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Hot hatches? This lot are ther­monu­clear. So should you stash one in your garage right now?

CAR (UK) - - Contents - Words Ben Barry | Pho­tog­ra­phy Alex Tap­ley

Four hot hatches are fast be­com­ing clas­sics

WHEN IT COMES to get­ting bangs for your buck, no genre does it bet­ter than the hot hatch. Af­ford­able to buy and run, agile and pow­er­ful enough to make big­ger-league cars sweat, and of­ten prac­ti­cal enough to shrug off fam­ily du­ties too, few other per­for­mance cars are so ac­com­mo­dat­ing.

We’re test­ing four favourites, each mix­ing its own spe­cial sauce into the pocket-rocket recipe. Take the Mk2 Golf GTI. It typ­i­cally lags be­hind Mk1 val­ues but it’s also the bet­ter car, and a far more us­able propo­si­tion. That makes it our pick of the clas­sic Golfs, with prices for good ex­am­ples start­ing around £5k.

The EP3 Civic Type R rep­re­sents sim­i­larly good value. The first hot Civic to come to the UK, to­day it re­mains a bench­mark hot hatch, the fizz of its nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated VTEC en­gine a wel­come an­ti­dote to the more an­o­dyne turbo mo­tors of the present day.

Putting an al­to­gether more hard­core twist on pro­ceed­ings are the Mini GP and Re­nault Sport Megane R26R. Both sac­ri­fice some of the ver­sa­til­ity ex­pected of a hot hatch, but more than atone with ra­zor-sharp dy­nam­ics. Low teens bags a good Mini GP, around £20k a lower-mile Megane. That’s a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of ex­tra out­lay com­pared with the more rounded Volk­swa­gen and Honda, but it’s these un­com­pro­mis­ing lim­ited-run spe­cials that are most likely to en­joy the great­est ap­pre­ci­a­tion, so, per­versely, could be most sen­si­ble.

Which one’s best for you?

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