The hot hatch is the evergreen darling genre of the car industry. Since the inception of the hot hatchback, with the Volkswagen Golf gti in 1976, the market has grown into one of the most diverse within the industry of motorcars. Yet, that doesn’t really explain why they matter, so I shall attempt to explain why in this post.
Firstly, they offer relatively affordable entrances into the sphere of performance motoring. While today there are examples of hot hatchbacks such as the Audi RS3 and Mercedes A45 AMG that cost over R650k, these form part of the top tier of hot hatchery and don’t really represent the true spirit of the hot hatch. For the most part, the Golf (mk7) gti still sets the industry standard for what a hot hatch should be, and judging by the popularity of the vehicle, the R420k price tag seems to be in the region of what is considered ‘relatively affordable.’
However, it isn’t all about cost, as a hot hatchback needs to be a true performance machine. What that means is that a hot hatch must be fast, in straight lines and around corners and on any tarred surface you decide to throw it at. They are about feel and tactility, and about making everyday and every trip something exciting. to this end, the Renault Megane sport has been the go to hatchback for sometime. With lap-time records around the Nurburgring (watch that lap here), and acclaim from every journalist ever, it seems to sit at the top of the hot hatch pile when it comes to the performance vs price conundrum. Alas, the Renault Megane Sport does not represent the true hot hatchback, nor why it matters.
This is because a hot hatch truly matters to everyone because it is essentially just a family hatchback. It is meant to be fast, affordable, capable, and also practical. It should seat four adults in comfort and swallow enough luggage for a seaside holiday. The hot hatch must be able to keep up with the daily grind of traffic and heat and rain and snow, but then must still have the ability to set your pants on fire when the mood takes you. This is the purpose of the hot hatchback, and this is indeed why they matter, have mattered, and shall continue mattering.