We count down the five most significant hot hatches ever built.
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High-performance hatchbacks have been around for the best part of half a century, and we've picked our list of the five hottest ever built.

With so many classic to choose from however, let us know your own top five in the comments below.


Peugeot 205 GTI

Launched in 1984, the Peugeot 205 GTI was an early pioneer in the hot-hatch segment.

The sporty three-door – based on the standard 205 hatchback – initially featured a 77kW 1.6-litre engine, however 1987 saw the introduction of a 94kW 1.9-litre variant.

Power is sent to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission, and, in the flagship model, the 0-100km/h sprint takes a claimed 7.8 seconds on the way to a top speed of 206km/h. That may not sound fast now, but it was an absolute pocket-rocket in its day.

A limited-edition mid-engine all-wheel drive variant – known as the 205 Turbo 16 – was also introduced by Peugeot in 1984 for Group B rally homologation (shown at top of page). Just 200 customer examples were built, and none were sold in Australia.


Toyota GR Yaris

Launched to much fanfare in 2020, the Toyota GR Yaris is a 200kW homologation-special, all-wheel-drive firecracker.

The three-door hatch puts out 200kW/370Nm from its 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine, sent to the ground via a six-speed manual transmission.

The 0-100km/h sprint takes a claimed 5.5 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 230km/h.

The coronavirus pandemic ultimately prevented World Rally Championship testing from taking place, and the car was never used by Toyota for professional racing. Regardless, the Toyota GR Yaris – in less than a year – has firmly established itself as a modern classic.


Lancia Delta Integrale

Launched in 1989 in '8V' form, the Lancia Delta Integrale homologation special had been developed during – and for – the last days of the infamous Group B rally regulations.

A fatal accident in a Lancia Delta S4 during the 1986 Tour de Corse lead directly to the banning of the category, and the Integrale variant subsequently competed in Group A up until 1993.

In road-going form, the all-wheel-drive hatchback derives 136kW/304Nm from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, and this is sent to the ground via a five-speed manual transmission.

This set up allows the 8V variant to accelerate from 0-100km/h in a claimed 6.6 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 214km/h.


Ford Fiesta ST

The Ford Fiesta ST – which was unveiled as a concept in 2011 and went into production the following year – is considered by many to be the ultimate modern day bang-for-your-buck hot hatch.

Now sold in a single spec locally, the five-door Fiesta ST derives power from a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine.

This sends 147kW/290Nm to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

The 0-100km/h sprint is completed in a claimed 6.5 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 231km/h.


Volkswagen Golf GTI

Launched in 1975 and still going strong eight generations later, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is the archetypal hot hatch, and a barometer against which all else is measured.

The all-new 2021 variant – known as the Mk8 – derives 180kW/370Nm from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, sent to the ground via a seven-speed automatic gearbox. For reference, the original Mk1 variant put out just 81kW/140Nm.

A 0-100km/h time of 6.3 seconds is claimed in the new model, on the way to an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h.

This makes it the fastest car outright on this list by some margin, but it's not just performance that makes the GTI so popular – the five-door hatch is supremely comfortable, refined, and practical.


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