July 3, 2022

We select our prime 10 scorching hatches from throughout the years choosing 5 retro pocket rockets and 5 trendy masters.

The form of the motoring business is at all times evolving, in a really literal sense. Again within the eighties, for instance, household automobiles have been three-box saloons, until you had an enormous canine or wanted a 3rd row of foldaway seats, wherein case you bought an property. The MPV advanced by means of the nineties, and this transmogrified into the SUV within the twenty-first century, one thing that we see all over the place lately. Affections for small roadsters have ebbed and flowed, their heyday arriving within the sixties and being reprised within the nineties. Vogue dictates these developments as a lot as want or need, however there’s one style of automotive that’s been constantly in style from the Seventies proper up till the current day: the new hatch.

There’s at all times been quite a lot of debate round what was the primary true scorching hatch – fanatics will typically declare that all of it started with the VW Golf GTI or the Peugeot 205 GTI, though we should additionally give particular point out to the Simca 1100TI, the Autobianchi A112 Abarth and the Vauxhall Chevette HS. Whichever approach it went down, the format captured the general public’s creativeness: small, nimble, agile and reasonably priced automobiles that have been without delay sensible and wonderful enjoyable to drive. These pocket rockets have at all times been right here to lift a smile. So, we’re going to have a good time our prime ten scorching hatches, break up into two distinct teams – 5 retro classics from the golden age of scorching hatch modding, and 5 new-wave fashions from the trendy period. Each affords all kinds of tuning potential, and every one is assured to tickle your pickle in entertaining methods…

Vauxhall Nova GSI

The Nova has grow to be a little bit of a cult hero lately, and naturally it was a significant participant within the cruise period; for individuals who grew up within the time of Britpop and New Labour, the Nova was the automotive to have, and that enthusiasm is coming full circle now that there aren’t many left.

Plenty of efficiency variants have been provided; the 1.3-litre SR (which later morphed into the 1.4 SR) was a perky little factor, and the homologation-model Sport served up all of the rally mischief you possibly can ask for with its racy stripes and twin carbs. However it was the GTE that was the poster boy for decent hatch hooliganism: shoehorning in a 1.6-litre motor with multipoint gas injection bestowed 100 horsepower on the GTE, which was sufficient to make the featherweight hatchback a correct riot. When the Nova was facelifted in 1990, with new headlights, bumpers, grille and inside, the GTE advanced into the GSi, and so long as you possibly can twist the insurance coverage man’s arm it was recreation on for mods. Again then, greater was higher with the Nova, and a technology of modders bolted on the most important wheels they may discover (nineteens went on with a squeeze) together with Kingdom bumpers and large wings. In the present day opinion is split on whether or not it’s higher to return to OEM or save a interval bodykit; both approach, Novas stroll tall on the scene immediately similar to they did twenty years in the past.

Worth immediately: £8,000

High mods: The tried-and-tested methodology for Novas of yore was to drop in a redtop XE, and that’s nonetheless a robust thought immediately. Dbilas is an efficient place to go to debate throttle our bodies and turbo conversions. Courtenay Sport have been the go-to in interval and, whereas the Nova/Corsa A is not listed as a mannequin on their website, they’ll nonetheless have a wealth of data to attract upon. On the subject of wheels, you may’t go mistaken with a set of Compomotive MO5s, and also you’ll be desirous to shove some massive brakes behind there too – a 318mm Tarox 6-pot package will get beneath there should you’re operating seventeens.

High contacts: Dbilas, Courtenay Sport, Tarox, Compomotive

Top 10 hot hatches

Renault 5 GT Turbo

Turbocharging was probably the most thrilling cultural ideas of the Eighties. Whereas highway automobiles had been obtainable with turbos for a decade or so, it was the new hatches of the eighties that actually pressured the time period into the frequent lexicon; it received to the stage the place you possibly can by all kinds of random client items with ‘turbo’ branding – aftershave, biros, razors, you title it.

