Hot hatches enjoy huge popularity here in the UK, thanks to a combination of sporty power and city-friendly size.

After the arrival of the archetype VW Golf GTI in the 80s, hot hatches became a staple in the auto world with many manufacturers beginning to pursue a powerful engine in a small body.


  • done great fun to drive.
  • done visually stylish.
  • done high performance.
  • clear can be pricey to buy.
  • clear suspension provides a bumpy ride.
  • clear not the roomiest.

October 12th 2017

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If you’re after a performance car for relatively reasonable costs, then a hot hatch is for you.

Let’s break these funky little cars down for you.

What is a hot hatch car?

While they’re still relatively uncommon in other parts of the world, hot hatch cars are some of the most popular motors in the UK. If you’re looking for a mix of practicality and performance, hot hatch cars have a lot to offer.

Short for “hot hatchback”, hot hatches are typically regarded as a high-performance version of the more famous hatchback. The Volkswagen Golf GTI is widely regarded as one of the first hot hatches, which makes it a great reference point. When you look at hot hatches, you may not notice much difference from a regular hatchback. But, get behind the wheel of these mini beasts and you’ll feel the difference, as they offer a whole lot more power than their base-model counterparts. Hot hatches usually have a lot of styling extras too, such as large rear wings and alloy wheels. If you want to drive around in something that rivals a sports car for a fraction of the price, you should certainly consider a hot hatch!

Traditionally, hot hatches are front-wheel drive with an engine mounted in the front of the vehicle, but these are not the main requirements that make a car a hot hatch. As the years have rolled by and technology has advanced, so have hot hatches – many more are now all-wheel-drive resulting in improved performance for a better all-round driving experience.

Best hot hatch cars on the market today

With a unique combination of affordability, practicality, and, of course, fun, hot hatches continue to deliver.

Some of the most popular hot hatches include:

The BMW 128ti - This all-wheel-drive model was a controversial move from the 1 Series with traditional rear-wheel-drive. The 128ti is a more affordable, lighter design which still offers a great driving experience.

The Ford Fiesta ST - In terms of fun driving, the smaller Fiesta ST has to be one of the best, with options across a range of budgets.

The Abarth 595 - While this may not have the sparkle of Ford’s hot hatches, it remains an excellent choice. Yet again, the word “fun” crops up. This is exactly how the Abarth 595 should be described, thanks to its punchy 1.4L petrol engine which makes it incredibly quick on straight lines and nimble on windy stretches too.

Price and maintenance

It’s no secret that top of the range hot hatches aren’t cheap. Models such as the Golf R or the S3 can set you back around £40,000. These prices are even higher for cars such as the AMG A45 and the RS3. However, you’ll be pleased to know that there are more affordable options available.

The Golf GTI starts off at around £26,000, while the Focus ST is a little cheaper. Some newer models are even cheaper than this. Of course, you’re likely to pay much less when you buy a used hot hatch from one of our trusted UK dealers.

While the outlay can be significant, once you own a hot hatch you won’t have to stress about upkeep too much. Hot hatches are typically cheaper to insure, cheaper to maintain, and generally cheaper to run compared to similarly priced cars. Add this up and there’s much to like.

Practicality and capabilities

Hot hatches may not be quite as spacious as regular hatchbacks but they certainly have enough about them when it comes to practicality, with plenty of room for storage and comfortably seating passengers. What’s more, alongside this practicality comes power: most hot hatches nowadays offer between 250-400bhp, which will see you whizz around Britain’s roads. Add in the equipment that comes with hot hatches and you will feel spoilt. Even entry-level hatches come with amazing features. Some are available with large alloy wheels (18-inch and more), cruise control, two-zone air conditioning, LED running lights, aluminium pedals, Bluetooth, and so much more!

With so many sporty features, hot hatches are sophisticated yet cheeky cars that drivers instantly fall in love with.

Are hot hatches good family cars?

A hot hatch might not look or drive like your typical family car, but part of its charm is that there’s nothing stopping you from using it as one.

The very nature of a hatchback means there’s a fair amount of room in the boot – still with folding rear seats – to store all the kids’ belongings and bags full of shopping. Plus there are usually lots of added tech and safety features too. They’re a legitimate candidate for transporting your little ones.

Practical when you need it, capable in all other areas. What more could you want from a car?

Why buy a hot hatch?

If we haven’t sold the hot hatch to you yet, it’s time to go into top gear.

Hot hatches have an ideal size for practicality and safety. Yes, they may seem like tough, compact, energetic cars but underneath it all, they are extremely well-built. Combine this with their power and style and you have yourself a recipe for an outstanding vehicle.

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