At first, hatchbacks weren't powerful cars. Great responsiveness and light weight made them fun to drive. Today, performance is one of the most attractive features of these small family cars. "Sports hatchback" has become a new category. The modern hatchbacks have become so powerful that they dominate rally and touring car championships around the world. Times on Nurburgring show that modern hatchbacks are faster than some sports coupes or saloon cars.
Once exclusively front-wheel drives, nowadays, more hatchbacks, like the Focus or the Impreza, are using four-wheel-drive systems. With steering power and control on all four wheels, it's no wonder they started to dominate fastest hatchbacks lists. There's still a place for front-wheel-drive hatchbacks on the market because they're cheaper to make and have lighter weight, so their price is lower. Hatchbacks must be affordable everyday cars. Some car manufacturers even offer large hatchbacks like the Audi A7.
The quest for more power didn't change the basic requirements for a good hatchback. A quality hatchback must be able to deliver your child safely to school, have space in the trunk for all the groceries, and give a comfortable ride to your whole family. Our list is strictly about acceleration and those hatchbacks that go from 0 to 60 mph under 5 seconds. On it, there are cars from only six car brands. However, that list is growing every year.
20 Audi A7 3.0 TDI Sportback Competition Quattro 2014 - 4.9 Seconds
The Audi A7 is built on the famous Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform like most Audi A vehicles. The A7 Sportback is available with two engines: a standard 3.0-liter TFSI supercharged gasoline engine and 3.0-liter TDI turbo diesel. The gasoline engine can produce 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. It's a good engine, but the twin-turbocharged diesel is better. It produces 326 horsepower and maximum torque of 479 pound-feet between 1,400 and 2,800 rpm (topspeed.com). If that's not enough, if you floor it, the TDI’s computer will increase turbo boost for an extra 20 horsepower. Its looks are also boosted from the standard A7 version through the S line sports package. Inside is the same story. As you can expect from Germans, you get a huge number of gadgets and options. The A7 Sportback TDI Competition provides an awesome sporty diesel experience and great luxury. However, it's quite expensive.
19 Audi A3 S3 2.0 Turbo S-Tronic Sportback 2012 - 4.8 Seconds
Audi A3 is one of the best and most easily recognizable hatchbacks in history. The S3 Sportback is the most powerful of the Audi A3's. It's also the most spacious with five doors and extra boot space. Under the hood is 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, 16-valve engine that produces 296 bhp with torque measuring 280 lb-ft. Volkswagen is using the same engine for the Golf GTI. However, in the Audi S3, you get a seven-speed auto gearbox that also uses an AWD system. Even with bigger size and more family orientation, the Audi S3 is fun to drive. Handling is fantastic and comfort is the best among A3 versions. Like the Golf, this Audi S3 is a great all-around car that gives you even better value for money.
18 Audi A3 S3 2.0 Turbo S-Tronic 2012 – 4.7 Seconds
We reviewed this same Audi S3 previously but with a Sportback addition. Under the hood, the Audi A3 has been the same since 2006: a four-wheel drive with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that produces 296 bhp. However, here, you're getting a twin-clutch gearbox—just an upgrade to an already successful six-speed gearbox. Despite the fact that later, a seven-speed gearbox was fitted in the A3, this old one was better. Shifting gears was smooth and fast. It's also interesting that the automatic version was faster than the manual because the auto shifting was so rapid, and you can't be that fast with your hands. It's a shame Audi didn't keep it. This gearbox is the reason for the slightly faster acceleration than the Audi S3 Sportback.
17 Volkswagen-VW Golf R 2.0 Turbo DSG 2016 – 4.7 Seconds
The 2.0 Turbo DSG is the most powerful Golf version. The GTI has an old great R32 six-cylinder engine. And with the front-drive, it offers a very civil and calm drive. However, Golf R type's Mk7 R four-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive are simply better and faster. The 984 cc engine of the 2016 gives the power of 292 bhp. With the new gearbox and all-wheel drive, you get fantastic handling with an incredible amount of grip and maybe a little understeer. This fantastic-all-round car is now better and faster than ever. Yet, the Focus, the Audi, and the Megane are probably more attractive to customers. Nevertheless, the Golf endures every challenge. It's been present much longer on the market, is more reliable, and has a great resale price. The Golf's appeal will never go away.
