With such a fantastic variety of superb hatchbacks released this year, I’m going to run you through some of my personal favorites, and let you in on a few amazing new options for your daily driver.
- Skoda Octavia vRS
Boasting a powerful turbocharged engine and superbly agile handling, the Skoda Octavia vRS is no mean contender in this list. With its huge boot space, roomy interior, and more-than-reasonable price, the Octavia is as sensible as any other Skoda. This hatchback combines the same precision mechanicals as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, with the functional sensibilities of any family car, all while being great value to boot!
Personally, I’d give the 2.0-litre TDI diesel a go, this marvel combines 143mph power with 61.4mpg fuel economy. One key feature for me (being something of a giant!) is the expansive leg room, making long journeys an absolute breeze.
This model also emits just 119g/km of CO2, making tax nice and cheap, and leaving you feeling like you’ve done your bit for Mother Nature. She’s also available as an estate. Sadly the interior is a little bland, but you can’t have everything, right?
The Skoda Octavia vRS runs dangerously close to being a very sensible choice, however the raw power and fun handling make sure it’s still an exhilarating ride.
- BMW M135i
The BMW M135i utilizes an amazing 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine, boasting 316bhp, it is blisteringly fast. Combining agile and engaging handling with practicality with its 360-litre boot space. This is a balanced performance machine.
Going from 0-60 in only five seconds, and revving up to 7,000rpm, this is a lot of bang for your buck. Tellingly you get 450Nm of torque at just 1,300rpm, meaning in-gear performance is stunning and the optional eight-speed gearbox just bombs through the gears like lightning.
A lot of people with also be looking at the new A45 AMG Mercedes but, at over £5,000 cheaper, the BMW is a lot more performance for your money while still retaining that status symbol element in a practical car.
- Renault Megane RS 265
If you’re anything like me, you’re into more powerful driver thrills. In which case pay attention because the Renault Megane with its bombastic power performance, rigid suspension and compelling handling might be for you. This powerful machine just grabs your attention and keeps it. However, with its noisy engine and hard, uncomfortable ride, I really don’t see the Megane functioning as anything more than a fun racetrack and windy-country-road weekend car.
But, boy, does it impress on a country lane or track, the fabulous six-speed manual gearbox and grippy, firm tires mean that it’ll leave other, more multi-purpose cars in the dust. That performance power is really its main issue. It neglects the balance sought after by other hot hatches in this list, it’s absolutely a less than ideal daily driver. With its overly firm ride, and poor fuel economy, the Megane just isn’t for anyone doing regular motorway miles. As a fun, weekend car though, perfection.
- Peugeot 308 GTi
Don’t let its deceptively weedy figures lead you astray, even when compared to its more powerful competitors, the 308 GTi holds its own. Proving 266bhp is still an impressive amount of power in a little hatch, factoring in the trim 308 GTi’s substantially lighter weight compared to that of its rivals, proves this little hot hatch is a force to be reckoned with.
Among the Peugeot’s many winning features are its 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder workhorse of an engine, making it an intensely powerful ride. Combined with the 330Nm of torque at its disposal, the GTi goes from 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds flat, and with a top speed of 130mph, it’s no mean contender in this list. However the steering is somewhat emotionless and dull and the gear change is less than compelling. With its flexible chassis, the 308 GTi really shines on pothole-ridden back roads, with an incredibly smooth, enjoyable ride.
In terms of usability, the GTi does have a spacious boot, but it’s pretty tight in the back seat, especially when compared to some of its competitors. The instruments are also somewhat strangely placed behind the steering wheel too, which is a little awkward to get used to. All in all, a solid little hatchback and a great option this year.
- Ford Fiesta ST
The Ford Fiesta ST is quickly becoming something of a classic, and with its grin-inducing performance it’s easy to see why. The ST upgrades cut a dazzling figure in the crowd, while retaining the standard Fiesta’s awesome practicality and affordability
Based on the solid Ford Fiesta, only with a meaty power increase from the 1.6-litre, 180bhp turbo petrol engine, as well as better suspension, creating an intoxicating mixture of small, cheap, practical hatchback with plenty of pace, superb handling and power. It makes itself known against the duller standard Fiesta with luxurious Recaro sports seats, a sporty rear spoiler and gorgeous black honeycomb grill, this is no ordinary car.
All that while retaining excellent practicality in the form of a 290-litre boot space, with a spacious back seat and solid fuel economy. While not quite as good in tight areas as its rivals, it’s still a superbly practical, powerful hot hatch.
Despite these powerful advantages over its competitors, it’s actually cheaper than most by a substantial amount, leaving me in no doubt that this is the best value performance hatchback in the world.