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  • Writer's pictureRoad Test Team

Four (Surprisingly Affordable) Hot Hatch Heroes

The hot hatch recipe has been cooked up a million different ways, from simple front-drive French

hooligans to rally-inspired Italian icons. But the genius of the concept is always the same: a practical hatchback body, with a decent boot and seats, made great to drive by a powerful engine, an uprated chassis and the kind of fizzy, real-world performance that makes every drive a joy. 

Want one? We don’t blame you – at Charles & Dean we love them and finance plenty of them. These four deserve a place on your shortlist.

Audi RS3

Audi’s RS cars are always in demand and it’s this, together with their blend of speed and refinement that makes them a great hot hatch option. ‘RS cars finance well, particularly the very popular RS6 and RS3,’ explains Dean Clarke, head of motor sales at Charles & Dean. ‘There’s an RS3 for pretty much every budget, and they’re a nice alternative to the very popular VW Golf R.’

The first RS3, with its magical five-cylinder turbocharged engine, arrived in 2011. The second-gen car followed in 2015 but it’s the latest version, based on the fourth-gen A3, that we can’t get enough of. Available as a saloon or hatch, it’s great looking, comfortable and well-appointed for everyday use. But on the right road it’s also a sublime driving machine. Rapid thanks to that 394bhp, five-cylinder engine, you also get plenty of grip and a more rewarding handling balance than used to be the case with older RS cars. This is thanks in no small part to a more fun-biased chassis tune and the ingenious Torque Splitter system on the rear axle.

£50k for a 12,000-mile saloon in Kyalami Green? Sign us up.

Toyota GR Yaris

Toyota’s performance renaissance began with the Supra. But it went supernova with the GR Yaris, a rally-inspired masterpiece that packed a load of tech from Toyota’s rampantly successful WRC programme into one of the greatest (and smallest) performance cars this century has yet produced.

Compact, playful and rapid whatever the weather, the GR Yaris has a wicked streak a mile wide. Dial the four-wheel drive into its rear-biased Sport mode and the sensational little Toyota becomes a hatch you steer as much with your right foot and the punchy turbocharged triple as you do the steering wheel. Downsides? Plenty of road noise on the motorway, high-mounted seats (it can be sorted) and a classically basic Yaris interior. But whatever. Christian von Koenigsegg bought one: the GR is the real deal.

With a waiting list and cars changing hands for more than list price initially, residuals remain decent. Expect to pay from £27k for an early, 20,000-mile early with the all-important Circuit pack. ‘We’ve seen a surge in enquiries on these recently,’ says Dean. ‘They’re fantastic cars, great fun, and they’ve held their value well. They’re a lot more attractive on finance at £26k/£27k than they were at £34k.’


BMW’s smallest, lightest and sweetest M car isn’t technically a hot hatch. But when it offers a similarly tempting combination of style, speed and practicality without breaking the bank, it’s little wonder lots of people cross-shop hot hatches and M2s.

The current G87 M2, which borrows much of its structure from the M3 and M4, is a blast to drive but it’s a big, expensive and heavy take on the M2 formula. Smaller, lighter and prettier is the F87, which first landed back in 2016. Today it represents a great used buy. Out there for as little as £25k, £30k buys an 11,000-mile 2018 car with approved-used peace of mind.


AMG has a reputation for hefty, massively powerful performance cars that take the art of going fast very, very seriously. When the A45 hot hatch was announced few believed Merc’s performance division could make the humble A-Class feel like a true AMG. But it absolutely does.

Luxurious inside, certainly compared to Japanese rivals, it’s also monumentally quick and satisfying to drive, with an almost racecar-like focus to the way it goes about its business. And the variable four-wheel-drive system can do it all, from neutral and confidence-inspiring to wholly rear-wheel drive and as lairy as you like.

They’re not cheap, of course. But £42k for a 20,000-mile example is hugely tempting when a new VW Golf R is both more money and less exciting. And if the A45 S is out of reach, give the sweetly balanced A35 a look. There are plenty of nice, preloved examples to choose from, and from just £32k.

If you're eager to explore car finance or refinance solutions, contact us below or speak with one of our Finance Specialists on 01780 763836 (Stamford) or 020 3869 4600 (London).


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