All the new hot hatches arriving in the next 18 months
23 January 2008

These are the cars that will be keeping legions of hot hatch aficionados in automotive eutopia for the next year a half. Everything from a new breed of Korean hot hatch to a revival of the iconic BMW Tii is expected to hit the roads in the near future, and Autocar can bring all the details:

Alfa ‘Junior’ GTA, £18,000

Based on an updated version the Fiat Punto platform, the Alfa ‘Junior’ promises to be one of the cleverest and most attractive hot hatches. Sources say it will be equipped with 1.4-litre turbocharged engines offering up to 180bhp. There are even strong rumours of a GTA model with over 200bhp.

Hyundai i30 coupé, £16,500

The i30 hatch (above) has gained respect for its chassis, suggesting it could be ideal for conversion into something hotter. There’s also a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine on the test bed. However, UK sources say any Hyundai performance car is much more likely to be a replacement for the front-drive coupé.

Ford Verve ST, £13,600

The replacement for the Fiesta will arrive at the end of ’08, based on the Mazda 2 chassis. The ST model will be based on the three-door Verve concept, which is thought to be close to production form. Like many of the new generation, expect to see the ST equipped with downsized, turbocharged petrol engines.

Kia Pro_Cee’d, £13,000

At a week-long press presentation in Korea last year, the company quietly rolled out a Cee’d fitted with a bodykit. Sources say the firm’s German R&D HQ is looking at giving Kia’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine a power and torque boost as the basis of a hot model. Expect it to appear in the Pro_cee’d coupé.

BMW 1-series Tii, £25,000

BMW promised a return to its hardcore roots when it unveiled the 1-series Tii at the Tokyo show. Although strictly a coupé, the compact 1-series shell and the high-quality sporting interior will make this a very desirable machine. Following BMW’s successful ‘Efficient Dynamics’ philosophy, the Tii’s engine could well be a 1.6 or a 1.8-litre turbocharged unit.

Mazdaspeed 2, £13,000

Much praise has been lavished on the lithe Mazda 2 supermini. So the firm wasted no time in presenting a Mazdaspeed version of the car at the Tokyo show. It gets a full ‘aero’ bodykit and race-style seats in an upgraded interior. Mazdaspeed brakes and suspension are also fitted. Expect it later this year.

Peugeot 308 GTI, £20,000

Peugeot has not had a hot-hatch hit since the lightweight 306 GTi-6 was deleted. The 307 marked the disappearance of Peugeot’s trademark snappy chassis tuning. But the more fluid and willing 308 GTI — which gets 175bhp and is due to be unveiled in the next few weeks — might turn the tide.

Fiat Punto Abarth, £13,500

This performance version of the Punto is much more than a warming-over job. The Abarth gets a 155bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, a 10mm lower chassis, stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars. The exterior gets new bumpers, side skirts, smart 17in wheels and new wheel arch trim. A ‘Sport Boost’ switch will pump the torque up from 152 to 170lb ft.

Renault Megane R26 ‘Ultimate’, £21,000

Not much has leaked out from Renault about the rumoured ‘ultimate’ incarnation of the current Mégane. However, it is thought that the new car is even more hardcore than the model on which it’s based, with further, extreme weight-saving measures to the fore.

Seat Ibiza Cupra, £16,000

Seat once had a stranglehold on the hot hatch market, and the Spanish marque will get a chance to re-assert its grip on affordable performance this year with the all-new Ibiza. It gets a new platform and small-capacity TSI turbo engines. Hot diesels will also be on the agenda.

VW Golf GTI (mk6), £21,000

Destined to appear later this year, the sixth-generation Golf project is more about making the base car easier and more profitable to build. So the failsafe GTI formula won’t change much, although we might see a downsized turbocharged engine (perhaps a 1.6-litre direct-injection unit) and the car will get a seven-speed DSG ’box.

Our Verdict

Fiat Punto

Decently spacious for a supermini, with a good range of engines, but the Punto's driving dynamics are less-than beguiling

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Hilton Holloway

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