Top 10 best hot hatchbacks 2024

5. Mercedes-AMG A45 S

4 Mercedes amg a45s top 10

Let the following statement sink in: the Mercedes-AMG A45 S is a four-wheel-drive hot hatchback that costs more than £60,000 and has a 2.0-litre four-pot that makes 416bhp and 369lb ft. Not only does that mean Affalterbach’s most rabid hot hatch has the most powerful series production four-cylinder engine on the planet, it also has a engine with a higher specific output than that of the Ferrari 488 Pista. It is, in a sense, utterly ridiculous.

Be that as it may, there’s still a phenomenal – not to mention usable – driver’s car lying beneath all its wings, fins and flares. Straight-line performance is undoubtedly immense, but more of a surprise is how well-mannered its complex, steroidal driveline is when you’re simply tooling about. Body control is rock-solid at speed, but there’s genuine compliance in the chassis too. Grip is outstanding, meanwhile, and the accuracy, weighting and textural feedback from its electrically assisted steering rack is easily up there with the best in class.

As a multi-talented hot hatchback, the A45 S is undoubtedly a triumph. But priced as it now is up beyond £50,000, it has wandered so far from the realms of relative affordability that these cars are supposed to champion that crowning it class champion would have been a touch problematic. Still, what a fantastic machine it is. And if such a pricey Merc is a step too far, we would direct you to the Volkswagen Golf R rather than the AMG A35, which isn’t quite so impressive, despite its similar looks.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S review

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6. Volkswagen Golf R

5 Vw golf r top 10

Volkswagen’s highly regarded super-Golf, the four-wheel-drive Golf R, has taken a big step forward in this latest form. Unlike 20 years ago, when the V6-engined R32 vied with the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA to be the very hottest of hot hatchbacks that could be bought with a full factory warranty, the latest one isn’t quite the fiercest car of its kind. Its 316bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine still gives it significant bragging rights, mind.

And it has other weapons. Most Golf Rs come on adaptive dampers, which can switch between B-road ironing and teeth-rattling modes at the touch of a screen. Meanwhile, the fully torque-vectored four-wheel drive system can juggle drive not just front to rear but also asymmetrically across its rear axle. Tick the right options boxes and the car will even offer a drift mode, as well as increase in the speed limiter’s ceiling to 168mph (both are part of the R Performance Pack, although we wouldn’t bother, since it’s a bit of a gimmick).

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