21 Awesome Hot Hatches That Americans Can’t Drive
The world of hot hatches is far more interesting than what we in the U.S. can ever fathom. The Europeans are particularly fond of them (the Brits especially), which led to the development of some of the most amazing cars. Some of them have never even appeared on U.S. shores. Believe it or not, I have found 21 awesome hot hatches from the past five years that have never set their tires on this side of the pond.
While compiling this list, I have come to a conclusion that buyers and drivers in the U.S. are usually really predictable. Apart from some producers who do not sell in the U.S. at all, international safety (UNECE) standards for car production are the ones to blame for a shortage of some of these cars.
We’re not compliant with those standards as we have our own set of rules called the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In short, a disparity like this makes it very expensive for car producers to create two different versions of a car. And, that is exactly what is needed if you want to sell the same car in the U.S. and in the rest of the world.
Nevertheless, walk through this 4,853 horsepower list and imagine what your life would be like if some of these hot hatches could actually come here.
Ford Shot Down A Role For The Fiesta In The Pineapple Express
Automakers usually don’t need to be asked to have their cars appear in movies or TV shows, but there was one instance when Ford apparently turned down an opportunity to have the Fiesta appear in a movie that ended up grossing more than $100 million. That revelation came from actor and comedian Seth Rogen who revealed on Twitter that Ford nixed the idea of having the Fiesta play a role in The Pineapple Express, a movie Rogen co-starred in with James Franco.
2019 Audi A3
The Audi A3 was spotted testing on public roads with what appears to be a production-ready exterior. The hatchback is wrapped in camo from front to rear, but the headlamps, the grille, and other details hint at the company’s recent corporate look. The A3 was joined by the higher performance S3 model. While the regular A3 will break cover in 2019 and go on sale for the 2020 model year, the S3 will probably arrive later, most likely for the 2021 model year.
The Next-Gen Focus ST Will Have the Same 2.0-liter Four-Banger but Ditch the Unique Six-Speed Manual for an Automatic
There was news of Ford downsizing the Focus ST to a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine in the next-generation Focus, and also news of it upgrading to the RS’ 2.3-liter Ecoboost engine; but according to Motoring, it looks like Ford has balanced it out and retained the same 2.0-liter engine. Pushing the envelope a bit further, it looks like Ford is ditching the ST’s unique manual transmission in favor of an automatic. Playing it safe there, Ford?
2019 Lynk & Co 04 Hatchback
Lynk & Co started out as a curious novelty, but since launching the intriguing 01 SUV in 2017, the Geely-owned start-up is now turning more than a few curious heads. In a span of a year, Lynk & Co has gone from launching the 01 to doing succeeding unveilings of the 02 and 03. Now, the brand’s fourth model — a hatchback — takes center stage, thanks in large part to a new batch of spy photos showing the car in proper prototype form, complete with thick black wraps and lots of camouflage. The model is tentatively called the "04," and it has the makings of being a serious challenger in a market dominated by heavyweights like the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, and Chevrolet Cruze.
Ken Block’s Ford Escort Cosworth Crashes During Rally, Turns Into Car-B-Q
Back in April, pro tire-smoker Ken Block announced his limited return to stage rally racing with the unveiling of his awesome early ‘90s Escort RS Cosworth. The Hoonigan crew revealed the four-door sideways superstar on their YouTube channe, and well, we got excited. Unfortunately, it’s looking like the Escort just got ashed.
Continue reading for the full story.
Honda Civic Type R Sets New Lap Record
Even if you’re a diehard domestic lover with a heart made of American iron and spare V-8’s, ‘ya gotta give it up for the Honda Civic Type R. Over the year, the H Badge has worked hard to refine and polish this FWD hero to a gleaming finish, and the latest fifth-generation FK8 that dropped in 2017 at the Geneva Motor Show brings all the tricks and innovation together into a single high-speed package. To prove its worth, the new R’d-out Civic has been on a worldwide tour, smashing lap records as it goes, with the latest fast results coming out of a trip to Portugal.
