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Hot hatches: best of the rest

  1. Had a ruddy good read of our Stig-scented hot hatch mega-test? Well, in the interest of fairness and impartiality, here lies every other smoldering hatchback currently on sale.

    All are available to buy right here in the UK, and they’re ranked from the wondrous to the woeful in traditionally logic-free Top Gear fashion.

    The countdown begins at five (we tested the other four). Now click forth…

  2. Clio Renaultsport

    POWER: 200bhp
    0-62: 6.9secs
    PRICE: £16,930

    Back in 2010, we crowned this our hot-hatch champion. Only because the top four have since moved the game on has the brilliant RS dropped down to fifth. You must drive the little Clio hard to get the most from its naturally aspirated 2.0-litre, but when you do, it’s a thing of wonder: precise controls, fizzy engine and an overwhelming sense of sheer mechanical rightness.

  3. Vauxhall Corsa Nürburgring

    POWER: 205bhp
    0-62: 6.5secs
    PRICE: £22,295

    A special-ed Corsa VXR for £22k? We were sceptical too, but the ‘Ring is a bit special. Only slightly more powerful than the stock Corsa VXR, but with the LSD from the Astra VXR between its front wheels, it grips like a supergluey barnacle. Rock-hard suspension means a jiggly ride on bad roads, but the ‘Ring Corsa is an unexpected treat.

  4. Suzuki Swift Sport

    POWER: 136bhp
    0-62: 8.7secs
    PRICE: £13,500

    A lightweight, no-frills hot hatch from the old school, and all the better for it. A power output of just 136bhp might look laughable alongside the 200-plus crowd, but the Swift Sport makes use of every one of its horses, clinging hard and changing tack like a bulb-drunk moth thanks to a 1,035kg kerbweight.

  5. Mini Cooper S

    POWER: 184bhp
    0-62: 7.0secs
    PRICE: £18,180

    If you want a hot hatch and you want a Mini, you’re spoilt for choice: you can have a hatch, Clubman or Countryman in Cooper, Cooper S or John Cooper Works flavours. The JCW cars are too hard for buggered British tarmac, and the Clubman and Countryman are overwrought and bloated. The stock Mini Cooper S hatchback is the pick of the bunch.

  6. VW Scirocco GT

    POWER: 207bhp
    0-62: 6.9secs
    PRICE: £25,470

    Flouts the hatchback-coupe distinction with reckless abandon, but the retro-remake Scirocco manages to be almost as compelling as the mechanically-very-much-the-same Volkswagen Golf GTI. Looks fantastic, goes just as well. The 207bhp GT version is the sweet spot in the line-up, though the diesel is mighty good too.

  7. Twingo Renaultsport 133

    POWER: 133bhp
    0-62: 8.7secs
    PRICE: £13,565

    Like the Swift Sport, the Twingo RS dishes up a bare-bones hot-hatch experience we feared had died 20 years ago. Manic n/a engine begs to be ragged to the limiter, chassis makes far more grip than a dinky city car has any right to. Only tinny build quality stops it scoring higher.

  8. Volkswagen Golf R

    POWER: 267bhp
    0-62: 5.7secs
    PRICE: £31,700

    Very expensive, very grippy, very fast. The four-wheel-drive R isn’t as fingertip-involving as the best RenaultSports (or indeed VW’s own front-drive Golf GTI) but makes up for it with fearsome traction in any weather. The ultimate wintertime hot hatch.

  9. Abarth 500

    POWER: 135bhp
    0-62: 7.9secs
    PRICE: £15,139

    Some hot hatches are engineered to a precise formula, every control and feedback operating in perfect harmony. The hot 500 is not such a hot hatch. This is a daft, bundling ball of fun, overcoming dynamic deficiencies with lashings of hyperactivity. Hugely flawed but much fun.

  10. Subaru WRX STI

    POWER: 299bhp
    0-62: 5.2secs
    PRICE: £26,000

    It’s the rally legend we knew and loved as the Impreza, now available with a funny hatchy bottom rather than a trad saloon back. Still hilariously B-road-rapid, still suffers from monster turbo lag, still best driven wearing a branded baseball cap and race shoes.

  11. Citroen DS3R

    POWER: 207bhp
    0-62: 6.5secs
    PRICE: £23,205

    Pricey at £23k and, with only a few hundred coming to the UK, rarer than a non-tailgating Audi driver. Drives well, though couldn’t you lose a bit of the carbon fibre and orangeness, Citroen, and do a sub-£20k version for the rest of us?

  12. VW Scirocco R

    POWER: 265bhp
    0-62: 6.0secs
    PRICE: £30,575

    The second ‘Roc on our list, and proof that more power isn’t always better. Unlike the four-wheel-drive Golf R, the ‘Roc R remains front-drive and - though bonkers-fast - can’t match its less powerful sibling for driving purity.