16 Volkswagen-VW Golf R 2.0 Turbo DSG 2017 - 4.6 Seconds
Every year, the Golf gets some standard new upgrades plus some that are specific for particular models. We already introduced the engine for this model. For 2017, people from Volkswagen did some recalibrations, so now, the 2-liter TSI engine has 306 bhp. This makes the Golf R 2.0 Turbo DSG slightly faster than its previous edition. The exterior, however, only got some tiny changes that most people won't even notice. Optional 19-inch wheels are on offer instead of 18-inch ones. Driving is fantastic like last year's, like always. In fact, you could say that handling has never been better. Inside, there's a new high-resolution display and navigation with a slick touchscreen. Volkswagen added some new driving mods. The best of them is mod that gives you the option for programming your own settings—another year and another cracking Golf.
15 BMW 1 Series M140i F21 LCI 2016 - 4.6 Seconds
The BMW M140i is a cult classic among car enthusiasts. More affordable than any true M series car, it's incredibly fun to drive with more than enough power. This car started its life as an M135i in 2012. The reason for the name change was an update—one that only improves, not changes, this car. The BMW M140i got a new 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that produces 335 horsepower. This engine gives not just impressive power but also performance on all surfaces. The comfort and craftsmanship quality is up to BMW standards. However, the BMW M140i is a bit more expensive than the other hatchbacks on our list but is well worth your money. Also, is it me or is BMW's naming policy getting sillier with every new model?
14 Subaru Impreza WRX STI 330S 2008 - 4.6 Seconds
There aren't many differences between the Subaru WRX and the 330S. Actually, the 330S started its life as the WRX STI. Then, Subaru gave it a luxury facelift full of new alloys and leather, along with electronic locks and a DVD sat-nav. The ultimate version has a Prodrive Performance Kit. Prodrive did some engine management tweaks and added quad exhausts. Under the hood of this Impreza is a 16-valve F4 Turbo Petrol engine. It's capable of producing 325 bhp and torque measuring 347 lb-ft. All this power is tamed by five-speed manual gearbox. Driving this four-wheel-drive rally car is simply fantastic. Inside, the Subaru Impreza was always a Spartan. However, 330S has good equipment and comfort quality. At its time, this was the quickest accelerating hot hatch in the world.
13 Audi A3 RS3 Sportback 2.5 Turbo 2010 - 4.6 Seconds
The Audi A3 is one of the most popular premium hatchbacks in the world. It's not as fun to drive as the Focus, the Golf, or the BMW 1 series, but it's reliable and spacious, and it has good performance. The Audi A3 is the smallest model produced by Quattro GmbH. Under the bonnet is a 2.5-liter, 20-valve St5 Turbo Petrol engine. It can produce 335 horsepower with torque measuring 332 lb-ft (454.1 Nm) at 1,600 rpm. The RS3 is four-wheel driven and controlled by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Audi RS3 is only available with five doors, hence the name "Sportback." Driving is firm but not very exciting. Inside, everything looks and feels good. And with the optional Alcantara interior, it's fantastic. The Audi A3 RS3 is a decent hatchback. But in 2010 there was more fun and simply better options on the market.
12 Mercedes A Class 45 AMG 2.0 Turbo 2013 - 4.6 Seconds
The best quality of the Mercedes A45 AMG is its speed, along with traditional Mercedes luxury. Engineers from Mercedes give this car a nickname: "The Beast." Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbo engine that can reach the power of 355 horsepower. It's amazing how much power AMG engineers led by Jerome Wachholz managed to extract from just 2.0 liters and four cylinders. Officially, Mercedes claims that the A45 AMG accelerates from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds, but many owners and car experts measured acceleration in around 4 seconds. This is because they used launch control, sports mode, and a manual gearbox. This engine, however, can be noisy, and its handling isn't great. Yes, it has an all-wheel drive, but it's more about raw power than rapid point-to-point driving.
11 BMW 5 Series 550i GT xDrive F07 2013 - 4.6 Seconds
The BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is a luxury hatchback with great performance. The BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo has two versions: a 535i and a 550i. The 550i has a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 with impressive 445 horsepower and torque of 480 lb-ft (edmund.com). Transmission is eight-speed automatic, whiteout manual option. The xDrive version is available with all-wheel drive. The amount of equipment on offer is simply staggering, including iDrive electronics navigation, rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera, among others—yes, the options list is incredibly long. Its passenger comfort is fantastic, and the 5 Series has a great cargo-carrying flexibility. Like the Audi A3, its driving is firm and not so edgy because of the extra pounds—it can even feel like driving a sedan. The BMW 5 Series 550i GT is an unusual combination of sportiness, practicality, and great comfort.
