Best hot hatch under £10k: all the fun at half the price

Mixing driving fun with practicality at a bargain price makes a used hot hatch a great choice – here are the best bargains from under 10k

Simon Ostler Matt Rigby
Aug 11, 2021

The hot hatch recipe is simple: combine the practicality of a family hatchback, add a powerful engine, and ensure it has the grip to handle that power. The result is a family-friendly car that provides stress-free everyday motoring, but with the sort of performance that would put it on par with a sports car.

This tried-and-tested formula produces some of the most fun-to-drive cars around at any price… except that in the case of many hot hatches the price is quite low to begin with. Factor in the savings you’ll get by buying a nearly new or used example and a hot hatch can prove to be a real performance bargain.

Many of these high-performance family cars are available from under £20,000 on BuyaCar, with manufacturers from Volkswagen, Audi and BMW, Honda, Seat and Suzuki delivering their own versions of these hugely popular cars.

There are some minor compromises over a regular family hatch – the suspension tends to be quite firm which can lead to an uncomfortable ride and you’ll need to budget a little more for fuel and insurance costs, but these cars can win you over with their charm and eager performance that will put a shine on every single journey.

Read on for our pick of the best used hot hatches available right here on BuyaCar, ranging from premium models to sub-£10,000 examples.

Best used hot hatchbacks

1. Volkswagen Golf R

Best used hot hatch for daily use

Used VW Golf R deals from £18,299
Monthly finance from £334*
Power 300hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 4.9 seconds

For a long time, the Volkswagen Golf GTI ruled the hot hatch roost. That name is as iconic as they come in the motoring world, but while the GTI remains a major figure in the Golf range, it has been replaced at the top of the tree by the even more extreme VW Golf R.

The Golf R looks and feels like every other Golf you see on the roads, but underneath that unassuming appearance lies a 2.0-litre, 300hp petrol engine that brings about a whole new level of performance. But it's not just faster – you'll also be getting improved brakes, a rear spoiler and bolder 19-inch wheels, even more so if you can find a used Golf R with the Performance Pack included.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Ford Fiesta ST

Best hot hatch for under £10,000

Fiest ST

Used Ford Fiesta ST deals from £9,400
Monthly finance from £178*
Power
200hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 6.5 seconds

Prices Ford Fiesta ST start from less than £10,000, while you could make the most of monthly finance prices from around £175 per month. Long story short, we don't think there is anything at this kind of price that comes close to offering the same level of thrills. The Ford Fiesta ST is an exceptional hot hatch, with a rasping engine that demands to be revved so that it can blast you down the road, and a mechanical set-up that switches direction in an instant, providing unrivalled driving fun.

Unlike the Golf R, it always feels like a sporty car, with firm suspension, that engine note and a sense of urgency when you press the accelerator. Most of the time it's as engaging as a new puppy, but after a long day at work, you might wish for the extra comfort of the Golf.

FORD FIESTA ST BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Seat Leon Cupra

Best used hot hatch for grip

Used Seat Leon Cupra deals from £16,699
Monthly finance from £332*
Power
300hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 5.7 seconds

Seat is owned by the Volkswagen Group, so underneath the sharply-creased lines of the Seat Leon Cupra are many of the same mechanical parts that make up the Volkswagen Golf R, its 2.0-litre engine produces the same amount of power too.

Sophisticated electronics boost grip when you put your foot down, so you can make the most of the power and accelerate from 0 to 62mph in under six seconds. It's grippy in corners too, where direction changes are sharp. But when you've had enough of the rabid performance, you can switch to a softer suspension setting for a smoother ride and the Seat becomes a calmer car. The transition is almost as impressive as the Golf's, although the quality of the spacious interior is a rung or two below the VW.

If you're looking for a newer model, you'll be looking for a Cupra Leon - Cupra split off to be its own brand with sporty versions of the Leon, Ateca, and Cupra-only Formentor.

SEAT LEON BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Mini Hatchback John Cooper Works

Best used hot hatch for cornering

Used Mini John Cooper Works deals from £16,559
Monthly finance from £304*
Power
231hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 6.1 seconds

The Mini hatchback is exciting whichever way you look at it. Even in its most humble One trim, it delivers charm and charisma in spaces. If you do decide to up the ante, however, the John Cooper Works (JCW) spec Mini is something rather special to behold.

Still cheeky, still charming and still a hoot to drive – the Mini JCW remains true to its roots as a Mini, but adds a few handfuls of spice to the mix. Admittedly, some of the Mini's family-friendly nature is lost thanks to this one only being available with three doors, but the bonus of buying used is that you'll be able to pick up models with all the extras equipped without having to stump up the extra thousands of pounds they would cost new.

