Hot Hatch Face-off: Which is the choice for you?

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Demand for more powerful, agile and sportier looking hatchbacks has certainly increased since the turn of the century. Manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that there is a large market for small, powerful cars, and this can be seen with the huge range of choice you now have. It has become such a big focus for car producers that today’s hot hatchbacks now often possess the performance and racing DNA of some of their more expensive sports car siblings, with similarly aggressive designs too.

Which should you pick, then? It’s a good question, and one we hope to answer for you throughout this page. We’ve gathered some of the best hot hatchbacks from the 18 premium brands we represent, in order to outline the characteristics of each model so that you can make a definitive decision.

Audi S3 Sportback

  • Engine: 2.0-litre TFSI quattro petrol
  • Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds
  • Price: From £38,475

The new Audi S3 replaces its predecessor to offer an even more striking design, familiar yet enhanced driving dynamics, and a fully digitalised interior. 20 years on from the first S3 model, Audi has implemented a new level of refinement with an all-new interior and infotainment display, offering a 10.1” colour MMI touchscreen display and Audi Virtual Cockpit through a 10.25” digital instrument cluster.

The familiar 2.0 TFSI quattro petrol engine has been tweaked to produce 310 PS and provide an exhilarating amount of power while producing less emissions and better fuel-efficiency. Now standard is the seven-speed S tronic transmission which guarantees lightning-fast gear shifts as well as a more composed, pleasant drive when you’re manoeuvring around towns and cities. It’s still practical too, with a 325-litre boot and more room for passengers inside thanks to larger dimensions compared to predecessors.


New Audi S3

BMW M135i xDrive

  • Engine: 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder petrol
  • Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds
  • Price: From £37,685

The latest BMW M135i delivers 306hp through BMW’s newly developed 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. This is complimented by xDrive, allowing the car to efficiently apply power through all four wheels. M Sport braking system and M Steering give the M135i an excellent balance of performance and feel through corners, and because the engine has been downsized from a 6-cylinder to 4-cylinder, you can expect impressive fuel economy too. Granted, this change does soften the tone of the exhaust, but BMW’s characteristic driving precision and feel is just as prominent as in its predecessors.

The reinvigorated new 1 Series design sees further enhancements in the BMW M135i xDrive. Sporty 18” alloy wheels, a more aggressive mesh-design front grille, exclusive black high-gloss rear diffuser and two large tail pipes all accentuate its presence. Inside, the connected infotainment includes everything you’d expect from a new BMW, like BMW Live Cockpit Professional with a 10.25” Control Display.


BMW M135i xDrive


  • Engines: eHybrid 1.4-litre petrol (245 PS), 2.0 petrol (245 PS), 2.0 turbo petrol (300 PS)
  • Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 6.7 seconds (eHybrid variant)
  • Price: To be announced

The range-topping variant of the familiar Leon, the CUPRA Leon has been specifically engineered to provide an engaging driving experience through a choice of three different engines. Looking to the future, CUPRA’s exciting eHybrid engine combines a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine, an electric motor and a 13kWh lithium-ion battery to produce an impressive 245 PS. This means that when you’re driving through urban environments, you can place the car in all-electric mode, where you have a range of up to 37 miles. Find yourself on a country road and, matched with an enhanced chassis, the hybrid engine will provide instant torque and a dynamic power delivery unlike most combustion engine rivals. Opt for the traditional 2.0 or 2.0 turbocharged petrol engines (producing 245 PS and 300 PS respectively) and you’ll still receive an exhilarating driving experience through their highly-tuned, front-wheel drive setups.

Before you even step in the car though, you’ll most certainly notice the dynamic exterior design. Larger air intakes at the front, flared side skirts and dark chrome highlights create an appearance that expresses the eagerness and dynamism of the new CUPRA Leon. Step in the car and you’ll instantly notice bucket seats and the Digital Cockpit, as well as the leather steering wheel which houses the engine start and CUPRA mode select button.


New CUPRA Leon

Honda Civic Type R

  • Engine: 2.0-litre VTEC Turbo petrol
  • Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 5.7 seconds
  • Price: From £32,820

There aren’t many hot hatchbacks that have an exterior design as aggressive as the Honda Civic Type R. Sharp-looking 20” alloy wheels set off its powerful stance, while angular front and rear bumpers with a punchy rear spoiler verify the Type R’s position as a top-level hot hatchback. That’s not all that’s punchy either, as the 2.0-litre VTEC Turbo petrol engine produces a staggering 320 PS. Matched with a raspy exhaust note with Active Sound Control (ASC), the engine makes efficient power that is applied through the front wheels and really feels responsive through the throttle; especially in ‘+R’ configuration. All models come with a manual gearbox for an engaging and rewarding driving experience.

