Fastest hot hatches

The 10 fastest hot hatches around the Nurburgring

Fastest hot hatcheshe Nurburgring is the world’s most notorious racetrack. Its 13 miles of tortuously twisty tarmac serve as a proving ground for new cars – with manufacturers competing to set the lowest lap times.

As Volkswagen launches its new track-oriented new Golf Clubsport S, we’re celebrating the 10 fastest hot hatchbacks ever to lap the Nurburgring. Let the countdown commence…

Fastest hot hatches10. Volkswagen Golf R32 

Lap time: 8min 53.0sec

Golf GTI not fast enough? In 2003, Volkswagen launched the 240hp Golf R32, with the 250hp Mk5 version seen here following in 2005. It boasted a 3.2-litre VR6 engine and four-wheel drive.

Lapping the Nurburgring in less than nine minutes is no mean feat for a car as comfortable and family-focused as the Golf R32. Interestingly, the car was actually faster to 62mph (6.2sec) when fitted with Volkswagen’s DSG semi-automatic gearbox.

Fastest hot hatches9. Vauxhall Astra VXR Nurburgring

Lap time: 8min 35.0sec

A dedicated Nurburgring special edition? Yep, and Vauxhall built 835 of them to celebrate the car’s 8min 35sec lap time. A Corsa VXR Nurburgring followed in 2011.

For £1,500 more than the standard VXR, you got an extra 15hp, a Remus exhaust, white alloy wheels and lots of stickers. Alternatively, replicate the look yourself with one of those two-quid Nurburgring stickers off eBay…

Fastest hot hatches8. Ford Focus ST (2005)

Lap time: 8min 35.0sec

Fast and (usually) orange, the original Focus ST matched the 8min 35sec time of its arch-rival Astra. Its 225hp five-cylinder engine came from Volvo and is famously thirsty when driven hard.

Today, you can buy estate and diesel versions of the ST, but the 2005 original remains our favourite. Like many fast Fords, it’s a bit rough around the edges, but it’s more characterful than a contemporary Golf GTI.

Fastest hot hatches7. Ford Focus RS

Lap time: 8min 26.0sec

Brightly-coloured fast Fords, you say? Meet the daddy. The Mk2 Focus RS is a modern classic, with in-yer-face styling and a mighty 305hp turbocharged four-pot.

Ford hasn’t attempted the ’Ring in the latest (Mk3) Focus RS yet. However, with 350hp, it’s likely to be even quicker. We reckon the Ultimate Green paint seen here is worth a least 10 seconds off the lap time….

Fastest hot hatches6. Renault Megane RS R26.R

Lap time: 8min 16.90sec

Meet the first in a string of ever-faster Renault Meganes competing for top honours at the Nurburgring. The R26.R was the most extreme version of the ‘shaking that ass’ Mk2 Megane. Only 450 were made.

This isn’t your typical hot hatchback. The stripped-out R26.R has no rear seats, passenger airbags or radio. Crucially, it came shod with super-sticky Michelin or Toyo tyres, which were biased for track (and dry weather) use.

Fastest hot hatches5. Renault Megane RS Trophy

Lap time: 8min 7.97sec

Another Megane, this time the – even faster – third-generation car. The limited-edition RS Trophy boasted 265hp and a top speed of nearly 160mph. Heady stuff for a hot hatch.

More impressive, though, was the Trophy’s ability to go around corners. It lapped the Nurburgring in 8min 7.97sec – without resorting to the extreme weight-loss measures of its R26.R predecessor.

Fastest hot hatches4. SEAT Leon Cupra

Lap time: 7min 58.4sec

Spanish carmaker SEAT is known for breaking ’Ring records – its Leon ST Cupra 280 is currently the fastest estate to lap the track. The hatchback Cupra can’t make that claim, but it still edges under eight minutes.

The record-breaking (at the time) Leon was fitted with beefed-up Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres – both available as part of SEAT’s Performance Pack option. The Cupra has since gained an extra 10hp, potentially making it even quicker.

