RAC Cars News


Seven Superfast Superminis

By raccars Published

Pint-sized pocket rockets – full-fat thrills

Supermini hot hatchbacks provide some of the most concentrated thrills on sale. Compact dimensions but full-size engines means they deliver sports car performance without the impracticality. Their real world nature means they needn't cost a fortune either, making them just the thing for those seeking high-value, high-intensity speed.

Here, RAC Cars looks at seven of the hottest, tells you why they’re great and reveals how much you should pay. We also throw in a few hot alternatives too, just for good measure.

Audi A1 2.0 TFSI 256 quattro: 256hp

Prices from: we’ve yet to see one for sale used! (New price: £41,020)

This is a bespoke-build Audi special that was limited to just 333 units. Left-hand drive only and the firm wasn’t even going to bring it to the UK until strong demand led to the low-volume import of just 19 cars: all sold out fast. Rare and expensive, then, but there’s never been a more powerful supermini hot hatch…

Also consider: 2012 Audi A1 2.0 TDI 143 (prices from £15,500)

MINI Hatch 1.6T John Cooper Works GP: 218hp

Prices from: £23,000 (2012 car)

The rorty MINI John Cooper Works was sold in rare GP guise in its original 2002 form: this second-generation GP followed in 2012. With 218hp, it doesn’t have that much more power than the regular GP – but the race-tuned suspension, two-seat interior and unmistakable graphics all show it’s not just any MINI…

Also consider: 2007 MINI Hatch 1.6T Cooper S (prices from £6000)

Citroen DS3 Racing: 207hp

Prices from: £15,000 (2011 car)

Citroen has a rich history of making populist hot hatchbacks: the DS3 Racing was an ultra-rare, highly specialised model that was anything but high volume. More focused than regular DS3, with a heavily tuned 207hp 1.6-litre turbo engine, it was great fun and is a sure-fire future collectable.

Also consider: 2010 Citroen DS3 1.6 THP 150 (prices from £9000)

Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring: 205hp

Prices from: £13,000 (2011 car)

The regular Corsa VXR is an OK hot hatch but not an outstanding one. With its expensive suspension upgrade and power boost to 205hp, the VXR Nurburgring is much more like it, transforming the hot hatch Vauxhall into something that’s a real blast to drive. Not subtle, nor cheap, but still worth a look.

Also consider: 2007 Vauxhall Corsa VXR (prices from £6000)

Renaultsport Clio 200: 200hp

Prices from: £6500 (2008 car)

The Renaultsport Clio 200 is the purist’s choice in this class. It has an exceptional chassis that provides a drive more race-honed than most in this sector. The high-revving 200hp engine forces you to work the gearbox but rewards with fantastic top-end bite; at these prices, it’s a genuine bargain.

Also consider: 2006 Renaultsport Clio 197 (prices from £4700)

Nissan Juke 1.6 DiG-T: 190hp

Prices from: £10,000 (2010 car)

Nissan has recently launched the Juke Nismo, showing that its junior SUV can be turned into a fairly convincing hot hatch. The 190hp model it’s based on is less convincing but it’s still quick – it’s a car with more power than hot hatch master Volkswagen’s entrant in this sector…

Also consider: 2005 Nissan Micra 160SR (prices from £3000)

Volkswagen Polo GTI: 180hp

Prices from: £10,500 (2010 car)

The Volkswagen Polo GTI produces 180hp – not bad when you consider it’s from a 1.4-litre turbo engine. It isn’t as great to drive as the VW Golf GTI but it’s still satisfying, offering pint-sized hot hatch looks to go with it. Buying secondhand means you avoid the rather step new list prices, too.

Also consider: 2010 Skoda Fabia vRS (prices from £8500)

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