Hot Hatch Heaven: Compare 5 of the top hot hatches

If you want a car based argument then just venture an option about what is the best hot hatch in a room full of motorheads. There simply is no correct answer! Hippo Prestige look to give you an overview of the best hot hatch cars based on value, standard equipment and of course pace and handling so you can make up your own mind…enter with caution..this place gets hot!

We compare 5 hot hatches in this review, the Hyundai i30 N, the Audi RS3, the Mercedes A 45, the Ford Focus RS and the Volkswagen Golf R…you can feel the testosterone rising!

Hyundai i30 N

First up the Hyundai i30 N. It was not long ago that if you mentioned a Hyundai in a hot hatch review you would be carted off to Northern Korea for some serious re-education. Instead, this serious hot hatch entrant was designed at Namyang in South Korea and honed to perfection in Germany at the famed Nurburgring.

The Hyundai i30N shares very little in common with your standard Hyundai apart from the excellent 5 year unlimited mileage warranty with free roadside assistance and 5 free health checks. Instead with the N version of the i30 you can expect:

A shift timing indicator which is useful when you are getting to know your i30 N, 5 drive modes, special sports seats which are notably comfortable, launch control to help you get off the line quickly and feed your inner teenager, an 8” sat nav screen and electronically controlled suspension.

The i30 N also comes with unique 19” alloys, an electronically limited slip diff, an active and variable exhaust system with the option of going for an exclusive “Performance Blue” colour only available for the i30 N which is quite a natty cool baby blue hue.

Rev matching also takes the strain out of downshifting and any chance of mangling the gears where the i30N automatically blips the throttle on downshifts to match the rotational speed of the engine and transmission- cleaver stuff.

So what are the scores on the doors? The Hyundai i30 N produces 271 BHP, with go 0-62 in 6.1 seconds whilst producing an average of 178g of CO2 emissions.

While not blisteringly quick, its quick enough, responsive and comes full of hot hatch gear so Hyundai’s first true hot hotch bodes well for the new “N” range – great start Hyundai!

Audi RS 3 Sportback

Next up, the now famous Audi RS 3 Sportback.

First off, if you are in the market for one of these pocket beasts, be sure to tick the optional sports exhaust box. When you have a car this powerful it needs its voice box in place and the glorious 5 cylinder 2.5-litre petrol deserves to be heard in all its glory.

The Audi RS3 is a hot hatch with presence and pedigree plus power to burn. An engine with 400 brake horsepower is responsible for the push you will get in your back when you engage your right foot. It’s tamed power though so the RS 3 is relatively easy to drive, responsive and poised through corners rather than seat of the pants driving you get with the likes of the Focus RS.

The 7 speed automatic dual “ S tronic” clutch is smooth at lower speeds or when cruising but there is a slight lag when you do floor it but nothing too untoward with as it’s a slight price to pay for not worrying about shifting through gears and just enjoying this car’s performance. Of course, if you like to use your left arm when you drive then the RS 3 is not for you as it only comes with the S Tronic gearbox.

The inside of the RS3 is all class so if you are looking for a hot hatch with the best cabin, look no further than the RS 3. While quite reserved its understated so that there are many small touches to remind you that you opted for the expensive version of the Sportback like the solid, squared-off steering wheel and Nappa leather seats plus Audi’s excellent digital virtual cockpit.

Hot hatch traditionalist will baulk at the words “comfort” and “practicality” but for many who live in the real world, we also need to make sure that we can get 3 kids in the back seat and have enough luggage space which the RS 3 does well at with a relatively large boot. CO2 emissions are not off the scale at 189 g/km so you don’t have to feel bad about the forests…just a tad guilty will do!

Ok, so what do you really want to know? How fast is it?

Given the right environment, the Audi RS 3 with its 5 cylinder engine will go 0-62 mph in 4.1 seconds and has a top speed of 174 mph and that’s all we have to say about that…what else is there to say?

Mercedes AMG A 45

Sometimes a car is just made for you and if you like a compact hatch with tons of road appeal, glitzy touches designed to be noticed but also somehow stays elevated above the competition then there is likely to be a Mercedes A 45 in your future.

If you are into the AMG A 45 then it will haunt your dreams till you possess her. She has everything that a hot hatch should have – “look at me” confidence, fantastic handling and speed…speed to get the heart pumping both in anticipation and in reality.

