- Mar 2015

Hot hatches, Super hatches or Hyper hatches?

Ever since the birth of the original VW Golf GTI, the hot Hatch is something that became extremely popular. Who wouldn’t want a small hatchback with good power, great handling and  fun factor equal to a perfect wet-willy performed on a sibling or friend? The thing about hot hatches is  their ability to transform a respectable adult into an obnoxious, loud, sugar crazed child. That is why we love them. Another factor as to why the fun factor on a hot hatch is so high is because of the dynamics of the car. Generally the powertrain is manageable, not too much but just enough to get you smiling. That is why even an amateur driver can thoroughly enjoy driving a car like this, take for example the current Golf GTI. With 162 Kilowatts this car is not insanely fast but it’s quick enough so much so that when you’re driving one, you don’t find yourself asking for more.

Nowadays you have a variety of hot hatches to choose from. Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Renault and Audi are some key players to name a few. As you know these brands all produce fast and faster hatchbacks. Can we really categorise them all as hot hatches though? The reason for my question occurred to me when I was having a beer with a friend of mine this past weekend. My friend was telling me his glory stories of all the fun he has had in his 2014 Ford Fiesta ST, a car known for handling prowess and punchy acceleration. I then told him stories of the fun I’ve had driving the likes of BMW M135i’s and VW Golf R’s but then it occurred to me. If I had to race him in any of the two latter cars, he would stand no chance. I then asked myself, is it fair to class all these hatchbacks in the same categories? No, one wouldn’t compare a Ferrari 458 with a McLaren P1 would you? The fact is that in the supercar game there has been so much progression that a split in categories had to happen, the split between supercars and hypercars. Cars such as the Bugatti’s, Koeningsegg’s and Pagani’s  have helped solidify the hypercar segment. Now we have a new generation of hypercars, such as the Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918.

We now see the same progression in the hot hatchback segment and I think it’s time we re-evaluated the classification of these hatchbacks. You get entry level hot hatches such as the VW Polo GTI, Ford Fiesta ST and the Mini Cooper S. These cars all have no more than 150kw’s and are all the smallest of the lot of the hatches. This segment can rightfully be called the hot hatches, as the original hot hatches were built on the same concept, fast enough, fun and simple. You then get the intermediate segment of the hatches, a segment I would like to refer to as the “Super” hatches. These would consist of the likes of the VW Golf GTI, the Ford Focus ST and the Renault Megane RS. These hatches have no more than 200kw’s and are slightly bigger in size than their siblings. You then get the crème da la crème of the hatch segment, the cars I would like to call the “hyper” hatches. These cars are 200kw plus hatches, hatches that are known to annoy some super saloons and even some super cars. Say hello to the likes of the BMW M135i, Merceds A45, Audi S3 and the VW Golf R.

I think it’s only fair to have this classification of hatches because there is such a stark difference in power, handling and price between the three classes. I like the choices we as consumers have in terms of fast hatchbacks though, because we all can’t afford or handle the vision blurring likes of the hyper hatches so some of us can still have fun in the hot hatches. It’s exciting to be living in a time where you can drive a hatchback that can run with a Porsche and I look forward to seeing what other crazy concoctions the manufacturers will come up with in the near future. The new Focus RS and the Audi RS3 are sure to give us something to smile about and their rivals something to worry about. Hoorah to the hot, super and hyper hatchbacks, hoorah!