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New Car Roundup – Hot Hatches! {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

2 Jul 2018

It’s no great secret that I love hot hatches, the combination of small size, practicality, fun handling and usually more power that you’d expect means you can use all the performance all of the time without constantly having to check your speedo. And you’ll be having a hoot while doing it. So whereas all the big boys like the mega hatch Audi RS3 with its 394bhp hogs the limelight, its compatriots the Mercedes A45 and Focus RS have both been discontinued now. We’ve bolstered the ranks of the hotter hatches recently with the Hyundai i30N and Renaultsport Megane RS Cup too, but there’s a whole class of smaller hot hatches that were begging to be added – so we have!

We’ve got five new hatches, two of which are Peugeots – the kings of the hot hatchback – while there’s a Renaultsport Clio in there too. But again some people want smaller hotness, so we’ve also added the Suzuki Swift Sport which has gained universal praise in the motoring media and to finish off the smallest, least powerful hot hatch of them all p the Smart ForTwo Brabus. So there really is a hot hatch for everyone in the competition now from 108bhp to 394bhp.

Oh and because we’re having unusually wonderful sunny weather here in the UK we’ve also added the Abarth 124 Spider – a great fun, noisy, great looking convertible for a cheap £1.40 ticket. Go forth and play my pretties!

Renaultsport Clio RS200 - £0.95/ticket

Ever since the original 5 Turbo, Renault (and latterly RenaultSport) has been creating some of the best hot hatchbacks around, from Clio Williams to 172, 182, 197 and now to the latest version – the Clio RS200. So power is up to 197bhp from the 1.6 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and there’s a fancy limited slip differential available to handle that power through the front wheels. But there are some changes this time around – the RS200 is now 5dr only, great for families but purists hate it – and that power gets to the wheels via a 6-speed dual clutch paddle-shift gearbox. That means you can keep your hands on the wheel more of the time when pressing on and the car is more usable around town. The Clio RS has certainly grown up then, but is still just as fun to throw around on track thanks to the magic those French masters at RenaultSport can work.

Suzuki Swift Sport - £0.85/ticket

As the entry point for a hot hatch in the Fiesta class now seems to be 200bhp, and with that size car no smaller than the Mk1 Ford Focus, an opening has been created for a smaller hot hatch. Being smaller they’re lighter too, so don’t need that level of power and that lightness brings a more delicate handling balance too. Suzuki entered this market in 2005 with the Swift Sport and now we have the third generation of that model. With more dynamic styling it looks sporty and classy, and as always with the Swift there are a range of funky colours to make it a fun car to be in and drive. that drive is one of the big surprises of the year too, with really playful handling and a comfy ride, helped along by the zingy 1.4 litre turbocharged engine putting out 138bhp. It won’t set the world alight performance wise, but it never feels slow. Small, fun and chuckable – this Swift Sport is the new generation of hot hatch.

Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport - £1.10/ticket

Ah the 205 GTi. The absolute peak of hot hatch greatness (maybe). When launched in 1984 it won group tests galore and was the epitome of cool. Well fast forward 34 years and the latest 208 GTi is winning hearts and tests all over again. It may not be the newest hot hatch out there, but it has a great engine that feels much stronger than the 206bhp suggests and you can feel that Peugeot Sport haven’t lost their touch creating a sweet handling car. Most importantly though you need not worry – the somewhat ‘interesting’ two-tone paintwork of the car in these pictures is optional!

Peugeot 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport - £1.35/ticket

Much like the younger 208 sibling, this 308 GTi has a great back catalogue of hot hatch greats to call upon, the best of which being the legendary 306 GTI-6 from 1996. That was a lightweight, fast hatch with 167bhp and has the quirky characteristic of lifting the inside rear wheel when cornering. It also had a penchant for lift-off oversteer as many an unexpecting new owner found out. But now it’s 2018 and though it may not be lightweight (thank modern crash regulations and consumers’ insistence on luxuries in cars) the new 308 GTi is a plucky underdog in the modern hot hatch race dominated by the Golf GTi and now the Hyundai i30N. Power comes from a downsized 1.6 litre turbo four cylinder with 266bhp so it’s certainly quick as the 6.0 second 0-62mph dash proves. But as with all Peugeot Sport cars it’s the handling that impresses most, delicate and precise like only a French hatch can be.

Smart ForTwo Brabus Exclusive - £1.00/ticket

Yes, you did read that correctly. We’re offering a Smart. But this is no ordinary Smart… A little background first – we at BOTB know many supercar owners and a huge number of them own a Smart Brabus, you see having a £200,000 supercar is all very well and good, even when you’ve got a £100,000 Range Rover too, but neither of them are any good for popping into town to pick up a few things from the shops. They’re both big, awkward to park and use tonnes of fuel doing so – so you need something small and fun – step forward the Smart ForTwo Brabus Exclusive. To start with it’s no slouch, with 108bhp in such a small body it moves far quicker than it has any right to, then it handles really quite well – after all this is a two seat, rear engine, RWD car – just like a Porsche 911! Oh and there’s the other small point that it looks fantastic, all big wheels, pumped arches and aggressive twin exit exhaust pipes. You mock the Smart, but try one – we guarantee you’ll love it.

Abarth 124 Spider - £1.40/ticket

When the new Mazda MX-5 was launched it carried with it a twin, born at the same time and using the same underpinnings and interior, but with a Fiat badge on the nose. It was a bit softer, a bit bigger and not quite as sharp though, so there was clear distinction between the two (as well as using different engines). But then Abarth brought out their 124 Spider based on the Fiat version and surprised everyone. For under the bonnet lay a 1.4 turbo with 170bhp, but it was angry, ferocious and has one of the most downright naughty exhaust sounds of anything this side of am AMG Merc. The styling is almost unrecognisable from the Fiat base, with a black bonnet and boot, lovely alloys and a more aggressive nose not to mention those quad pipes sticking out of the back. Being a small, lightweight RWD sports car you can imagine it’s pretty fun to drive, but the Abarth 124 really is an absolute hoot – oversteer when you want it, precise handling and even great damping for our terrible roads. You know what, we may actually prefer this to the MX-5 and that’s high praise indeed…

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