Hot hatches and small cars are few and far between these days, given the recent demand for crossovers and SUVs. Fortunately, there are a few automakers (from the JDM and European markets in particular), that have launched excellent hatchbacks in the U.S.
What makes these vehicles ferocious and surprisingly fast are finely tuned components, turbocharged powertrains, and compact configurations. Automakers have also ensured that these fiery pocket-rockets maintain a certain level of reliability, safety, and daily drivability.
Of the best in class, the following make it into our list of the top three hatchbacks for 2021:
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Also known as one of the best hot hatchbacks in the US, the GTI is considered the original hot hatchback car. It is the quintessential benchmark in the segment in terms of driving dynamics and performance capability. The new 2021 models feature a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger, which can be coupled to either a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox or a six-speed manual. While other cars might be a little faster, when it comes to hatchback cars with overall driving pleasure, it doesn’t get better than the GTI.
Hyundai Veloster N
Very few hatchback cars can compete with this little firecracker in terms of driving engagement in an affordable package. With its front-wheel drivetrain, cool exterior design, six-speed manual transmission, and 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, it’s the go-to choice for many. If you’re looking for a model that’s even more affordable, the regular non-N version is the best pick, as it also returns some of the greatest fuel economy figures within the specific subdivision of hot-hatchery. While Velosters are known to be performance-focused, in terms of features, there’s still a lot to be enjoyed.
Honda Civic Type R
From this beast’s 2.0L heart, 306 horsepower charges out. While some may even consider it somewhat overly-styled, it also has the looks that match its aggressive output figures. The car has a rather contemporary cabin which exudes sportiness. It is relatively well-outfitted with conveniences and creature comforts and is known to deliver active safety and driver-assist elements along with infotainment functionality.