The hatchback is one of the most popular classes of cars on sale today. Compact yet spacious, these cars often also offer some of the best performance specs you could get in the market. While traditionally front-wheel drive, it didn’t take long for the German manufacturers to start offering rear-wheel drive models too. Now that we’re in the age of four-wheel-drive, these cars often also offer the ultimate in safety and performance.
They’re not half as bad looking either. Gone are the days of hatchbacks being purely associated with boxy souped-up vehicles being driven by barely-legal teenagers. The dawn of more sleek and sophisticated options means that their appeal has broadened, one that now spans from business executives to families. Thankfully, this also translates to luxury and innovations that have pushed the class to new heights like never before.
Here are some of the best hot hatchbacks money can get you in 2019.
The Sport Tourer, as Mercedes-Benz lovingly calls it, is essentially a bigger A-Class hatchback, only now sleeker than before thanks to a lower profile and slightly longer wheelbase. On the outside, the new model is sportier-looking with a less boxier silhouette, making it slightly more fashionable to cart your kids around to school now.
Inside, the marque keeps things roomy with legroom and streamlined with a minimalist dashboard. There is, of course, a high-resolution instrument display, which houses its MBUX integrated control system, making it seamless to navigate between GPS, entertainment, and climate control functions.
At launch, the B-Class will be available as the B200, with a 1.33-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that musters 163hp and 250Nm, alongside a more agile and comfortable suspension system for the entire family. For the first time, the model will be able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations too, thanks to a driving assistance system derived from the swanky S-Class.
Coincidentally, the BMW 1 Series has now also evolved into its third generation, and after 15 years of being — quite uniquely — a rear-wheel drive in the small hatchback class, will finally be front-driven instead.
While this will no doubt trouble purists around the world, the new car will settle in nicely because this also translates to greater interior space. It’ll also be gifted with a face worthy of BMW’s new design language, as well as a larger kidney grille.
Still, BMW promises a driving experience that’s just as sporty as it is practical; the range-topping M135i hot hatch will be offered with an all-wheel drive system that pushes up to half the power to the rear when needed. A 302hp turbocharged 2.0-litre twin-turbo powers the car this time, enabling a 0-100kph time in just 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 250kph — matching that of the Golf R Performance’s.
The Audi RS3 makes another debut following tightening emission standards, and we’re happy to announce that its party piece, the 395hp turbocharged five-cylinder, remains intact. The Sport Edition, besides touches of chrome detailing and more aural drama from the louder RS Sport exhaust system, will also brag seamless performance with the help of its dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The RS3 still manages to keep up to Audi’s standards of being extraordinarily grippy and safe, only now with less understeer and with a more intelligent four-wheel drive system that should be handle most corners, rain or shine.
The nimble Golf R might be best known for being a reliable and comfortable family-friendly ride, but aficionados will know it for being a sleeper at the lights. A 2.0-litre TSI engine — recently updated to meet emission regulations — provides 296hp on tap. That might be less than the previous engine, but the new automatic-only variant is also equipped with launch control, and can crack 100kph in just 4.6 seconds. That should give many far more expensive sports cars a serious run for their money.
If going around corners is your thing, the Golf R generates momentous levels of cornering grip through its dynamic chassis. All this is helped by the effortless 4MOTION 4-wheel drive system and a startlingly fast seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, ensuring the badge lives up to its legendary name.
Inside, the Golf R is defined by lots of high-quality materials throughout, as well as a technology-packed infotainment system.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is intoxicatingly Italian. Now the brand has often been associated with cars that you bought with your heart because of its, let’s say unpredictability, but the new ones are built to last and are finally matching up to their European competition.
The Giulietta has been around for nearly a decade undergoing through minor facelifts and updates throughout, and its latest iteration provides 204hp from its four-cylinder engine and linked to a six-speed twin-clutch transmission. Inside, it still has a few notoriously Italian “novelties” that are undoubtedly charming, alongside the latest infotainment tech and an improved sporting driving position.