The Hot Hatches of Geneva

Everyone loves a hot hatchback right? Little else on a B road can hold a red rag to the bull that is a supercar better than a humdrum hatchback with added attitude. Car makers know that this ability sells cars, so this year at Geneva they did not disappoint in showing off their latest creations. Although admittedly now, more than ever before, hot hatches are becoming almost as extreme as those supercars they enjoy taunting so much, let me explain.

The Hot Hatches of Geneva

The hot hatch headlines from the show go like this. Nurbergring lap time smashed by Seat, Peugeot showing the world they have some mojo back, Honda turbo charging it’s legendary VTEC, and Vauxhall unveiling a barely contained race car for the road.

Leon Cupra 280

Let’s take a more detailed look, starting with Seat and their 7 minute 58 second lap time of “The Ring”. The car that did it was the new production spec Leon Cupra 280 with a DSG gearbox. Its driver, ex WTCC racer Jordi Gené, averaged a ridiculous 96mph during the lap. Firmly setting the FWD record by being the first car of that configuration to go below the 8 minute barrier. To put that time into some perspective, the Leon is in the same territory as a new Boxster S or a B7 generation Audi RS4, impressive stuff from the Spaniards I think you’ll agree.

Peugeot 308R concept

Next there was Peugeot, who gave the world a closer look at their 308R concept. Which, just in case people didn’t spot it, Peugeot had painted in a 2 tone colour scheme straight from the pages of a late 90’s Max Power magazine! The R which is very likely to reach production in the coming year boasts a tiny 1.6 litre turbo charged engine with boost cranked up so much it makes 270bhp. What this equates to is a car with nearly 170bhp per litre of engine capacity and no doubt a very respectable mpg figure given the performance available.

Honda Civic Type R Concept

Honda turned up at Geneva to show everyone the long awaited new Civic Type R, albeit in concept form. The old R was killed off some years ago because of it’s high polluting yet wonderful 2 litre naturally aspirated VTEC engine. This new car, which looks hard as bloomin’ nails, in my opinion, is powered by an all new 2 litre 4 cylinder VTEC engine, this time with added turbo charger to make around 280bhp.

Vauxhall Astra VXR Extreme

Lastly, but by no means least, Vauxhall showed the world that they had gone completely mad when they pulled the covers of the Astra VXR Extreme. Basically its Vauxhall’s version of a 911 GT3, it’s an Astra with a serious steroid addiction, a race car that also happens to be road legal and FWD. Power output is 300bhp, which is quite frankly ridiculous given that the VXR still makes do with a 2 litre engine. Officially this car is just testing the water, but if enough people say “I want one” Vauxhall might just build it.

Hot hatchbacks look set to make a big impression in 2014 and not just because they can stick it to supercars better than ever before. But also because given how close just these 4 cars power outputs are to one another I think there might be an epic battle brewing. Expect much wheel spin and maybe a hint of understeer.

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