Maybe essentially the most thrilling turbocharged scorching hatch was the Renault 5 GT Turbo, largely as a result of it thrillingly mixed previous and new concepts: it was as light-weight and primary as a 205 GTI, however super-cutting-edge due to that turbo. And but there was no trendy fuel-injection right here – that little snail blew by means of a carburettor.

The tuning mags of the late-’90s and early ’00s have been stuffed with GT Turbos, not least due to Jamie Shaw at Carisma’s ever-more-mental creations. (And, after all, Ali G – he helped issues rather a lot.) The mannequin did earn an unfair status for unreliability, primarily due to individuals’s enthusiasm for turning the enhance as much as see what would occur. You possibly can in all probability guess what would consequence – it could be noticeably sooner, briefly, after which it could explode. However ham-fisted tuning apart, these have been superior little automobiles, and so they’ve received correct motorsport DNA too.


Worth immediately: £10,000

High mods: Properly, how far do you need to go?! In-your-face bodykits have been at all times the GTT fashion – huge wide-mouth bumpers, huge oval centre-exit exhausts, oversize rear wings, as a lot fibreglass as you possibly can deal with. These days, nonetheless, we reckon the trail to success is a little bit of refined Euro-style OEM+. The manufacturing unit bodykit is superior, so intestine the innards as a lot as you may to squeeze the fattest attainable wheels in there – the Ronal Turbo is a well-liked alternative. Ever seen a 5 GT on air? Us neither, so have a phrase with Automobile Audio Safety a few customized Air Carry setup. And when you’re there, why not pack it out with an old-school audio set up? GT Turbos have been at all times stuffed with subs within the cruise period…

High contacts: Ronal Wheels, Automobile Audio Safety

Top 10 hot hatches

Ford Fiesta RS Turbo

The Fiesta RS Turbo was approach, far more than merely an XR2i with an Escort RST motor. Ford pledged to make the FRST a correct drivers’ automotive, and the SVE division labored arduous to offer; the engine block, crank and compression ratio have been carried over from the Escort, however the Fiesta’s engine loved quite a lot of additional improvement. The principal distinction is using the smaller Garrett G2 turbo (Ford would let you know that it spooled up sooner for extra keen acceleration; a cynic may recommend that the larger turbo from the Escort merely wouldn’t match within the Fiesta’s engine bay…), and the cylinder head from the XR2i’s fuel-injected CVH was additionally swapped throughout. Ford’s proprietary EEC-IV engine administration system was drafted in, full with the map sensor, wastegate solenoid valve and enhance management module from the Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth. What resulted from all of this was a complete bunch of thrilling numbers – 133bhp, 135lb ft of torque from as low down as 2,400rpm with a pleasant flat curve, and a genuinely achievable 130mph. The inside sported Recaro seats and a leather-based steering wheel, whereas the skin featured engaging physique addenda and additional lamps. It additionally had beefier ARBs, a faster steering rack, and – better of all – three-spoke alloys. Is there a automotive extra quintessentially Nineties than this?

Worth immediately: £10,000

High mods: ZVH conversions was once all of the go, however these days you’re in all probability higher off simply dropping in a Zetec… though what we’d actually prefer to see is an FRST operating an EcoBoost! Doing issues correctly will see the automotive on Koni suspension and a few white Speedline Turinis, whereas Airtec will help you out with radiator and intercooler upgrades.

High contacts: Burton Energy, Speedline, Koni, Airtec

VW Golf GTI Mk1

The Volkswagen Golf is such a ubiquitous entity that it’s grow to be part of the furnishings of recent residing, like a Billy bookcase or a department of Starbucks. It’s simply a type of issues that’s all over the place. However 1974 was a really completely different place to the world of immediately, and the launch of the Golf was a staggering departure from what individuals thought they knew in regards to the Volkswagen model; changing the air-cooled, rear-engined, rear wheel-drive Beetle with a crisply angular hatchback that featured a front-mounted, water-cooled engine and entrance wheel-drive was a frankly astounding manoeuvre. And when the GTI idea was introduced on the 1975 Frankfurt Motor Present, all bets have been off. This was a brand new period of efficiency metropolis automobiles.

