Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

Small and mighty: these are our favourite junior hot hatches

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks
Today’s hot hatches offer a level of performance once reserved for high-end sports cars, while some even dare to deliver their fun through all four wheels. But that doesn’t mean the junior hot hatch is any less relevant today than it was 20 years ago. Here, we list some of our favourite hot hatches, including a few classic heroes from days gone by.

Volkswagen Up GTI

Junior Hot Hatches

Right now, we reckon the Volkswagen Up GTI is the best junior hot hatch you can buy. It’s not especially quick – the 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds feels decidedly old-school – but thanks to its characterful soundtrack, the ‘wheel at each corner’ design and a willingness to hustle along a B-road like a terrier after a ball, it’s terrific fun. Yours for as little as £14,315.

Search for a used Volkswagen Up on Auto Trader

Volkswagen Lupo GTI

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

Here’s one they made earlier. The Volkswagen Lupo GTI was never a big seller in the UK – it was too expensive, for a start – but it’s now well on its way to classic status. It feels even more old-school than the Up GTI, courtesy of its 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine and ‘golf ball’ gear knob. You’ll need to part with at least £5,000 for a good one, but cherished examples can fetch considerably more.

Search for a used Volkswagen Lupo on Auto Trader

Skoda Citigo Monte Carlo

Junior Hot Hatches

On the face of it, the Citigo Monte Carlo might appear to be a case of style over substance – it does gain a lowered suspension, mind – but this thing is an absolute hoot to drive. Prices start from a little over £11,500 for the three-door. Pound for pound, we reckon it’s one of the most rewarding cars you can buy.

Search for a used Skoda Citigo on Auto Trader

Citroen AX GT

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

James May once described the Citroen AX GT as the best car in the world, but did concede that it would probably kill you in a crash. But the GT’s lightness was its strength, with the AX capturing the essence of what makes a great junior hot hatch. After years in the doldrums, the world is waking up to the brilliance of the AX GT. Just in time, too, because there are around 40 on the road, with a further 200 listed as SORN.

Search for a used Citroen AX on Auto Trader

Suzuki Swift Sport

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

The current Suzuki Swift Sport must have exceedingly strong shoulders because it has a formidable reputation to uphold. The fact is, there hasn’t been a bad Swift Sport, whether you opt for the original five-speed version (pictured) or the slightly more grown-up second-generation model. The new Swift Sport trades the naturally aspirated engine for a turbocharged motor and the result is an even more grown-up take on the old-school recipe.

Search for a used Suzuki Swift on Auto Trader

Fiat Panda 100HP

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

Some would claim, especially those with a fondness for cars with an Italian flavour, that the Fiat Panda 100HP is the best junior hot hatch of the new millennium. It’s fun at any speed, practical, great to look at, and cheap to insure. Sure, you’ll need your chiropractor on speed dial to cope with the ride quality, and the steering is over-assisted, but the pros outnumber the cons. Buy one, then try to stop smiling.

Search for a used Fiat Panda on Auto Trader

Daihatsu Charade GTti

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

Nobody does small and mighty quick like the Japanese. The Charade GTti was Daihatsu’s high-tech answer to the European hot hatches of the day, packing enough power to punch above its weight. The tiny 993cc three-cylinder turbocharged engine delivered 99bhp, or 100bhp per litre, making it, at the time, the most powerful 1.0-litre production car in the world.

Daihatsu Charade Turbo

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

Somebody at Daihatsu must have believed that a USP was a shortcut to success. The previous generation Charade Turbo was billed as world’s smallest turbocharged car, with its 993cc delivering a familiar three-pot soundtrack. In its day, the Charade was a proper giant-killer, with a bargain price tag to boot. Try finding one today, mind.

Lancia Y10 Turbo

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

If the Charade Turbo was the world’s small turbocharged, the Lancia Y10 Turbo could take the crown in Europe. The Y10 was positioned as a luxury and avant-garde supermini, with the Turbo designed to add some power to its undoubted flair. Badged as an Autobianchi in Italy, the Y10 was never a big seller in the UK, but its Brazilian-built 1,049cc turbocharged engine meant that it went head-to-head with the Charade in the battle for niche supremacy.