Fastest hot hatches3. Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy-R

Lap time: 7min 54.36sec

Our third Megane – and the fastest to date – is the RS 275 Trophy-R. The car was developed in response to SEAT breaking the front-wheel-drive record with the Leon Cupra 280, and it succeeded in taking the title back.

The 2014 Trophy-R was a serious performance machine with race-style Ohlins dampers, bigger front brakes and polycarbonate Recaro seats. With no air conditioning or radio, it’s more suited to track days than trips to Tesco.

Fastest hot hatches2. Honda Civic Type R

Lap time: 7min 50.63sec

As a statement of intent, launching a new hot hatch by setting a 7min 50.63sec Nurburgring lap time takes some beating. The bodykitted Civic really is as fast as its furious styling suggests.

Honda set its lap time with a car ‘in a standard state of tune’. However, it did admit removing ‘equipment such as air conditioning, the front passenger seat and audio equipment’ in order to ‘offset the additional weight of a full roll cage (installed specifically for safety reasons and not to add rigidity)’.

Fastest hot hatches1. Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S

Lap time: 7min 49.21sec

That brings us to the current Nurburgring record-holder: the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S. Built to mark 40 years of the Golf GTI, the 310hp hatchback has been dubbed ‘the GT3 of GTIs’.

The Clubsport S is even quicker than the four-wheel-drive Golf R and only 400 will be made. Thank a strict weight-saving diet, including a smaller battery, less sound deadening and no rear seats. Hey, nobody said giant-killing hot hatches had to practical.

Best used crossovers and SUVs

Best used crossovers and SUVs for £10,000

Best used crossovers and SUVsYou want a crossover or SUV and have £10,000 to spend – what are your options? We’ve selected 10 of our favourites for you to consider, including everything from a much-loved Skoda to a legendary Land Rover.

Best used crossovers and SUVsSkoda Yeti

We make no apology for leading with the Skoda Yeti, because it remains one of our favourite crossovers at any price. It offers a strong blend of economy, driving dynamics and practically and can boast a legion of loyal and satisfied customers. The £10,000 budget should stretch to a good, pre-facelift 2013 Yeti.

Best used crossovers and SUVsNissan Qashqai

The £10,000 budget won’t quite stretch to a second generation Nissan Qashqai, but you shouldn’t rule out the original. Introduced back in 2007, the Qashqai spawned a string of imitators, but it remains Britain’s most popular crossover. There are plenty out there, so you can afford to be choosy. Opt for the diesel engines for the ultimate blend of punch and economy.

Best used crossovers and SUVsSuzuki SX4 S-Cross

Suzuki’s Qashqai rival has been eclipsed by the newer and superior Vitara, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. The SX4 S-Cross is based on the Swift supermini, meaning it’s pretty good to drive. What’s more, we’ve seen 2014 and even 2015 models available within the £10,000 budget.

Best used crossovers and SUVsKia Sportage

The previous generation Kia Sportage is one of the slowest depreciating cars in the UK, largely thanks to its blend of kit, space and seven-year warranty. For our budget, grab yourself a low mileage and well-equipped 2010 or 2011 car and enjoy what’s left of Kia’s acclaimed warranty.

Best used crossovers and SUVsHonda CR-V

The Honda CR-V offers a large boot and a 40:20:40-split rear seat, so if practicality is your thing, this could be the car for you. The 2.2-litre diesel engine manages to combine performance and economy, while the CR-V offers the dynamics that might seem alien to drivers of other SUVs. Also, it’s a Honda, so reliability should be guaranteed.

Best used crossovers and SUVsFord Kuga

The Ford Kuga is based on the Focus, so if good handling tops your list of priorities, this could be the crossover for you. Though the load capacity is smaller than the Focus, the split-tailgate should be useful. The revised Kuga, introduced in 2012, provides an extra 82 litres of boot space.

