Hot hatches aren’t usually the fastest cars, but they’re still sporty, fun, and family-friendly. Here’s our list of the best North American hot hatchbacks of all time.
The term “hot hatchback” or “hot hatch” refers to a performance-enhanced version of a hatchback car. Often they are based on smaller subcompact or compact economy car platforms and are less expensive than sports cars.
Hot hatchbacks have a great fun-to-money ratio, perhaps better than any car option. With the right combination of engine, transmission, suspension and style, some manufacturers have turned dingy economy cars into super fun, performance-focused hot hatches.
Hot hatchback history
Which automaker offered the first hot hatch? That’s up for debate. Some might say it’s the original Mini Cooper. Others would argue that the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI was the first to use this formula. Hot hatches are popular with driving enthusiasts around the world, regardless of which company developed them first.
We’ve rounded up our thoughts on the 10 most beloved hot hatches ever sold new in North America. Yes, I know there were some really cool and really special things that were sold overseas, but they weren’t available here, and some can be imported if you’re over 25.
10 best hot hatchbacks ever
Suzuki Swift GT
It looks like a Geo Metro, but what’s sportier? 1989-1994 Suzuki Swift GT. Suzuki originally called the car the Swift GTi, but Volkswagen had already used that moniker. Later changed to GT.
The standard Suzuki Swift had pedestrian 55 horsepower. A powerful Swift GT with a 1.3L 16-valve DOHC engine producing 100 horsepower. That engine needed to move only about 1,900 pounds and was eager to perform.
These cars included sporty ground effects, sports seats, tight suspension setups and grippy 175/60R14 tires.in the meantime Suzuki no longer sells cars in North Americathe modern Swift continues to be sold elsewhere under the guise of a hot hatch.
Volkswagen Rabbit GTI (MKI)
What is GTO muscle car That’s what GTI stands for in the hot hatchback segment. Based on the original Volkswagen Rabbit platform, the 1983 GTI enhanced hatchback performance in North America.
It features quick acceleration from the fuel-injected 90-horsepower 1.8-liter engine and excellent handling from the front and rear stabilizers. It also has 29% stiffer springs and shocks compared to the regular Rabbit. The GTI rolled on 185/60R14 tires mounted on alloy wheels. This car weighs just 2,200 pounds.
With excellent driving dynamics, tuned suspension and beautiful European looks, the Rabbit left its historic mark. That’s a safe place on our best hot hatchback list.
fiat 500 abarth
The Fiat 500 Abarth is a classic example of a modern hot hatch. This is different from the cute 101 horsepower Fiat 500. The Abarth model has an extra 59 horsepower, stiff suspension and sticky tires. All of this adds up to a hot hatch that is extremely fun to drive.
The 1.4L turbocharged Multiair engine produces 160 horsepower. As such, the 500 Abarth has his one of the most prominent exhaust notes of the last decade, regardless of size or performance. With the throttle wide open, the Abarth sounds like an angry Italian. When you press the accelerator, twin tips at the rear of the car emit a bright and distinctive sound.
It’s not the fastest, but its distinctive Italian shape, remarkable handling and unmistakable exhaust note make the 500 Abarth a modern classic.
Ford Focus RS
With all-wheel drive, big turbocharged power and rally racing pedigree, the Ford Focus RS is the top performer on this list. The car was sold in Europe for years, but the model wasn’t available in North America until 2016.
It’s powered by a fire-breathing 2.3L turbocharged engine that delivers 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels in six speeds. manual transmissionThis allowed the car to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 4.5 seconds.that is rally car on the street!
Everything about this compact hatchback means performance, from the big 19-inch wheels and Brembo brakes to the swooping body kit and the ability to enter ‘drift mode’.
Sadly, the Focus RS was discontinued in North America in 2019, thus making its way into hot hatch history.
The Dodge Omni was an honest, conscientious vehicle in the 1980s. Simple, frugal and versatile. Dodge offered a fast turbocharged version called the Omni GLH (short for Goes Like Hell). 146 hp versus his 93 hp in his standard Omni.