There is only one thing that the Mercedes Benz A45 does not have…bragging rights. Those belong to the previously mentioned Audi RS 3 that goes one-tenth of a second faster from zero to 62 miles per hour with the Mercedes coming in at 4.2 seconds and 381 brake horsepower is just 19 hp short of the Audi. That said, it does win in that it’s the fastest 4 cylinder where the Audi RS 3 has 5 cylinders. Small consolation at the traffic light however and you can be sure that Karl and Hans are beavering away in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg in a quest to go better than Audi next time around.

What sets the Mercedes AMG A 45 apart is predictability. Yes, predictability. When you have a car that can drive this fast you need to know that it can stop faster, that it will behave through corners and that the gearbox will help to deliver the power effortlessly and smoothly. The gearbox on the AMG A 45 is sublime. It’s precise when in automatic or if you use its flappy paddles in anger. The optional limited-slip differential and optional adaptive dampers are key though for those who want to put the A45 through its paces.

Ford Focus RS

The Ford Focus RS is a fantastic all-round hot hatch. When we say all-round, we don’t mean its slow and we don’t mean its boring, its just that the Focus Rs does so much right without being the class leader.

This is a drivers car straight up. It dispenses with a spiv like automatic clutch in favour of a slick manual gearshift which allows you to feel in contact with the car and the road. Ford has cleverly introduced smart handling where the car is capable of sending up to 70 % of its power to the rear wheel and then when necessary splitting this power to each of the rear wheels sending said power where it’s needed most to make it a super smart all-wheel-drive capable of some amazing cornering.

As far as stats are concerned, the 2.3 litre petrol engine stolen from the Mustang range puts out 345 brake horsepower and a 0-62 mph time of 4.7 seconds whilst expelling 175g/km of CO2 emissions.

Inside, it’s not as plush as the Audi RS 3, the Merc AMG A45 or the Golf R but is that really what you buy a hot hatch for? The interior is by no means shabby though, more down to earth and you get an awful lot of blue stitching to make you feel special. There are also some nice gauges, a cracking steering wheel and alloy pedals plus another £10k or so in your wallet by ignoring the fancy German marques.

Volkswagen Golf R

The was a time when GTI means Golf and Golf meant GTI but the marketers and engineers at VW obviously felt that they needed a new hero to go one better and take some market share from the likes of the Audi RS 3, the Mercedes A45 and the Ford Focus RS…we give you the Golf R.

Its an assured little creature as well, almost like the kid that just needs to pitch up to the annual sports day to compete and do well in just about every race.

In the racing stakes, its no slouch with a 0-62 mph time of 4.6 seconds and a speed limited top speed of 155 mph. CO2 emissions on the automatic clutch version are a very commendable 163g/km but this goes up to 180g/km if you opt for the manual gearbox.

Yes, it’s not quite as quick as the Audi RS3 or the Merc A 45 and its not quite as dextrous as the Ford Focus RS through corners but the Golf R gives you a most refined ride while still competing in all of these departments with Volkswagen calmness and precision.

The Golf R feels very modern inside and that’s partly because of the fancy 8” super high definition touch screen which you can upgrade to a 9.2” version and a stunning 12.3 inch instrument cluster which both give out a calming blue light that somehow makes the cabin of the Golf R feel even more futuristic. In typical VW style, all the instruments are very intuitive, solid and reassuring.

Once you have mastered the Nurburgring in your Golf R, you might have to take the dog to the vets and it’s here that the Golf R really shines with its boxy shape giving loads of room and the boot is more than adequate as well.

Conclusions:

So there you have it. If you are after pure value and also want to hang onto your hot hatch then the Hyundai i30 N with its long warranty may be a keeper. If it’s hot hatch bragging rights you are after then the Audi RS 3 is hard to beat while the Mercedes AMG A45 is destined to go straight into the all-time hot hatch hall of fame. The Ford Focus RS is the choice of many an enthusiast that wants to retain the feel of the car and the road in a proper hot hatch while the VW Golf R is naggingly good at almost everything.

Hippo Prestige has all of these fantastic hot hatches and you can get your hands on a nearly new or used one by ringing 01254 916 450 today.

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