10 Ford Focus RS 2.3 Turbo 2016 - 4.5 Seconds
This is the third generation of the Ford Focus RS. Nothing significantly changed; strong performance and exceptional handling are still there. The engine is a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 345 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. This engine is taken from the EcoBoost Mustang. The Focus is lighter and more nimble than the Mustang, though, the all-wheel drive and rally pedigree helping Ford in achieving that. However, the interior feels dated compared to others, especially German hot-hatch rivals. Most customers have also complained about the height of the front seats for years, but nothing has changed. The Focus also has a good number of gadgets but a short list of options. And the exterior didn't change much; the only difference is that now, the Focus is a five-doors-only car. Therefore, with the Ford Focus RS, you can expect great performance, but the interior lacks quality and some options that rivals can offer.
9 Volkswagen-VW Golf R 4Motion 2.0 Turbo 2017 - 4.4 Seconds
The Golf R has always had incredible performance and raw power under the hood. Moreover, as always, the Golf is a quality-all-round car. The R version is the most expensive VW Golf on the market. So, Volkswagen has given it a lot of updates for 2017. Everything from styling, to all engine variants, to the technology was updated. Despite some changes, however, the bodywork is still that of a classical Golf. Inside, a new 9.2-inch color touchscreen is waiting along with a new driver’s instrument table. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter 16-valve St4 Turbo Petrol engine. The Golf R 4Motion offers a six-speed manual gearbox and an AWD system responsible for power delivery. Its handling is great, and the ride is gentle. The Golf R is also fantastic on any type of terrain and is equally appealing to young, aggressive, and family-oriented customers.
8 Audi A3 S3 Sportback 2.0 Turbo S-Tronic 2016 - 4.4 Seconds
The Audi A3 is the best-selling model in the small-car segment. However, boys from Ingolstadt don't rest on their laurels. In fact, for 2016, the A3 Sportback got many updates. Under the hood is a 16-valve St4 Turbo Petrol engine. It produces the power of 306 bhp and torque measuring 280 lb-ft at 5,700 rpm. All this is controlled with a seven-speed auto gearbox delivered through S3's AWD system. The Audi A3 S3 Sportback model is dressed in S-line styling. Audi's Virtual Cockpit is the highlight of many gadgets you'll get with this car. Inside, the Audi A3 provides a quiet and comfortable experience for five passengers. Its driving is also as smooth and as fun as a hot hatch should be. The Audi A3 isn't just a great hot hatch but also a perfect entry-level Audi.
7 Ford Focus RS 2.3 Mountune FPM375 2017 - 4.3 Seconds
The "Mountune" in the name represents a performance upgrade. It's a collaboration between Ford and a well-known tuning company. The upgrade is called "FPM375" or "Ford Performance by Mountune." It's an inexpensive upgrade that adds an extra 25 bhp, 30 lbs, and some changes to the engine. There are no drastic changes in driving. Only when you really floor the gas pedal can you feel the additional power boost. Its engine is a 16-valve St4 Turbo Petrol. Thanks to Mountune, it has 370 horsepower and torque measuring 376 lb-ft. This Focus has a light six-speed manual gearbox and a four-wheel-drive system. Driving can be precise, smooth, or aggressive, depending on your preference and the driving mode you select. The Focus is already a fantastic hot hatch, but with the Mountune upgrade, it's a performance bargain.
6 BMW 1 Series M140i xDrive F20 2016 - 4.2 Seconds
BMW's series 1 reached its peak in 2016 with the M140i model. The BMW 1 series is offered with three 3-liter engine choices: a three-, a four-, and a six-cylinder version. The most powerful 3.0-liter is the six-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that has 335 horsepower and torque of 369 lb-ft. The M140i xDrive F20 is standard BMW rear-wheel drive. People can choose between the standard six-speed manual gearbox and the optional eight-speed automatic. You can expect standard BMW styling inside and out. Despite an emphasis on performance, people from BMW didn't totally forget everyday practicalities. A number of gadgets and options are impressive. The passenger comfort is also good, but it's more comfortable in the back with four people. This is an impressive small car that you can buy for less than $40k.
