HIS­TORY OF THE HOT HATCH

Autocar - - HOT HATCH HEROES -

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.

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