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Hot Hatch

Ten of the most powerful hot hatches

Ford's new Focus RS delivers 345bhp, but where does it fit in this list?

Ford Focus RS wheelspin
  • Back in 1973, 82bhp was enough to give the humble little Simca 1100TI the title of the world's first ever hot hatch.

    How the world has changed. Do you yearn for the days when Donny Osmond topped the charts, and a hotted up 1.3-litre family hatch with less outright power than your own lungs was considered fast?

    Yeah, us neither. But this goggle-eyed, entirely implausible fast hatch was the original all-weather car. It even featured such things as stiffer shocks, a reinforced clutch, bigger brakes and some special paint.

    The world - perhaps mercifully - has moved on from the days of the Simca. No longer is humanity content with a 0-60mph time somewhere not very far below 12 seconds. No longer will we sit in silence for a top speed of just 105mph from a small five-door family car.

    No, today's buyers demand more. Much, much more. Witness the new Ford Focus RS (not the lovely RS500 pictured), which churns out 345bhp. Or indeed, the new Audi RS3, with a whopping 362bhp and the ability to hit 60mph in just over four seconds. Supercar pace, that.

    So, where do the major players stack up today? Click on for our roundup of the most powerful hot hatches... in the world*.

    *Production hot hatches, of course.

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  • Renault Megane Renaultsport Trophy-R

    271bhp

    Big name, big power. Renault's Nürburgring-honed weapon of track destruction has lapped the fabled Green Hell in 7m 54s, a ludicrous time for any front-drive hot hatch. Much has been stripped out of the cabin. There's a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot on board with 271bhp, and with just 1280kg to shift, it'll go from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds.

    TG drives the Renault Megane Renaultsport Trophy-R

  • Vauxhall Astra VXR

    276bhp

    Officially the moment Vauxhall went properly crazy. The first VXR might have been a mere sip of the Kool-Aid; the new one has a bottle on intravenous drip. That's because the current (and now rather old) VXR features a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine producing 276bhp and 295lb ft of torque, to produce a 0-62mph time of six seconds flat and top speed of 155mph.

    TG drives the Vauxhall Astra VXR

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  • Seat Leon Cupra

    286bhp

    It's the fastest and most powerful Seat ever. With 258lb ft of torque, a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds and top speed of 155mph, it's plenty of speed for your needs. And as we found out, it's one hell of a weapon, and in 'Sub8' guise, will blitz the 'Ring in a rather quick time...

    TG drives the Seat Leon Cupra

  • Audi S3

    296bhp

    Shares much with the Golf R, only the S3 is more expensive and therefore bit less good. Still, it's good for 62mph in 4.8 seconds and musters up 280lb ft of torque from its 2.0-litre turbocharged four. 

    TG drives the Audi S3

  • Volkswagen Golf R

    296bhp

    Quite simply, our favourite hot hatch. Whether it remains so after we've put it up against the Focus RS remains to be seen, however...

    TG drives the Volkswagen Golf R

  • Honda Civic Type R

    306bhp

    So powerful, it's gone red with rage. Honda has finally revealed the most potent Civic in the history of ever. The new Type R packs a turbocharged engine, producing that headline 306bhp. And after sampling it on UK roads, TG's Ollie Marriage noted how "it doesn't do a bad impression of a touring car or tarmac rally car to be honest, but to get the best out of it you have to take it by the scruff and concentrate..."

    TG drives the Honda Civic Type R

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  • BMW M135i

    322bhp

    A fine, fine car, and another that easily breaks the 300bhp barrier. A 3.0-litre turbocharged six-pot produces 322bhp and 332lb ft of torque, all wrapped up in a dynamic package that's little short of magic. 0-62mph takes 5.1 seconds, and it costs just £32k. But can a hot hatch be rear-wheel drive? Discuss.

    TG drives the BMW M135i

  • Ford Focus RS

    345bhp

    The new kid on the block. Not the quickest (4.7secs to 62mph and 165mph), but with it's super approachable, really quite drifty limits, the Focus RS is a potential game-changer. 

    TG drives the Ford Focus RS

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  • Audi RS3

    362bhp

    "Enormously, mind-warpingly fast."

    That's our official verdict on Audi's certifiably quick RS3. A 0-62mph time of 4.3 seconds and 174mph top speed make it indecently, absurdly quick (and we suspect the former time is a touch conservative, too...). Not only does it produces 362 horsepowers, but a titanic amount of torque is on offer from as little as 1625rpm.

    TG drives the Audi RS3

  • Mercedes-AMG A45

    376bhp

    As powerful hot hatches go, this Mercedes hot hatch is a bloody powerful one. In fact, the Merc's 2.0-litre turbo is the most potent four-cylinder engine... in the world. We like things like this. We also like its 376bhp, 350lb ft of torque, the ability to accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds... and the insane array of chunters and bangs from the optional sports exhaust.

    TG drives the Mercedes-AMG A45

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