Ranked

PistonHeads names top hot hatches of the 21st Century

The Ford Fiesta ST is a hot hatch that many Americans wish would be sold stateside.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

If there's one thing car guys almost unanimously love, it's hooning a hot hatch. PistonHeads, the UK's largest online motoring community, has voted to decide which hot hatches are the 21st century's greatest hits.

"People often think of the 1980s as the golden era of the hot hatch. While it's true that there are a host of unrepeatable classics from this time that have gone on to inspire the hot hatches of today, the reality is that in the 21st century we've never had more choice, performance and usability in this sector," said Nic Cackett, Editor of PistonHeads.

To determine the winner, PistonHeads asked members of its motoring community to nominate their favorite hot hatches from the last 20 years, before running a poll on the top 10 nominees to determine the final order.

Scroll down to see the top ten.

No. 10 - Alfa Romeo 147 GTA

Alfa Romeo 147 GTA

Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo

The Alfa Romeo 147 GTA went on sale in 2002. It was powered by a 3.2-liter V6 that produced 247 horsepower and was paired with a six-speed manual gearbox The model was wider than the street version of the 147. It came with an aero package, modified nose, honeycomb grille, and side skirts. Brembo four-piston brake calipers, ventilated front disc brakes, and a revised suspension helped make the model super sporty.

Aluminum accents covered the interior and and the model had a unique black gauge surround on the dash. Sport seats up front were fitted with head restraints.

Most importantly, however, the car came with a 10-CD changer.

No. 9 - Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup

This version of the Clio came with a front splitter, a tweaked exhaust system, shorter gearing (resulting in improved acceleration) and a more responsive steering rack. The car's engine produced 197 bhp. Rennaultsport's new model was available with an Alien Green paint job. It won tremendous accolades when it was new.

No. 8 - Ford Fiesta ST MK7

Ford Fiesta ST MK7

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Fiesta ST is Ford's smallest hot hatch. It has a standard turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine. Buyers could opt for the Performance Park and get a Quaife limited slip differential, shift change light, and launch control. It can be driver in Normal, Sport, or Race Track mode.

No. 7 - Renaultsport Clio V6

Launched in 2001, the mid-engine, rear-wheel drive model was designed by Renault. Half were built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing and the other half were built by Renault Sport. Its engine produced 281 bhp and was paired with a Sadev gearbox.

No. 6 - Volkswagen Golf GTI MK5

VW Golf GTI MK5

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen gave the Gold GTI a turbocharged 2.00liter four-cylinder engine that produced 197 bhp. The engine was paired with a standard six-speed manual or a six-speed direct shift gearbox. It came in three- and five-door variants. Volkswagen brought the GTI back to the U.S. for this generation.

No. 5 - BMW M140i

BMW M140i

Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW M140i delivers exactly what you'd expect from BMW. It's a hot hatch that delivers 340 horsepower from its turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and goes where you point it. Unlike the four cars that rank ahead of it on this list, the M140i isn't stripped to the bare minimum and lightweighted. It's a relatively comfortable daily driver that gets after it when you put the pedal down, can seat five (though four is better), and has a well-appointed cabin.

No. 4 - Renaultsport Clio 172 Cup

This model is the lightweight version of the Clio 172, meant for sport. Like a typical race car, the 172 Cup lacked the creature comforts that buyers could get in a traditional Clio. Its seats were upholstered in durable fabric rather than leather, its Xeonn headlights were replaced by halogen, much of the sound deadening and convenience technology like automatic wipers was removed, as well as the air conditioning.

Renaultsport replaced the wheels with 16-inch Speedline Turinin alloys. The car got matte blue door strips, a plastic front splitter and rear spoiler. It did not have antilock brakes.

No. 3 - Honda Civic Type R EP3

2001 Honda Civic Type R

Photo courtesy of Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

Honda introduced the Civic Type R in 2001. Then, it was a three-door hatchback made explicitly for the U.K. market. It came with a 197-horspower 2.-liter V-TEC engine, six-speed manual transmission, and upgraded brakes.

Two years after its debut, the EP3 was upgraded with more precise handling and revised suspension, among other aesthetic changes.

No. 2 - Renaultsport Megane R26.R

The Renaultsport Megane R26.R is the rarest model on this list; the company only produced 450 examples of the car, which was based one the Mégane Renault Sport 230 F1 Team R2. The company took that car and reduced its weight by 271 pounds by removing the rear seats and seat belts, passenger and curtain airbags, climate control system, rear windscreen washer and wiper, heated rear window, fog lamps, headlight washers, radio/CD player, and nearly all the soundproofing.

Additional light weighting took place including the changeout to a carbon fiber hood and install a polycarbonate tailgate and rear side windows. The car got Sabelt seats, a six-point harness, and rear spoiler. Buyers could opt for a roll cage and titanium exhaust when new.

There were new front springs, recalibrated shock absorber settings, grooved disc brakes, offset alloy wheels, and stiffer lower arm bushes.

It became a race car.

No. 1 - Renaultsport Clio 182 Trophy

Renaultsport Clio 182 Trophy

Photo courtesy of PistonHeads

Renault produced just 550 versions of the Clio 182 Trophy, its final version of the Clio 182. The car is a bit of a mishmash of other models. It rides on 16-inch Speedline Turini alloy wheels from the 172 Cup and the spoiler from the Clio 255 V6. Its underpinnings included Sachs Remote-Reservoir dampers.

Inside are Recaro Trendline seats. The exterior is finished in an exclusive 727 Capsicum Red Paint with trophy decals on its side skirts. Each model came news with an individually numbered plaque on the base of the driver's seat.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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Research and development

Ford names site for battery development facility

Ford's new facility will house battery research and development.

Ford

Ford is in the news again for its electrification efforts, this time with the confirmation of a Michigan location for a new battery research and development facility in Romulus, Michigan. The facility may eventually help Ford in-source much of its EV supply chain, a shift that could prevent or mitigate the challenges presented by parts and technology shortages.

As part of its electrification initiative, the automaker plans to build a new research and development facility, called Ford Ion Park. The facility will house new tech research, pilot programs for new manufacturing techniques, and will help give Ford more control over its supply chain.


Ford Ion Park Once complete, the facility will initially house 200 engineers.Ford


The price tag for the new facility and related efforts lands at $185 million, which sounds like chump change for a global automaker until we consider that Ford has committed $30 billion to electrification by 2025. The automaker says that its new facility renews its dedication to Michigan as its home base for EV development, a promise it originally made back in 2010. The company's new electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck will be built in Dearborn, which will add 500 jobs. An additional 225 jobs will be retained at Ford's Dyke Electric Powertrain Center.

As part of Phase One of the project, Ford plans to hire 200 engineers within 18 months of the 270,000-square-foot facility's opening. Ironically, the site was previously owned by A123 Systems, a battery manufacturer that closed the facility in 2017 due to low demand for batteries.


Ford Ion Park Ford has committed $185 million to the new facility and related efforts.Ford

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