If there’s one thing car guys almost unanimously love, it’s hooning a hot hatch. PistonHeads, the UK’s largest online motoring community, has voted to decide which hot hatches are the 21st century’s greatest hits.
“People often think of the 1980s as the golden era of the hot hatch. While it’s true that there are a host of unrepeatable classics from this time that have gone on to inspire the hot hatches of today, the reality is that in the 21st century we’ve never had more choice, performance and usability in this sector,” said Nic Cackett, Editor of PistonHeads.
To determine the winner, PistonHeads asked members of its motoring community to nominate their favorite hot hatches from the last 20 years, before running a poll on the top 10 nominees to determine the final order.
Scroll down to see the top ten.
No. 10 – Alfa Romeo 147 GTA
Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo
The Alfa Romeo 147 GTA went on sale in 2002. It was powered by a 3.2-liter V6 that produced 247 horsepower and was paired with a six-speed manual gearbox The model was wider than the street version of the 147. It came with an aero package, modified nose, honeycomb grille, and side skirts. Brembo four-piston brake calipers, ventilated front disc brakes, and a revised suspension helped make the model super sporty.
Aluminum accents covered the interior and and the model had a unique black gauge surround on the dash. Sport seats up front were fitted with head restraints.
Most importantly, however, the car came with a 10-CD changer.
No. 9 – Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup
This version of the Clio came with a front splitter, a tweaked exhaust system, shorter gearing (resulting in improved acceleration) and a more responsive steering rack. The car’s engine produced 197 bhp. Rennaultsport’s new model was available with an Alien Green paint job. It won tremendous accolades when it was new.
No. 8 – Ford Fiesta ST MK7
Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company
The Fiesta ST is Ford’s smallest hot hatch. It has a standard turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine. Buyers could opt for the Performance Park and get a Quaife limited slip differential, shift change light, and launch control. It can be driver in Normal, Sport, or Race Track mode.
No. 7 – Renaultsport Clio V6
Launched in 2001, the mid-engine, rear-wheel drive model was designed by Renault. Half were built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and the other half were built by Renault Sport. Its engine produced 281 bhp and was paired with a Sadev gearbox.
No. 6 – Volkswagen Golf GTI MK5
Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
Volkswagen gave the Gold GTI a turbocharged 2.00liter four-cylinder engine that produced 197 bhp. The engine was paired with a standard six-speed manual or a six-speed direct shift gearbox. It came in three- and five-door variants. Volkswagen brought the GTI back to the U.S. for this generation.
No. 5 – BMW M140i
Photo courtesy of BMW
The BMW M140i delivers exactly what you’d expect from BMW. It’s a hot hatch that delivers 340 horsepower from its turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and goes where you point it. Unlike the four cars that rank ahead of it on this list, the M140i isn’t stripped to the bare minimum and lightweighted. It’s a relatively comfortable daily driver that gets after it when you put the pedal down, can seat five (though four is better), and has a well-appointed cabin.
No. 4 – Renaultsport Clio 172 Cup
This model is the lightweight version of the Clio 172, meant for sport. Like a typical race car, the 172 Cup lacked the creature comforts that buyers could get in a traditional Clio. Its seats were upholstered in durable fabric rather than leather, its Xeonn headlights were replaced by halogen, much of the sound deadening and convenience technology like automatic wipers was removed, as well as the air conditioning.
Renaultsport replaced the wheels with 16-inch Speedline Turinin alloys. The car got matte blue door strips, a plastic front splitter and rear spoiler. It did not have antilock brakes.
No. 3 – Honda Civic Type R EP3
Photo courtesy of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
Honda introduced the Civic Type R in 2001. Then, it was a three-door hatchback made explicitly for the U.K. market. It came with a 197-horspower 2.-liter V-TEC engine, six-speed manual transmission, and upgraded brakes.
Two years after its debut, the EP3 was upgraded with more precise handling and revised suspension, among other aesthetic changes.
No. 2 – Renaultsport Megane R26.R
The Renaultsport Megane R26.R is the rarest model on this list; the company only produced 450 examples of the car, which was based one the Mégane Renault Sport 230 F1 Team R2. The company took that car and reduced its weight by 271 pounds by removing the rear seats and seat belts, passenger and curtain airbags, climate control system, rear windscreen washer and wiper, heated rear window, fog lamps, headlight washers, radio/CD player, and nearly all the soundproofing.
Additional light weighting took place including the changeout to a carbon fiber hood and install a polycarbonate tailgate and rear side windows. The car got Sabelt seats, a six-point harness, and rear spoiler. Buyers could opt for a roll cage and titanium exhaust when new.
There were new front springs, recalibrated shock absorber settings, grooved disc brakes, offset alloy wheels, and stiffer lower arm bushes.
It became a race car.
No. 1 – Renaultsport Clio 182 Trophy
Photo courtesy of PistonHeads
Renault produced just 550 versions of the Clio 182 Trophy, its final version of the Clio 182. The car is a bit of a mishmash of other models. It rides on 16-inch Speedline Turini alloy wheels from the 172 Cup and the spoiler from the Clio 255 V6. Its underpinnings included Sachs Remote-Reservoir dampers.
Inside are Recaro Trendline seats. The exterior is finished in an exclusive 727 Capsicum Red Paint with trophy decals on its side skirts. Each model came news with an individually numbered plaque on the base of the driver’s seat.