Brilliantly, the key ‘Sport Golf’ began as a skunkworks venture among the many engineers; presenting it to prime brass in 1975, the thought was met with widespread approval and the Golf GTI got here to marketplace for 1976: fatter wheels, greater brakes, aero add-ons, a close-ratio gearbox and a peppery engine made it an immediate basic. Within the early-eighties the engine received greater and the ability elevated, and the legend was assured. Golf GTIs are nonetheless huge sellers immediately, and this little pocket rocket is the magnificent genesis.

Worth immediately: £10,000

High mods: Just about every part has been accomplished to those automobiles through the years. (Keep in mind the twin-engine Dubsport creations?!) And immediately we suspect motorsport-chic could be the approach ahead. KW coilovers, Cobra seats, customized rollcage… and hey, why not throw a 1.8T in there?

High contacts: Deutsche Doktors, KW, Cobra, Customized Cages

Top 10 hot hatches

Peugeot 205 GTI

For lots of people, that is the last word scorching hatch – and if latest public sale costs are something to go by, the market would agree. Certainly, these items have gotten sufficiently pricy that they’ll be out of attain for lots of people (it doesn’t appear that way back that you possibly can get an MOT’d runner for beneath a grand, however that’d by no means occur now), so should you’ve at all times fancied it and also you’ve received the money to spend, now’s in all probability the time.

Initially offered as a 1.6, a brawnier 1.9 adopted; some want the 1.6’s shorter gearing, others favour the 1.9 for its 130bhp grunt, however all of them supply surprisingly speedy acceleration due to wafer-thin, uber-lightweight development, and limpet-like dealing with that received higher the sooner you went. And again within the day it was all about tweaked 205s; should you received your self a wide-arch Dimma package and had these 8-hole Speedlines transformed to vast split-rims, you have been the cock of the stroll. The passion for modifying provided a little bit of a dilemma for GTI followers, as a result of this was such a gently balanced and scalpel-sharp creation that including bodykits and different further weight might cock up the power-to-weight ratio, wider wheels and extra aggressive rubber may mess with the candy dealing with traits, and fidgeting with the suspension might do extra hurt than good. However concern not, as a result of there’s nonetheless a robust aftermarket of consultants who can steer you proper right here, taking the new hatch daddy and making it even higher. Simply don’t take heed to these pipe-and-slippers sorts within the public sale homes, these aren’t automobiles to be wrapped up in cotton wool. They have been designed to be grabbed by the scruff of the neck, and that’s simply as true immediately.

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Worth immediately: £6,000

High mods: The basic energy mod was the Mi16 swap – taking the 16v model of the engine from a 405 SRi or Citroën BX 16v to throw in a few dozen extra horsepower. The inventory 8v motor additionally responds rather well to a set of throttle our bodies – Jenvey are your guys for that one. Gaz affords an excellent coilover package for the GTI, and a 2.5in Piper system is your basic exhaust improve. Marque consultants Pug1Off are the individuals you need to discuss to, they know these automobiles inside out.

High contacts: Jenvey, Gaz Shocks, Pug1Off

Suzuki Swift Sport

We’re speaking in regards to the third-generation Suzuki Swift right here, constructed from 2010-17. The mannequin at launch provided 130bhp from its buzzy four-pot, revised barely to 136bhp from 2012 onward; just a few minor beauty upgrades have been introduced in throughout the vary in 2013, together with L-shaped DRLs within the foglamp housings, and in 2014 the Sport received a 6.1in infotainment touchscreen as normal – so it’s a mannequin that saved evolving all through its lifespan.

