Six of the best European hot hatches ever built

We all love hot hatches. These cars made performance attainable for millions of motorists, and gave us something to aspire to during our formative years. As a result, both classic and contemporary models are now some of the most desirable cars on our roads.

American manufacturer Ford was – and still is – known for its hot hatches, but Europe has always been home to some of the best. This is our pick of the bunch.


Volkswagen Golf GTI MkI

The word ‘icon’ is overused in the automotive industry. It’s attributed to everything from humble hatchbacks to 1960s supercars, and we’re fed up of it. Because every so often you find a model that really does deserve the honorific. The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of those cars.

Seat Leon Cupra

Seat Leon Cupra 2014

Spanish brand Seat may be one of VW’s acolytes, but it has managed to upstage its parent company in recent years. This, though, is the car that really made a mockery of the VW models. The 276bhp Leon Cupra was streets ahead of the Golf GTI, and though both cars have evolved, the Cupra has remained among the very best.

Peugeot 205 GTi

Peugeot 205 GTi

Strangely enough, the Peugeot 205 GTi is probably most famous for the adverts in which it starred. Remember the plane and the frozen lake? But the 205 GTi was also a top-drawer pocket rocket, and it’s now a desirable classic. Good ones change hands for big money.

Skoda Fabia vRS

Skoda Fabia vRS MkI

Putting a diesel engine in a hot hatchback seemed like folly of the highest order when Skoda first mooted the idea. Now, though, the Fabia vRS looks like a trailblazer, paving the way for cars like the Focus ST diesel and Octavia vRS.

Renault 5 Turbo

Renault 5 Turbo

The Renault 5 was one of France‘s best-loved cars, with simplistic styling, simple engineering and nippy handling earning it a place in the history books. But it was the go-faster turbo versions that captured the hearts and minds of boy- and girl-racers everywhere.

Lancia Delta HF Integrale

Lancia Delta HF Integrale

The world’s rally stages have long been the making of heroes. The Audi Quattro, Lancia Stratos and even the Subaru Impreza all rose to fame after leaping over crests and sliding through forests. But few are as famous as the boxy Delta Integrale, which goes down in history as one of the best hot hatches ever made.

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