Best hot hatchbacks
We arguably have a team of passionate VW engineers to thank for what we now call the hot hatchback. Ever since the MkI Volkswagen Golf GTI was first dreamed up in the seventies as an ‘after-hours’ project, the idea of fast, affordable small cars has really taken off.
It didn’t take much to make a hot hatch in the early days – some coloured trim, new wheels and a punchier engine was enough. So other manufacturers were quick follow Volkswagen's lead by spawning their own hot hatches, including the Peugeot 205 GTI, Ford Escort XR3, Vauxhall Astra GTE and Renault 5 Turbo.
Today, hot hatchbacks are big business. Almost all major manufacturers offer spiced-up versions of the their top-selling superminis and family cars these days – some with enough power to worry much less practical and more expensive dedicated sports cars.
Modern hot hatches are also much safer, more comfortable and better equipped than their predecessors, but they remain fast and great fun to drive in equal measure.
There are distinctly different sub-categories of hot hatch, too, from hugely powerful top-end models like the Audi RS3 Sportback, to more mature offerings such as the Skoda Octavia vRS and small, cheap and simple cars like the Ford Fiesta ST.
To find out which one is right for you, keep reading for our definitive countdown of the best fast hatchbacks on sale today.