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The UK is one of the biggest markets in Europe for Hot Hatchbacks. We love their looks, speed, performance and practicality. Drop the kids off at school and then go for a spring down some B-roads, right?Well here are the best ones you can buy with a 10k budget - many of them for much, much less - proving that driving fun doesn't have to mean expensive.

We used a rather crude formula to decide the order of the list; adding together top speed, power, combined fuel economy and boot capacity then dividing the number by the 0-62 time. It kind of worked, as the winner is just as fast as the other cars but has a much larger boot, meaning it's the most practical car here, without sacrificing speed.

9. Suzuki Swift Sport

Ok we're starting off with more of a warm hatch than a hot hatch, but the Swift more than worth a mention. This is because it is one of the most fun hatches you can buy on the used market.

It's not particularly fast, it doesn't feature any clever torque vectoring systems or low-capacity turbo engines, but it can still provide you with miles and miles of fun on the road.

This is because it is simply a well-engineered, light-weight and zippy hatchback with an old-school 1.6-litre naturally aspirated VVT engine that just loves to be revved. Coupled with a well-sorted chassis that engine can provide the kinds of thrills on the road that in other cars you may need to head to the track to find. That's the beauty of this car, it is fun all day every day.
It looks great, too, with nice big alloys, an aggressive front bumper, a roof spoiler and a dual exhaust.  We must stress that the flames featured on the one pictured are not standard, and we're not quite sure if they're shockingly brilliant, or just shocking...we'll let you decide.

The running costs are low and with below-average mileage examples available from around £4,000, buying one won't break the bank either, even the 12 plate featured here is below £10,000. Don't think low cost means a sparse interior either, the Swift Sport comes with keyless entry, climate control and electric/heated door mirrors as well as an MP3-compatible CD player and multi-function steering wheel.

 Power  125 bhp  Boot Capacity  213 litres
 Top Speed  124 mph   0-62mph  8.9 s
 Economy  40.4 mpg  EH Hot Hatch Score  56.4         

View Used Suzuki Swift

8. Abarth 500

Abarth are very clear that the 500 is not to be called a Fiat, such is the vast difference between a normal 500 and the Abarth.

It packs a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine pushing out 135hp - a crazy amount in a car this small. 0-62mph comes up in 7.9s, but because of the size of the car it feels much faster. An EsseEsse kit later upped power to 160bhp and dropped the 0-62 to just 7.4s - now that really was a little firecracker.

It looks fantastic. The body kit and uprated alloy wheels really set the car off, and even the Abarth sticker kits are cool. The dual exhaust and rear splitter really make the car look 'stanced' and ready to take on any road you can throw at it.

It's a car that wants to punch above its weight, the Abarth, and it manages to do so with a huge amount of character along the way. Its engine is punchy, even in 135bhp form, and in sport mode the throttle response sharpens for an even more manic -but enjoyable- drive. They come with plenty of kit, too, with parking sensors, Bluetooth, USB, MP3, front fog lights and 'guide me home' headlights as standard.

 Power  135 bhp  Boot capacity  185 litres
 Top Speed  128 mph  0-62mph  7.9s
 Economy  43.5 mpg  EH Hot Hatch Score  62.2

View Used Abarth 500

7. Mini Cooper S

BMW switched to a turbocharger instead of the supercharger that increased the output on the previous Mini Cooper S model. There was fear among the motoring press that this might cause the Cooper-S to lose some of its appeal - they needn't have worried. Character is what MINIs do best.

Handling, as with all MINIs, is brilliant. The car grips and grips and won't let go unless you're being silly, which this car kind of urges you to do in some ways. It is of course much safer than an original MINI, boasting a 5 star NCAP safety rating, achieved thanks to a multitude of airbags and electronic safety measures.

The styling is superb and it builds on the retro appeal that the new MINI always had. The engine is fantastic: torquey, responsive and eager. Frugal too, with a combined mpg figure of 48.7mpg (for later 184 variants) it's the most frugal in this list. However it has the smallest boot of all the cars here, and that's why, despite all its other virtues, it languishes in 7th place.