Continue reading for the full story.
Hot hatches have a major problem on their hands. Perhaps one they will not be able to overcome. Ever. This is the plot:
You are in your late twenties or early thirties, and you want something mad, rowdy, and catchy for yourself, but, as usual, the budget is a bit tight. A hot hatch seems to be the perfect fit for your dream Sunday morning stint in the mountains (or the occasional illegal drag race in the middle of the night down in Mexico.) A lot of “hothatchness” now resides in the 300 horsepower range, can hit 60 mph in low 5 sec (some even quicker) and have features with strange names like torque vectoring, damper control, dual-axis struts, and titanium exhausts.
You’ll buy one and be happy for a short while. However, after you actually find out that you simply do not have the time to visit twisties in the mountains (or will ever go down to Mexico, for that matter,) a strange thing will happen. The Audi SQ5 diesel SUV with a mildly reprogrammed ECU will line up next to you. Behind its wheel sits a middle-aged man with a smirk on his face, eager to impress whoever sits next to him. Your hatch and your heart are ready to rumble.
Launch control on, sweaty palms on the steering wheel, and eyes on the traffic light.
The black diesel SQ5 TDI SUV will smoke you, literally and figuratively. You’ll try to reason with the situation driving in your hot hatch with massive exhausts, shouty spoilers, and red paint job, but deep down you will have one thought, and one thought only - “WTF am I doing with my life?”
Do you not think this is a problem? Just take a look at how many overpowered SUVs are sold every year!
Now, this may not be the only reason why hot hatches are going overboard with power, technology, and, ultimately, price, but it is a part of it. Apart from being fast, they need to be cool or incredible in some [expensive] way and offer something more than just being fast.
These are all hot hatches with engines developing 300 horsepower or more. They were all made to liven up your life before someone with an SQ5, or its likeness takes it away from you in 5 seconds. Or less.
2017 Seat Leon Cupra Evo 17
Although overshadowed by the Volkswagen Golf, its platform sibling, sales-wise, the Seat Leon has been the more powerful race car in various series around the world. The TCR is one of them, having been set up after Seat designed the Leon Cup Racer, also the car that was used as a template for aerodynamic regulations. The increasingly popular series is still dominated by the Leon, which received an update in 2017.
Renamed the Leon Cupra Evo 17, the Spanish race car is more aggressive than ever. The hatchback sports bigger wheel arches, just like the Volkswagen Golf GTI TRC, a massive rear wing, and the copper highlights we’ve seen on recently unveiled Cupra road models. The Leon will continue to race in the TCR International Series, where it will face competition from Audi, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Opel, Volkswagen, and many more carmakers.
Continue reading to learn more about the Seat Leon Cup Racer Evo 17.
2019 Mercedes-Benz B Class
The first generation of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class subcompact five-door MPV arrived back in 2006, lasting until 2011. The second generation hit the scene a year later and continues to occupy dealership lots the world over. The current generation received a facelift back in 2014, so it’s about time for an update. As such, Mercedes has a fleet of test mules out on public roads, once again offering entry-level luxury in a small, yet practical package.
With a debut expected for later this year or early in 2019, our carparazzi managed to capture the third-gen as it underwent final testing, including recent summer testing and cold-weather testing late last year. The new B-Class is expected to carry the internal codename W247, as well as evolved styling cues, the latest Mercedes-branded infotainment goods, and a slew of engine options pulled from the Mercedes parts bin. Read on for our full speculative review.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Mercedes-Benz B-Class.
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Established in 2015, the TCR series has become increasingly popular with each season, now being contested by several automakers from Europe and Asia. Volkswagen is one of them, having joined the series with a race-spec version of the Golf GTI in 2016. Following the first full season, in which the Golf GTI TCR won 17 races and two championships, the German firm made improvements to the car in order to continue its good run.