European-spec Swifts have been truly inbuilt Hungary reasonably than Japan, and the Sport model acquired the M16A 1.6-litre twin-cam 16v motor – peak energy arrives at a heady 6,800rpm, accompanied by a frantic soundtrack that belies the modest energy obtainable. You might have the choice of 6-speed handbook or 7-speed auto with paddle-shift, and spec contains light-weight 17in alloys, HID lights, a Sport bodykit with contemporary spoilers, leather-based seats and lowered suspension. There’s a complete lot to take pleasure in right here, it’s stunning these automobiles aren’t extra in style. In spite of everything, they’re reasonably priced, buckets of enjoyable, and there’s loads of modding potential.

Worth immediately: £7,500

High mods: The most effective methods to enhance the Swift Sport is to get it stiffer and nearer to the bottom – a set of BC Racing coilovers is simply the job to attain this. Yow will discover a bit of additional sparkle from the M16A motor by dropping in a set of quick highway cams from Toda, and Extremely Racing anti-roll bars are an incredible addition to the Swift chassis, and really cost-effective too – discuss to Tegiwa.

High contacts: BC Racing, Toda, Tegiwa

Top 10 hot hatches

Ford Fiesta ST (Mk8)

Generally heralded all through the motoring press as the most effective scorching hatch of the trendy age, Ford’s dazzling Mk7 Fiesta ST was wonderful at every part. It was addictively fast, the dealing with was divine, the inside was fairly good with a lot of first rate gear, the boot was surprisingly massive, and it was actually fairly reasonably priced. No surprise it received just about each award going all through its whole manufacturing run. So how might Ford prime that, when the Mk8 ST arrived in 2018? They definitely rocked the boat with the purists, dropping in a dinky three-cylinder EcoBoost motor (with cylinder deactivation tech, so on gentle throttle it runs as a parallel twin like a crap previous Sixties Fiat). However because it turned out, that engine is an absolute riot – revvier than a turbo must be, and endlessly tuneable. In truth the entire automotive is fairly bloody spectacular; you get fairly alloys and a tasteful bodykit, and ticking the ‘Efficiency Pack’ field nets you a Quaife LSD and launch management too. Tasty. And early used examples are beginning to dip down towards £15k…

Worth immediately: £18,995 (new)

High mods: It could be a contemporary child on the scene, however the Ford aftermarket noticed it coming and there’s a colossal quantity of off-the-shelf gear for the Mk8. PumaSpeed are the boys main the cost, providing a full suite of efficiency upgrades together with a MAXDout Stage 1R remap to unleash some extra poke, a set of bespoke decreasing springs to type the stance and a top quality billet alloy brief shifter to make gearchanges lightning quick. There’s additionally induction and exhaust choices, styling kits – you title it, they’ve received it!

High contacts: PumaSpeed

Audi S1

If you’d like a transparent illustration of simply how far ahead the new hatch recreation has come in recent times, simply take a look at the Audi S1. That is the smallest mannequin within the Audi vary, and the S sub-brand is the lesser of the 2 in-house tuning variants (with RS carrying the fancier trousers; to an old-school aficionado, let’s say that Audi’s S is to RS what XR was to RS for Ford, if that is smart), and but the figures would have made our jaws drop to the ground a few a long time again. On this compact little missile you’ll discover a 2.0-litre TFSI motor kicking out a lairy 228bhp, funnelled by means of a Haldex quattro system for supreme grip and cornering balletics to enhance the ballistics. 0-62mph is handled in 5.8-seconds, with the highest pace having to be bodily restrained at 155mph. We could also be spoiled for horsepower within the 2020s, however in the true world the S1 serves up all the ability you possibly can need in most road-driven conditions. After all, everyone knows that more-is-more is a stable technique to dwell and any trendy Audi can supply huge tuning potential – so sure, clearly there are various tuning choices obtainable to show this good little scorching hatch into a real giant-slayer. With the 8X-generation having gone out of manufacturing in 2018, now you can decide these items up for surprisingly first rate costs too.


