Best Hot Hatches of 2020

Hot hatches and small cars are few and far between these days, with the SUV and crossover phenomenon sweeping across America. Fortunately, there are a few automakers, particularly from the JDM and European markets, that persist in progressing the hot-hatch chronicles in the US. Turbocharged powertrains, finely tuned components and compact configurations make these vehicles surprisingly fast and ferocious. Automakers have also made sure that these fiery pocket-rockets maintain a certain level of daily drivability, safety, and reliability, too. 

The Top-Rated Hot Hatchbacks

On our roster of the best in the class, the following make it into the top five:

  • Volkswagen Golf GTI: As one of the best hot hatches in the USA, the GTI is considered the original hot hatchback and is the segment’s quintessential benchmark in performance capability and driving dynamics. It earns our top spot for 2020. The new-for-2021 models come equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger that can be coupled to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The Golf R derivative takes third place on our list even though it is a little faster, at least in a straight-line. When it comes to overall driving pleasure, however, it doesn’t get better than the GTI.
  • Hyundai Veloster N: In terms of affordable driving enjoyment, few can compete with this little firecracker. With its cool exterior design, 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, six-speed manual transmission, and front-wheel drivetrain, it’s the purist’s go-to choice. The regular non-N version is even more affordable, taking fourth place, and returns some of the greatest fuel economy figures within the specific subdivision of hot-hatchery. As performance-focused as the Velosters are, there’s still a lot to be enjoyed in terms of features.
  • Honda Civic Type R: 306 horsepower charges out from this beast’s 2.0L heart. It also has the looks to match its aggressive output figures, though some may even consider it somewhat overly-styled. The cabin is contemporary and exudes sportiness from front to back, with faux carbon-fiber trim lining most of the dash and door panels. It comes relatively well-outfitted with creature comforts and conveniences, too, and delivers plenty of infotainment functionality, as well as driver-assist and active safety elements.

What to Consider Before Buying

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of the few pocket rockets that persist today:

Pros

  • Sporty, eye-catching, and standout aesthetics
  • Sprightly performance and apt handling dynamics
  • Turbocharged engines keep fuel economy decent
  • Among the few styles you can still find a manual gearbox in

Cons

  • Rear cabin passenger room is usually rather limited
  • Trunk capacity is typically on the small side
  • Some are overly styled and too focused

FAQs

What are the fastest hot hatches in the USA?

The Ferrari GTC4Lusso, as the quickest pocket-rocket on the market, races from 0 - 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds while the GTC4Lusso T is just a fraction of a second slower. The 2019 VW Golf R reaches the 60 mph mark a little later at 4.5 seconds. The 2018 Ford Focus RS follows suite, reaching the 60 mph mark in around 4.7 s.

What’s the most fuel-efficient of the 2020 hot hatches?

The regular Hyundai Veloster is the most frugal small car with some spice under the hood, returning EPA estimates of 28/34/30 mpg city/highway/combined.

Are there any hot hatches from Audi?

The four-ringed manufacturer offers the RS3 Sportback in other parts of the world, but it’s not sold in the States.
BuzzScore
Design
Performance
MPG
Interior
Infotainment
Reliability
Safety
Value
#1
2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI
9.1
BuzzScore
9
Design
9
Performance
7
MPG
10
Interior
10
Infotainment
8
Reliability
10
Safety
10
Value
#2
2020 Hyundai Veloster N
8.9
BuzzScore
10
Design
10
Performance
6
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
9
Reliability
10
Safety
9
Value
#3
2019 Volkswagen Golf R
8.9
BuzzScore
8
Design
10
Performance
7
MPG
10
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
9
Safety
10
Value
#4
2021 Hyundai Veloster
8.8
BuzzScore
10
Design
9
Performance
7
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
9
Reliability
10
Safety
8
Value
#5
2020 Honda Civic Type R
8.5
BuzzScore
8
Design
10
Performance
7
MPG
10
Interior
8
Infotainment
9
Reliability
8
Safety
8
Value
#6
2019 Ford Fiesta ST
8.4
BuzzScore
8
Design
9
Performance
8
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
7
Safety
10
Value
#7
2018 Ford Focus ST
8.1
BuzzScore
8
Design
9
Performance
7
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
7
Safety
9
Value
#8
Ferrari GTC4Lusso T
8.1
BuzzScore
8
Design
9
Performance
8
MPG
10
Interior
9
Infotainment
7
Reliability
7
Safety
7
Value
#9
Ferrari GTC4Lusso
8.1
BuzzScore
8
Design
10
Performance
7
MPG
10
Interior
9
Infotainment
7
Reliability
7
Safety
7
Value
#10
2020 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop
8
BuzzScore
9
Design
9
Performance
8
MPG
7
Interior
8
Infotainment
8
Reliability
8
Safety
7
Value
#11
2018 Ford Focus RS
8
BuzzScore
8
Design
10
Performance
6
MPG
8
Interior
9
Infotainment
8
Reliability
7
Safety
8
Value
#12
2019 Fiat 500 Abarth
6.8
BuzzScore
8
Design
7
Performance
7
MPG
5
Interior
6
Infotainment
7
Reliability
7
Safety
7
Value