5 Audi A3 RS3 Sportback 2.5 Turbo 2015 - 4.2 Seconds
The Audi A3 is an expensive and luxury hatchback that can go incredibly fast. Under the hood is an impressive 20-valve St5 Turbo Petrol engine. The peak of this engine's power is 362 horses and torque measuring 343 lb-ft at 1,625 rpm. The RS3 Sportback is equipped with the seven-speed double-clutch S-Tronic automatic gearbox. You even have steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters at your disposal. As you already know, its acceleration is fantastic for a hot hatch. However, its handling is sadly not so great. Outside of the public roads, the Audi A3 can be hard to control when accelerating hard. The steering lacks precision and doesn't give a good enough feel of the road. However, there are some upgrades from previous versions inside, the highlight being carbon-fiber shelled race-style seats. The 2015's Audi A3 is a solid although less impressive hatchback.
4 Mercedes A Class 45 AMG 4Matic 2.0 Turbo 2015 - 4.0 Seconds
The Mercedes A Class 45 AMG is a luxury crossover that brings class, performance, and comfort into the hot-hatch market. This is basically a smaller and shorter version of the CLA45 AMG sedan. Of course, you get more versatility and fun driving a hatchback. Under the bonnet is 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It produces 355 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque. There are a good number of AMG performance options you can buy. Like most hatchbacks, it's primarily a front-wheel drive, but you have a four-wheel-drive system option. With launch control, this is one of the fastest hatchbacks ever made. Its gearbox is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Its handling is incredibly good and a bit on the aggressive side—something you expect from an AGM Mercedes.
3 Audi A3 RS3 Sportback 2.5 Turbo 2017 - 3.9 Seconds
The new Audi A3 RS3 Sportback is devastatingly quick but also a comfortable family car. As I wrote before, it's amazing that this is just an entry-level Audi. The phenomenal 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbocharged engine is still under the hood. It has 394 horsepower and torque of 354 lb-ft at 1,700 rpm. This engine propels the Audi A3 from 0 to 60 in under four seconds. Present are a standard seven-speed gearbox and a Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The Audi A3 RS3 isn't just about speed, though; the handling is fantastic as well. Its steering is incredibly responsive, and it gives great agility to this car. Like every German luxury car, it's full of gadgets and is incredibly comfortable. With its fantastic engine, handling, and comfort, this new Audi is a true premium hatchback.
2 Subaru Impreza WRX STI R205 Spec C - Hatch 2010 - 3.7 Seconds
The Impreza is Subaru's most successful and most well-loved car. It has many versions, and the R205 special edition is one of the most powerful. Subaru made only 400 models of this car. This Impreza got Spec C upgrades and mods in preparation for 24 hours of Nurburgring in 2009. It's easy to recognize this Impreza through its dark-themed front spoilers and rear wings. Rally fans will also recognize the 18-inch Prodrive P1 style wheels. Under the hood is a 16-valve F4 Turbo Petrol engine capable of producing 315 horsepower and torque measuring 318 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. There are actually too many STI components to mention, and they're not just road but also racing tested. Its handling performance is fantastic. The WRX STI R205 Spec C is powerful and nimble to drive. With the Subaru Intelligent Drive, this vehicle can suit anyone's driving style.
1 Subaru Impreza STI CS 400 - Cosworth - Hatch 2010 - 3.7 Seconds
Of course, the Subaru Impreza is the ultimate performance hatchback. It's a rally car made to be a powerful ride, and you can bring any version of the Impreza to a race or a rally track. Inside, it's spartan looking and isn't really a family-oriented hot hatch. Impreza had many special editions through the years. The best ones, though, were done by Prodrive and Cosworth. The Cosworth special edition is the fastest and the most powerful Impreza ever made. It was produced in limited numbers. This was the first time Cosworth developed a special car since the Ford Escort RS in '96. The engine is a 16-valve F4 Turbo Petrol that produces torque measuring 400 lb-ft at 3,950 rpm. The transmission is operated by a six-speed manual gearbox. The Subaru Impreza STI got many updates from Cosworth, including updates on its engine and its chassis. This car provides one of the best driving experiences and is one of the best cars ever made.
Sources: www.evo.co.uk; topgear.com