reset
Viewed : 24,380 times

Recommended Articles

We celebrate 10 of our favourite hot hatches, which may be small in footprint but definitely big on fun and have made motoring in Singapore more enjoyable.

07 Mar 2018


Put one up against a supercar on a tight and twisty B-road and it'll give the latter a serious run for its money. It may be small in size but definitely big on fun, with handling prowess and power delivery some if its key selling points.

Throw a go-fast hatch, like a Suzuki Ignis Sport, along some tight and twisty roads and you'll soon uncover the magic of one
That said, despite being something that's sporty, it has to be able to handle the worst that our construction-stricken roads can throw at it. It also has to be able to be something that can be used every day of the week; something that possesses a practical, comfortable interior and, more importantly, reasonable running costs compared to full-fat performance cars.

It is the sports car for the working class, perfect for countries like ours where roads are limited and family sizes small. It's the best of pocket-sized performance that can literally do it all and do it well. It is likely all the car you'll ever need. It is the hot hatch.

Within the sgCarMart Editorial Team (past and present), the hot hatch ownership count stands at seven. And all of them have made it into this listical, which celebrates our 10 favourite hot hatches that have made commuting in Singapore (and our jobs) so much more fun.

The Audi RS3 Sportback is a girl who's a lady on the streets but a freak in the sheets when you rub her the right way
1. Audi RS3 Sportback

While most hot hatches make do with four cylinders, the Audi RS3 employs five, which is a nod to the brand's five-cylinder motor racing history with huge success.

No automaker is more closely associated with five-cylinder engines than Audi.

In the RS3, its modern-day turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder makes a whopping 394bhp that kind of makes it more super than hot.

The 0-100km/h sprint is done in a mere 4.1 seconds (fastest one in this list) but even with such power and its track-focused quattro all-wheel drive system, the RS3 is surprisingly really usable (read: comfortable) as an everyday car. Plus, it makes one hell of a beautiful noise when you put the pedal to the metal.

Want to go sideways in a hot hatch? The playful BMW M140i is your weapon of choice
2. BMW M140i

Now rebadged as the M140i, this is BMW's take on the hot hatch segment and the only one with a rear-wheel drive layout.

The M140i is the most powerful and dynamic 1 Series BMW you can buy today and it's also got the largest engine in this top 10 list, with 3.0-litres and six cylinders of turbocharged power, an ample 340bhp and 500Nm of torque.

The latest version will go from 0-100km/h in just 4.6 seconds, which is no means the fastest one here but its dynamic poise and gorgeous engine make it a very unforgettable car. It's neither as tied down as a Focus RS, nor does it have the point-to-point pace of Golf R but on the right road, none of that matters.

Despite being the oldest car in this list, the Honda Civic Type R EK9 remains a chart-topper in our hearts
3. Honda Civic Type R EK9

Yes, there is a new Type R that's turbocharged and more powerful than ever, and also the class title holder on the Nurburgring. But none of those figures really matter when remembering the Godfather of the Civic Type R bloodline, the EK9.

Some of our favourite aspects of the EK9 include its screaming 182bhp hand-ported, naturally aspirated 1.6-litre VTEC engine, which once held the record for having the highest output per litre.

While that may not sound like much today, the EK9 weighed just 1,073kg and is armed with a nimble front-wheel drive chassis that handles brilliantly. Whether in its time or today, the EK9 remains one of the most fun cars to drive, thanks to a pure, unadulterated driving experience and is a highly sought-after collector's car.

With the Focus RS, Ford didn't just create a cracking-good driver's hatch but one that's downright stylish
4. Ford Focus RS

While it has four doors and a versatile hatchback body, the Focus RS is truly a performance car above all else.

The latest Focus RS we get shares the EcoBoost Mustang's 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which enables it 345bhp, 440Nm of torque and a century sprint timing of 4.7 seconds.

Its power is channelled though a six-speed manual and a clever four-wheel drive system that can send up to 70 percent of the power to the rear axle, and then up to 100 percent of that to either of the rear wheels.

Built to thrill, it's a pocket rocket that brims with energy thanks to beautiful steering feel and a chassis that keeps it agile and alive.

Despite being the baby of the AMG fraternity, the A 45 is the most fun for zipping around
5. Mercedes-Benz A-Class A 45 AMG

Mercedes' answer to the Audi RS3, the A 45 AMG too, is more super than hot given the 381bhp and 475Nm of torque that courses from its turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder through to all four wheels.

Constantly locked in a power struggle with its Audi rival, the A 45 opens up AMG ownership to a host of potential fans who have previously been denied access to the high-priced, usually V8-powered cars from the company's sporting arm.

