RAC Cars News


Hot Hatches On Steroids

By raccars Published

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The hot hatch is undergoing a renaissance as drivers become jaded by modern cars, stuffed with modern technology, but often lacking character. Instead, they go misty eyed for the gloriously uncomplicated level of entertainment offered by the Eighties favourite.

However for some manufacturers, such simple pleasures weren't enough. Some radical versions of the big name hot hatches were produced, often for reasons of homologation. In order to satisfy rally class requirements, cars designed for the track sometimes had to also be made available in road legal form, leading to some seriously hard-core hot hatches, not for the faint hearted.

Renault 5 Turbo

Renault had already experimented with back to basics thrills with the funky Gordini, but with the R5 Turbo it created a monster. It went from front to rear wheel drive and a 1.4 litre, 158bhp engine replaced the rear seats, making the rear wheel arches bulge aggressively. It looked bonkers and had the performance to match. In 1998 Renault decided to perform the same trick with the Renault Clio V6.

Peugeot 205 T16

This fire breathing dragon was designed specifically for Group B rallying, at vast expense and immense mechanical endeavour. Its ridiculous 500 plus bhp was toned down to a still laughable 200bhp in road legal format but it still looked like something out of Mad Max and, with four wheel drive, elicited squeals of joy on every drive. They don't make 'em like that anymore...


This Mini was a long way from the Swinging Sixties classic, thanks to Nurburgring testing, a giant carbon fibre rear wing, a limited slip diff, bone rattling sports suspension and a supercharger. The rear seats were removed to save weight and help create the most extreme and entertaining Mini ever.

Lancia Delta Integrale Evo

Another road legal rally car, the Integrale remains the most successful ever rallyer to which we have access, thanks to homologation. It was made in various variants, of which the 16v Evo 2 with which production ended is probably the most radical. Ultimately, any of them is worth a punt though, to experience just how good the Italians are at making cars when they put their minds to it.

Vauxhall Chevette HS

Vauxhall's Group 4 rally beast could teach BMWs a thing or two about drifting –however, the less said about the dodgy Eighties styling, the better. It bore very little relation to the rather drab supermini from which it was developed, being fast, agile and somewhat brutal. A later HSR version was evolved, to continue the Chevette's respectable rally career.

Hot Hatch Guilty Pleasures

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