Ah, the venerable hot hatch, the two words now synonymous with the advent of affordable performance motoring. Originating in the 1970s, the hot hatch soared in popularity in the 1980s, as more manufacturers offered grin-educing performance in familiar and practical packaging. For many petrolgents, the original school of hot hatches served as a gateway into a life-long addiction to speed. Today, original, unmolested cars are low in number and fast-appreciating. Here’s the five greatest classic hot hatches.
The Golf GTI is regarded as genesis in the big book of hot hatches. In reality, when the GTI Mk 1 launched in 1975 at the Frankfurt motor show, there was a scattering of – let’s say, tepid hatches – already on the market. But no one does it quite as well as the Germans do and, as a result, the GTI was a storming success. Ten years on and along came the eagerly anticipated follow-up – the Mk2 GTI. With the top model boasting 137hp from a 16v engine, the fresh-faced yuppie runabout was the 1980’s icon many aspired to own.
With Italian styling, nifty handling and that oh-so-eighties red piping around the bodywork, the plucky Peugeot 205 GTI was a superb package. Fitted with either a 1.6-litre (113bhp) or 1.9-litre (124hp) engine, the 205 GTI capitalised on the success of its mutant Group B rally sibling, the 205 Turbo 16.
Following on from Renault’s mid-engined 5 Turbo and Turbo 2 was the slightly less bonkers GT Turbo. Packing a 1.4-litre engine, producing 113bhp, the GT Turbo could sprint to 60mph in 7.5seconds. A firm favourite on the modification scene, there are few standard GT Turbos left on the market.
In the mid-1980s few cars could top the Ford Escort RS Turbo. With 130bhp, rally-style front-mounted fog lamps and all-around body spoilers, it was every boy racer’s dream machine. All 5,000 examples were painted white with the exception of one black car made for none other than Princess Diana.
Okay, so perhaps it’s not in the same league as our other hatches but it is, by all accords, a hatchback and a blisteringly quick one at that. The Delta name sprung to the attention of the motoring world after its success on the world rally circuit in the late 1980s. Translating some of this performance to the road were the four-wheel drive versions such as the Delta HF Integrale and Integrale Evoluzione, the later sporting wide arches, 210hp and Alcantara on the Recaro racing seats – 1980s hot hatches don’t get much better than this.
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