BLOG 2019


After just driving and photographing the brand new Focus ST it made me wonder what is the best hot hatch on the market today, so here’s my views on the current top four...
If like me you passed your test in the late eighties then their was only one car you ever wanted, the MK2 Golf GTi, Volkswagens marketing campaign was on TV at almost every ad break and the desire for the hot hatch was every youngsters dream car, even more so than the iconic Countach and Testarossa super cars as these were attainable and if you didn’t have the wedge for the top range GTI you could get a Golf Driver, G275 PES was my third VW and on the outside looked like it’s big brother GTI.

Along the way Peugeot had the 205 GTI and Ford had the Fiesta XR2 and Escort RS model’s, but the VW was still the king of cool, plus the ads showed it with wealthy good looking people driving it making the car one for the masses, has it all changed though?

The recent top hot hatch scene is a busy one, Honda have now nailed it with the Civic Type R 300 plus brake horsepower, touring car looks with big spoilers, triple exhausts and one of the most precise manual boxes around, plus it handles brilliantly.

Next up Hyundai has made the i30N, when an ex BMW M engineering head joins the Korean firm you know they mean business, it looks subtle but has some red accents and some splash’s of mock carbon fibre to set it off nicely. Sounds good, handles well and is well put together, plus it has some of that rally heritage behind it to give it a credible place in this market.

The Golf GTI is still in there and with a new model due next year the current one looks a little out of place with the lowest output of the four, 235 bhp in standard form, the Hyundai comes in at 275 bhp with the performance pack. But look at it, subtle and classy, spec it with the tartan cloth seats and you feel like your back in the eighties, the one thing the Golf does so well is blend in but still make a statement. I have clients with Ferrari’s and Lambo’s whose daily car is a Golf GTI, it just never looks out of place and this version is the best ever, handling, comfort and let’s face it when we get to over 200bhp that’s plenty fast enough on our uneven and neglected road system.

The last contender is the newbie, Ford Focus ST, the blue oval has always been the car that your Dad had, my folks had a MK 2 Cortina, brown metallic with a black vinyl roof, I can still smell the black faux leather trim now. Friends parents had first gen Mondeos, Escort Mexico’s and the marque has fans from all ages.

The hot hatch has always been a consistent with the brand, and unlike VW the Fiesta and Escort/Focus have always been great cars, you had the XRi variant and then the RS if you wanted more flair and performance. The ST now sits in an unusual spot, at £32,000 it’s not cheap, power is at 276bhp, it has loads of gadgetry to keep it on the road fully planted and still looks as subtle as a GTI. With the next generation VW GTI around the corner it will be interesting to see if they chase the numbers, the R variant with 4WD doesn’t feature here as a true hot hatch should be front wheel drive IMO.

Ford for me have got this car just right, styling is good although the rear end could do with a more pronounced rear spoiler to give it a sportier stance, seats are comfy, spec is excellent and it sounds great. The electronic limited slip differential works a treat and the balance and grip generated from the car makes it top of the tree for me, the Honda runs a close second but the looks of it are always going to divide opinion, and the FST works on all counts. When Mountune add their upgrades it should push over 300 bhp and will then be for me the consummate hot hatch, until that new VW GTI comes along!