HISTORY OF THE HOT HATCH
People will argue forever which was the first. Some might even say it was the Aston Martin DB2/4 of 1953. That car was undeniably hot and had a hatchback. But for those who think it must have been the original Volkswagen Golf GTI in 1975, I must now disabuse them of that notion. Cars like the Autobianchi 112 Abarth and Simca 1100Ti were way ahead of it.
It was the Golf that popularised the breed and spawned an entire industry of wannabe pretenders to its crown, but it would be 1984 before the Peugeot 205 GTI advanced the art significantly and 1988 before the Lancia Delta Integrale took the genre to an altogether different place with rallying pedigree and four-wheel drive.
The 1990s were a tough time for the hot hatch, but by the turn of the century, a renaissance was under way, led by the likes of the Ford Focus RS and then the brilliant fifth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI. And in the past few years, hot hatchbacks have found yet another a new lease of life, where engine outputs of 300bhp are the new norm. One wonders when, or even if, it might ever end.