Best Hot Hatchbacks in 2019
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Hatchbacks have always been known for their efficiency and versatility with the ability to lay down rear seats for extra cargo space without a traditional trunk in the way. Another perk of the hatchback? The fun factor. There are zippy standard hatches out there, then there are “hot” hatchbacks equipped with a more powerful engine, performance-tuned suspension and grippier tires.
Still practical enough for everyday use — and less expensive than many muscle machines or sports cars — hot hatches are made for a more dynamic and sporty drive than your average hatchback. Performance was a factor in our selection, as were ratings from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) experts, consumers on Edmunds, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Best hot hatchbacks
- MSRP $19,095
- 4.3 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.6 out of 5 by Edmunds consumers (10 reviews)
- 5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick+
The Impreza comes as a sedan or a hatchback, but for the sake of this article, we’ll take a look at the hatchbacks, which Subaru calls its 2.0i 5-door (the fifth door being the hatch itself). In this lineup, you’ll find that all trim levels — including the base 2.0i 5-door, plus the Premium, Sport and Limited — feature the same four-cylinder engine offering 152 horsepower and standard all-wheel drive. All have Subaru’s Starlink display, but the Sport trim ($22,695) gives you sport cloth upholstery with red contrast stitching along with better handling and higher cornering limits. The highest Limited trim ($25,690) adds Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology, high beam assist and the option of reverse automatic braking. But considering there are nice safety features on all trim levels without a power boost on the upper levels, the base five-door might just do the trick if you’re looking for a capable hatch.
- MSRP $21,340
- 4.2 out of 5 by KBB experts; not yet rated by Edmunds consumers
- 4 star rating by NHTSA
As of writing, there’s no 2019 Focus ST available as there has been in previous years. Luckily, its smaller counterpart, the four-door Fiesta ST, is. The smaller Fiesta performance hatch will offer up to 197 horsepower with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Inside, fun options like a sunroof and Recaro branded racing seats are available to remind you that this isn’t just any Fiesta. It’s only available with a manual transmission, but you’ll certainly get a thrill out of driving this stick shift. There are cheaper Fiesta models, ranging from the S sedan to the ST Line hatchback, though the ST Line lacks the ST’s turbocharged engine. Still, if you’re at all interested in any Fiesta model, you might need to move fast — Ford is reportedly dropping the hatchback as the carmaker focuses on SUVs and trucks.
- MSRP $26,900
- Not yet reviewed by KBB experts; 5.0 out of 5 by Edmunds consumers (10 reviews)
The three-door hatchback returns to Hyundai’s lineup, but this time it’s a little bit sportier than we’ve seen in years past. That’s because Hyundai’s N line is made to keep up with other hot hatches, thanks to a larger engine offering up to 275 horsepower. It doesn’t offer an automatic drive option, so those not looking to drive a manual will have to look elsewhere, or settle for the standard Veloster ($18,500). Inside, there are lots of reminders that this is indeed the N version, from its instruments to the steering wheel — plus, the exterior has a more menacing appearance in the front and rear. The Veloster and Veloster N aren’t Hyundai’s only hot hatchbacks — the automaker is also set to roll out an N line version of the Elantra as well.
2019 MINI Hardtop John Cooper Works
- MSRP $31,900
- 3.7 out of 5 by KBB experts; 3.5 out of 5 by Edmunds consumers (2 reviews)
- 4 stars NHTSA
Don’t let the petite package fool you, the MINI has a racing heritage and this model, named after Formula 1 builder-turned-automaker John Cooper, pays homage to that history. With up to 228 horsepower and the choice between a six-speed manual or an optional automatic transmission, this MINI is just as ready for competition as it is your daily drive. You’ll also notice lots of add-ons available to truly make it your own, like a panoramic sunroof, an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and lots of quirky colors.
- MSRP $35,700
- 4.7 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.5 out of 5 by Edmunds consumers (14 reviews)
The Honda Civic comes in many forms — it’s available as a sedan, and also a regular hatchback, among other forms. But the one that’s really going to catch your attention when looking for a hot hatchback is the Type R. Its design is created for performance, with a prominent spoiler made to direct airflow. The Civic Type R has been getting pretty high marks for a while now from both consumers and experts, so it might just be a safe bet, even if it is on the pricier side. Though NHTSA has yet to give it an overall rating, the Type R did receive 5 stars in side crash and rollover tests.
- MSRP $40,395
- 4.1 out of 5 by KBB experts; not yet rated by Edmunds consumers
5 star rating by NHTSA
While it’s more expensive than others on this list, it’s also more powerful. The Golf R offers up to 288 horsepower and a five-second 0 to 60 time. The R variant of the Golf also comes with standard all-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual transmission. With this performance-minded hatchback, you will have the option of a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission, a choice that not many of the competitors offer. Inside, the Golf R comes fully loaded, with a navigation system, interior ambient lighting, heated sport seats, and keyless access with a push-to-start system. New for 2019 are 40 available colors for the Golf R. There are less expensive versions of VW’s popular hatchback, but the R is the one for those looking for a performance hatch.
- MSRP $45,400
- Not yet rated by KBB experts or Edmunds consumers
- 5-star safety rating by NHTSA
Gran Turismo is BMW speak for hatchback, as that’s essentially what this body style is. While it’s also available on the 6 Series, the 3 Series is the lower-priced of the hatch models. Compared with the 3 Series sedan, you’ll have a big advantage in versatility and utility with the Gran Turismo. On this 3 Series hatch, all-wheel drive is standard, as is 248 horsepower — though for even more power, you can step up to the more powerful 340i engine. It’s more performance-minded than others on this list, and it’s a little bit pricier as well — still, this hatchback is ideal for those wanting luxury, convenience and power.
Financing the best hot hatchbacks
Finding your ideal auto financing is now just as easy as finding your dream hatchback. To get the best possible deal, you’ll want to get preapproved and shop around for financing with several different types of lenders before heading to the dealership — credit unions, banks, and online lenders all offer auto loans, but they all have different rates. Then, you’ll want to compare your offers. Instead of running around to get all the offers available to you, fill out an online form on LendingTree and receive up to five potential auto loan offers from lenders at once, instead of filling out five different lender applications.
The vehicles chosen for this list are hatchbacks with a performance focus. In considering the best hot hatchbacks, we looked at the Edmunds consumer scores and expert ratings from Kelley Blue Book. We’ve also considered safety scores when available. The MSRPs listed are for the performance model discussed here, rather than for the base of the model itself. For example, the Ford Fiesta S sedan starts much lower than the performance-focused Fiesta ST, so for this example, we’ve shown the price for the ST that we’re describing. MSRPs, as well as the number of consumer reviews, are current as of publication.