To put into perspective how nutsy it is, the A 45 has more power than a base Porsche 911 Carrera, so it should come as no surprise that this baby AMG is properly quick. However, it never feels scary, which is probably down to how effectively its four-wheel drive system transfers all that power to the road.

If you ever get outrun by a MINI, whether on local roads, the race track or a B-road, the JCW is probably the culprit
6. MINI John Cooper Works

Don't let its MINI name and cutesy styling fool you; the JCW is a hot hatch that's bursting with playfulness and B-road bombing verve. It is the madder and badder version of the Cooper S, powered by a 228bhp, 320Nm turbo-four.

Although not as powerful as many cars in this list, the JCW's trump card is the eagerness it displays when you throw it into corners. It stays impressively flat and puts its power down well, too.

And unlike earlier JCW models, it doesn't feel like you're strapping in for a rodeo ride on an unruly bull. The only thing that dampens its hot hatch appeal slightly is its two-door layout but once you get it going through a good set of roads, you wouldn't even feel bad for your passengers' lack of knee space.

The Colt Version-R is a popular choice for those who want a cheaper-to-buy turbocharged fun car
7. Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart Version-R

The Version-R may not be recognised globally as a serious hot hatch contender but locally, it represents a more affordable option for those who wanted a go-fast hatchback under $100,000.

It's powered by a 1.5-litre MIVEC turbo engine that made 154bhp when first released, which is joined to either a Getrag five-speed manual or INVECS-III 6-CVT, and is nicknamed 'Baby Evo' (partially due to its vented bonnet, too).

While its 154bhp isn't much, the Version-R is a favourable platform for tuning which, with the right hardware (intake, exhaust, intercooler or even a hybrid turbo setup), sees power figures breech the 250bhp mark. That in a compact, 1,160kg car equates to a lot of smiles per miles.

Those who frown upon French cars will have their minds changed after a day in a Megane RS
8. Renault Megane RS

Spawned from the Renault Sport division, which has a part to play in its Formula One efforts, there is little doubt of the RS' tracking capabilities, as well as the ability to turn daily drives into highly gratifying ones.

The last version we drove is the 265 model (2012-2017) that had a healthy 265bhp and 360Nm of torque, and a brilliant differential as well as an independent steering axis to completely eliminate any unwanted torque steer that can hinder a high-powered front driver.

More than that, the chassis is so well dialled in as to render all-wheel drive redundant and it delivers the kind of drive feel you wouldn't expect from a car costing $184,999 (back in 2013). To many hot hatch enthusiasts, it's even considered the best front-wheel drive car ever built.

The Swift Sport is a cheap-to-run fun hatch that's great for grocery getting, B-road bombing and occasional tracking
9. Suzuki Swift Sport

Probably one of the most popular starter performance cars from about a decade ago, the ZC31S Swift Sport (2005-2012) is another Japanese offering that allowed entry into the hot hatch segment for a fair bit under $100,000.

Although more warm than hot, the ZC31S (paired with a close-ratio five-speed manual) is a car that reminds us of the time when hot hatches were small dainty cars with responsive and revvy engines coupled with handling to boot.

It is so light and nimble that you'd forgive Suzuki for giving its M16A engine only 125bhp and 140Nm of torque. It's a car that preys on those with little self-control because it brings out the naughtiness of the closet hooligan in you if you let it.

The facelifted Mk7 Golf GTI proves that making the world's best hot hatch even better is a Volkswagen specialty
10. Volkswagen Golf GTI

What's a hot hatch list without the grand daddy of all hot hatches (although some recognise the 1973 Simca 1100TI as the world's first hot hatch), the Golf GTI?

Introduced in 1976, the Mk1 GTI is often considered the spiritual father of hot hatchery and is one of the earliest, polished fast hatchbacks. The popularity of the Golf GTI boomed in Singapore when the fifth generation Mk5 model was introduced.

Its multi-linked rear was perceived to be a marked improvement over that of its benchmark rival with a similar setup, the Ford Focus. It also formed the basis of Volkswagen's new range of TSI, forced-induction range of engines and signalled the mass appeal of dual-clutch transmissions in Singapore.

Two generations on, ownership of the Mk6 and Mk7 Golf GTI models show no signs of slowing down. With just over 200bhp from the factory, many will easily see a 50bhp bump with just a remap. Coupled with a well-made cabin, a reasonable amount of space and easy driveability (and chuckability), it's easy to see why it is touted as the world's best hatchback.

This list, however, is by no means exhaustive. We'd love to hear from you. Let us know which hot hatches bring back your fondest driving memories in the comments below.

If you can relate to these cars and have an itch for one, head over to our Used Cars section to shop for your very own pocket rocket!
  • Email

You may also like

1-10 of 20