Fiat Uno Turbo

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

The Fiat Uno Turbo might scream injustice at being labelled a ‘junior’ hot hatch, as it’s more than capable of holding its own against the heavyweights of the breed. Fiat left it late before joining the rapid hatchback party, but it was worth the wait, with the 1.3-turbocharged engine combining with an impressive chassis to create a terrific all-rounder.

Peugeot 205 XS

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

Every sorcerer needs an apprentice. Every stage performer needs an understudy. The Peugeot 205 XS will forever live in the shadows of its more illustrious – and increasingly expensive – sibling, but dismiss this upstart at your peril. It shares much in common with the AX GT – most notably the 1,360cc engine – offering a barrel-load of giggles in a wonderfully simple package.

Renaultsport Twingo

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

OK, so it turns out they do make ‘em like they used to. If you’re left feeling disappointed that the new Twingo GT isn’t quite the pocket-size Porsche 911 you hoped it would be, the outgoing Renaultsport version will leave you rivalling the Cheshire Cat for grinning supremacy.

Daihatsu Cuore Avanzato TR-XX R4

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

We owned one of these tiny tearaways and christened it ‘the box of frogs’. That tells you all you need to know about this fun-size, Japanese entertainer. Mad and magnificent.

AMC Gremlin X

Junior Hot Hatches

Here’s another American wildcard: the AMC Gremlin. At the time, the US car industry was waking up to the fact that young Americans quite fancied a low-cost, cheap-to-run and stylish car. Brilliantly, American Motors decided to add a V8 option, which must have been lively in a lightweight, rear-wheel-drive car. Oh, and we know that strictly speaking, a hot hatch should be front-wheel drive.

Suzuki Ignis Sport

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

Suzuki built the Ignis Sport to enable it to go racing, which is something it did to great effect in the Junior World Rally Championship. Which makes the Ignis Sport a junior hot hatch with genuine pedigree. It also has yellow fishnets in the head restraints. Perfect.

Ford SportKa

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

Some cars just look right. Step forward the Ford SportKa, which wears its junior hot hatch credentials with pride, right down to a reversing light that resembles a centre exhaust. Its 1.6-litre engine delivers just 94hp, a figure that seems unfathomable in the context of today’s turbocharged city cars and superminis, but the SportKa is a willing entertainer and a proper fast(ish) Ford.

Nissan Micra 160SR

Junior Hot Hatches

“Put your cynicism on hold for a second – this is a genuinely fun little car.” Not our words, Carol. The words of Richard Meaden in Evo magazine. You know you want it. No, really, you do. Amazingly, these things start from as little as a grand. Now you’re tempted.

Toyota Yaris GRMN

Pocket rockets: the best junior hot hatchbacks

With a £26,295 price tag and a supercharged engine producing 212hp, the Toyota Yaris GRMN edges close to full-fat hot hatch territory rather than a junior plaything. Our man Tim Pitt reckons it offers “plenty of smiles per mile” and that Toyota has “transformed an ordinary car into an extraordinary one”. High praise.

Ranked: classic hot hatches that have rocketed in value

Hagerty Hot Hatches

Hagerty has insured one or two collectable cars in its time, so the company stands at the forefront of the recent surge in classic car values. Which is why we asked the insurance experts for a list of hot hatches that have skyrocketed in value. In other words, the automotive hooligans you wish you had bought when prices were still sensible. Some of the cars stretch the definition of a hot hatch, but when the classics are this good, who are we to argue? Valuations are sourced from the Hagerty Price Guide or Classic Cars magazine, with the percentage increase based on the average values in January 2014 and January 2019.

Ford Fiesta XR2 – 84 percent

Hagerty Hot Hatches

Fast Ford fans have a lot to thank the Special Vehicle Engineering department for. Having kept the Capri on life support by developing the 2.8 Injection, the team also created the Escort XR3 before distilling the magic into a fun-size package. The result was the Fiesta XR2 – the first properly hot Fiesta and the object of desire for countless young drivers passing their test in the early 80s. Nearly four decades on, the drivers might be older, but their love of the XR2 hasn’t gone away, which is why prices have risen from £3,363 in January 2014 to £6,175 in January 2019.

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “Entering the UK market in December 1981, the Fiesta XR2’s 1.6L Kent Crossflow engine, spoilers and alloy wheels made an immediate impression. With the lowest average current value in our list, the Ford Fiesta XR2 is still an attainable classic, but values are rising.”