 Power  184 bhp  Boot capacity  160 litres
 Top Speed  142 mph  0-62 mph  7.0 s
 Economy  48.7 mpg  EH Hot Hatch Score  76.4

View Used Mini Cooper S

6. Renault Clio RenaultSport 200

Released in 2009, the face lifted Clio is so composed, so accurate and plenty of fun when the roads get twisty. It makes a fantastic track weapon too, thanks to its nimbleness and the amount of excitement it can provide.

It was available in a range of lairy colours including a wild green, gold and blue as well as the usual black, grey and white, and we have to say it looks great whatever the colour. The face lifted version was engineered to have more low-down torque to address questions about its everyday drivability, and it really shows on the road. Power is now spread more broadly across the rev range, but on the track there is a lot of joy to be found from revving the engine to its redline.
The cup version is 36kg lighter and features uprated, stiffer suspension and a quicker steering rack, all of which makes the car much better on the track and slightly worse on the road. So if it's not going to be your daily driver, you may be better off with a cup version - it is truly delightful. You can get 2010 models for under 10k and pre-facelift 197 versions are even less expensive, coming in at just above £5,000.

 Power  200 bhp  Boot Capactiy  288 litres
 Top Speed  141 mph  0-62 mph  6.9 s
 Economy  34.5 mpg  EH Hot Hatch Scale  96.2

View Used Renault Clio

5. Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Just edging out the Clio and powering its way into our top 5 is the Vauxhall Corsa VXR. It's easily made out from its more mundane brothers such as the SXi and SE models, thanks to a beefy body kit that includes a large rear spoiler, prominent side skirts and a rear splitter that looks like it has come straight off a touring car. The centre-exit triangular exhaust finishes the sporty look off nicely - it looks every inch the junior hot hatch.

Putting 192bhp in a car this size is a recipe for massive pace and B-road demolishing capability. The Corsa VXR certainly delivers on both fronts, with a 0-62mph time of 6.8s it has the speed to match its looks. Because it is a Corsa however, practicality is good. There's decent room in the back and plenty of cubby-holes to stow away all your stuff, meaning it's more than capable of doing the 2 or 3-child school run with ease.
Inside you get plenty of standard equipment including a pair of fantastic Recaro sports seats in the front as well as cruise control, a trip computer, MP3 compatible CD player, air con and a VXR-badged sports steering wheel. Used examples can be found for under 6k, with low mileage 2010 cars available for well under our 10k budget. A fantastic hot hatch for the money.

 Power  192 bhp  Boot Capacity  285 litres
 Top Speed  140 mph  0-62 mph  6.8s
 Economy  38.7 mpg EH Hot Hatch Scale  96.4

View Used Vauxhall VXR

4. Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk5

The Mk1 Golf GTI is credited with the invention of the Hot Hatch market, especially in the UK, and after a couple of dodgy Mk3 and Mk4 versions which got fatter, slower and less responsive, the GTI was well and truly back on form with the Mk5.

One thing it has over other hot hatches is that it is available with an automatic dual-clutch DSG gearbox, so if you prefer driving automatics this is the only hot-hatch choice in our list. It has its performance benefits, too, reducing shift times to just 8ms. 

You can tell it's a GTI over a regular Golf due to the trade-mark alloys, the GTI badge on the front, more aggressive front and rear bumpers, a honeycomb grille and the chequered cloth on the interior, which harks back to the original version. It was hailed at the time of the launch as the best all-round hot hatch on the market, thanks to great performance (though not the absolute fastest hot hatch), superb ride and handling, and classless looks that were less boy-racer and more gentleman-racer. It's also fairly economical, too.

