Which is best? It’s like a game of Top Trumps only with cars that are broadly accessible to the masses. Democratised performance for the petrolhead with a slightly lower penny count, but which would you choose? Can the delicacy of a well-revered front wheel drive champion overwhelm the appeal of 4WD traction and exceptional grip, tractability and tuning potential?
Luckily, we’ve got a product to make all of them that little bit faster, so why not go for the uber hatch of your dreams and then make it even quicker thanks to ITG Air Filters.
Almost untouchable at the moment as the go to uber hatch. Some say it’s too subtle, until they get in it and witness the outrageous performance this understated sleeper is capable of. Straight out of the factory the 300PS Golf R does 0-62mph in 4.7seconds, no doubt in part down to that awesome DSG gearbox, and yet it can be as docile and well-mannered as a sloth when bumbling around town. With immense tunability on the cards – many have seen upwards of 500hp using fairly straightforward bolt on modifications, this uber hatch for grown-ups is capable of waving goodbye to, or at least keeping pace with, some very exotic machinery indeed. Throw in a bumpy B-road or a rutted cross-country blast and there’s every chance this most restrained of VWs could be at the very front of the pack. Take the R badge off the back and only the eagle-eyed geeks will probably be able to tell the difference between this 4WD weapon and a lowly 1.4TSi model. Check out the Racingline range of intake solutions for the Mk7 Golf R to see what’s on offer – https://www.awesomegti.com/shop-by-brand/racingline-performance/racingline-r600-intake-system/
One for the hooligans out there? Hell, it even has a drift mode! What’s not to love about that? A 345PS, 2.3-litre turbo four pot that’s smashes out the turbocharged ponies through a four-wheel drive chassis. As the uber hatch arms race continues to escalate and power levels are reaching obscene levels, this Focus clocks the 0-62mph dash in a scarcely believable 4.7seconds and is accompanied by a 165mph top speed. That’s damn quick for any car, but for a four-door hatch that you can drive to shops, it’s incredibly impressive. The engine is a derivative of the Ford Mustang 2.3-litre Turbo, so there’s a lot of tuning parts available for it already. Companies such as Mountune or Hennessey offer tuning packages to take the Ford even further, but do you really need more than 345hp? We’re not so sure, but we can certainly make the process even easier using. Look for ITG ProFilter BH-262ST to make your RS even faster.
If you read car magazines there’s always a Renault Sport product snapping at the heels of many supposedly superior machines. A bit like an angry little dog that’s full of energy and determination, the Megane RS280 is technically outgunned on paper by all of the other competitors here, sort of a Jack Russel in a field of Rottweilers, but it’s tenacity and attitude mean the Megane is far from the underdog. You’ve got the admire the pluck, enthusiasm and hardcore nature of any sporting product from Dieppe. We’re not quite sure how the performance arm of Renault manages to make every hot Megane feel so alive and buzzing with energy, but there’s no doubt the 250RS possesses that hedonistic sense of banshee brilliance. Show it a corner, it’s there. Hitch an inside rear wheel in the pursuit for grip? No worries. It just fizzes with excitement and a slight sense of anarchy this car. The moment you step inside it makes you feel different, like you’re set for fun. Could it be the best of this bunch? It’s not really for us to say, but it’s definitely worthy of the top five list.
The latest Megane 250RS is catered for by ITG ProFilter number WB-336.
Mercedes A45 AMG
Mental! We’re discounting the very latest AMG A45 S version here and looking to the previous generation A45 with its 381PS 2.0-litre turbocharged motor is said to be monstrously fast with exceptional grip levels, but not quite as fun or as involving as some of the other cars here. No doubt it’s very, very quick and comes with an engine built at the Afalterbach plant by a guy who puts his name on the cam cover, but none of that makes any difference as the heavily turbocharged grunt naturally results in some slight turbo lag. Still, 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds is not to be sniffed at. In terms of tuning the 2.0-litre turbo is already running at substantial boost pressure, and while it can deliver more with relative ease, many of the supporting parts – intercooler, radiator, oil catch cans etc can benefit from being uprated to cope with additional horses.
Some might say it’s an unfair competition to include this 2.5-litre five-cylinder Teutonic missile against certain cars here, but if there’s one thing to take from this list it’s that the German’s certainly know how to produce a four-wheel drive super hatch. Some might even say that the RS3 belongs in its own class, one that’s head and shoulders above all of the four-cylinder cars in this list, but the performance potential and the ease with which it can be deployed in the RS3 makes it truly remarkable. Although slightly unrelated, one of the fastest laps around Castle Combe we’ve ever done was in a nigh on stock TT RS that shares much of the RS3 DNA, but it’s the group B aping soundtrack and the small matter of 400PS as standard that make the RS3 so special. Some say it’s slightly numb and uninvolving because the performance is so easily exploited, but when tuned they become genuine supercar killers. Anyone who’s seen the potential of a stage 2+ TT RS or RS3 will know what we’re talking about. One particularly well known VAG tuner has recently clocked a high 9 second quarter mile time with a stage 2+ car, so the potential for obscene straight-line performance is definitely there. If you can live with the slightly reserved image and its reputation for not being quite as involving as some of the others, the RS3 could be the uber hatch for you, but is it your number 1? Famously under rated by Audi, the 0-62mph time of 4.1seconds is rumoured to be easily bettered if you really try, so it’s a supercar killer in very sensible clothes.
What would we choose?
It’s almost impossible to say. The Golf R remains a brilliantly capable machine, and comes as an estate, so we’d probably go with the sensible, load-lugging option, then weld some dogs or furniture to the back window. “Hi honey, I’m home! Oh, I’m not sure why the new chest of drawers is in four pieces now? For thrills and spills though it’s very difficult to ignore the Renault, although it’s quite obviously not the fastest of the bunch, there’s something extra special about the Dieppe DNA that makes it shine. If you want crazy horsepower and ultimate aftermarket pub bragging rights, the Audi is the obvious choice. Hello… is that 600+hp?