New year, new car. Looking for something stylish, practical, and above all else, fast? These days, UK car buyers are spoilt for choice when it comes to models that fulfill all these requirements – and they don’t have to break the bank either to get them.
The very first hot hatches sold like wildfire when they first hit the market in the eighties, and with good reason. Boy racers and older drivers alike fell in love with the Golf GTIs and Escort RS Turbos of the time, thanks to their more aggressive styling, playful handling, and powerful engines.
Little has changed in 2017. So if you’re in the market for a hot hatch on a reasonable budget, here are our top picks:
Honda Civic Type-R
The first-generation model was renowned for its ability to rev way beyond 8,000 rpm, proving its equal suitability for both the track and the road. An athletic chassis and highly responsive steering mean it’s not as nippy as some rivals, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a car that’s as fun to drive. The legendary Japanese reliability also means you’re unlikely to be visiting the garage too often. Expect to pay between £3,000 and £5,000.
MK6 Ford Fiesta ST
Fast Ford lovers will find few qualms with the sharp and agile Fiesta ST. A 2.0L engine delivers 148 bhp in a car that weighs only 1137 kg, so it’s enough to take the Fiesta from 0-60 in under 8 seconds. It looks the part too; a beefed-up body kit and bigger alloys make no secret of the ST’s sportiness. One thing to be aware of is the firm ride – but it’s a price worth paying. Higher mileage examples can be found for under £4,000 while an extra grand will get you less than 60K.
Renaultsport Megane 225
If you value straight-line speed above all else, then look no further than Renault’s turbocharged Megane 225. It’ll hit 60 miles per hour in a staggering 6.3 seconds, thanks to a 225 bhp engine. It handles well too; throw it into a corner and you’ll get a lot of grip in return. At £5,000 it’s probably the best value of the three – and certainly the loudest one too.