MINI HATCHBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Ford Focus ST

Best used hot hatch for value

Used Ford Focus ST deals from £25,987
Monthly finance from £384*
Power
280hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 5.7 seconds

The latest Ford Focus ST was launched in mid-2019, and its 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine is not something to be missed. With barely-used models plentiful BuyaCar, you could save more than £6,000 compared to the price of a brand-new one.

Admittedly the plasticky interior doesn't feel as upmarket as the Volkswagen's setup but the punchy petrol engine and the car's nimbleness deliver sharp and accurate cornering, along with a comfortable ride. Recaro sports seats hold you firmly in place but are quite bulky, so reduce legroom for rear passengers.

FORD FOCUS ST BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Audi RS3

Best used hot hatch for outright speed

Used Audi RS3 deals from £31,444
Monthly finance from £424*
Power
366hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 4.3 seconds

One of the larger options of this list, but also one of the most extreme in terms of performance. The Audi RS3 puts sportscar levels of power into the incredibly practical A3 body. 

With five doors and 380 litres of boot space in the Sportback models, the RS3 is one of the best all-rounders on this list, as you're also getting that renowned Audi quality throughout the interior and exterior design. It's not cheap, even as a used car, but it is one of the best hot hatches you can buy, and that performance is ludicrous no matter what car you're driving.

AUDI A3 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Honda Civic Type R

Best used hot hatch for striking looks

Used Honda Civic Type R deals from £23,999
Monthly finance from £412*
Power
320hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 5.8 seconds

All the other hot hatches on this list might be fast, but none of them look as fast as the Honda Civic Type R - specifically, the model that's been on sale since 2018. With such a bold front end followed up by one of the most recognisable rear ends on the market, it’s a truly distinctive-looking machine.

With the huge spoiler, the three exhaust pipes and the exuberant lines sweeping up like a 90's super touring car, the Civic Type R has the looks to compete with the most outlandish Lamborghinis. It's just as exciting inside with bold interior colours and carbon fibre-look panels.

But it's not all form, the Civic Type R is pretty quick too, although perhaps not on the level of the RS3.

HONDA CIVIC BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Peugeot 208 GTi

Best used hot hatch for responsiveness

Used Peugeot 208 GTi deals from £8,919
Monthly finance from £169*
Power
208hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 6.5 seconds

The Peugeot 208 GTi has become one of the cheapest hot hatches available from BuyaCar, with models now available from around £160 per month on a PCP finance deal. It’s entertaining enough, with plenty of urge without needing to be revved hard - although you’ll only get maximum performance if you do. The small steering wheel means that only a nudge is needed for the responsive car to change direction.

But if you can afford the premium of around £2,000 for a 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport (the paint scheme, shown above, was optional), you’ll find that the car’s character is enhanced further by engine and mechanical improvements, which make the car livelier, grippier - and more fun to drive.

The brand-new Peugeot 208 arrived in 2020 with a bold new look and the option of electric power, and it is expected that a GTi edition will be launched at some point in the future.

PEUGEOT 208 BUYERS' GUIDE

9. BMW M135i

Best used hot hatch for fun

Used BMW 135i deals from £20,758
Monthly finance from £385*
Power
319hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 5.1 seconds

BMW's M badge is reserved for the brand's fastest cars, so the price of the M135i is excellent value. You're getting a six-cylinder engine that's smoother than the four-cylinder-powered cars in this list. It's more powerful and quicker too, with a breathless 0-62mph acceleration time of 5.1 seconds. All this power is directed through the BMW’s rear wheels (most hot hatches send it through the front), making the car more responsive when you turn the wheel, so it can change direction in a snap.

If your budget can stretch to it, the newer and more powerful M140i is even faster and uses a little less fuel too. Neither car is a sober and understated Golf, and they can't match the VW's interior space but they are comfortable and quiet in normal driving, for the days when you just want to travel in calm.

BMW 1 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

10. Suzuki Swift Sport

Best used hot hatch for cut-price fun

Used Suzuki Swift deals from £12,942
Monthly finance from £224*
Power
140hp
Acceleration 0-62mph 8.1 seconds

On sale since 2018, the current Suzuki Swift Sport has a turbocharger, which boosts power from the engine to provide a surge of acceleration without having to rev the engine hard. On most roads, you can leave the car in one gear and still manage reasonably rapid progress.

It’s also a light car by modern standards, which helps improve performance and economy and – most importantly for a hot hatch – helps it to feel agile and fun on twisty roads.

Unfortunately, in 2020 Suzuki replaced the petrol turbo engine in the Swift Sport with a mild hybrid version. This was good news for fuel economy, but that car is 55kg heavier, and only has 129hp instead of 140. So if you want to get the most fun out of your Suzuki Swift Sport, it’s best to go for one without the hybrid powertrain.

SUZUKI SWIFT BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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