The Hot Hatch is a rite of passage for many young British motorists, often a gateway drug into the world of driving after your first year of black box monitored driving. Here are the five best Hot Hatches for beginners!
Renault Clio Renaultsport 172 (Phase 2, 2001-2005)
The Clio Renaultsport 172, or the RS 172 to save the characters, has been a staple of the hot hatch market for many years, hitting the UK shores from France in 2001.
A small, lightweight chassis weighing around 1035kg and driven by a 2.0L 4 cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine producing 172bhp, this cute little hatch will get you to 60mph in around 7 seconds. Ideal for the track day beginner, by spending a bit more you can find a RS 172 that has been optioned with the Cup package that will reduce your weight into the 980kg region, which compliments the 172bhp well and will allow you some fun on track without the added expense.
Sitting in insurance group 31, it’s ideal for the newcomer to hot hatches sitting in 4th place on our list for the lowest insurance group out of the contenders. You can find an example around 100,000 miles from £1,300 onwards, looking towards £3,000 for a cleaner example and some that have been specced from the factory with the Cup package.
Mini Cooper S (R53, 2002-2006)
The R53 Cooper S is an interesting Hot Hatch among our list, and among the market in general as it is the only one featuring a supercharged engine, as opposed to naturally aspirated or turbocharged engines. With the supercharger, the Cooper S makes 163bhp for the 2002-2004 model and 170bhp for the facelifted 2004 onwards model. Although around 100kg heavier than a standard Clio RS 172, it should be able to match the pace with a stronger powerband and a 6 speed gearbox will make it an easier car to drive daily if you have a long commute. Accompanied by a strong aftermarket scene, the Cooper S will certainly be a good starting point for those who are seeking to make their cars more unique and possibly, even faster.
Holding second place in the Insurance Group rankings on this list, the Cooper S is in Insurance Group 30 again making it ideal for those of you who are looking at getting a Hot Hatch into your second year of driving, but it isn’t the best placed on this list…
With good condition examples starting from £2,000 the Cooper S is worth a look, especially for any facelift models after 2004 which will be a bit better equipped and lighter; but be careful when checking these over and read up on the early BMW Minis, as they can be plagued with small common issues.
Peugeot 207 GTi (2009-2010)
An unlikely entry to the list, it was difficult not to include something from the once-great French manufacturer, who were giants of the Hot Hatch market.
The 207 GTi is not the best option on this list for driving, with a good amount of power rated at 175bhp from the 1.6l engine, it weighs the most out of any on this list at 1,315kg. This is only natural for the age of the car, being the newest in our list means that it tends to be more beefed up for stricter safety regulations. With unusual styling compared to other hot hatches, the Peugeot stands out amongst the crowd of boxy hatches.
Residing in Insurance Group 28, it is the second-lowest insurance group of any of our cars in this list, and maybe the cheapest overall due to its low output volume.
One of the most affordable cars in the list, its depreciation has helped the car drop into the hands of new entrants to the Hot Hatch game, with prices starting from £1,200 for an example around 80,000 miles.
Ford Fiesta ST (MK5, 2005-2008)
A commonplace hot hatch for many, the Fiesta ST has been in the market since 2005 competing at the forefront of the hot hatch market.
Boasting 150hp from the 2.0l engine, it’s not the most powerful we have on the list but the MK5 Fiesta ST is renowned for its handling and driver engagement from a hatchback platform. Being based on the very popular MK5 Fiesta, spare parts will be readily available from both the used and new market, with plenty of aftermarket support.
Our lowest insurance group option on the list, the Fiesta ST is a safe bet and a household favourite among car enthusiasts whilst it sits in insurance group 26. A decent example can be had from around £1,800 onwards, but they can be found for as cheap as £1000 with higher mileage and cosmetic issues.
Honda Civic Type R (EP3, 2001-2005)
The Honda Civic Type R is perhaps one of the most legendary Hot Hatches of the naughties; with a red Honda badge derived from Honda’s previous efforts within motorsport and their supercar: the Honda NSX.
Renowned for its power delivery through the 2.0l four-cylinder K-Series engine, it can produce 197bhp up to an 8250rpm redline; allowing this motor to truly shout above the competition. With this powerful engine, the Civic Type R does not compensate for poor handling; known for its independent rear suspension instead of a torsion beam, allowing some more play and improved handling.
The quickest of the cars on this list and most powerful, the Type R has a 0-60mph time of just 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 141mph. Unfortunately, with this infamous performance comes a price: It is in the highest insurance group out of the five cars on this list, placed in group 34. The bad news doesn’t stop there, an example around 100,000 miles will cost you £3,000, with budgets of £4,000+ more appropriate to get a good example that hasn’t been modified extensively. If you’re looking for a Hot Hatch that will hold its value, the Civic Type R is looking like a thriving pick in the current automotive market.
Have your own suggestions on what the best starter hot hatchback is? Pop it in the comments section below and explain why! Alternatively, you can join us on our community Discord server and join other like-minded individuals in the conversation!