Life

These are the top used hot hatches you need to check out today

Hot hatches provide fun, practicality and performance in one very usable package.

The ST brings huge thrills in a small package
Ford Fiesta ST The ST brings huge thrills in a small package

Modern hot hatchbacks offer so much for so little. They offer practical, easy-to-use motoring, wrapped up in an exciting and drawback-free design. As with many performance cars, however, you do need to do your homework when buying used, and what if your budget doesn’t stretch to a brand new Golf R or Honda Civic Type R?

Here is our guide to some of the best used hot hatchbacks on the market today.

Honda Civic Type R (2007-2011)

The Civic Type R has a good reputation for reliability
Honda Civic Type R The Civic Type R has a good reputation for reliability

With big boots to fill following its predecessor, this generation of Civic Type R – also known as the FN2 – got a lot of stick when first launched. A torsion beam setup, heavier weight and only producing 1 bhp more than its more popular older brother, meant that the FN2 Civic Type R never got the recognition it deserved. And now you can pick these spaceship-looking hot hatches up at very budget-friendly prices.

The Civic Type R up until 2011 came with Honda’s infamous K20 2.0-litre VTEC engine. Producing 198bhp and revving to 8000rpm, this powertrain made a rather ordinary hatchback become a fully-fledged race car for the road.

When buying used, look for a Civic Type R GT model. It added extras like front fog lights, power folding door mirrors, automatic lights and wipers. You can pick a good used example with under 90,000 miles on the clock for less than £5,000.

But, just remember to do your homework on these cars. Many have had hard lives, so look for clean MOT records and full-service history. It’s worth finding unmodified examples, too. Honda’s reliability record is pretty much second to none. Most Civic Type Rs can easily achieve 150 to 200,000 miles without any issue.

Renaultsport Clio (2006-2012)

The Renaultsport Clio brought great driving dynamics and lots of fun
Renaultsport Clio The Renaultsport Clio brought great driving dynamics and lots of fun

If you want a hot hatch that acts more like a track day toy, then the Renaultsport Clio needs to be on your shopping list. Even though it went out of production over a decade ago, there are some real bargains to be had out there, with clean used examples going for as little as £10,000.

It should be a good investment too, as its predecessor has risen in value over the last couple of years and this model also was noticed as a great hot hatch. If you can find a Cup version, this gives you a stiffened chassis as well.

Renault’s reputation for reliability isn’t the strongest though. Electrical glitches are their biggest issue, plus gearboxes can be a little weak, so check for any crunching noises which could highlight a bigger problem underneath.

We recommend finding an example that has a full Renault/specialist history and making sure that the cambelt and water pump have been changed.

Ford Fiesta ST MK7 (2013-2017)

Ford Fiesta ST
Ford Fiesta ST The ST brings huge thrills in a small package

The Fiesta ST has become the daddy of the junior hot hatchbacks– and it’s easy to see why.

Great handling, practicality, comfort and affordability give this compact performance car a lot of appeal. A basic ST can be yours for as little as £6000, too. This amount will get you an example with below 70,000 miles and with a full-service history. And for only £1000 more you can have a top-of-the-range ST3 example with auto climate control, heated seats and push button start.

Look for nice honest and original examples, many have been modified and had a few visits to motorists accessory stores. However, a clean and unmodified example is certainly going to increase in value too, so not only is it going to put a smile on your face, it will put a smile on your investments as well.

Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013-2019)

The Golf GTI is often seen as the tip-top hot hatch
Volkswagen Golf The Golf GTI is often seen as the tip-top hot hatch

The Golf GTI was the car that kickstarted the hot hatch market in 1976. Since then the Golf GTI has gone through eight iterations, and we think right now that the best used examples are the MK7 and 7.5. Available in three and 5-door bodystyle, plus a responsive and smooth turbocharged engine and a greatly tuned chassis, it’s easy to see why the Golf GTI is still the king of the hot hatches.

Early MK7 cars were released in 2013, with the MK7.5 coming out in 2017 as part of a mid-life facelift. Early cars can be had for as little as £11,000 with less than 70,000 miles on the clock. Facelifted cars are around the £15,000 mark, but are still over half as much of what they used to cost when new.

Buying a used Golf GTI needs to be taken with precaution. If it has a sunroof, it can stick and stop working, plus gearboxes can be temperamental when driven hard. Try and go for a completely standard example, that is backed up with history and even a warranty if purchased from a dealer, but other than that, the MK7 and MK7.5 Golf GTI make for a great used hot hatch.

Hyundai i30N Performance (2017-2024)

The i30 shook up the market when it arrived as Hyundai’s first proper hot hatch
Hyundai i30N The i30 shook up the market when it arrived as Hyundai’s first proper hot hatch

Two decades ago, you would never have thought that Hyundai would be making cars that beat its German and Japanese counterparts – but it is.

The i30N was the first Hyundai to use the ‘N’ name and as a first attempt, it was up there with the very best. The N Performance model gave out 270bhp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, while precise steering, a sporty engine note and a practical 5-door body made the I30N a very tempting choice among buyers.

Now the i30N has just gone out of production and used examples are flooding the second-hand market, with early 2018 cars up for £18-£19,000 with less than 50,000 miles on the clock.

Hyundai’s reliability record is also very strong, plus when new the added benefit of a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty was given to each car. Apart from the odd infotainment glitch, fuel pump issue or loose battery terminals, not a lot goes wrong with these cars, even when modified.