As hot hatches are approaching WRC levels of competency, it means we the consumer have easier access to supercar performance simply due to entry costs. And as more manufacturers join the fold, the higher the quality due to competition.
2018 is an interesting year for traditional front-wheel-drive hot hatches with the Hyundai N30 already released, yet 2019 also promises fun in equal measure. All of the cars listed are the aforementioned traditional hot hatches i.e front wheel drive and priced within reach of most, with 2019/2020 seeing an update to those world beating hyper hatches like the Mercedes Benz AMG A45 and VW Golf R.
Will BMW create an M version of the next front wheel drive 1 series? Can it legitimately be called an ‘M’ car?
Here’s the pick of the bunch released or available in 2018 with a bit more in-depth on the one worth waiting for.
Hyundai i30 N
Lauded the world over for its playfulness and competency, Hyundai’s first legitimate take on the hot hatch is a fine effort.
Suzuki Swift Sport
Having grown in size over the years, the Suzuki Swift is starting to tread on the toes of bigger rivals.
VW Polo GTI
What’s this? No manual option Polo GTI in Australia? Travesty. All this means is the fun factor is weighted mostly towards the chassis to provide joy. A big ask.
Renault Megane RS
The pick of these has to be the Renault Megane RS. The previous generation was such a marvellous handling car with unique suggestive looks that only intrigues. On numerous occasions it found itself battling with every other front wheel drive car on the planet for supremacy at the Nurburgring, frequently coming out on top. Despite all this it remained one of the most playful and rewarding cars to drive.
The new 2018 Renault Megane RS has seemingly grown up somewhat both in exterior and interior with improved mechanicals all around, and promises to be once again the most rewarding front wheel drive hot hatch. It will have to contend with the Honda Civic Type R for this honour but despite looks being a subjective attribute, I’d confidently say the Megane RS has it over the Civic for style. It’s a beautifully balanced and aggressive design without being overly flamboyant which should further tempt Golf GTI owners.
Mechanically, the RS is primarily differentiated by its rear wheel steering system which behaves more like that of one fitted to a high end supercar. Depending on your speed, the rear wheels with steer either in the opposite direction to the front wheels for a tighter radius and faster response, on in the same direction to aid stability in high cornering situations.
One piece of good news for all enthusiasts is the choice of manual or flappy paddles. Given that Renault’s smaller Clio RS only comes in auto, this is a bit of a relief. It’s not that living with a dual-clutch auto would be bad by any means, it’s just that manual transmissions offer so much more engagement.
Powering the 2018 RS is a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 205kW/390Nm which is more sophisticated and powerful than the old version despite a smaller capacity. How it translates to real world performance is what matters though and with a 5.8 seconds 0-100km/h time, it should do nicely.
Arriving in four doors, the new Megane RS is also squaring up against the VW Golf GTI for practicality and comfort, although admittedly that will be a tough battle to win.
This new generation Renault Megane RS is a very similar proposition to the Golf GTI yet presents itself with more flair. Is it enough to persuade the VW faithful to try a different brand? I’d like to think so.