You get hot hatches – and then you get hyper hatches.
While you would be forgiven for calling the cars below a “hot hatch”, in reality they accelerate and handle on par with many supercars.
0-100km/h times are in the sub-5-second range, cornering is superb, and you get all the comfort and practicality that comes with four seats and a large boot.
They also cost a bit more than a “normal” hot hatchback – with prices ranging from R750,000 to over R1 million.
Here’s what you get for your money.
Mercedes-AMG A45 S 4Matic+
- Price: R1,101,000
- Power: 310kW
- Torque: 500Nm
- 0-100km/h: 3.9 seconds
Mercedes-AMG doesn’t even call it a hot hatch because it’s clear, this is a compact super sports car.
The new model underwent a complete redesign to increase the vehicle dynamics and driving experience, and it retains the accolade of having the world’s most powerful series-production four-cylinder engine.
The two-litre peaks at 310kW and 500Nm dispatching the sprint to 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds. That’s supercar territory thanks to the 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system.
It’s unmistakably a Mercedes, luxuriously appointed and relatively comfortable to drive every day given its sporting intentions.
Audi RS3 Sportback
- Price: R1,019,500
- Power: 294kW
- Torque: 480Nm
- 0-100km/h: 4.1 seconds
A cousin to the Golf R, the Audi RS3 shares much of its platform with the VW – but with its performance dialled up to 11.
Packing 294kW and 480Nm of torque from its 2.5 TFSI 5-cylinder engine, it sends power to all four wheels thanks to the Audi quattro system – taking it to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds.
The RS cars also have subtle touches that make them appealing to petrolheads: wider arches, dual oval exhaust outlets, RS-specific electronic stabilisation and a sport “mode” that allows for controlled drifting, and the option of ceramic brakes.
Inside, the virtual cockpit has replaced the regular gauges for a 12.3-inch display that brings all the most critical information within eye-line. In RS mode, the all-important rev-counter and setup options take pride of place.
Mini JCW GP
- Price: R808,000
- Power: 225kW
- Torque: 450Nm
- 0-100km/h: 5.2 seconds
The engineers at BMW have crammed the engine and gearbox from the 135i into a Mini Cooper, but dropped the xDrive all-wheel-drive system in the process.
This makes the Mini John Cooper Works GP a front-wheel-drive maniac.
The Mini GP adds styling touches to the standard John Cooper Works edition along with an extra 55kW – which takes this car to 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds.
Power sits at 225kW and 450Nm thanks to the two-litre turbo four-cylinder.
Like the JCW GP models before this, it also benefits from lightness by reducing any unnecessary weight.
Gone are kilos of insulation and the rear seats. A practical hatch, this is not.
BMW M135i xDrive
- Price: R797,700
- Power: 225kW
- Torque: 450Nm
- 0-100km/h: 4.8 seconds
The BMW M135i attracts a niche following. Perhaps it’s the price, or because it isn’t as bespoke as the other hot and hyper hatches here.
Its sportiness comes by way of BMW’s M-Sport accessory line, which includes blue, red and purple badging alongside “M” letters everywhere.
It also gets firmer suspension settings, large alloy wheels, and the xDrive all-wheel-drive system – which sets it apart from its smaller-engined siblings.
While the front wheels provide the primary drive, up to 50% of the power can be sent to the rear when required – allowing for greater corner-exit acceleration.
The BMW stands out because of its luxury and tech appointments, which are ahead of other manufacturers in this regard.
Additionally, don’t be fooled by the “35” in the name – which many people assume to be linked to a 3.0-litre turbo six-cylinder engine. It is powered by a two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder like most of the other cars on this list.
It puts out 225kW and 450Nm through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Honda Civic Type R
- Price: R771,600
- Power: 228kW
- Torque: 400Nm
- 0-100km/h: 5.8 seconds
The Type-R has always been the underdog.
It is regarded as one of the best front-wheel-drive hot hatches on the market, though.
Power comes from a 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder putting out 228kW and 400Nm of torque, suitable for a sprint to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds.
It’s also the only car that still comes with a six-speed manual with rev-match control, for smooth performance-orientated shifting through the gears.
Being a Honda, the shifts are rifle-bolt precise.
Its performance credentials are also screamed out by canards and aerodynamic tweaks all over, not forgetting the enormous rear-wing.
While it might not be the straight-line racer that so many buyers want, it rewards drivers who seek enjoyment on twisty roads and the odd track day.
It’s likely to be a far lower insurance risk, too, so you can expect lower premiums than most of the cars listed here.
VW Golf 8 R
- Price: TBA
- Power: 235kW
- Torque: 420Nm
- 0-100km/h: 4.7 seconds
We’re still waiting for the launch of the Golf 8 in South Africa, but the details for the new R model are already available.
Somewhat tamer than the Audi RS3, the Golf 8 R is likely to benefit from a newer, more dynamic chassis setup and torque vectoring 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
Coupled with a “drift-mode” like the A45, it will allow this all-wheel-drive car to perform some tail-out cornering for the showboaters.
The Gold 8 R also offers an evolution of its popular 2.0l 4-cylinder engine – putting out 235kW and 420Nm of torque, with 0-100km/h said to be done in 4.7 seconds.
When it comes out, it will likely be one of the most popular of the bunch in South Africa.