches.
Hyundai’s i20 is one of the top-selling hatchbacks in Europe and, like the Kia Rio, it’s a good choice for drivers who like the idea of a Korean hatch but want a bit more power. We’d recommend the i20 N, which uses the same 1.6-liter turbocharged engine as the Rio GT-S but has more power (very important). The i20 N has also been tuned to deliver more torque at lower revs, which gives you better acceleration in everyday driving. It also has sharper steering and a more advanced electronic limited-slip differential, which makes it more fun to drive than the Rio.
Suzuki Swift Sport
The latest generation of Suzuki’s legendary Swift hatchback is a fantastic hot hatch. The Swift Sport has a sportier look than the regular model and comes equipped with a 1.6-liter engine that produces 156 PS. There are three versions of the engine available depending on where you live. The Euro 6 version comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the Euro 5 and Euro 4 variants get a six-speed manual as standard. The Euro 6 also comes with a six-speed automatic transmission as an option.
The Honda Jazz has been a popular choice among buyers looking for something a bit different from the norm. And it’s easy to see why. It looks different from other hatchbacks and offers lots of space inside, thanks to the way its designers have created a very clever interior. It’s also a very quick car, with the top-of-the-range model packing an impressive amount of power. The 1.5-liter VTEC turbocharged engine produces 190 PS and 280 Nm of torque, while the six-speed manual gearbox comes with a rev-matching feature that makes it even easier to drive. The Jazz is a very good all-around car and one we recommend. It’s a great choice for drivers who want something stylish, distinctive, practical and fun to drive.
The Mitsubishi Mirage has been a surprise hit in the UK, managing to attract buyers in a market that’s overwhelmingly dominated by hatchbacks. It’s a stylish car with a clever interior and a hybrid version that’s good for the environment and your wallet. As a model with a hot hatch feel, the top-of-the-range SE model is the one we’d recommend. It has a bold look and comes with a turbocharged 1.2-liter engine that produces 90 PS and a CVT automatic transmission as standard.
Volkswagen Polo GT TSI
The Volkswagen Polo is one of the biggest-selling cars in the world and, like the Honda Jazz, it’s a good choice for drivers who want something distinctive and different from the norm. It’s also a good choice for those who want a car with a bit of a sporty edge to it. The Polo GT TSI is powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine that produces 197 PS. It’s a good all-around car with a comfortable ride, lots of space and a nice interior.
The Renault Kwid is a car with a bit of a reputation. It’s been dubbed the “world’s cheapest car” but don’t let that put you off. This is a proper hot hatch with lots of power – and it is also a very affordable option. It has a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 90 PS, with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. There’s also a sporty R model that comes with a manual gearbox, a slightly more powerful engine and a sportier look.
Mazda has been a bit of a wild card in the small car market, offering buyers some unusual choices. The Mazda 2 is one of them. It’s an interesting choice for drivers who want something different from the norm. This is a very cleverly designed car with a very efficient interior. The top-of-the-range model packs a 138 PS 1.5-litre engine, with a six-speed manual gearbox and a rev-matching feature as standard. It’s a fun car to drive, while still being very economical thanks to its lightweight construction.
Ford Fiesta ST
The Ford Fiesta ST is one of the most famous hot hatches out there, and it’s easy to see why. The ST is a proper hot hatch, one that’s been engineered to provide a thrilling driving experience – and it’s not a car that’s going to disappoint. The latest generation of the Ford Fiesta ST has a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 197 PS, with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. This is one of the most powerful cars in its class, while also being very economical because of its mix of both petrol and diesel engines.
There are lots of reasons why people love hot hatches. They’re practical, affordable, easy to park, great for city driving and – of course – they’re fun to drive. But above all, hot hatches are about individuality. They’re cars that let you stand out from the crowd, without standing out too much. There are many types of cars that fit that description, but few are more accessible than the hot hatch. It’s a car that’s easily within the budget of most drivers, and one that’s often easier to customize than its more expensive counterparts. So if you’re in the market for a new car and want something a bit different, a hot hatch is a perfect choice.