Audi Quattro (WR) – 106% increase

Hagerty Hot Hatches

As much as we like the good people at Hagerty, we’re struggling with the definition of the Audi Quattro as a hot hatch. It’s a little like Mercedes calling an estate car a ‘shooting brake’ or a four-door SUV with a sloping roof a ‘coupe’. Five years ago, you’d have spent around £11,375, but today that figure stands at £23,425.

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “The first version of the Quattro mated the 2,144cc 10v engine with Audi’s permanent four-wheel drive, putting out 197bhp and propelling the car to legendary status. Does it qualify as a hatchback? As it has a hatch at the back, we think it does…”

Porsche 928 S – 119% increase

Hagerty Hot Hatches

Here we go again – another car that stretches the definition of a hot hatch, but at least the Porsche 928 has a glass tailgate. The 928’s stock has been rising for a while, with enthusiasts remembering it as a fine grand tourer as opposed to a sports car that failed to replace the 911. In 2014, you might have found a 928 S for a smidgen over £10,000. Today, you’d pay for £22,525 for the same car. As Cher once gargled, if we could turn back time…

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “The Porsche 928 S combines a 4.7-litre (later 5.0-litre) engine with an almost perfect weight distribution, a spacious cabin, useful hatchback and Porsche’s usual superb build quality. For years though, they were sneered at by purists who looked no further than the front-mounted, water-cooled engine. Things have changed; RM Sotheby’s have just sold a low-mileage, top-of-the-range 928 GTS for a shade over £121,000.”

Renault 5 GT Turbo – 130% increase

Hagerty Hot Hatches

In the 1980s, the Renault 5 GT Turbo flew out the showrooms, before flying into a hedge backwards when the driver ran out of talent. In fairness to the poor, unsuspecting driver, there was little you could do when the turbocharger decided to make an appearance mid-corner – it was a case of hanging on and waiting for your date with a hawthorn bush. Rarity has played a part in the 130 percent increase in values, up from £3,487 in 2014 to £8,025 today.

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “When Renault decided to create a hot hatch version of their ubiquitous Renault 5, they didn’t mess about. Not content with adding a Garrett T2 turbo to force 115bhp out of the 1.4L engine, the suspension and styling were also overhauled, smashing its main rivals in performance terms.”

Lancia Delta Integrale – 172% increase

Hagerty Hot Hatches

Hands up if you remember the days when you required the use of four digits to stick a price on the windscreen of a Lancia Delta Integrale. And hands up if you’ve kicked yourself in the shin so many times, you’re left with a permanent bruise. From £9,438 in January 2014, you’ll need to part with at least £25,000 to secure the same car today. Insert reference to two famous Johnny Hates Jazz songs – Shattered Dreams and Turn Back the Clock.

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “Always a great car, the Lancia Delta Integrale epitomises all that’s cool in the current classic car world: boxy styling, sharp handling and impressive speed. Automobili Amos’s 2018 Futurista restomod Integrale set a new benchmark for the model, and prices are rising.”

Alfa Romeo GTV6 – 193% increase

Hagerty Hot Hatches

The Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV first appeared in 2.0-litre form in 1976, with the six-cylinder GTV6 introduced in 1980. This was a good era for fans of useable everyday sports cars, with the GTV6 lining up against the likes of the Porsche 924, Mazda RX-7, Ford Capri 2.8 Injection and Lancia Beta HPE 2000. Episode seven of season three of The Grand Tour will see Clarkson at the wheel of a GTV6. Prices have gone mad: up from £5,750 in 2014 to £16,850 in 2019.

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “With the now legendary Busso V6 engine in 2,492cc form, the fastback Alfa GTV6 is still a head-turner, especially when close to the redline. Rust was always a problem but many of those that survived are now being properly restored. One to watch.”

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 – 194% increase

Hagerty Hot Hatches

There’s a 1979 Volkswagen Golf GTI on offer at the forthcoming Silverstone Auctions Race Retro sale. The one-owner, 53,000-mile example is expected to fetch between £17,000 and £22,000, which is more than the £14,575 guide price issued by Hagerty. It’s also significantly more than the £4,950 you’d have spent in 2014. Feel free to sob uncontrollably.

