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Practical and powerful: Top five hot hatchbacks

Image of James Kelly
Author: | Updated: 15 Mar 2019 02:07

Hot hatchbacks have evolved massively over the last decade or so but, for them to work effectively, they must provide what they always have – power and practicality in equal measure.

With seemingly every manufacturer offering spiced up variants of mainstream models, we’ve put together five hot hatches we think make the best all-rounders.

Seat Leon Cupra 290

Seat Leon CUPRA

Seat is seen by some as a budget Volkswagen due to the fact it shares lots of the German company’s components. However, the Cupra 290’s engine is actually tuned to be swifter than a Golf GTI – 0-62mph will fly by in 4.4 seconds and it’ll go on to a limited 155mph.

Another nod to the Volkswagen underpinnings is the fact that boot space is identical to the Golf’s, meaning the extra power doesn’t come at the cost of 380l of practicality.

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Honda Civic Type R

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There’s no denying the Honda Civic Type R is the most outrageous car on this list – that aggressive bodykit and monstrous rear spoiler more than marks it out from the by-comparison sedate Civics. However, under the space-age body lies the most powerful engine ever to sit in a Type R.

The 2.0-litre engine not only uses Honda’s VTEC performance technology, but it gets a turbo too. All this tuning results in 316bhp, giving it a brisk 0-62mph run of 5.8 seconds and a staggering top speed of 168mph.

Although it looks (and goes) like a spaceship however, you can happily use a Type R everyday – with 420 litres of boot space, there’s more luggage space than some crossovers.

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Volkswagen Golf GTI

VW Golf GTI

Five reasons why VW’s Golf GTI is the definitive hot hatch

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the most recognisable hot hatch of all time, and not without reason – forty years of constant development and improvements means it has become a standard-bearer on which all other hot hatches are judged. The latest Golf is as impressive as ever, thanks to a 2.0-litre engine that develops 245hp. That ensures it’ll see 62mph from rest in 6.2 seconds and go on to a top speed of 155mph.

From a practicality perspective, the Golf can muster a combined mpg figure of 42 – mightily impressive considering its sportiness. A reasonably roomy interior and 380 litres of luggage capacity makes it a swift yet sane hot hatch.

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Renault Megane RS

Renault Megane RS

While the Golf GTI might be a lot of people’s knee-jerk reaction when you say the words ‘hot hatch’, it is the Renault Megane RS which is the car consistently praised by petrolheads and hot hatch aficionados.

With this in mind, it’s safe to say the Renault Megane RS is a car built to arouse your driving instincts. With 280bhp, a 0-62 of 5.8 seconds and a max speed of 158mph it does everything you want a front-drive hatchback to do.

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Peugeot 308 GTi

Peugeot 308 GTi

Hot hatch heaven: Peugeot 308 GTi vs Volkswagen Golf GTI

A Peugeot has a lot to live up to when it is graced with GTi badges – thank the acclaimed 205 for that. Since its demise in the early 90s, hot hatch fans have been waiting patiently for its true successor. The latest 208 GTi is considered by some to have filled the gap but, if you’re after a spacious, four-door, family hatch then the 308 GTi is a much better bet.

Up against some rival’s bigger units, the 1.6-litre engine might not sound like much but, thanks to a turbocharger, it produces 246bhp – reaching 62mph in 6.2 seconds. It ticks the practicality boxes too – a lightweight body and six-speed gearbox means you can expect up to 47.1mpg (combined cycle) and a 470-litre boot puts it among the class leaders for luggage space.

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