Hot hatches are an evergreen favorite of ours and we are always glad that manufacturers are deciding to bring more of them to the US. Not only do they provide grin inducing driving pleasure and utility, they are usually faster than much more expensive sports sedan. Sadly some of the very best ones are reserved for other markets and that includes many on our list of the most Most Powerful Hot Hatches on the planet.

 7th Place (Tied) – Seat Leon Cupra R

VW’s sub brand Seat churns out cars for the masses but also produces some of the quickest hot hatches around. The limited production of the Seat Leon Cupra R is limited to just 799 examples, each car combining a host of technical upgrades with sophisticated styling and a premium finish.

The Cupra R has a 305 hp turbocharged inline 4 mated to a six-speed manual transmission. It boasts modified camber angles on the front axle, four piston Brembro brake calipers and a re-tuned sports exhaust system, plus a rear spoiler providing 42 lbs of down-force for even more grip.

PRICE: £34,995
ENGINE: 2.0 turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, direct fuel injection
POWER: 306 hp @ 6,200 rpm
TORQUE: 280 lb-ft @ 1,800
TRANSMISSION: 6 speed manual
0-60 MPH: 5.6 seconds (mfr)

7th Place (Tied) – Golf R/Audi S3 – Euro Spec

These two siblings get more power than the US models, 305 hp to be exact. The VW is a tad quicker to 60 mph due to a lower curb weight but both are chuckable and fun through tight twisty mountain roads. The Golf R is available here but you sacrifice a few hp and the Audi is not, instead we get the S3 sedan. Shame.

PRICE: $39,580 VW – £33,365 Audi
ENGINE: 2.0 turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, direct fuel injection
POWER: 306 hp @ 5,500rpm
TORQUE: 280 lb-ft @ 1,800
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 4.6 seconds (R),  4.7 seconds (S3)

7th Place (Tied) – Honda Civic Type R

The Civic Type R is not easy on the eyes but if you can get past the cartoonish styling it’s a very good car indeed. It uses a tuned version of the previous gen 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, and is good 306 hp and 295lb-ft of torque. That motor is connected to one of the best 6 speed manual transmissions ever made, it’s crisp, quick and the clutch is super predictable, it’s an absolute joy to use.  The three-mode adaptive dampers provide a very comfortable ride even if you chose the +r mode, and it irons out almost all of the worst road imperfections. If only there was an option to delete the rear wing.

PRICE: $34,775
ENGINE: Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4
POWER: 306 hp @ 6,500 rpm
TORQUE: 295 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6 speed manual
0-60 MPH: 4.9 seconds

4th Place – Ford Focus RS

The Focus RS is the most fun you ‘ll ever have going to the grocery store and back via the mountains. It borrows the 2.3 liter Ecoboost engine from its Mustang brother. The engine isn’t left untouched in the RS, a new higher flow turbo, a bigger intercooler, radiator and oil cooler have been added.

All that adds up to 350 hp @ 6,000 and 350 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm, enough to launch the RS from zero to sixty in 4.6 seconds, if you get the changes right, since it is only available with a 6 speed manual transmission! Cornering is other-worldly with the Cup 2 tires, flooring it on a 270 degree  on ramp and the tires will not be unstuck. The brakes on this car are phenomenal. and the steering is very direct, with only 2 turns to lock, in fact it’s hard to find any gripes with the RS except for the “look at me” styling.

PRICE: $38,765
ENGINE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4
POWER: 350 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE: 350 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6 speed manual
0-60 MPH: 4.6 seconds

3rd Place – BMW M140i

Fairly subdued styling make the BMW M140i the sleeper of our seven and it’s the only one that’s rear drive only. Most of the cars here have a turbo 4, but the M140i brings a sweet 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six to the party, which produces  335 hp and a 368lb ft of torque. Power is routed through an eight-speed sports Steptronic automatic, which in Sport mode can induce whiplash. 0-60 is dispatched in 4.5 seconds and it’s surprisingly good in the corners as well.

PRICE: £34,480
ENGINE: 3.0 liter turbocharged inline 6
POWER: 355 hp @ 5,500 rpm
TORQUE:  368 lb ft @ 1,520rpm
TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic gearbox.
0-60 MPH: 4.5 seconds

2nd Place – Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC

Mercedes wanted to spoil the party for Audi with their AMG A45, since the predecessor only had 355 hp, which would tie it with the BMW M140i. So AMG has responded by upping power to 376 hp and torque by  23 lb ft to 350 lb ft, dropping the 0-60 mph time down by 0.4secs to 4.2 seconds. Still not enough to take the crown of the most powerful hot hatch though………rumor has it that AMG is looking to boost this engine’s power to over 400 hp. Stay tuned.

PRICE: £41,830
ENGINE: 2.0 Liter turbocharged inline 4
POWER: 376bhp @ 6,000rpm
TORQUE: 350 lb ft @ 2,250
TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed DCT auto
0-60 MPH: 4.2 seconds

1st Place –  Audi RS 3 Sportback

Since we can’t get the hatch here in the US we drove the sedan and it’s sensational. The sonorous 400 hp turbocharged and inter-cooled DOHC 20-valve inline-5 is a gem and with a quick shifting twin clutch transmission scorches to 60 in 3.6 seconds flat, that’s faster than many triple the price sports cars. Power is delivered to all four wheels, wrapped in Pirelli P Zero’s and Audi uses a staggered wheel configuration, putting the widest rubber, 255/30R-19 ‘s up front, and 235/35’s on the rear. Turn after turn the RS 3 stays flat and neutral, and you can easily adjust the car in mid corner, a dab on the brakes and back on the throttle, its a hoot.

It’s a worthy winner for now…………

PRICE: £44,300
ENGINE: Turbocharged and inter-cooled DOHC 20-valve inline-5
POWER: 400 hp @ 7,000 rpm
TORQUE: 354 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 3.6 seconds