  13. Seat Leon Cupra R

    POWER: 265bhp
    0-62: 6.2secs
    PRICE: £26,010

    Shares drivetrain with Scirocco R, goes round corners neatly, well priced. But the oft-luminous Cupra R isn’t as exciting as it looks on paper, lacking feel and feedback when compared to the best in the class.

  14. Alfa Giulietta Cloverleaf

    POWER: 235bhp
    0-62: 6.8secs
    PRICE: £25,570

    Probably the prettiest hot hatch on sale today, with a lovely, fiery turbo powerplant. But the Cloverleaf can’t hold a candle to the Megane/ST/GTI crowd for driving dynamics.

  15. Skoda Fabia vRS

    POWER: 178bhp
    0-62: 7.3secs
    PRICE: £16,415

    Mechanically identical to the Polo GTI, but sneaks ahead by being (a) cheaper and (b) available in estate form. Turbo-supercharged 1.4 sounds great on paper, but turns out to be a bit… boring in the real world.

  16. VW Polo GTI

    POWER: 178bhp
    0-62: 6.9secs
    PRICE: £19,330

    A bit posher inside than the Fab vRS, but similarly lacking in flair. If you want a small, well-built fast hatch, the Polo GTI is near-flawless, but don’t expect to have too much B-road fun.

  17. Ford Fiesta Zetec S

    POWER: 120bhp
    0-62: 9.9secs
    PRICE: £14,395

    The hottest Fiesta available until the 180bhp ST arrives (hopefully) next year. Has a whiff of Ford’s hot-hatch handling magic but needs more power. Lots more power.

  18. Seat Ibiza FR

    POWER: 148bhp
    0-62: 7.6secs
    PRICE: £15,870

    Polo GTI-based Ibiza Cupra is now off sale, so the FR is the hottest Ibiza you can buy right now. And, let’s be honest, you probably won’t. If it has to be an Ibiza, go for the buzzy little 1.2.

  19. Alfa MITO QV

    POWER: 170bhp
    0-62: 7.4secs
    PRICE: £18,755

    Turbocharged MultiAir engine is a tech treat, and Quadrifoglio Verde’s handling is better than the rest of the stodgy MiTos. But DNA dynamic chassis fails to ever find a happy balance between comfort and sportiness.

  20. Skoda Octavia vRS

    POWER: 200bhp
    0-62: 7.2secs
    PRICE: £20,330

    It’s a Golf GTI in stealth mode. It’s well priced. You can have it in estate flavour. We like this. But the vRS now feels a bit long in the tooth against the latest hot-hatch crop.

  21. Abarth Punto

    POWER: 163bhp
    0-62: 7.9secs
    PRICE: £16,857

    Dynamically more sorted than the Abarth 500, but nowhere near as charming. Scorpion decals and flashy red bits can’t mask a mid-table hot hatch.

  22. Hyundai Veloster Turbo

    POWER: 138bhp
    0-62: 9.6secs
    PRICE: £21,995

    Is it a hatch? Is it a coupe? Whatever you call it, the hottest Veloster is still too slow and too boring to get our fizz gland really fizzing. Visuals are, er, unmistakable, though.

  23. Mazda3 MPS

    POWER: 260bhp
    0-62: 6.1secs
    PRICE: £23,395

    Once upon a time, this was the most powerful FWD production car in the world. And the most torque-steery. Still very powerful, still very torque-steery, still not gonna buy one. Sorry.

  24. Audi A1 185

    POWER: 185bhp
    0-62: 6.9secs
    PRICE: £20,710

    Audi’s take on the ubiquitous VW Polo GTI formula is very grown-up and refined, but even less involving. Super-limited-edition 256bhp A1 quattro proves chassis can take far more power.

  25. Mercedes A250

    POWER: 208bhp
    0-62: 6.6secs
    PRICE: £26,885

    The hottest new A-Class is more than quick enough, but no hot hatch: too quiet, too distant, too sensible. Upcoming, ripsnorting 330bhp ‘A45’ AMG version will fix all that. We hope.

  26. Audi S3

    POWER: 261bhp
    0-62: 5.8secs
    PRICE: £31,840

    What a VW Golf GTI looks like if you’re (a) minted (b) living in 2008 and (c) a bit of a boring bastard. But with an all-new, better-to-drive A3 out, we’ve got high hopes for the hot version, if and when it arrives.

  27. Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart

    POWER: 147bhp
    0-62: 7.6secs
    PRICE: £14,449

    At £14k, the mini-Mitsu is cheap and cheerful, but short on finesse and let down by a sticky gearchange and heavy, unwieldy steering. Cabin dates back to the Pre-Cambrian era.

  28. Volvo C30 T5

    POWER: 225bhp
    0-62: 6.2secs
    PRICE: £24,470

    Good God, do they still make this? The five-cylinder Volvo was a poor man’s Focus ST five years ago. Nowadays, you’d have to be wilfully insane to buy one.

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