Worth immediately: £17,000

High mods: Job one is a Revo remap – a easy Stage 1 map on an in any other case inventory automotive is sufficient to get you as much as 310-320bhp, and you may’t argue with that for £599. KW Variant 3 coilovers will provide you with the profitable mixture of stance and dealing with, and so they’re on the shelf at Superior GTI. And if you wish to emulate the vibe of the enduring A1 Clubsport Quattro (and why wouldn’t you?) you’ll be needing some white motorsport-themed wheels. The Rotiform LAS-R is a well-liked alternative with good purpose.

High contacts: Revo, Superior GTI, Wheelbase

Top 10 hot hatches

Renaultsport Clio IV 200

Renaultsport Clios have gone hand in hand with the modding scene from day one; the arrival of the Clio 172 in 1999 constructed on the success of the old-school Clio 16v and Williams and pushed the thought into the brand new millennium. The 182 has lengthy been a favorite of ours, notably in Cup spec, and there’s rather a lot to like in regards to the 197. The one we’re taking a look at right here, nonetheless, is the controversial one – as a result of we expect it’s excessive time for a reappraisal. When the Renaultsport 200 model of the Clio IV launched on the 2012 Paris motor present, fanatics have been up in arms. Why? As a result of there was no handbook gearbox possibility right here, only a 6-speed EDC dual-clutch job. For a lot of consumers, this was a step too far.

Don’t let that put you off although, because it’s truly a belter of a machine. The 1.6-litre DIG-T Nissan motor nonetheless supplied 197bhp like its predecessor, however peak energy now arrived at 6,000rpm (versus 7,250rpm for the previous automotive) with all of the torque obtainable from simply 1,750rpm. You get the RS differential (which truly works on the brakes reasonably than the diff), first rate seats, and quite a lot of gear. Go for the Trophy spec and also you get an additional 20bhp too!

Worth immediately: £10,000

High mods: No-one is aware of scorching Clios like Pure Motorsport, and that’s who you ought to talk to about beefing up the brakes; a Brembo brake package is what you need with vice-like four-pot calipers and uprated normal measurement discs. In addition to that you must enhance respiration with an ITG induction package and an Airtec intercooler and enhance pipes. For the suspension, Bilstein B14 coilovers are a preferred alternative for each highway and monitor use.  But when unsure, communicate to Pure Motorsport who can advise you of the most effective path to a speedy Renault.

High contacts: Pure Motorsport


Stick to us right here, however there’s a robust case to be made for believing the Up GTI to be the true non secular successor to the Mk1 Golf GTI. On paper, they stack up surprisingly intently: they each boast a 0-62mph time of 8.8s, the Up’s 113bhp performs the Golf’s 110bhp, the Up solely weighs 995kg (which is a good share achieve over the Golf’s 850kg, however keep in mind that the Up has airbags and crumple zones and all that trendy stuff). The proof of the pudding is, after all, within the consuming, and the Up actually does drive like a basic Golf too. It’s brisk and feisty, pulling strongly in-gear in order that it’s at all times able to play so long as you retain it on the boil, and the chassis serves up oodles of grip so you may carry stunning pace by means of the corners. Add in an attractive bundle of normal package and it makes for a totally engaging proposition – the GTI got here with chunkily-bolstered tartan seats, flat-bottom steering wheel, 17in wheels, and the total aesthetic bundle that makes it appear like a contemporary Golf GTI has been shrunk in a scorching wash. Moreover, there’s an enormous aftermarket for these automobiles, and so they’re getting cheaper to purchase by the day – we’ve seen early examples sneaking beneath £10k within the classifieds. Significantly, what’s to not like?

Worth immediately: £16,140 (new)

High mods: As with every VAG product, the primary transfer is to plug it into a pc and muck about with its ones and zeroes: a Forge remap takes inventory energy to 130bhp, representing a 15% improve with out having to bodily change a factor. A Scorpion exhaust system will add just a few horses, take away just a few kilos, and make the throttle extra responsive. And also you’d be shocked the distinction a set of high quality decreasing springs could make to this chassis – the Eibach Professional-Equipment is round £150, lowers the automotive by 20mm, and offers the dealing with a a lot sharper edge.

High contacts: Forge, Scorpion, Eibach