Best Hatchbacks for Fast Acceleration
So you want driving to be exciting and fast but you also need everyday comfort, five seats and a useful boot? Since the early days of the VW Golf GTI MkI, this has been the domain of the hot-hatch – a fast hatchback that can do it all. But which is the fastest accelerating hatchback of all? These days, performance in these little wonders can even reach supercar levels. Read on for our top ten list of quick hatchbacks and everything that makes them truly magnificent.
1. Mercedes AMG A45
This list is all about performance, and first place on that front goes to the Mercedes AMG A45. In top S spec, its 2.0-litre engine has been tuned within an inch of its life to achieve an incredible 415 bhp that can catapult you from 0-62 mph in just 3.9 seconds. There are Aston Martins, Maseratis and Ferraris that can’t match that acceleration, but the Mercedes does it while still being a feasible daily driver with modern luxury inside. The only drawbacks? The ride’s a little firm and, oh yeah, it starts at £50k – ouch.
2. BMW M140i
The sportiest version of BMW’s 1 Series is now the M135i, but the car it replaced, the M140i, is the purists’ choice thanks to its 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine and good old Bavarian rear-wheel-drive (none of that four-wheel nonsense here!). With 340 bhp under the bonnet and 500 Nm of torque, the 0-62 mph sprint takes just 4.6 seconds – and that’s with the convenience of an automatic gearbox. It’s not just about straight lines in this fast hatchback; being a BMW, it handles beautifully too.
3. Audi S3
All of the prestige German brands have their own super-hot hatch and Audi is no exception. It’s actually the Audi RS3 that competes directly with the cars in our top two spots, but it’s the less powerful S3 that gets a place on the list. It strikes the perfect balance between practical comfort and performance, meaning it could easily function as a small family car, but it goes like the wind when you want it to. In numbers, that’s an impressive 0-62 mph in just 4.7 seconds even with an auto ‘box.
4. VW Golf GTI
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the original and quintessential hot-hatch – it’s arguable that VW started the whole thing off, more decades ago now than many who remember would care to admit. This model is in its eighth iteration, and the latest one packs 245 bhp. That isn’t huge compared to some cars on this list, but it’s upped to 300 bhp in the Clubsport edition. Even the standard GTI does 0-62 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is more than pacey enough.
5. Ford Fiesta ST Edition
In recent years, Ford has developed a well-earned reputation for building drivers’ cars, and the Fiesta ST is one of the best ones. Its turn of pace, excellent handling and small size mean you can throw it into any situation and it will reward you in spades. The Fiesta ST (limited) Edition takes things even further with upgraded suspension that lowers the ride and gives you greater control and precision. 0-62 mph takes 6.5 seconds so it’s not the fastest on this list, but few others are as engaging to drive.
6. Honda Civic Type R
One look at the Civic Type R tells you all you need to know – with a multitude of scoops, vents and a large rear spoiler, this is no shrinking violet. But these aren’t just for show, they improve handling and aerodynamics, helping the Honda achieve the 0-62 mph dash in just 5.9 seconds. Unlike others on this list, it’s front-wheel-drive, so it’s harder to get its 316 bhp to the tarmac initially, but the superb handling will soon make sure you catch up.
7. Toyota GR Yaris
This is no ordinary school-run Yaris. This one has been rebuilt from scratch (by Toyota’s motorsport division, Gazoo Racing) to win rally competitions. It only has a 1.6-litre, three-cylinder engine, but it has been tinkered with to produce a whopping 257 bhp – all that grunt from a little Yaris! Helped by its diminutive size and weight, it will race from 0-62 mph in just 5.5 seconds. It’s a four-wheel drive, but throw it in Sport mode and it’ll send 70% of drive to the rear wheels, so you can drift it around a track if you want to.
8. Hyundai i30N
Gone are the days when the sportiest car Hyundai could offer was the stylish but somewhat lacklustre Coupe. The i30N is a true hot-hatch with old-school driving manners that make it a serious consideration for purists. Its 2.0-litre engine can generate 271 bhp and propel you from 0-62 mph in 6.1 seconds. It’s also great fun to drive and a little bit raw, just like a hot-hatch should be. Hyundai may be new to this game but they’re certainly not lagging behind.
9. SEAT Leon Cupra SC 300
The Spanish contingent of the Volkswagen Group has its own fast hatchback offering to rival the Audi S3 and VW Golf GTI, coming in the form of the SEAT Leon Cupra SC 300. That 300 is the engine’s metric power output (about 295 bhp) which will achieve 0-62 mph in 5.5 seconds, so it’s definitely quick. It also handles well although, being driven from the front, it lacks the traction of 4WD alternatives, including those in the Volkswagen Group. There’s no doubting the looks here though – sleek, stylish and subtle.
10. Subaru Impreza
Subaru has a reputation for rally success, four-wheel drive and reliability. It also has a less savoury reputation when it comes to its performance car the Impreza. Always impressively capable, the noisy exhausts, gold alloys and huge spoilers came to be associated with boy-racer naffness. The 2008 WRX STi went a long way to sorting that out with a more understated yet still unmistakable look. In 330S configuration, the 325 bhp engine would shoot from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds.
It’s not often possible to say this but with these quick hatchbacks, you really can have it all: take your nan shopping, pick up the kids or tear it up at your local trackday. Go on, treat yourself, check out the listings and see what takes your fancy!