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “Unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in March 1975, it was four years until the Golf GTI hit British roads in right-hand drive form. Arguably the most famous hot hatch, unmolested, well-maintained cars are very hard to find now.”

Ford Escort XR3i – 249% increase

Hagerty Hot Hatches

We’re huge fans of the Ford Escort XR3i, but it was never the sharpest hot hatch on the market. But it did have many things on its side, most notably the superb styling, a proper hooligan attitude and running costs that were no more expensive than a regular hatchback. You may have spent the 90s and 00s justifying your love of the XR3i, but today it’s one of the most sought-after modern classics in the country. The price in 2014: £3,500. The price today: £12,225. Feel free to continue sobbing.

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “Ford’s answer to the Golf GTI first emerged as a carburettor-fed sports hatch, but in October 1982 the fuel-injected Escort XR3i was unleashed. With a 1,596cc OHC engine it had a top speed of 120mph and cool trim including black window surrounds, sports seats and a two-spoke steering wheel. Now they’re cool once more.”

Peugeot 205 GTI – 286% increase

Hagerty Hot Hatches

This will come as no surprise to anyone who has had half an eye on the classic car market, because the Peugeot 205 GTI is one of the hottest tickets in town. Values have shot up 286 percent, with Hagerty issuing a guide price of £16,150. Given everything that’s happening in 2019, the question is: can the classic car market sustain these inflated prices? Watch this space.

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “Nimble, quick and smart, the original French hot hatch is now legendary. A few years ago, these could be bought for peanuts, then, in 2017 prices started to rise, one 205 GTi even achieving £38,475 at Silverstone Auctions.”

MG Metro Turbo – 384% increase

Hagerty Hot Hatches

Well, would you ‘Adam and Eve’ it? Although the MG Metro Turbo isn’t the most valuable car here, the percentage increase is by far the highest, eclipsing the 205 and the Escort. Unveiled in October 1982, and facelifted two years later, the Metro Turbo spent a long time in the classic car wilderness, hamstrung by its iffy build quality and general apathy. But today, this British pocket rocket is worth just under £13,000 – an amazing figure considering it was valued at just £2,765 in January 2014.

Hagerty’s John Mayhead says: “Austin entered the hot hatch fray in 1983 with their Metro Turbo, controversially (for some) badged as an MG. Developing 93bhp from the 1,275cc A-Series engine blown with a Garrett T3 turbo, the car wasn’t the most powerful, but combined with the tiny dimensions of the car, it was quick. Prices have risen equally quickly in the last few years – the car is our list’s highest riser in percentage terms.”

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgotten

Simmering: 20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgotten

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenGolf GTI, Fiesta ST, 205 GTI, Focus RS, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. The world’s best hot hatches get their fair share of airtime, but what of the forgotten gems? We took a virtual tour of Auto Trader and set ourselves a challenge to find 20 unsung heroes of the British B-road. Here’s what we discovered.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenPeugeot 205 Rallye

The Peugeot 205 GTI is regarded as the best hot hatch of all time, but prices are spiralling out of control. But there is another way to enjoy a 205 and it’s called the Rallye. Pug purists will tell you that the real 205 Rallye was a lightweight left-hooker, armed with a twin-carb 1294cc engine and enough pace to keep a GTI on its toes. What we have here is a UK-spec Rallye – essentially a rebadged XT with a single-carb 1360cc engine. But don’t let that put you off, because this will deliver the purest of B-road thrills.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenNissan Sunny ZX Twin Cam 16v

Before you scoff at the price, as the advert says, try finding another one. The Nissan Sunny ZX Twin Cam 16v is a Nissan Sunny GTI in all but name. With a 1.8-litre 16v engine, this is a decidedly 90s take on the hot hatch formula. The yellow fog lights are good for an extra 5hp. Probably.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenFiat Stilo Schumacher

The Fiat Stilo was never a big seller in the UK, which makes the Schumacher special edition a rare sight. Designed to take on the Focus ST170 and Astra SRI, a mere 200 right-hand drive cars were produced, each one finished in Ferrari Red. OK, so ideally we’d want the optional GP pack, but the 2.4-litre five-cylinder engine still appeals. We also think the styling is ageing rather well.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenLancia Delta HF

When it comes to affordable Lancia Delta Integrales, the ship has well and truly sailed. The standard Delta was a fine car – good enough to scoop the European Car of the Year award in 1980. And in Delta HF and HF Turbo guise, you’ve got the forerunner to the all-conquering Integrale. We adore this car’s understated styling and Recaro interior.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenRover Metro GTI

To paraphrase Robin Thicke: the Rover Metro GTI – you know you want it. This tiny tearaway has covered just 18,760 miles since new and, according to the description, has just been through its first MOT. The British car industry bible, AROnline, says the Metro GTI is “a cracking car, fast [and] nimble on its feet”. We’re sold, but would you pay over £4,000 for the privilege?

