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The maddest hot hatches ever built

  1. Audi Quattro SWB

    Stopped making those weird grunting noises yet? Good. ‘Cause there’s a lot more to the Quattro SWB than its purposeful looks. It’s effectively a Sport Quattro with a foot of chopped out the middle. Oh, and instead of using steel, Audi built large chunks of the body with Kevlar, then popped in a 306hp five cylinder engine. 0-60mph? 4.5 seconds. In 1984. NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR.

  2. Ford RS200

    The Group B era really separated the men from the boys. And often the men from their cars. That’s largely because they were strapping themselves to stuff like this – a 450bhp, 1043kg hooligan that got to 60mph in 3.07 seconds. It had a space frame chassis, fibreglass body, and for extra mentalism, Ford put the engine in the middle. Surprisingly, the police enjoyed Ford’s slightly less insane 250bhp road going version (though upgrade kits were available to boost it to 300bhp…)

  3. Renault 5 Turbo

    If your palms are inconveniently dry while driving high-powered cars, may we recommend this? It’s a Renault 5 Turbo. And it likes to go forward very quickly. Then sideways. Then backwards. Into a bush. It’s got a tiny wheelbase, this thing, and combined with a mid-mounted 160hp 1.4-litre turbo four-pot driving the rear wheels, it does enjoy inverting itself.

    Homologated for Group 4 rallying (the precursor to Group B), it only weighed 970kg so it’d still hit 62mph in 6.6 seconds and got on to a top speed of 130mph. Not bad considering Dexy’s Midnight Runners were Number 1 at the time.

  4. Austin Metro 6R4

    There is only one acceptable Austin Metro to lust after, and you’re looking at it - the 6R4 (6 stands for number of cylinders, R for rear-engined and 4 for four-wheel drive). Like most homolgated hot hatches, it visits us from the Group B dimension, so there’s a 3.0-litre 90-degree V6 in the boot with twin-cam heads modelled on Cosworth’s Formula F1 DFV V8 engine. In competition tune, it pushes out 394bhp. For reasons we can only assume pertain to sustaining human life, the £40,000 homologation Clubman version was detuned to around 250bhp.

  5. Lancia Delta S4 Stradale

    If there’s one car you’ll associate with grainy footage of Corsican rally stages, it’s the S4. It had an Abarth-designed 1,759cc, 16-valve engine that was supercharged AND turbocharged, it weighed 890kg, and made between 400bhp and 500bhp. There’s fully adjustable all-independent suspension underneath that aero-riddled composite body, which detaches quickly in two pieces just in case you have a crash. Which you probably will. 

  6. Nissan Pulsar GTIR-B

    Like your cars fast? But prefer them to look slow? And a bit awful? Well roll up – this is the Sunny-based Pulsar GTI-R, homologated under Group A regs for the WRC. It weighs 1190kg, has a close-ratio gearbox, ATTESA four-wheel drive system and a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. It’ll get from 0-62mph in around five seconds and go on to around 145mph, surprising pretty much everyone as it does so.

  7. Lotus Sunbeam

    Cuh, wouldn’t a RWD hot hatch be brilliant? Yes, thought Sunbeam back in 1978 (later Talbot after Chrysler UK – and sub brand Sunbeam - was sold). So it got Lotus to build one with the singular aim of taking down Ford on the word rally stage. It was the last car without four-wheel drive to win the RAC rally (1982), which probably has quite a lot to do with its 960kg mass and the 150hp 2.2-litre Lotus Twin Cam engine pushing it along. If you can keep it in a straight line for long enough, it’ll do 0-60mph in around seven seconds. Tasty. 

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