Then, in 1986, Shelby Automobiles adopted the Omni GLH to make it even hotter. The resulting Shelby GHL-S (Goes Like Hell—S’more) may be the most iconic American sports compact his hot hatch in history.
Shelby tuned the 2.2L engine to produce 175 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque in 5th gear. manual transmissionAt the time, this car was a Chevrolet Camaro with a V8 engine, a Pontiac Firebird, ford mustang.
Only 500 Shelby GLH-S were built, making them highly collectible among hot hatch fans. Its boxy shape and powerful his 4-cylinder engine made this car an overkill underdog.
Honda CRX Si
Few Hondas are as famous and beloved as the CRX. A distinctive looking compact his hatchback debuted in 1984 and was produced until 1991. The hot hatch version was the CRX Si.
Horsepower varies by country of residence, but the sportiest engine in North America was the 1.6L SOHC mill producing 108 horsepower. But with only carrying about 2,100 pounds, the Honda CRX Si was a pocket rocket.
Its fully independent suspension also happily lived up to its strongest asset: fun in corners. Unlike all the other cars on this list, the CRX is his two-seater and sits very low to the ground like a sports car.
The car was a success in road racing and became a favorite among tuners. To this day, tuners have replaced high-performance engines in other Honda cars to make this iconic car much faster.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
When the aforementioned Volkswagen Rabbit GTI changed its body style in 1985, Golf GTISince then, each version of the Golf GTI has been the best performing front-wheel drive vehicle.
Current 7th generation GTI The turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine produces 228 horsepower and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds.
Like all good hot hatches, the suspension is tuned for performance and the standard vehicle is configured with 225/40R18 tires that offer Canyon Carving Grip.of next generation GTI It continues the GTI tradition of being a true driver’s car and a top-of-the-line hot hatchback.
Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX
In 1990, Mitsubishi debuted the Eclipse for the US market. Unlike many other hatchbacks of the time, which were square and boxy, the Eclipse and its mechanical twins, the Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon, were round and aerodynamic.
The most capable model was the all-wheel-drive Eclipse GSX with a 195-horsepower 2.0-liter engine. The Eclipse GS-T was a front-wheel drive version and still performed solidly.
All models were praised for excellent handling, quick acceleration and futuristic styling. The Eclipse/Laser/Talon were popular with road racers and tuners. Some were able to produce great power from his legendary turbocharged 4G63 engine.
in the meantime Mitsubishi cars The original Eclipse was one of the best hot hatchbacks ever made.
Ford Fiesta ST
The story of the Fiesta ST is similar to the Focus RS, just on a smaller scale. The Focus’ cousin, the Fiesta ST, didn’t arrive in North America until 2013, although it’s been on sale in other parts of the world for years.
This firecracker produces 197 horsepower turbocharged with a 1.6L engine. Power is applied to the front wheels. Other hot hatch goodies include a limited-slip differential for handling, sporty bodywork and Recaro seats with good bolstering.
The tiny Fiesta ST hits 60 mph in less than 7 seconds and offers the most fun in the modern subcompact segment. All the parts come together to make a great driver’s car that is both practical and thrifty.
Mini Cooper (#1 hot hatch pick)
Some might argue that the Mini Cooper represents the original “hot hatch.” The Mini was first produced in 1959 by the British Motor Corporation (BMC). Some call it the British version of the Volkswagen Beetle.
The name “Cooper” comes from racer John Cooper. The tart-up Mini His Cooper debuted in his 1961. Weighing only 1,288 pounds, he powered up from 34 hp to 55 hp, cross he had a ratio gearbox and disc brakes. As time went on, hotter versions such as the Mini Cooper S came along with bigger engines, better performance and more race wins.
Speaking of racing, the Mini won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967, cementing its reputation as a giant-killer on the racetrack. These Spitfires often beat out much more powerful cars, and Mini’s brand is a popular brand among racers and a perpetual underdog.
The original Mini was manufactured until 2000 and sold new in North America from 1960 to 1967. Mini is now owned by BMW and modern mini Debuted in North America in 2002.
there are some hot hatches current mini As for the lineup, I don’t think there is anything as cool as the original Mini. It has to be number one on our best hot hatchback list.