We live in a golden era of hot hatchbacks. Sure, you could hark back to the days of the original Golf GTI and Peugeot 205 GTI and claim that they don’t make ‘em like they used to. But, come on. We have hot hatchbacks pushing 400 bhp today. We have hot hatches that come with ‘Drift’ buttons. In short, if you’re a fan of hot hatches, this is a good time to be alive.

And while last year saw a bunch of old favourites retire, this year is shaping up to be a pretty good one in the hot hatch fraternity. How good? Well, read on for a list of the hot hatchbacks that we can’t wait to drive this year. When you’re done, we reckon you’ll agree that 2018 should be a stand-out year for this type of car.

And, naturally, do let us know if we’ve missed any out.

The new Mercedes A45 AMG

Okay, Mercedes has only just taken the wraps off its new A-Class, and it hasn’t even mentioned anything about an AMG version. But we know it’s coming. Actually, there’ll be two – one medium-hot version called the A35, and one full-on Vindaloo. The old A45 sported a monstrous engine that developed 376 bhp – good enough for a 0-100 km/h time of 4.2 seconds. And we’re betting the new one will be even faster. Yikes.

The new Volvo V40 T5

Volvo has retired the old V40 T5, but it hasn’t released any details about the new version. All we know is that it’ll share a platform with the XC40, the brand’s first small crossover, and look sort of like the concept in this picture. Still, we’ve been promised that a V40 is on the way. Likely it’ll launch with a couple of smaller engines, and there may even be an all-electric model. But, eventually, we should get a fast T5 version – and maybe even one that’s been souped up by Polestar, the brand’s in-house tuner. Anyway, given that the old V40 T5 was one of our favourite hot hatchbacks, we can’t wait to see what Volvo does with the new one.

The Hyundai i30 N

Kia and Hyundai are keen to move upmarket, and that means developing halo cars that might not sell that well, but will certainly offer a sense of sporting pedigree for the rest of the range. Anyway, Kia has been very successful with the Stinger saloon – which we thought was an excellent car. And now Hyundai has made the i30 N. At the top spec, it develops 271 bhp and does 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds. It also comes with an electronic differential and a variable exhaust system. Yes please, Hyundai.

The Suzuki Swift Sport

Okay, this isn’t hot like the rest of the cars on this list – it only comes with 136 bhp – but it is nonetheless interesting. The last Suzuki Swift Sport was a big hit in the UAE because it looked good, drove great, and came incredibly cheap. The new one is an updated version of the same formula. You get just 2 bhp more than the outgoing model, but Suzuki has shaved 80 kg from the weight (it now weighs just 970 kg), and upped the torque to 169 lb-ft. This means the new Swift Sport should be incredibly nippy. This should be a properly exciting little city car.

The RenaultSport Megane

The last RenaultSport Megane was one of the definitive hot hatches of its era, and it’s taken Renault a long time to finish this follow-up. But it’s here now, and we like what we see on first impressions. This is the only hot hatch to come with four-wheel steering as standard, and it’ll come with a choice of two suspension set-ups. In terms of power, you get 276 bhp courtesy of a new 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo. Performance figures aren’t out yet, but we reckon that’ll be handy for a 0-100 km/h time of around 6.0 seconds. Not as hardcore as some of the other stuff on this list, but if this is anything like its predecessors, it’ll be a joy to drive.

 

The Audi RS3 Sportback

Okay, the RS3 has been knocking about for some time now. However, Audi updated its uber-hatch last year, and we’re finally getting a go this year. The updates are tremendous. Power has been upped to 395 bhp, and the top speed is now, wait for it, 280 km/h. That’s almost 911 speed. And the 0-100 km/h dash is dealt with in 4.1 seconds. This is a seriously quick car. Audi has also given the RS3 a new four-wheel drive system, making it more agile through the corners. We can’t wait to see how it feels.