Best used crossovers and SUVsCitroen C4 Cactus

One-year-old cars are just creeping below the £10,000 mark, so while you might not have the pick of the Cactus crop, you will have one of the freshest faces in the crossover sector. The 1.6-litre BlueHDi diesel engine offers super-frugal running costs and the best compromise if you intend to cover long distances.

Best used crossovers and SUVsSubaru Forester

For years, the Subaru Forester has been the default choice for those looking to combine on-road dynamics and off-road ability. Ignore those who tell you the interior is a tad dated, because these things are built to last and owners swear by them.

Best used crossovers and SUVsVolkswagen Touareg

Sitting somewhere between the likes of the BMW X5 and more mainstream rivals, the Volkswagen Touareg is a full-fat SUV. It was developed alongside the Porsche Cayenne and offers a feeling of quality and refinement. As good off the road as it is on it.

Best used crossovers and SUVs

Nissan Juke

The Juke followed in the footsteps of the Nissan Qashqai to become one of Britain’s favourite crossovers. Though it has been eclipsed by more modern rivals, it remains as popular as ever, largely thanks to its exterior styling, unique interior and excellent value for money.


Revealed: the top 10 least depreciating cars

01_depreciationDepreciation is an important consideration when buying a new car, as some vehicles can lose over 80% of their value within the first three years.

You might think you’re getting a bargain at the dealership, but is it such a good deal if you lose most of your money the second you drive it onto the road?

You might be better off investing more in a car which, although it has a higher purchase price, will lose less as it’s more desirable a few years down the line. The SUV trend shows no sign of waning, for example, meaning they tend to hold onto their value well, and cars sold in smaller numbers generally hold onto their value better than those that flood the market as company cars.

We’ve compiled a list of the 10 cars that lose the least, percentage-wise, over the first three years. The data has been sourced from experts CAP Automotive, assuming an average yearly mileage of 20,000 miles.


10: Jeep Wrangler

Model: Jeep Wrangler 2.8 CRD Overland 2dr auto

Price new: £27,560

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 53.7%

Depreciation: £12,760

The Jeep Wrangler might not be the most competent car on the market, but as a depreciation-beater, it’s got it all. SUV: check. Desirable badge: check. Rarity… well, when did you last see one on the road?

The best model to beat depreciation, according to CAP, is the two-door Overland model powered by the 2.8-litre diesel. Its rival, the Land Rover Defender, doesn’t make this list – but we reckon, with production ending this year, it must also be a pretty safe bet when it comes to getting your money back at resale time.

9: Porsche 911

Model: Porsche 911 Carrera PDK

Price new: £73,836

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 54.2%

Depreciation: £33,836

If you need convincing that a Porsche 911 could be a sensible purchase, this could be it. Spec a Porsche 911 Carrera with the optional PDK ’box and it could hold onto 54.2% of its value after three years.

That means you’ll lose only £33,836 in depreciation. And we’re not factoring in servicing costs here. Er. Let’s move on, shall we?


8: Toyota Prius

Model: Toyota Prius 1.8 VVTi T3 5dr CVT auto

Price new: £21,545

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 54.2%

Depreciation: £12,760

Not only does driving a Toyota Prius make you a better person than everyone else in society, it’ll also save you money on fuel and even on depreciation.

The downside? You have to spend three years driving a Toyota Prius. We’d take the Porsche.

7: Ferrari 458 Italia

Model: Ferrari 458 Italia 2dr auto

Price new: £172,127

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 55.3%

Depreciation: £76,927

Ferrari limits the amount of cars it builds at its Maranello factory to around 7,000 a year in a bid to maintain exclusivity. It’s not about chasing numbers (apart from where prices are concerned).

This results in a case of demand exceeding supply – meaning rare models can make many times what they were worth new, and even the more everyday stuff such as the 458 holds onto its value strongly.

