The hot hatch market has never been this heated, small four cylinder engines producing as much power as 90s supercars. In the 90s, having a hot hatch meant owning a 1.3 or a 1.5 liter turbocharged hatchback in 3 or 5 door configuration, producing as much as 100hp or 150hp if you get lucky. These were fun days when hot hatches were keenly based on rally or touring cars. Just to name a few; Peugeot 106 GTI with a 1.3L engine, 100hp only but this was a people’s car. The Seat Ibiza GTi was a racer boy Polo with a 2 liter engine, developing 115hp, later upgraded to the Golf 3 GTI engine with 150hp. The Golf GTI needs no introduction, in fact, the Mk3 GTI had a more powerful sibling going by the name VR6, six cylinders…not much power in that 2.8L motor (180hp), and we could go on an on to name a few more greats.
By 2018, it was common to have a 300hp plus hot hatch, the cars on this list all have 300hp+ and kindly let me introduce you to the Superhatch category. These are hothatches with over 400hp, and for now we only have 2, but that will change in due time. The play field should be much more even when the rest get new gen versions, next GTI should enter 300hp territory, next M140 should be 380 to 400hp, the current RS3 has been with us since 2015…next one should be mega hp too.
Now, this is the market Japs missed out on most…instead they focused on crossover SUVs with exception of Honda and soon to join Toyota (Yaris and Corolla). Subaru and Mitsubishi are happy with crossovers and PHEVs given they make them the best sales. Remember these two once dominated this category albeit with sport sedans (WRX STI and Lancer Evolutions), while Mitsubishi was downed by financial struggles forcing them to kill their performance branded Evo sedans, Subaru failed to capitalize on the hot hatch market (only doing it briefly), an area now perfected by Ford, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, Audi and more. They instead focused on a dying sedan trend, the performance of their cars was not helping either as they were out matched by both AWD and FWD hot hatches. Nonetheless, with the rise of hybrid performance cars, there is still hope.
NB: This list has both current and upcoming cars, and will change as newer models are announced. The Focus RS production ended in 2018, but still makes it to this list given it’s a viable choice in the used car market and in some regions new cars may still be available.
Homework: What is a Superhatch?