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenTalbot Sunbeam TI

When the Performance Car Show named the top ten hot hatches of all time, the list was dominated by French and German cars. The Talbot Lotus Sunbeam flew the flag for Britain, but while we can’t offer the Lotus position, we can deliver the next best thing. This Talbot Sunbeam TI looks like an absolute peach and features a few well-chosen modifications. Just two owners from new and 78,000 miles on the clock.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenFord Escort GTI

OK, we admit the Ford Escort GTI isn’t a true hot hatch. But that RS200-style body kit ensures it looks the part and the 1.8-litre Zetec engine will deliver some old school thrills. Dare we say the Escort GTI is ageing rather well? Consider this: in 2001 there were around 14,000 on the road. Today, that number has dropped below 500.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenNissan Almera GTI

The Nissan Almera GTI captures the very essence of an underrated hot hatch. Sure, the standard Almera is about as exciting as a rice cake, but that simply makes the transformation all the more remarkable. A mere 140hp from its 2.0-litre 16v engine will deliver little in the way of fireworks, but we’re turned on by what is, relatively speaking, an untouched example of this forgotten gem* from the 90s. *might be a tad enthusiastic.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenAlfa Romeo 146 TI

Being picky, we’d prefer the ‘breadvan’ styling of the 145 to the plain-Jane look of the 146, but in 2016 beggars can’t be choosers. The 2.0-litre engine is an absolute peach, while the handling is a match for any hot hatch of the same era. We don’t like the Lexus-style rear lights or the aftermarket alloys, but the seller states the originals are available.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenVolvo C30 T5 Polestar

At the opposite end of the market you’ll find this 2008 Volvo C30 T5 R-Design. The pre-facelift C30 is arguably more attractive than the later cars, while this car benefits from the all-important R-Design trim. Furthermore, its 2.5-litre five-cylinder — which is the same as you’ll find in the Focus ST — has been boosted by a Polestar performance chip. We’re a little bit in love with this one.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenSuzuki Ignis Sport

The Suzuki Ignis Sport was introduced in 2003 – a high performance version of the three-door Ignis celebrating Suzuki’s entry in the Junior World Rally Championship. Indeed, the 1.5-litre engine was based on the Super 1600 JWRC cars and helped to deliver a 0-62 time of 8.9 seconds. We’re big fans of the Ignis Sport, but you might want to check the list of MOT advisories before you take the plunge..

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenSkoda Octavia vRS

Today, the vRS badge is a fully paid up member of the fast club, but this wasn’t always the case. Fifteen years ago, when the vRS badge first appeared, the idea of a performance Skoda was a hard sell. Think of the original Octavia vRS as a more practical and slightly softer Golf GTI, with the same 1.8-litre turbocharged engine. We like the fact that this example has had just one owner from new and boasts a full Skoda service history.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenMitsubishi Colt Ralliart

Draw up a list of junior hot hatches of the past decade and it will be a while before you get to the Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart. And that’s a shame because, bonkers though it is, the little Colt has a lot going for it. A punchy 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, stiffer chassis and uprated springs are the highlights. Furthermore, that Ralliart badge will give earn you some kudos points in Japanese performance car circles.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenRover 200 VI

We wanted to bring you a Rover 200 BRM or 25 GTI, but there are none for sale on Auto Trader. So while it would be easy to switch badges to showcase the MG ZR, that seems a tad obvious. Instead, consider the Rover 200 VI. Not convinced? Here’s a snippet from the PistonHeads forum: “Had one of these for three years and loved it. Surprisingly quick, you have to use the gears more than usual and keep the revs up, but that’s all part of the fun.” We’re sold.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenDaihatsu Cuore Avanzato TR-XX R4

