July 21, 2024

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Best hot hatches of 2022

3 min read
Best hot hatches of 2022

The hot hatch is a UK institution, with generations of pocket rockets that cram genuine sports car performance into a shopping trolley hatchback body.

It’s also a category of cars that has so far resisted the shift to electrification much longer than other categories. Which probably makes this year’s award somewhat controversial…

The hot hatch market has changed dramatically over the decades, with fewer budget hotches providing cheap thrills and minimal frills. Instead, we have a growing number of more expensive, more outlandish, more *everything* models from premium brands.

But if the basic premise of a hot hatch is a go-faster, better-driving version of a regular family taxi, then this year’s category winner certainly fits the bill. The Cupra Born is a quicker, better-handling and generally more interesting version of the Volkswagen ID.3, which is everything we expect from a hot hatch.

Our awards recognise both the best new models to have been launched over the last 12 months, but also the best overall cars in each category – because newer doesn’t always mean better.

Best new hot hatch: Cupra Born (77%)

We fully realise that plenty of people won’t consider the Cupra Born to be a hot hatch, and not just because it’s electric. It lacks the raw, entertaining edge of an old-school Peugeot 205 GTi or modern Ford Fiesta ST – or the warp-speed performance of a Meredes-AMG A 45 or Audi RS 3. But maybe it’s perceptions of what a hot hatch should be that need to change.

As an electric vehicle, the Born can’t expect to generate the aural buzz of a snarling four-cylinder petrol engine. But it takes the regular Volkswagen ID.3 underpinnings and elevates them to a higher level of performance and driving enjoyment. It’s no coincidence that the Born was originally intended to be a SEAT model, but was transferred to the Spanish brand’s performance offshoot instead as it was a more appropriate home for an electric hot hatch.

With an Expert Rating of 77%, the Cupra Born is the first of a new breed, with more EV rivals set to follow suit in coming years. And if you’re still not happy with the idea of an EV hot hatch, well, the good news for you is that there’s an all-new Honda Civic Type R arriving in the UK next year…

Class champion, petrol/diesel: Ford Fiesta ST (86%)

Ford Fiesta ST (2022 onwards) | Expert Rating

For many driving enthusiasts, the saddest part of the Ford Fiesta’s imminent demise is that we’ll also lose the Fiesta ST hot hatch version as well.

The Fiesta ST has long been a favourite for motoring journalists and car buyers, and the current model is a fitting final generation.

An outstanding Expert Rating of 86% shows just how highly the Fiesta ST is regarded, and it will be a sad day next summer when it all comes to an end.

The best new cars of 2022

Notes on eligibility

To be eligible for our Best New Model or Class Champion titles, there are a couple of requirements in addition to having a top Expert Rating score.

Firstly, the Best New Model must have been launched in the UK between 1 December 2021 and 1 December 2022. That means cars registered and on the road, not just available to order for deliveries starting sometime in 2023.

Secondly, a car must have a current Euro NCAP safety rating of either four or five stars. If a car scores three stars or less, we can’t in good conscience give it an award for being best in class. If a new model has not been tested by Euro NCAP by 1 December 2022, it will not be eligible but we will consider it next year if it has been tested.

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