RAC Cars News


Hot Hatch Guilty Pleasures

By raccars Published

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The Peugeot 205 GTis, Golf GTis and the Renault 5 GT Turbos may get all the attention when weighing up the all time great hot hatches, but there's a group of lower profile options, which offer all the traditional thrills and pleasures of the performance hatchback. If you're looking for some retro fun, take a step away from the obvious choices, in favour of one of these lower profile models.

Daihatsu Charade Gtti

The Eighties was the golden era of hot hatches which, by the beginning of the next decade, had settled into a fairly predictable formula: a lightweight body powered by a four cylinder - possibly fuel injected - engine with a five speed gearbox.

The Charade stands out for using instead a very sophisticated three cylinder, 1 litre, turbocharged unit, producing 99bhp. The resulting rocket propelled hot hatch lacks the glamour of some of the bigger names, but makes an incredibly entertaining drive. They're hard to find today, especially in unmodified form but well worth searching out.

Honda Civic Vti

Way before the Type R came along to steal headlines, Honda was quietly making some seriously good quality high performance hatchbacks. The Civic Vti looked modest but exuded excellence on the road, mostly thanks to a spectacular 1.6 litre VTEC engine, producing 157bhp. It looks like a car you'd see granny driving, which would then leave you slack jawed in amazement as she burned away from you at the lights.

Proton Satria Gti

This model hasn't just slipped under the radar - it was never visible in the first place. However, when Malaysian automaker, Proton, acquired Lotus in 1996, it got access to that company's years of experience in creating fast, low slung track racers. Slip behind the wheel of the Satria Gti and it becomes obvious just how much of that heritage has been borrowed to create what feels essentially - and gloriously - like a sophisticated go-kart. Fortunately, Proton's lack of badge appeal means these are cheap as chips, if you can find one.

Suzuki Ignis Sport

By the early Noughties, car makers were still following the hot hatch blueprint set in the Eighties, with some excellent results. The Suzuki Ignis Sport was another such old school hot hatch, disguised as a shopping trolley. It may not look good but the styling is more than compensated for by its performance. This is a car that treats any road like a rally course and comes out smiling.

Hot Hatches On Steroids

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