As the last naturally-aspirated V8 Ferrari ever produced (the 458 is about to be replaced by the twin-turbocharged 488 GTB), the 458 is set to become a very desirable car in the future. Buy one now, look after it, and you’ll find that eventually it will start to appreciate.


6: Toyota Land Cruiser

Model: Toyota Land Cruiser 4.5 D-4D V8 5dr auto

Price new: £63,040

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 56.9%

Depreciation: £27,140

“If you want to go into the outback,” the Aussies say, “take a Land Rover. If you want to come back alive, take a Land Cruiser.”

It might not be the strongest in its class, nor has the Land Cruiser got the most desirable image, but it is a big, solid, practical four-wheel drive that can go off-road and is astonishingly reliable. They’re also pretty rare, meaning they prove popular on the used market, and hold onto their value well. It’s an underrated car, the Land Cruiser…

5: Mazda CX-5

Model: Mazda CX-5 2.2d Sport Nav 5dr

Price new: £25,540

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 57.0%

Depreciation: £10,990

Talking of underrated, the Mazda CX-5 provides tough competition to the likes of the popular Nissan Qashqai. It drives well, has a wide-range of economical engines and looks great.

With Mazda’s legendary reliability it should make for a wise used purchase, too. This, combined with the demand that all SUVs encounter, means the CX-5 clings onto its value well. Opt for the 2.2-litre diesel to combine economy with resale value a few years down the line.


4: Porsche Boxster

Model: Porsche Boxster 2.7 2dr PDK

Price new: £39,511

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 58.0%

Depreciation: £16,611

Why spend nearly £800,000 on a Porsche 918, when a Boxster will do much the same for around a 20th of the price? It looks great, handles well, goes (pretty) quick, and you can even soak up the sun’s rays.

The experts at CAP even think it’ll prove a wise investment when it comes to resale time – holding up to 58% of its value after three years if you opt for the 2.7-litre. The more powerful 3.4-litre would only lose a smidgen more, retaining 57.8% of its value after three years.

Essentially, we see little reason not to buy a Porsche Boxster. Unless you have kids. Or require a modicum of efficiency. Or haven’t got £40,000 to spend on a car.

3: Audi A1

Model: Audi A1 1.4 TFSI S Line 5dr

Price new: £17,720

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 60.9%

Depreciation: £6,920

Starting at £14,355, the Audi A1 isn’t the cheapest supermini on the market. But there’s little else to criticise – it looks good, has a premium interior, and its engines are efficient yet capable.

As a result, three years down the line it’ll hold onto over 60% of its value. That’s if you opt for the four-cylinder turbocharged 1.4-litre engine. Suddenly it starts to make sense on paper, too.


2: Audi Q3

Model: Audi Q3 2.0T FSI [170] Quattro S Line 5dr S Tronic

Price new: £30,100

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 61.6%

Depreciation: £11,550

What’s even more desirable than a stylish, premium, German supermini? A stylish, premium, German crossover, of course.

The mid-range S-Line trim is the one to go for to lose the least in depreciation. If you want low running costs you might be better off looking at a diesel, but to lose the least in depreciation, CAP recommends opting for the 2.0-litre petrol.

Usually diesels hold their value better as they’re more desirable on the used market. In this case, we reckon it’s simply the petrol’s relative rarity that helps second-hand values.

1: Range Rover Evoque

Model: Range Rover Evoque 2.2 eD4 Pure 5dr [Tech Pack] 2WD

Price new: £29,685

Retained after three years/60,000 miles: 67.7%

Depreciation: £9,585

A two-wheel-drive crossover with a Range Rover badge? Land Rover knew exactly what it was doing when it launched the Evoque in 2011, selling nearly 88,000 examples in its first year of production.

Despite this success, there’s still high demand for the Evoque on the used market. Buy wisely and CAP says it’ll retain over 67% of its original value. The eD4 diesel engine shouldn’t cost a fortune to run, either. It returns 56.5mpg when combined with two-wheel drive.