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The best hot hatches in 2021

Last updated August 10, 2021

Hot Hatches have improved over the years, providing a great selection of cars for every need. Nowadays, hatchbacks combine excellent practicality and heaps of fun – but the market can be daunting.

To help you find your ideal hot hatch, we've selected ten of the best available to buy in 2021.

 

Toyota GR Yaris

Our choice of best hot hatch is the Toyota GR Yaris. This hot hatch is based on the original version of the Yaris, but is packed with performance upgrades.

The GR Yaris is well equipped to handle the British B-road courtesy of its new three-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, which reaches 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds. The four-wheel-drive system optimises performance in both low-temperature climates and high load environments. The GR Yaris boasts a 257bhp and 360Nm torque, with a six-speed manual gearbox.

With an OTR price of £30,020, it’s at the lower end of our hot hatch spectrum, but for everything the Toyota GR offers it is an affordable, high-performance car.

You can find the full spec and pricing on the Toyota GR Yaris here.

 

Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic ranks second due to its practicality and table-topping speed. This hot hatch provides the benefits of a 420-litre capacity boot, while the 2.0-litre VTEC turbo engine powers the Type R to 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 169mph – the quickest on our list.

There are two seats in the rear, which could be a deal-breaker for some, but its sizeable boot (420-litre capacity) may offset such concerns – essentially, it's down to personal preference. The list price for this hot hatch is sitting in the mid-range for a hot hatch at £34,415.

Find further information on the Honda Civic Type R here.

 

Mercedes-AMG A45 S

The Mercedes-AMG A45 S is likely to be the best hot hatch based solely on performance, with 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, outstripping the second fastest accelerator on our list by 0.8 seconds.

The A45 S holds the world’s most powerful four-cylinder production motor, producing 421bhp and a top speed of 168mph, sitting closely behind the Honda Civic Type R with the fastest overall top speed of 169mph.

The all-wheel-drive and communicative steering enables the car to excel in straight lines and cling onto tight corners, while the interior is one of the most refined of our top hot hatches. Here, you’ll find leather AMG Performance seats as standard with ambient lighting in 64 colours, along with a 10.25-inch touch screen media display and 10.25-inch digital instrument display.

However, the Mercedes’ steep price tag, starting at £51,235, reflects its exceptional performance metrics but makes it the most expensive hot hatch on our list.

 

Ford Fiesta ST-2

Coming in fourth, the Ford Fiesta ST-2 is the most affordable hot hatch on our list, starting at just £27,080. Yet the car is still competitive in its performance spec. The 1.5 litre EcoBoost engine provides 197bhp and 290Nm with a top speed of 143mph.

For a performance hot hatch, the fuel economy for the Ford Fiesta is an impressive 42.8mpg, making it reasonably cheap to run. This results from the innovative EcoBoost engine that deactivates one cylinder when cruising to save fuel. However, space comes at a premium, as there are just two rear passenger seats and a modest 311-litre boot capacity.

More information on the Ford Fiesta ST-2 can be found here.

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Volkswagen Golf R

The VW Golf R has immense grip for all weathers courtesy of its all-wheel-drive system, providing direct competition to the Mercedes AMG A45. The Golf R was previously offered with a manual gearbox option, but is now only available with a six-speed DSG auto gearbox.

The Golf R engine is 2.0-litre TSI 4MOTION, with a top speed of 155mph, 315bhp, and 420Nm of torque – making it an exceptional performer. It can meet VW’s quoted 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds easily, but like the Mercedes AMG, its performance metrics are reflected in the list price (£38,495).

However, there are cheaper options available in the Golf range, as GTIs also offer a manual gearbox option and a reduced list price due their more modest performance figures (242bhp and 370Nm).

Find further details on the Volkswagen Golf R here.

 

Hyundai i30N Performance

The Hyundai i30N Performance is now available in two performance-enhancing transmissions. As standard, the car comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, or you can opt for the all-new wet-type-eight-speed dual-clutch transmission to provide an even sportier driving experience.

