Invasion of the mega-hatches

12 May, 2014 9:00am Luke Madden

The Ford Focus RS is back, but the battle for mega-hatch honours is hotter than ever.

The return of the Ford Focus RS is massive news, and with a rumoured 350bhp engine from the Ford Mustang under the bonnet, it's one of the many exciting new mega-hatches either on sale already or due in the next couple of years.

Ford Focus RS 2016 front

While the Ford Focus RS is undoubtedly a hot-proposition, there are a number of other mega hatches on the horizon - none of which is more hotly anticipated than the next Honda Civic Type R. The Honda doesn’t have the power of the Focus RS or some of the other cars outlined here, but it’s got an amazing heritage and – judging by the concept (pictured) – some seriously outlandish looks.

Many of these hot hatches are going four-wheel drive in the pursuit for faster 0-62mph times, while others – like the Type R – are targeting the front-wheel-drive Nurburgring lap record. The SEAT Leon Cupra currently holds this, but Renault is improving its Megane RS in a bid to reclaim the title and Honda is working to ensure the next Type R is the undisputed front-wheel drive king by the time of its launch next year – until the Focus RS arrives anyway.

Honda Civic type R

Due: mid 2015 | Price: £30,000 (est) | 0-62mph: 5.5 secs (est) | Power: 300bhp (est)

New Honda Civic Type R concept front

The Civic Type R is coming back, but it’ll be quite different to any of its predecessors. The biggest news is that the screaming naturally aspirated i-VTEC engine is set to be replaced by a new 2.0-litre turbo.

Honda engineers are keen to get power above 276bhp, and with competition looking fierce, we wouldn’t be surprised if it hit 300bhp.

We’ve already driven a prototype, and this revealed that the upcoming Honda Civic Type R is not only quicker than ever, but also a lot more usable.

Audi RS3

Due: early 2015 (est) | Price: £40,000 (est) | 0-62mph: 4.4 secs (est) | Power: 360bhp (est)

Audi RS3 profile

Audi already has an S3, but it’s looking to crown the A3 range with a new RS3 model, which features wider tracks, more power and wilder looks. With quattro four-wheel drive, the new Audi RS3 should cover 0-62mph in less than 4.5 seconds.

BMW M135i

Due: now | Price: £30,835 | 0-62mph: 5.1 secs | Power: 316bhp

BMW M135i hatchback 2013 front

The BMW M135i takes a different approach to every other hot hatch here, as it favours rear-wheel drive. A 316bhp turbo engine and lively chassis have ensured the BMW M135i stands out as one of the best-handling cars on the road.

Renault Megane RS

Due: July 2014 (est) | Price: 30,000 (est) | 0-62mph: 5.8 secs (est) | Power: 270bhp (est)

The new Renault Megane RS (or Renaultsport Megane) has been unveiled, and it now has 271bhp. Renault will also tackle the front-wheel drive Nurburgring lap-record in June 2014, and has hinted at a sub-eight-minute Nurburgring lap. If the latest Megane RS manages it, it would almost certainly see it reclaim the record from the SEAT Leon Cupra.

Mercedes A45 AMG

Due: now | Price: £38,190 | 0-62mph: 4.6 secs | Power: 355bhp

Mercedes A45 AMG 2014 front

Until models like the Volkswagen Golf R 400 arrive, the Mercedes A45 AMG has the highest horsepower-per-litre figure of any production engine. With four-wheel drive, the baby AMG is also one of the quickest cars of this distinguished group.

SEAT Leon Cupra

Due: now | Price: £28,525 | 0-62mph: 5.7 secs | Power: 276bhp

SEAT Leon Cupra 280 front static

Until Renault shows its hand with the updated Renaultsport Megane later in the year, the SEAT Leon Cupra is the fastest front-wheel-drive car around the Nurburgring, with its 7 min 58 second lap. A 276bhp 2.0-litre turbo is the star, but a limited-slip diff comes as standard, too.

Vauxhall Astra Extreme

Due: Early 2015 (est) | Price: 35,000 (est) | 0-62mph: 5.2 secs (est) | Power: 325bhp (est)

We know a new Astra is coming, but Vauxhall will take the current car out on a high with a limited-run Astra Extreme. A 2.0-litre turbo with around 325bhp is rumoured, as are lightweight materials and an aero kit.

Volkswagen Golf R 400

Due: Late 2015  | Price: 40,000 (est) | 0-62mph: 3.9 secs (est) | Power: 395bhp

Volkswagen unveiled the Golf R 400 in concept form at the Beijing Motor Show, but the word from the top is that it’s heading for a limited production run. The Volkswagen Golf R 400's power comes from a crazy 2.0-litre turbo engine, which produces 395bhp and standard four-wheel drive allows it to dip under the magic four-second barrier from 0-62mph

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With spacious family hatchbacks caressing 4 second (0-60mph), who needs uncomfortable, impractical and relatively expensive sport coupes? (Unless they are chosen for track use or its a matter of life-style choice) I can't help thinking that these "mega hatches" tread on sport coupe territory like never before.

A Ferrari buyer in 1995 would have got a 348 capable of 300BHP and 0-60 5.5 seconds. Or 320BHP / 5.4s from the GTB/GTS version.

So the hatches in 20 years might be matching the performance of the current 458 Italia?

I'm not so keen on these kind of road cars, they don't suit road driving and attract unwanted attention from low-lifes. For a 300BHP car I would be wanting a car that is designed to be a powerful sports car, not a granny hatch that has been blinged up.

Or an E46 M3 from 2003 which would offer 340BHP and can be had for around £10K.

This 'power-war' is getting a bit ridiculous. In my opinion, hot hatches are all about usable power that you can bomb down a b-road with a big smile on your face, not about trying to beat sports cars round a track. Screw these £30k super-hatches, I'll take a Fiesta ST, with £15k to spare and a much bigger smile.

What's not to like? (other than, is there anywhere anyone can use such performance today) -particularly the VW & the Audi. They are perfect for anyone that wants a good looking, top end quality, sub 5 sec (sub 4 sec for the Golf) performance car. Get a 4 door version, and it's probably the most complete car available, as you have a hatch with 5 seats in a car with perfect dimensions. Throw in a meaty roar from the engine, and a fantastic drive and you have it all. The great thing about the VW/Audi versions of these cars is that they are stylishly understated. It's difficult to criticise anyone for wanting a hot hatch given their performance & practicality.

Plenty of track opportunities these days, but there are better cars for the track. If I was to make a bad decision to buy one of these shopping trollies, the. The VW and Audi would be at the bottom of my list. These cars are for the insecure and inadequate folk. The boy racers who failed to grow up. There are plenty of them.

So that's your comment on a motoring magazine discussion. When other people are trying to make reasonable comments for debate, your response, for no reason at all, is to be incredibly rude. Speaks volumes about your personality. I hope they ban you from this forum.

Now, witch one gives the most "bang 4 the bucks" ?

With no warranty, short service intervals, expensive parts, dreadful fuel economy, less practical, more to insure, probably a lot slower etc etc.

Lol attract unwanted attention for low-lifes....E46 M3........because that doesn't in the slightest compared to the RS3, Golf or Leon. I'm not mentioning the Vauxhall it that list for a reason. Astra VXRs tend to be driven in a particular way and by a particular person. All i'll say.

I'm getting on in years, is it still true that blokes who buy these cars have very small pist-ons?

No it's not. Is it true that people who make nasty, childish comments need to take a personality check?