Hot hatches were everywhere in the 1980s, but the rumble of Golf GTIs has faded slightly over the years. Now the speedy cars seem to be making a more environmentally friendly comeback.
When I first started my career as a car journalist in the 1980s, car enthusiasts were a common breed. Every week we’d pore over the pages of the latest rival car mags, lusting over the metalwork. I was lucky enough to learn my trade at the wheel of some hot-hatch legends, including the Golf GTI and Peugeot 205 GTI.
These cars lost some of their popularity over the years though. Their reputation as gas guzzlers brought them to the attention of environmental campaigners, just like 4x4s. It got to the point where car fans would huddle together at parties, away from the prying ears of others, to discuss how much fun they’d been having in their cheap, small sports cars.
And, as you’d expect, most car companies heeded the change in atmosphere and concentrated on producing leaner, greener cars. In the process they seriously toned down or killed off their performance-focussed variants altogether.
The hot hatchback is… back
But all this looks set to change. Car makers are once again embracing the hot hatch genre. And, importantly, offering up more environmentally friendly go-faster models.
Ford gave us the Focus ST recently and it’s proved a big success, with nearly 2,000 sold across Europe in the last three months of 2012. In the UK it outstripped the Golf GTi and Renault Megane Sport. The latest Focus ST emits just 169g/km and a claimed 39mpg, in spite of its ability to do 0-60mph in under seven seconds.
Ford will be following up the Focus ST with a Fiesta ST very soon. And in even better news for us automotive anoraks, Peugeot is promising that its 208 GTI(due in April) will be a fitting descendent of the legendary 205 GTI.
It’s time to put the fun back into driving. I for one can’t wait to get behind the wheel of these new cars. Will you be joining me in cheering at the arrival of the new breed of hot hatch?