The new 2021 mk8 VW Golf GTI is here soon. Given there are new 2020 mk7.5 Golf GTIs here in Australia advertised as high as $60,000 AUD, it makes you wonder what used hot hatches are on the market, something a little more premium, perhaps with a BMW or Mercedes-Benz AMG badge.
Hot hatches were meant to be accessible, provide cheap thrills, and not take themselves so seriously but times have changed. If you’re going to spend $60,000 on a hot hatch, why not save some money or engineer in a modification budget and go for something on the second hand market?
There are now quite a few options available. Those premium vehicles that were once $100,000 now fall (just) under the $50,000 AUD mark. Sure they have some kilometres on them, but you’re getting a lot of car for the money.
Let’s check it out.
VW Golf GTI 40 Years
Sticking first up with the Golf GTI theme, the Golf GTI 40 Years was essentially the Australian version of what’s known around the rest of the world as the VW Golf GTI Clubsport. Power was up from 162kW in the standard Golf GTI to 195kW with an overboost function pushing that figure to 213kW and a 30Nm increase in torque. This pushed the GTI 40 Years to a 0-100kph time of 6.3 seconds and combined with the Alcantara interior, LSD, and a host of other goodies, it may very well be the most GTI of all GTIs.
Yes you can get a new mk7.5 standard Golf GTI for under $50,000 but it won’t be as well specced or as special as the Clubsport, sorry, Golf GTI 40 Years.
Prices: $33,000 – $43,000 AUD
Kilometres: from 20,000 kms
Renault Megane R.S.
Yep, you can get a 2018 Renault Megane R.S. 280 for under $50,000 with very few kilometres. When Renault launched the current model it took huge leap in technology and practicality, no doubt to lure buyers away from the Golf GTI. It’s fast, fun, and handles brilliantly but still retains that French flair. Depreciation has never been kind to sporting Renaults but if you’re looking for a lot of fun and style it’s hard to go past the Megane R.S.
Prices: $40,000 – $50,000 AUD
Kilometres: from 1,300 kms
Ford Focus RS
Are Ford going to release a new Focus RS? No, thanks to the Focus being axed in the USA, and tough emissions standards in Europe. Yet another great badge consigned to the history books! That means the last gen Focus RS is the last of its kind, or at least until some cynical marketing exercise in the future slaps the badge on something unworthy. This last RS was a cracking hot hatch capable of providing an edgier ride than that of its great rival the Golf GTI. The Focus is all about performance though, so don’t expect a modern cabin full of remarkable tech.
Prices: $37,000 – $50,000 AUD
Kilometres: from 2,992 kms
Honda Civic Type R
Oh yes you can! The most lauded hot hatch of the past few years, the Honda Civic Type R can now be had for under $50,000. Bringing back excitement to the hot hatch segment, the Type R had the fastest Nürburgring lap time for a front wheel drive car for a while (it’s always a transient title). The only thing you’ll have to get over is the styling—it’s not to everyone’s taste but given how much styling has converged with most segments it’s kind of refreshing in a weird way. Plus you’ve got Honda’s incredible reliability up your sleeve. The Civic could just be the one to go for!
Prices: $45,000 – $50,000 AUD
Kilometres: from 14,500 kms
Say this with me: 3.0 litres, 6 cylinders, rear wheel drive, hot hatch. Yep, besides bonkers Renault specials and early Golf R32s, it’s BMW who are bringing 6 cylinders to the hot hatch market, or were. No longer can you purchase a 1-series BMW with 6 cylinders making this generation the last. And no longer will the BMW 1-Series be a rear wheel drive vehicle. Yes, the new cars will be faster but who cares as a rear wheel drive 6 cylinder BMW that’s super practical shouldn’t be overlooked. I reckon these will come to be much sought after in the future from those looking for a first performance BMW with all the right ingredients.
Prices: $43,500 – $50,000 AUD
Kilometres: from 10,100 kms
Mercedes A45 AMG
In 2013 Mercedes AMG changed the game for hot hatches with supercar troubling performance from their A45 AMG. All of a sudden Porsche 911s started looking a bit cumbersome particularly on tight roads with questionable surfaces. This was a segment defining premium hot hatch, one preceded by the Audi RS3, but superior in its delivery and classy build.
Prices: $36,500 – $50,000 AUD
Kilometres: from 31,500 kms
The RS3 was the first premium hot hatch combining huge power, all-wheel drive with bonkers grip levels and sports car performance. Typically for Audi’s, it wasn’t the most entertaining but it sure was brutally effective. Suddenly sports sedans and coupes became less relevant as execs and young families could have it all—practicality, luxury, and performance. The great thing that sets the Audi apart from its rival the A45 AMG is the engine. The Audi’s five cylinder is infinitely more charismatic.
Prices: $48,500 – $50,000 AUD
Kilometres: from 90,000 kms
Mini John Cooper Works
Can you believe a top of the range 2020 Mini JCW GP goes for more than $80,000? That’s just nuts. Thankfully you can get a 2018 Mini John Cooper Works second hand for under $50,000 and have just as much fun. Actually you can get a new MINI Cooper S for under $50k like a Golf GTI, but why not go for something a little more interesting? We all know MINI Cooper Works cars handle really well, and if you’re looking at a MINI you probably already know what you’re getting for your money.
Prices: $34,000 – $50,000 AUD
Kilometres: from 11,700 kms
So there you have it. Just remember, with the premium vehicles also comes premium insurance policies, servicing, and generally more costly part replacement. If you’re ok with that, then you’ve got yourself a cracking machine from a segment that seems to be exponentially increasing in price.