Signature to the Civic Type R, the ‘Type R’ branded bucket seats demonstrate the sporty nature throughout, and hold you firm as you push on but also offer comfort for everyday driving. You can also easily operate your infotainment screen through the Honda CONNECT 7” touchscreen.


Honda Civic Type R

Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC

  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
  • Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 4.7 seconds
  • Price: From £38,360

The A 35 4MATIC is the entry-level model from Mercedes-AMG, but they’ve not spared any thought in its design and performance. It emphasises the already sporty looking A-Class further with a more dynamic front grille, 18” alloy wheels and an optional rear wing. Power is delivered through 4MATIC all-wheel drive from a 306 hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, ensuring thrilling acceleration and traction. Available as standard is the AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7G dual-clutch transmission, which has been configured so that you can experience spontaneous power and fast shifting all of the time. The AMG RIDE CONTROL suspension also gives confidence to the driver while handling, offering excellent straight-line stability and dynamic cornering behaviour.

Inside you’re met with all the quality and technology you’d expect from Mercedes-Benz, with the 7” digital cockpit display and 10.25” central media display being a key highlight. Other standard features include Active Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Assist, which make longer journey’s a breeze, while a reversing camera and Keyless-Go make the A 35 a pleasure to operate.


Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC


  • Engine: 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo petrol
  • Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 6.1 seconds (automatic)
  • Price: From £26,160

MINI’s hottest offering from its Hatch range is the John Cooper Works (JCW). Boasting a punchy 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo petrol engine, the MINI JCW Hatch generates 231 hp to propel you from 0-62 mph in easily under 6.5 seconds, whether you choose the engaging manual gearbox (with auto-rev matching) or the sleek automatic option. The unique design of the JCW Hatch, matched with the expressive aero kit, make the JCW an excellent option if you want to stand out from the crowd. Featuring MINI’s trademark ‘go-kart handling’, the MINI JCW Hatch also handles and takes corners like no other car. Its agility and nimbleness is present the moment you start driving, and it makes driving an engaging and fun experience.

It’s not just about the performance though, as the MINI JCW Hatch features a high-quality interior and a raft of equipment as standard. You can enjoy standard-fit front and rear LED lights, automatic headlights with rain sensors, MINI Excitement Pack including ambient interior lighting, infotainment display and John Cooper Works sports seats.



Toyota GR Yaris

  • Engine: 1.6-litre 3-Cylinder Turbo petrol
  • Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 5.5 seconds
  • Price: From £29,995

The All New Toyota GR Yaris isn’t your everyday hot hatch. Inspired by knowledge and technology from the World Rally Championship (WRC), the GR Yaris matches a thrilling 1.6-litre, 3 Cylinder Turbo engine with GR-FOUR AWD system to provide uninterrupted grip and rewarding power. The engine in-turn produces 257 hp, a staggering amount for such a small engine, and deploys a raft of weight-saving materials as well as aerodynamic design to ensure a spirited drive that won’t let you down. Arriving as-standard with double wishbone rear suspension and a 4WD open differential, you’ll be able to make the most of the corners where the GR Yaris is composed but agile at the same time.

Although Toyota claim the GR Yaris is about the performance over the design, it’s hard to pick the looks of the car apart. GR styling and badging around the car assert its aggressive looks, while a black rear spoiler and carbon fire roof wrap really demonstrate the time and effort that Toyota and Gazoo Racing have put into making this a special hot hatch.


New Toyota GR Yaris

Volkswagen Golf GTI

  • Engine: 2.0-litre TSI petrol
  • Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 6.4 seconds
  • Price: From £34,960

Returning once again on the new Volkswagen Golf 8 is the iconic GTI badge. A staple hot hatch for many years, the Golf GTI has proven to be the benchmark when it comes to making an all-rounder that can accelerate, handle, commute and adventure without an issue. A familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged unit producing 245 PS has been reworked to meet the latest emissions guidelines and offer a better fuel efficiency, but still has the personality of the outgoing engine. It’s a great amount of power for country roads and motorways alike as you can exploit the engine’s full potential through the front wheels, and you’ll receive a helping hand from the front differential lock, which stabilises your Golf GTI if its slips.

The new Golf GTI also makes the most of Volkswagen’s new infotainment setup in the Golf 8. The simplified Innovision Cockpit makes the dashboard very contemporary and clean, while adding to the user friendly experience too. Boasting the Digital Cockpit Pro as standard, the GTI grants you access to a 10” and 10.25” display for a fully immersive and connected drive.


New Volkswagen Golf GTI

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