Everyday practicality and performance
What's not to love about a hot hatchback? They offer a great blend of performance and everyday practicality, yet they don't cost a small fortune to run on an annual basis.
That's probably why us Brits have bought so many of them over the years. Sure, you could buy a dedicated sports car, or maybe even a swanky convertible, but then you wouldn't be able to ferry the kids to school and enjoy a B-road blast on the way home.
Better yet, there are tons of great examples to choose from on the used car market. And because a wide range of manufacturers have developed their own hot hatchback at some point or another, you aren't limited to a small selection of models.
So, armed with a £10,000 budget, here are the best used hot hatchbacks currently available.
- Suzuki Swift Sport
- Abarth 595
- MINI Hatch Cooper S
- Ford Fiesta ST
- Peugeot 208 GTI
- Honda Civic Type R
- Volkswagen Golf GTI
- Ford Focus ST
- Renault Megane RS
- Vauxhall Astra VXR
Suzuki Swift Sport
If you judge a hot hatch solely on how much power it produces, then the Suzuki Swift Sport will likely feel like a korma as opposed to a vindaloo. Make no mistake though, the Swift Sport is here on merit.
The key to the Swift Sport's appeal is its low kerb weight and zesty little 1.6-litre engine. Certainly, the 136bhp on tap isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but this little car only weighs 1,045kg, which means the 0 to 62mph sprint is dealt with in a reasonable 8.7 seconds.
Another advantage of the low weight is noticed in the corners, where the Swift Sport offers strong grip and a super-sharp turn-in. Inside, there are plenty of mod cons so you don't feel short changed, including Bluetooth, keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control and climate control. Plus, there's a handy 211-litre boot for good measure.
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If you're after something a little bit hotter but don't want a car that's too big, then the Abarth 595 is worth a look. With its brazen exhaust note and raft of colour combinations, it will surely suit those who are more extroverted.
Don't be fooled though, the 595 isn't shy when the throttle pedal is given a prod. The 1.4-litre engine recruits the assistance of a turbocharger, giving it real shove from low-down in the rev-range.
Depending on how spicy you want your Abarth, you can choose from three different power outputs: 145bhp, 165bhp and 180bhp. In fact, the most potent 595 only takes 6.7 seconds to get to 62mph from a standstill.
The compact dimensions do mean you only get a 185-litre boot, but the 595 makes up for this with a visually attractive cabin design that includes an infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB digital radio and air-conditioning as standard.
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MINI Hatch Cooper S
Please excuse us for this, because you're about to be inundated with clichés regarding the MINI's appearance and driving.
As one of Britain's most fabled automotive names, it was no surprise to see the MINI brand return under new ownership in 2001. Immediately, motorists fell in love with the retro looks and go-kart-like driving characteristics.
Now imagine that recipe but with added grunt under the bonnet. That's where the Cooper S comes in, which in this third-generation model features a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that produces 192bhp. The 0 to 62mph only takes 6.9 seconds, combining effortlessly with the balanced chassis to generate endless driving enjoyment.
Practicality has never been the MINI's strong suit, but the 278-litre boot can accommodate the weekly food shop with no issue. Elsewhere, the MINI Hatch is clad with quality materials, making it a fine daily driver.
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Ford Fiesta ST
There's a reason this generation of Fiesta ST won numerous awards throughout its production. The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine produces 180bhp from the bottom of the rev-range right to the redline, making for an insanely fun driving experience. All this performance on tap, yet this little Fiesta can return up to 47mpg.
Although the engine is particularly good, the ST was celebrated for its fantastic handling abilities. Both stable and agile, the Fiesta was revered for the way it could attack corners. There's no need to worry about sliding out the seat thanks to the sublime Recaro ones that come as standard.
Being a Ford, servicing and maintenance costs are reasonable, making the Fiesta ST affordable to run on a daily basis. This budget doesn't quite stretch to the latest-generation Fiesta ST, but it's highly unlikely you'll be disappointed with the previous model you see here.
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Peugeot 208 GTI
A direct rival to the previously mentioned Ford Fiesta ST, the 208 GTI also features a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. However, this one produces 208bhp and achieves the 0 to 62mph dash 0.1 of a second faster than the Fiesta: you know, every little helps and all that.
Although the 208 GTI was never quite as sharp as the Fiesta ST when the going got twisty, it was still immensely capable, offering outstanding levels of grip and never failing to deliver on the all-important fun factor.
