Back in 1973, 82bhp was enough to give the humble little Simca 1100TI the title of the world’s first ever hot hatch.
How the world has changed. Do you yearn for the days when Donny Osmond topped the charts, and a hotted up 1.3-litre family hatch with less outright power than your own lungs was considered fast?
Yeah, us neither. But this goggle-eyed, entirely implausible fast hatch was the original all-weather car. It even featured such things as stiffer shocks, a reinforced clutch, bigger brakes and some special paint.
The world - perhaps mercifully - has moved on from the days of the Simca. No longer is humanity content with a 0-60mph time somewhere not very far below 12 seconds. No longer will we sit in silence for a top speed of just 105mph from a small five-door family car.
No, today’s buyers demand more. Much, much more. Witness the new Ford Focus RS (not the lovely RS500 pictured), which churns out 345bhp. Or indeed, the new Audi RS3, with a whopping 362bhp and the ability to hit 60mph in just over four seconds. Supercar pace, that.
So, where do the major players stack up today? Click on for our roundup of the most powerful hot hatches… in the world*
Renault Megane Renaultsport Trophy-R
Big name, big power. Renault’s Nürburgring-honed weapon of track destruction has lapped the fabled Green Hell in 7m 54s, a ludicrous time for any front-drive hot hatch. Much has been stripped out of the cabin. There’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot on board with 271bhp, and with just 1280kg to shift, it’ll go from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds.
Vauxhall Astra VXR
Officially the moment Vauxhall went properly crazy. The first VXR might have been a mere sip of the Kool-Aid; the new one has a bottle on intravenous drip. That’s because the current (and now rather old) VXR features a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine producing 276bhp and 295lb ft of torque, to produce a 0-62mph time of six seconds flat and top speed of 155mph.
Seat Leon Cupra
It’s the fastest and most powerful Seat ever. With 258lb ft of torque, a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds and top speed of 155mph, it’s plenty of speed for your needs. And it’s one hell of a weapon, and in 'Sub 8' guise, will blitz the ring in a rather quick time....
Shares much with the Golf R, only the S3 is more expensive and therefore bit less good. Still, it’s good for 62mph in 4.8 seconds and musters up 280lb ft of torque from its 2.0-litre turbocharged four.
Volkswagen Golf R
Quite simply, the Top Gear Magazine favourite hot hatch. Whether it remains so after we’ve put it up against the Focus RS remains to be seen, however…
Honda Civic Type R
So powerful, it’s gone red with rage. Honda has finally revealed the most potent Civic in the history of ever. The new Type R packs a turbocharged engine, producing that headline 306bhp. And after sampling it on UK roads, TG’s Ollie Marriage noted how “it doesn’t do a bad impression of a touring car or tarmac rally car to be honest, but to get the best out of it you have to take it by the scruff and concentrate…”
A fine, fine car, and another that easily breaks the 300bhp barrier. A 3.0-litre turbocharged six-pot produces 322bhp and 332lb ft of torque, all wrapped up in a dynamic package that’s little short of magic. 0-62mph takes 5.1 seconds, and it costs just £32k. But can a hot hatch be rear-wheel drive? Discuss.
Ford Focus RS
The new kid on the block. Not the quickest (4.7secs to 62mph and 165mph), but with it’s super approachable, really quite drifty limits, the Focus RS is a potential game-changer.
“Enormously, mind-warpingly fast.”
That’s our official verdict on Audi’s certifiably quick RS3. A 0-62mph time of 4.3 seconds and 174mph top speed make it indecently, absurdly quick (and we suspect the former time is a touch conservative, too…). Not only does it produces 362 horsepowers, but a titanic amount of torque is on offer from as little as 1625rpm.
As powerful hot hatches go, this Mercedes hot hatch is a bloody powerful one. In fact, the Merc’s 2.0-litre turbo is the most potent four-cylinder engine… in the world. We like things like this. We also like its 376bhp, 350lb ft of torque, the ability to accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds… and the insane array of chunters and bangs from the optional sports exhaust.
Edited by admin