The art of the hot hatch

I began writing a new blog earlier in the week, about the history of a particular car. However, it got me thinking. What makes the hot hatch category so popular? Everywhere you look you see Ford Fiestas, Renault Clios and BMW 1 series.

So, I decided to dive into this and find out just why the hot hatch category became so popular.

A short history of the hot hatch

The term was initially created in the mid-1980s (the term could be seen in the newspaper ‘The Times’ in 1985). However, has been retroactively applied to some cars dating back to the 1970s with the 1973 Simca 1100 Ti, 1976 Renault 5 Alpine and the 1978 Volkswagen Golf GTi.

The traditional layout for a typical hot hatch of the 1990s and 2000s consisted of a front-mounted, usually petrol, engine as well as a front-wheel-drive system. However, in more recent times, a lot of hot hatches have started using an all-wheel-drive system to help traction off the line and round the corners.

Whether a good or a bad thing, many accredit the Hot Hatch as the death of muscle cars. This is because you had the best of both sides. You had the performance and capability when the cars were being pushed, but also the sensibility and good economy when they weren’t. All this results in a car that appeals in both market segments and softens the blow of being sensible.

Benefits of a hot hatch

The benefits of a hot hatch are almost identical to those of a hatchback. This is because the ideology behind a hot hatch is an increased power version of a regular hatchback. Therefore, you have very similar styling and dimensions of a regular hatchback with increased power and more recently increased traction coming from the new all-wheel-drive systems. Some other benefits of hatchbacks can be seen below:

Wider boot

One of the reasons that hatchbacks have become so popular especially in Europe is the ease of use of the rear boot. Because it’s a hatchback, the entire rear hatch of the car (Do you see where the term hatchback comes from now?) opens to reveal a large easily accessible boot space.

Rear headroom

This is a benefit not everyone will need, but as I’m 6’4, I struggle with this far more than your average person. Compared to a sedan, a hatchback is a bubble. The bubble shape stays relative consistent all the way towards the rear hatch. Whereas with a sedan, the sloping rear window often impinges on headspace in the rear.

Increased drivability

Now, this isn’t always the case, however more often then not, hatchbacks are more fun to take around the twisty roads. Because of the shape of the hatchback, they often have a shorter wheelbase than the traditional sedan. This affects the weight distribution of the cars, shortens the drivetrain and allows everything to feel a little more responsive. This increased responsiveness is what makes it brilliant round a twisty road or around the streets of the city centre.

A place for new technology

All automotive technology started somewhere, often on a top-end model, slowly trickling down through the years into the standard versions. A great example of this and hot hatches is fuel injection. Fuel injection technology allows smaller displacement engines to compete with larger displacement engines while remaining more economical and keeping weight down.

The fuel injection variants were such a big deal they even received their own separate variant in many circumstances such as the Volkswagen Golf GTi, Ford XR2i and the Vauxhall Sri.

Drawbacks of a hot hatch

Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and neither are hot hatches. They have a few big flaws that depending on how much you care, can mean the difference between a purchase.

Some of the drawbacks can be seen below, however, to summarise they are renowned for high insurance quotes and are all round more costly than regular hatchbacks.

Insurance and theft

The increased popularity of the hot hatch market means that more and more people are buying and getting insurance on these hatchbacks. This results in higher insurance premiums and an increased risk of getting stolen. The popularity has also shifted the audience for grocery-getting parents to wannabe boy racers and younger drivers.

More costly

Unfortunately, the world revolves around money, and a modern hot hatch can make a significant dent in your bank account. With their increased performance and features they often cost significantly more than regular hatchbacks. As of the time of writing this, a brand-new Golf R costs £32,850. However, you could lease a brand-new Golf R for a lot less.


Hot hatches are here to stay and don’t seem to be decreasing in popularity. Many of these flaws are slowly being fixed by manufacturers and becoming non-issues. Their list of benefits is almost endless. 

Hot hatches are the focus of most major manufacturers recently and in the near future, they will probably become almost 50% of all personal cars on the road.

Kappa Car Leasing can help you get the hot hatch of your dreams at an affordable monthly rate, contact us today to find out more and get a bespoke quote!

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