The Peugeot has received numerous compliments from owners for the beautifully crafted interior. The ergonomic set-up, excellent driving position and stunning dashboard make the 208 a great place to spend time. Thanks to a 285-litre boot and excellent fuel economy - with up to 47.9mpg possible - the GTI is a great hot hatch for daily duties.
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Honda Civic Type R
When Honda introduced the original Civic Type R back in the 1990s they instantly became a hit thanks to their high-revving engine and slick gearbox. Fast forward to the example here and the recipe has only evolved, with a 2.0-litre VTEC engine producing 198bhp and rewarding keen drivers with an 8,000rpm redline.
Because there's no turbo to help you down the road, you really have to work the engine and gearbox to access the power available, with a notable step up in power at 5,400rpm.
The Civic is often celebrated by enthusiasts for its sharp turn-in and remarkable steering accuracy, which is essential for making the most of that peach of an engine. A classy and well-made interior puts the focus on the driver with all the modern touches you'd expect from a hot hatch. And with the addition of a massive 485-litre boot, it's also one of the most practical.
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Volkswagen Golf GTI
Not that the Golf GTI needs an introduction, but it's going to get one anyway. Many saw the MK1 GTI, that was released back in the 1970s, as the spiritual godfather that ultimately led to the hot hatch becoming one of the most popular cars to own in Britain.
Despite the changes in technology and regulations imposed on manufacturers, the Golf still remains one of the best hot hatches on the market. A MK6, which was in production between 2009 and 2012, falls nicely within budget and should bag you a clean example with the esteemed 207bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.
For the money you get those distinctive Monza alloy wheels, while the interior will feature some gorgeous tartan seats unless you get an example with the optional leather seats that were available at the time. Hot hatch royalty for a reasonable price, count us in.
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Ford Focus ST
You may have heard of the term "Fast Ford" before. There's a reason for that, over the decades there have been dozens of them, all unique and all brilliant in their own way. The Focus ST continued the trend and has been revelation since it was introduced in 2002, with each generation offering a compelling driving experience in an affordable package.
The budget will get you behind the wheel of a MK3 Focus ST, which was introduced in 2012. With 247bhp having been extracted from a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, this model didn't hang about, achieving 0 to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds. Amazingly though, it could still return close to 40mpg without too much issue, making it affordable to run.
Typical of Ford, the Focus handles beautifully and offers a quality interior that bridges the gap between premium cars and more affordable offerings. Head to the back and you'll find a 316-litre boot, meaning it can easily cater for families.
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Renault Megane RS
The French are quite savvy when it comes to building a hot hatch. Both the Clio and Megane have been incredibly popular since their initial release in the 1990s and early 2000s respectively. With every generation that passes they just seem to get even better, and the Megane RS 250 is no different.
The sublime chassis is packaged together with a punchy 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that produces 250bhp, helping to launch this car from 0 to 62mph in just 6.1 seconds. Large Brembo brakes on the front-axle provide all the stopping power you’ll ever need, and the optional limited-slip differential (LSD) ensures corners are consumed with ease.
A spacious interior and large boot (344 litres) make this Megane the perfect hot hatch for the family man who really values the driving experience. It’s hard to believe you can buy a car of this pedigree for under £10,000. Make the most of it while you can.
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Vauxhall Astra VXR
Vauxhall pulled a bit of a blinder when they released the Astra GTC VXR in the early 2010s. The Astra GTC was already a handsome coupé that drove well, but Vauxhall enhanced it massively with the VXR.
Under the bonnet lives a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that produces 280bhp, helping the VXR to sprint from 0 to 62mph in 5.9 seconds and go on to a top speed of 155mph. Although those figures are impressive, it's the chassis that really stands out because it was developed at the Nürburgring, which is a notorious racing track in Germany that's been used to hone some of history's most potent performance cars.
With trick suspension on the front and rear combining with a limited-slip differential (LSD), the VXR offers an engaging drive through corners, yet can stop on a whim thanks to its large Brembo brakes. On top of all of that, it has a 380-litre boot, meaning it's practical too.
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Discover your next hot hatch with Evans Halshaw
Looking at the cars on the list, it's not hard to see why British motorists have bought so many hot hatchbacks over the years. Affordable running costs, great looks, naughty exhaust notes and everyday practicality mean they will surely remain a firm favourite among buyers for the foreseeable future.
At Evans Halshaw, we have thousands of used cars for you to choose from. Ranging from sports cars to practical family cars that can tow caravans. Whatever you need from a car, it's likely we'll be able to accommodate. For more car buying advice and general everyday tips, feel free to take a look at our other blogs and articles.