The i30N Performance is available in a manual transmission starting at £33,745; the dual-clutch option is slightly more, starting at £35,695. Both offer the same 2.0T-GDi turbocharged engine delivering 276bhp and 392Nm of torque.

The Performance model also includes an electronic limited-slip differential (E-LSD) to reduce wheelspin, allowing for better corner grip for even the most challenging corners. This system applies varying torque levels to each of the wheels, reducing wheel slip. Under the chassis, you'll find new and improved lightweight 19-inch alloys that provide a more agile driving experience.

Further information on pricing and spec for the i30N can be found here.

 

Renault Megane RS Trophy

Equipped with technology from F1, the RS Trophy 1.8-litre engine is fitted with a turbocharger with a turbine mounted on a ceramic ball bearing. This, combined with its six-speed dual-clutch EDC automatic gearbox, provides a torque of 420Nm and 300bhp.

The Megane’s 4CONTROL system with four-wheel steering provides a safe and accurate driving experience; when driving at speeds under 37mph, the system will turn the rear wheels in the opposite direction for better agility. All speeds beyond this (62mph in race mode) turn all wheels in the same direction for optimum stability at all times.

Inside, the vehicle's smart technology allows you to switch drive modes to suit your journey. The turbocharged engine combined with Torson limited-slip differential gives a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds. The Megane also boasts the largest boot capacity of all our hot hatches at 384 litres with the rear seats up.

The list price for the RS Trophy is £38,035, find all details for the Megane RS Trophy here.

 

BMW M135i xDrive

Equipped with a brand new four-cylinder engine, the BMW M135i xDrive has 306bhp, 450Nm of torque and hits 62mph in just 4.8 seconds. Unlike other BMW vehicles, the M135i Xdrive features all-wheel drive, providing an optimum driving experience and traction in all situations.

The M135i's new engine aims to improve the efficiency of its predecessor, the M140i. BMW's innovation has enabled the latest iteration to have a strong fuel economy of 39mpg, making it one of the most economical hot hatches in our top 10, coming joint second with the Hyundai after the Ford Fiesta ST-2.

The starting price for the BMW M135 xDrive is £37,700, find the full spec here.

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Mini Clubman John Cooper Works

The Mini Clubman JCW has had a recent engine upgrade to ensure it stays competitive against its all-wheel-drive hot hatch rivals. However, this has resulted in the Clubman JCW only being available in an eight-speed automatic transmission – and it includes a price rise.

The Mini Clubman JCW starts at £36,255 and therefore remains marginally cheaper than its direct competitors. Due to its engine upgrade, the Clubman JCW has 306bhp, 450Nm of torque and hits 62mph in 4.9 seconds, a 1.4-second improvement on the previous JCW engine, making it a strong competitor in our top 10.

For further information and options on the Mini John Cooper Works range see here.

 

Audi S3 Sportback

The Audi SE engine is the TFSI Quattro S Tronic, which boasts a seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch transmission. The engine produces 306bhp, torque of 400Nm and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds.

The OTR price for this hot hatch is toward the top end of our picks and there are faster available at a lower price point. However, with the Audi S3 you also get a spacious interior, ample rear space for three passengers and a 325-litre boot. Inside, you'll find a state of the art 10.1 infotainment system and a 10.25 full-colour digital instrument display.

The smart, spacious interior allows the S3 to compete with AMG A45S, making the price point more reasonable. But its larger engine does compromise economy at just 34.9mpg.

For the full spec and options available on the S3 Sportback see here.

*All details on pricing and specification were correct as of the 6th July 2021

Frequently asked questions about hot hatches

 

Skoda Octavia vRS is top of the class, with a boot space of 590-litres with the seats up and 1580-litres with them down.

Volkswagen up! GTI, which boasts a combined MPG of 58.9mpg.

The Mini Cooper S still managed to sell 3,435 units in Q1 and Q2, making it the best-selling hot hatch in 2020.

Based solely on performance metrics, the Mercedes AMG A45 S is the clear winner. Its 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine generates 415bhp and 500Nm of torque and reaches 62mph in just 3.9 seconds