We ran one of these for six months and can report that they are every bit as good as the reviews make out. Nicknaming it the ‘box of frogs’ tells you all you need to know – the Cuore Avanzato TR-XX R4 is bonkers and brilliant. The CAT C classification and modifications might put some folk off, while it’s also worth noting that, as a Mira, this is likely to be a Japanese import rather than the UK-spec Cuore.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenMG ZS120

Before you say it, we’re fully aware that the ZS180 is superior to the 120, not least because of its 2.5-litre V6 engine. But the 1.8-litre ZS120 will be cheaper to run and we rather like this demo-plus-one-owner example. With only 49,287 miles on the clock, the K-Series engine has a great deal of life left yet. And the dealer warranty should provide some peace of mind when thinking about the head gasket. Just make sure this is covered.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenFiat Seicento Michael Schumacher

Face it, Michael Schumacher wouldn’t have put his name to any old city car. Well, not without some encouragement from his Ferrari F1 team. Cynicism aside, we’ve always liked the idea of the Seicento Michael Schumacher edition, which was based on the Sporting and offered ABS brakes, an Abarth styling kit and a set of Schumacher decals.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenFord SportKa

Given the choice between a Ford Puma 1.7 and the 1.6-litre Ford SportKa, we’d take Steve McQueen’s advice and opt for the Puma. But as a coupe it doesn’t meet the hatchback criteria, so a SportKa it is. Most are suffering from rot and they’re not especially cheap to run, but the SportKa is a bundle of joy to drive. And it takes us back to a time when the Ford Ka was an object of desire.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenSmart Forfour Brabus

Fancy something oddball? The Smart Forfour Brabus was based on the Mitsubishi Colt and shared the same 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, albeit with close to 180hp on tap. The Brabus makeover also managed to turn a rather cutesy car into something a little more aggressive. It’s not the sharpest hot hatch you can buy, but that Brabus badge is seriously cool.

20 lukewarm hatches you may have forgottenDaewoo Kalos Blue

Our final car is very much the joker in the pack – the red herring, if you like. Only it’s not red, it’s blue. The Daewoo Kalos Blue isn’t a hot hatch at all. OK, so it wears a hot hatch style body kit, but everything else about it is stone cold. When Evo magazine tested it in 2003, it was awarded a single star. Some ‘hot’ hatches are forgotten for a reason…

SEAT Ibiza Cupra 2016

New SEAT Ibiza Cupra priced LESS than car it replaces

SEAT Ibiza Cupra 2016The new SEAT Ibiza Cupra is to cost from £18,100 – an £880 saving on the outgoing model, despite the facelifted car’s wide-ranging improvements that address the grumbles of enthusiasts.

SEAT has not only replaced the disappointing 1.4T engine with a beefier 1.8T motor, it’s also ditched the DSG-only transmission setup: this time, it’s six-speed manual only.

The new engine pushes power up from 180hp to 192hp; more significantly, torque has received a huge increase, from 184lb ft to 236lb ft. 0-62mph now takes a potent 6.7 seconds for the 146mph hot hatch supermini.

Peak torque is also delivered between a huge 1,450-4,250rpm rev range too, giving muscular flexibility from the 4-metre-long car. Despite this, SEAT also claims 45.6mpg on the combined NEDC cycle.

If the stats sound a little familiar, that’s because the Ibiza Cupra shares the same powertrain transformation as the latest Volkswagen Polo GTI – only here, prices start from a full £995 less.

SEAT is also offering a Cupra Black model, and even this costs less than the base Polo GTI: expected to be the best seller, Black trim adds black alloys with red calipers, plus standard sat nav with 6.5-inch colour touchscreen.

Both Ibiza Cupra versions have 17-inch alloys, XDS electronic differential lock, climate control, bi-xenon headlights and Cupra sports seats as standard. Although the base model lacks sat nav, it still gets the SEAT Media System, with 5.0-inch touchscreen DAB, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free telephone.

Offered solely in Ibiza SC three-door guise, the new Ibiza Cupra range is on sale and in UK dealer showrooms now.

The best junior hot hatches you can buy for £5k

The best junior hot hatches you can buy for £5k

£5,000 barely gets you into the very cheapest new car in the UK – but guarantees you a bucketload of thrills in the used hot hatch sector…
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