Best cheap sporty hatchbacks

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

Simon Ostler John Evans
Jul 22, 2021

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 afford.

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.

Over the years manufacturers have continued to hone the hot hatchback fomula, 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, especially with even more manageable finance options costing far less than £200 per month. 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 £9,410
Monthly finance from £178*

The Ford 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 driving entertainment.

The precise steering lets you know exactly where the car is pointing, and the Fiesta ST is agile enough to change 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.

2013 FORD FIESTA ST BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mini Cooper S

Our pick Mini Cooper S 3dr
Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.8 seconds
Used deals from £10,000
Monthly finance from £159*

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

There’s a five-door version for those who need more rear space but the three-door model is cheaper and is closer to the original Mini'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 £8,489
Monthly finance from £165*

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 more restricted budget, then you'll probably be looking at the standard GTi (the spicy one), which has acceleration to match its rivals and a reasonable amount of comfort to prevent your occupants from rattling around. It's a good car, but it doesn't have quite the same direct 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 has plenty of grip on the road and can scoot around bends at invigorating speed. The trade-off is considerably less comfort - the ride is much stiffer, which could be tiresome if you intend to drive it all day, every day - and around £2,000 - or £15 per month - added to the price.

2012 PEUGEOT 208 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Suzuki Swift Sport

Acceleration (0-62mph) 8.7 seconds
Used deals from £13,296
Monthly finance from £216*

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

A brilliantly smooth and satisfying gearbox makes it easy to flick from one gear to another, too. The car remains flat in corners, despite its taller stance than its rivals. 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.

2010 SUZUKI SWIFT BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.5 seconds
Used deals from £7,490
Monthly finance from £146*

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.

2014 VAUXHALL CORSA BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Renault Clio Renaultsport

Our pick Renault Clio 200 RenaultSport
Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.7 seconds
Used deals Limited stock

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 that this is the car to buy, then the practicality of the Clio's five doors is helpful, as is a reasonable level of comfort (by hot hatch standards).

2013 RENAULT CLIO BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Abarth 595


Our pick Abarth 595 Competizione
Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.7 seconds
Used deals from £10,999
Monthly finance from £208*
 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 an unnecessarily 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 around 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.

ABARTH 595 BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Volkswagen Polo GTI

Acceleration (0-62mph) 6.7 seconds
Used deals from £11,796
Monthly finance from £220*

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 £16,995 on BuyaCar, the slightly older model will not leave you wanting much for what is a substantial saving.

2010 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 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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