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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2019 Nissan Leaf Nismo
Introduced in 2010, the Nissan Leaf set many benchmarks in the electric car market and has become one of the most popular EVs out there. But, after seven years on the market, the Leaf got a bit long in the tooth, and with other companies having introduced more modern EVs in this niche, Nissan had no choice but to develop a second-generation model. Unveiled for the 2018 model year, the new Leaf is better in just about any department and it finally spawned a Nismo version.
Previewed by a concept unveiled at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, the Leaf Nismo is heavily based on the show car. However, the Nismo isn’t the "higher power, longer range version at a higher price" promised by Nissan, as the upgrade is far from comprehensive under the skin. The EV was also launched in Japan only, and it doesn’t seem as if Nissan wants to sell it in Europe or the United States anytime soon. Information is still scarce, but until more data becomes available let’s have a closer look at what we already know about it.
Continue reading to learn more about the Nissan Leaf Nismo.
2019 Audi A1
The second-generation Audi A1 is finally here. Initially launched as a small-sized, three-door, entry-level ‘Sportback’ in 2010, Audi then went on to give it five doors in 2011. The A1 has been a successful product for Audi, and is targeted to customers who prefer an “ideal companion for an urban lifestyle." After six years, the second-gen makes its debut, and it definitely looks fresh and sharper than ever.
2018 Aston Martin Cygnet V8
A big part of the Goodwood Festival of Speed’s charm is that you never know exactly what to expect when it comes to the cars that take a crack at the Hill climb event. In the first day of the event, we’ve already seen a rainbow-colored Porsche 911, a lawnmower (yes, a lawnmower!), and a tiny city car that somehow found enough room in its body for a V-8 engine. That last car is the Aston Martin Cygnet, the cute little urban transporter that was essentially a rebadged version of the Toyota iQ. Even better, this V-8-powered Cygnet isn’t a hack job built by some loony tuner in some corner of England. Aston Martin actually created it, or to be more specific, Q by Aston Martin created it for a customer, and now it’s turning heads at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
To the surprise of the whole car world, Aston Martin revealed a new version of its long-deceased Cygnet at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Billed as “The Ultimate City Car,” the new Aston Martin Cygnet V8 is actually a one-off piece for a customer who commissioned it through the ‘Q by Aston Martin – Commission’ service. With an engine taken from the Vantage S, 19-inch wheels, and a dramatically reimagined drivetrain, the new Cygnet V8 is the most unusual piece of machinery Aston has revealed in a while. This is a 123-inch long car, with a 4.7-liter, V-8 that develops 430 horsepower. It sounds like a joke, but it is not.
2018 BMW i8 and i3 Starlight Edition
Proving that it can match fancy with the best automakers in the world, BMW has rolled a one-off BMW i8 that’s dressed up in actual 24-karat gold. The unique creation is called the i8 Starlight Edition, and if you happen to have deep pockets, it can be purchased, provided you end up with the winning bid. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The BMW i8 Starlight Edition — and the i3 Starlight Edition, for that matter — will be up for auction to benefit the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97.