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Tips and advice

Top 3 used hot hatchbacks for £10,000

Dear Carbuyer, I want to swap my supermini for a similarly sized hot hatch. What can I get for £10,000?

Whether you’re 17 or 70, hot hatchbacks have an indescribable allure. The simple formula of putting a powerful engine into a small, nimble vehicle has created some of the best driver’s cars you can possibly buy; all for a fraction of the cost of a dedicated sports car. If you have £10k to spend on something that's fun-sized and fast, we have picked three of the best options out there.

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It wasn’t the first, but the original Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI is considered the godfather of the hot hatchback. Like the cars to succeed it, the Mk1 GTI used its small size and light weight to its advantage, being one of the best-handling cars available at the time. Today, hot hatchbacks such as the Toyota GR Yaris offer sports car-like driving experiences with blistering performance from their small, economical, yet powerful engines.

Fastest hot hatchbacks heroThe UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024

Yet, hot hatchbacks don’t just drive as well as sports cars, they are more practical, too. While a portion of hot hatchbacks are three-door only, some models such as the Hyundai i20 N are available in practical five-door bodystyles. Hot hatchbacks typically have larger boots than sports cars too, with the ability to carry a week’s worth of shopping rather than just a couple of bags. This means that they can function as an everyday runaround, rather than just a weekend toy.

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Unfortunately, like everything else, the cost of hot hatchbacks is rising. Higher manufacturing costs and a demand for more luxurious features means that a new hot hatchback will typically cost more than £20,000. Furthermore, there now exist ‘super’ hot-hatchbacks such as the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S with more than 400bhp and price tags topping £50,000.

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Thankfully, plenty of good deals can be found on the used market, especially for our reader’s £10,000 budget. However, be sure to carefully inspect the car before buying. This is because many hot hatchbacks, though deeply cared for and loved, will have been driven hard frequently and could show signs of wear and tear. 

Regardless, with plenty of time and research there are many great deals and examples to be found. Read on to see which of our three picks is our favourite…

The stylish choice: Peugeot 208 GTi

  • FOR: Most powerful, stylish cabin, best fuel economy
  • AGAINST: Steering lacks feedback, driving position snags

The Peugeot 208 GTi does a decent job of being the modern successor to the 205 GTi of the Eighties. Its zesty 1.6-litre turbo engine produces 205bhp and 0-62mph is covered in 6.5 seconds. Its steering is quick, if a little vague and light. Yet the 208 is very stable through corners, and the six-speed manual gearbox is slick. An official economy figure of 52.3mpg is the best here.

Overall, though, the GTi’s interior feels upmarket, while the controls are well laid out and the quality of the plastics is reasonable. The Peugeot’s 285-litre boot matches that of the Corsa VXR and is only five litres smaller than the Fiesta’s. Where the GTi does have an advantage over the ST is rear head and legroom, of which there is a fair bit more in the Peugeot than in the Ford.

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Your budget will buy a 33,000-mile 16-plate 208 GTi Prestige, which has sat-nav, a panoramic roof, Bluetooth, DAB radio and a touchscreen infotainment system.

The popular choice: Ford Fiesta ST

  • FOR: The best-handling car of the three
  • AGAINST: Least powerful, outdated cabin

Fast Fords have long been an institution in the UK and the Fiesta ST doesn’t disappoint. Its 1.6-litre turbo engine makes 197bhp, so power is slightly down, meaning the Peugeot and Vauxhall are 0.4 seconds quicker from 0-62mph. The Fiesta’s 47.9mpg is more than the Vauxhall officially returns, but short of the 208’s 52.3mpg. The ST shines in the corners; it’s incredibly balanced, with quick, direct steering that gives exactly the right amount of feedback.

Inside, the Fiesta feels the most dated of this trio; the quality isn’t bad, but the dash layout is quite button-heavy and it has a small infotainment display that lacks touchscreen functionality, even if you go for an ST-2 or ST-3 with the upgraded Sony stereo. There’s also a shortage of rear seat space compared with the GTi and VXR, which can more comfortably accommodate two adults. The Fiesta’s 290-litre boot is the biggest, but only by a mere five litres.

The Ford Fiesta ST is arguably the most desirable car of the trio which means you’ll be looking at a slightly older car with a tad higher miles. You’ll get a 15-plate, 60,000-mile ST-2 for a snip less than £10,000. This gets the aforementioned Sony stereo as well as heated Recaro sport seats and cruise control.

The sporty choice: Vauxhall Corsa VXR

  • FOR: Sharp steering, strong grip levels, well equipped
  • AGAINST: Image not to all tastes, ride can be harsh
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The Vauxhall Corsa VXR looks the part and has the performance to back this up. It also has a 1.6-litre turbo engine, here producing 202bhp, 3bhp less than the GTi, but enough for an identical 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds. It officially returns only 37.7mpg, though, indicating you’ll spend more time and money at the pumps than with the Ford or Peugeot. While the Corsa steers nicely, the ride lacks the fluidity of the Fiesta.

The Corsa VXR’s interior blends sportiness and comfort well. The flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel and chunky gearstick are great to hold, and decent materials have been used throughout the cabin. The 285-litre boot is the same size as the 208’s, while the back seats in both cars are similarly spacious, an area where the Fiesta falls a little short.

For £10,000, you’ll get a 16-plate VXR with 45,000 miles. The standard kit level is strong, with cruise control, air-conditioning and a touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity.

Carbuyer’s choice:

The Ford Fiesta ST has become the default option when it comes to hot hatchbacks and for good reason. While it is not one of the most practical options out there, the most important aspect of a hot hatchback is the way it drives – and boy, does the ST deliver.

The Fiesta’s direct steering is more engaging than the Peugeot’s while its 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine sounds rortier and has more character than the Vauxhall’s, despite being down on power. 

Furthermore, thanks to the Fiesta being so popular, replacement parts should be inexpensive and easy to come by. With its perfect blend of desirability, agility and affordability, this fast Ford can quickly transform you into a boy racer at the drop of a (baseball) hat.

Want something to take out for a blast on the weekends? Check out our top 3 used sports coupes for under £20,000

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