Those looking for driving thrills will often find their eye drawn towards sports cars. However, these aren't always a practical choice - what if you have a family, and only the space or money for one car? A hot hatchback could be the perfect compromise. While some hot hatchbacks can be too hardcore for everyday use, the majority live a double life - as practical family transport, and as fun, chuckable cars which are great fun to throw down a back road.
It's often said that the first-gen Volkswagen Golf GTI was the first proper hot hatch, although if you ask a pedant they're likely to have another answer for you. The crucial thing to know is that the GTI name lives on in the current Golf range, and it's still one of the top hot hatches around.
BMW, Suzuki, SEAT and even Kia make it onto our list as well, with their own brilliant models in the hot hatch category. Each has its own niche within this sector, too: there's the BMW M135i at the top of the scale, with its upmarket image and extreme performance, and the Suzuki Swift Sport at the other end with its more traditional formula of a light weight and a peppy four-cylinder engine.
These models get more powerful engines, improves suspension and better brakes than the small hatchbacks they are based on, and that means they are brilliant fun to drive on the road - and on a track day, too. You could quite easily drive to the track with a boot full of gear, do a hot lap or two and then head on to a nearby campsite to end the day.
With these cars often being the top-spec models in their respective ranges, you get loads of standard equipment as well. Sat-nav, sports seats and larger alloy wheels are common extras you get as standard on hot hatchbacks.
Unfortunately, it's not all good news with these models. The stiffer suspension can sometimes result in a hard ride, and the powerful engines do have an impact on fuel economy. Still, if you can live with those issues you can't beat them as all-rounders.
Click on the links below, or use the navigation panel on the top left of this page, to see our list of the top 10 best hot hatchbacks...
1. SEAT Leon SC Cupra
2. Ford Fiesta ST
3. Volkswagen Golf GTI
4. Suzuki Swift Sport
5. BMW M135i
6. Renault Megane RS 275
7. Skoda Octavia vRS
8. MINI Cooper S
9. Peugeot 208 GTi
10. Kia Pro_cee’d GT