Best cheap small hot hatchbacks

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

Simon Ostler John Evans
Nov 26, 2019

Hot hatchbacks represent a relatively affordable way to get sports car levels of performance in a car that's usable on a daily basis. While the most famous names in the hot hatch market include the Volkswagen Golf GTI or Honda Civic Type R, even those can be considerably more expensive than many of us can manage.

Luckily, there is a selection of smaller, but equally exciting cars available that offer similar performance figures in terms of speed, but generally come in at a much lower price point.

The last five years or so have been a golden era for the hot hatchback as manufacturers have revived the formula, packing extra performance under the bonnet of their mainstream family 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.

We don't see how anyone could say no to a great value hot hatch, so we've put together this list of eight great value small hot hatchback deals that you can pick up right now with BuyaCar.

Best small hot hatchbacks

1. Ford Fiesta ST

Our pick Ford Fiesta ST-2
Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.9 seconds
Used deals from £8,490
Monthly finance from £146

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

You get steering that lets you know exactly where the car is pointing; the Fiesta ST 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.

Used Ford Fiesta buyers' guide

2. Mini Cooper S

Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.8 seconds
Used deals from £10,098
Monthly finance from £142

There’s been a Mini Cooper S 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.

Mini Hatchback buyers' guide

3. Peugeot 208 GTI

Our pick Peugeot 208 GTi by Peugeot Sport
Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.8 seconds
Used deals from £7,690
Monthly finance from £128

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. It's 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.

Peugeot 208 buyers' guide

4. Suzuki Swift Sport

Acceleration (0-62mph) 8.7 seconds
Used deals from £5,950
Monthly finance from £115

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 fast direct steering.

It's easy to flick from one gear to another, with a satisfying mechanical click. The car remains flat in corners, despite 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.

Used Suzuki Swift buyers' guide

5. Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.5 seconds
Used deals from £7,865
Monthly finance from £129

As the quickest car here, the Vauxhall 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.

Vauxhall Corsa buyers' guide

6. Renault Clio Renaultsport

Our pick Renault Clio 200 RenaultSport
Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.7 seconds
Used deals from £11,999
Monthly finance from £173

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).

Renaut Clio buyers' guide

7. Abarth 595

Our pick Abarth 595 Competizione
Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.7 seconds
Used deals from £12,450
Monthly finance from £171

The Abarth 595 is based heavily upon the Fiat 500. It takes a lot of what makes the Fiat such a cute and desirable little thing, and turns it into an insatiably excitable bundle of enjoyment.

With a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 180hp in Competizione spec and unecessarily loud exhaust system attached to it, the Abarth 595 becomes the kind of car that you could scare people in. Despite not being as fast as some of the other cars on this list, its small size and energetic ride make it feel faster, while its agility round corners puts a very satisfying cherry on top.

The ride is extremely firm, so don't buy one of these if you value your spine, but, if you want an affordable small Italian sports car, you can't get much closer than the Abarth.

8. VW Polo GTI

Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.7 seconds
Used deals from £11,199
Monthly finance from £171

Much like its larger sibling, the Volkswagen Polo GTI takes the comfortable, family orientated roots of the standard model and, without compromising them, adds a bit of extra zing.

You get sharper exterior styling, with some GTI badging and larger alloy wheels as well as some rather fancy tartan upholstery inside.

The 1.8-litre engine is eager enough and is available with a satisfyingly smooth manual gearbox that helps to augment that driving experience all the more. A brand new model was released in 2018, and while prices for those start from £17,799 on BuyaCar, the slightly older model will not leave you wanting much for what is a substantial saving.

 

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