Best cheap hot hatchbacks on sale

Practicality, performance and lots of fun now costs less than £10,000, with the best cheap hatchbacks on sale

John Evans
May 25, 2018

Car makers may be hard at work making their cars more economical and practical but as the hot hatchbacks below prove, they haven’t forgotten how to make them fun to drive, too.

The last four years have been a golden era for the hot hatchback as manufacturers have revived the formula, packing extra performance under the bonnet of their mainstream cars, and tuning the suspension for sharper cornering. The result is blistering acceleration and darting performance on twisty roads: unlike supercars, these are fun to drive at legal speeds.

Having been on sale for a few years, the prices of used hot hatchbacks are now surprisingly cheap, with less than £10,000, or £160 a month needed for their tempting blend of practicality, punchiness and sporty looks.

The best hot hatchbacks on sale now

Ford Fiesta ST

Our pick Ford Fiesta ST-2 (2014, 40,000 miles)  Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.9sec 
Typical price £9,990  Representative finance £165 per month

The Fiesta ST is the hot hatch against which all others are judged. It may be the second slowest on paper here but it’s number one when it comes to entertainment.

The Fiesta’s steering lets you know exactly where the car is pointing; it can switch direction in an instant; its Recaro sports seats grip you securely and it's simply great value for money. If you want a car that puts a smile on your face with every journey, then you can't get better value than this.

    

Mini Cooper S

Our pick Mini Cooper S (2014, 25,000 miles)  Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.8sec
Typical price £11,500  Representative finance £165 per month

There’s been a Mini Cooper ever since hot hatches were invented and this latest version carries on the tradition, with nimble cornering, very little leaning in corners, quick steering and a powerful engine.

There’s a five-door version for those who need more rear space but the three-door car is cheaper and is closer to the original car's classic shape.

  

Peugeot 208 GTI

Our pick Peugeot 208 GTi (2014, 25,000 miles)  Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.8sec
Typical price £9,500  Representative finance £155 per month

If you're a fan of Nando's, then you'll appreciate Peugeot's approach to its GTi, which is available in spicy, or extra spicy flavour. If you;re on a budget, then you'll probably be looking at the standard GTi (the spicy one), which has acceleration to match its rivals and a resonable amount of comfort to prevent your occupants rattling around. Its a good car, but doesn't have quite the darting feel of a Fiesta ST on a country lane.

That's where the extra-spicy GTi by Peugeot Sport comes in. With a sophisticated mechanical set-up, it's got a white-knuckle grip of tarmac and can scoot round bends at invigorating speed. The trade-off is considerably less comfort and around £2,000 - or £15 per month - more on the price.

   

Suzuki Swift Sport

Our pick Suzuki Swift Sport (2015, 25,000 miles)  Acceleration (0-62mph) 8.7sec
Typical price £8,495  Representative finance £150 per month

What the Swift Sport loses in outright acceleration it makes up for with a sporty engine that loves to rev, plenty of grip in corners and quick, direct steering.

It's easy to flick from one gear to another, with a satisfying mechanical click and the car remains flat in corners, espite its tall stance. The sporty suspension is actually quite absorbent, too, so the ride over poor surfaces is surprisingly good. All that and it’s terrific value for money.

    

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Our pick Vauxhall Corsa VXR (2015, 25,000 miles)  Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.5sec
Typical price £9,490  Representative finance £140 per month

As the quickest car here, the Corsa VXR should be the most exciting to drive, and it does offer blistering performance and bags of grip.

However, what lets it down is a crashy ride that makes a meal of poor surfaces. In their rush to dazzle with a sporty bodykit and a powerful engine, the engineers appear to have forgotten to tune some suppleness into the VXR’s suspension, which would have made the car more tolerable for passengers.

    

Renault Clio Renaultsport

Our pick Renault Clio 200 RenaultSport (2015, 30,000 miles)  Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.7sec
Typical price £11,990  Representative finance £180 per month

Once you're over the disappointment that this hot hatch only comes with an automatic gearbox, you can start to appreciate the rapid acceleration and well-judged steering which has just enough weight to guide the car accurately and with confidence. The automatic gearbox does come with paddles behind the steering wheel to shift manually, but the delay between pressing the paddle and the gear actually changing is frustratingly long.

If you need to convince anyone who's less performance-minded, then the practicality of the Clio's five doors is helpful, as is a reasonable level of comfort (by hot hatch standards).

    

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