 Power  200 bhp  Boot Capacity  350 litres
 Top Speed  146 mph  0-62 mph  7.2s
 Economy  35.3 mpg  EH Hot Hatch Scale  101.6

View Used Gof GTi

3. Ford Focus ST

Released in 2005, the Ford Focus ST was a return to form for Ford with its hot hatches. It combined brilliant performance and handling with fantastic practicality - exactly what a hot hatch should do. It was a throwback to the 80s with its lairy body kit, big 18" alloys and roof spoiler. The UK fell in love with it, and became the most fruitful ST market in Europe.

It went as fast as it looked too, thanks to a Volvo-derived 2.5L turbocharged 5-cylinder engine producing 225bhp and masses of low-end torque, giving it excellent everyday drivability. It also came with a 5-star NCAP safety rating attached to it, essential for a car so quick.
The Focus was one of the finest hot-hatches on the market and was very well priced when it was launched, too. Used examples start from just £5,500, but good ones with 60-70k miles start from around £6,500, so you should budget that amount for a truly excellent experience. Most of the examples are ST-2 models with came with 18" alloys, Recaro bucket seats, heated windscreen, xenon headlamps and an MP3 stereo while the ST-3 model added a CD-Changer and full leather seats.

 Power  225 bhp  Boot Capacity  385 litres
 Top Speed 152 mph  0-62 mph  6.8s
 Economy  30.4 mpg  EH Hot Hatch Scale  116.5

View Used Ford Focus

2. Vauxhall Astra VXR

The second VXR in our list, the Astra was the most powerful hot hatch on the market when it was launched in 2005, blowing everything from the Golf GTI and Ford Focus to the RenaultSport Megane and Civic Type-R out of the water, with a massive 240bhp from its 2.0-litre engine that was accompanied by a huge turbocharger.

It was old-school fun in every sense, with very sharp looks and huge amounts of speed. The looks included deeper front and rear bumpers, a centre-exit exhaust, sporty Recaro seats and a roof-mounted spoiler.

The VXR is a bit of an animal, but that is what makes it so fun. So what if there's a bit of torque-steer and the interior isn't quite up to the standard of its rivals, it'll be more than compensated for by the huge smile that is bound to be across your face as you drive down the road.
The special edition Nurburgring edition was even more hard-core, with uprated suspension parts and light-weight alloy wheels, but the fancy decals may put the more discerning customer off. Best to stick with the normal one, then, with plenty to be found in the Evans Halshaw classifieds from as little as £7k for an early model with low miles.

 Power  240 bhp  Boot Capacity  302 litres
 Top Speed  152 mph  0-62 mph  6.2 s
 Economy  30.7 mpg  EH Hot Hatch Scale  116.9

View Astra VXR

1. Honda Civic Type-R

The winner of our 'Best Used Hot Hatch Under £10,000' is (perhaps unexpectedly) the Honda Civic Type-R, thanks to its mix of power, performance and practicality. It has long had a cult following in the UK, and the FN2-chassis version built on the huge success of the EP3 model that was sold from 2001-2005. It was sold with the same high-revving 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine producing 201bhp, powering the Type-R from 0-62 in just 6.6s and on to a top speed of 146mph.

In the handling stakes, the Civic is always going to fair well. This is because the Type-R has lowered and stiffened suspension, with a wider rear track that increases high-speed stability. The suspension tricks have worked and body roll is at a minimum, while turn-in is sharp and accurate, meaning you can hit those all-important apexes on your inevitable track day.
Reliability is another strong suit of the Type-R, making use of Honda's legendary VTEC system, with a noticeable step above 5,400rpm when the Civic really takes off after the second stage cams kick in. It's a cracking engine, and combined with great handling and fantastic futuristic looks makes a worthy winner in the hot hatch battle. It's won this test largely thanks to the huge 485 litre boot - way bigger than the 385 litres on the Focus, which is the next largest. Low mileage models can be found from around £7,000 and they make a great used buy.

 Power  201 bhp  Boot Capacity  485 litres
 Top Speed  146 mph  0-62 mph  6.6s
 Economy  31.0 mpg  EH Hot Hatch Scale  130.8

View Honda Civic