The hatchback’s aerodynamics were updated, while the technology under the hood has also been fine-tuned. The updated car was again used by Liqui Moly Team Engstler, which tackled the German ADAC TCR, TCR Asia, and the TCR Middle East series. The revised GTI also returned to the International TCR series with Team Leopard Racing, which won the championship the previous year. Let’s find out what’s new in the review below.
Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
2018 Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy
The Renault Megane was most recently redesigned in 2016. Sportier than ever on the outside, it gained a modern interior with the latest tech and a range of revised engines. Two years have passed since then and Renault finally gave the fourth-generation Megane the long-awaited Trophy treatment.
Crafted by the Renault Sport division, also known as R.S., the new Trophy replaces the R.S. 275 Trophy model that the French firm offered between 2014 and 2017. Naturally, the new Megane Trophy is not only more aggressive on the outside, but it’s also more powerful. As usual, it’s built on the race-bred Cup chassis, which makes it a road-legal race car. The 275 Trophy-R holds track records for FWD cars on many circuits, including the Nurburgring, Suzuka, and Fuji. Will the new Trophy set new benchmarks? Probably. But until that happens, let’s have a closer look at its design and drivetrain in the review below.
Continue reading to learn more about the Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy.
Hello there! You’re probably asking yourselves where I’ve been lately. Well, it’s none of your business. But since you’re reading this, I just came here to tell you that I told you so! Oh, wait, that’s not very specific. I told you that the Nissan Leaf Nismo would suck. I did that in October 2017, when Nissan launched the concept car. Now it’s July 2018, and we have a production model that looks like the concept but sucks where it matters most.
All Changes Contrived by Renault Sport To Brew The Hardcore Megane RS Trophy
I can only infer that the importance of hot hatches in Europe is on par with the importance of muscle cars in the U.S. They are a must-have for every company that wants to do any business there. Renault and its division - Renault Sport - always did a really good job in this department with the overachieving Clio RS and Megane RS cars. Today, a new one emerged. Following the habits of the past, Renault Sport revealed the new Megane RS Trophy. It’s a car based on the regular RS but bathed with small tweaks to make it ever so faster, hardcore, and slightly meaner. It is a track weapon that tackles the monstrosity of the Honda Civic Type R, or the sophisticated gem the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport is. I will go even further and give Hyundai the courtesy of joining this exclusive group with its stunning Hyundai i30 N. I am fairly certain that the Megane RS and the Megane RS Trophy are fighting for supremacy with it too.
This is the most powerful production car Renault Sport has unveiled up to this point. The RS 1.8-liter turbocharged engine has been tuned with F1 tech and is now producing 296 horsepower. This is not the end of it as I suspect the Megane RS Trophy-R will come sometime in the future.
The Nissan Leaf Nismo Has Been Unveiled, But It May Leave You Disappointed
Since the introduction of the first Nissan Leaf, the automotive world has been quite eager to see what the Nissan performance division Nismo can do with the electric hatch. The race-ready Nismo Leaf RC was the first one to appear, but it was just too radical. Then, over the years, Nissan played around with some pseudo spirited versions never giving us a true Nismo Leaf. All that until October 25, 2017, when the Japanese company showcased the Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept.
Fast forward to today.
Nine months of the gestation period gave birth to a Leaf Nismo only available in Japan and wearing much the same attire as the concept version. Yet, I am far more interested in what Nismo did to that 147 horsepower drivetrain.
Hyundai has come a long way. Like, a really, really, long way. Remember the old Hyundai Accent? It was a strangely underwhelming machine even when new. Last night I was strolling through the streets and suddenly came across the new Hyundai i30 (the Elantra GT.) It was dark outside, the car was black, and you know what, the new i30 did not look underwhelming. Not a bit. It’s a hatch I wouldn’t mind driving, owning or, in its most potent N form, racing. Now, the Europeans get a new version of the i30 to spice the things up a bit. The N Line! I did not use “spice up” only by chance. Hyundai actually titled the press release with “Spice up your driveway,” and I get them. With body additions inspired by the top of the line i30 N, the new i30 N Line feels lively and rambunctious. Especially in red.