Many of us grew up loving some timeless hatchbacks and now can’t imagine what our lives would be like without them. We watched as they grew and matured over time. They’re good-looking, they never went out of style, and there have been countless hits over the years. When you look back at some of the beautiful vehicles produced over the years, it’s easy to remember why we love them so much. We’ve quibbled and squabbled, but now we can present the best hatchbacks of all time.
Peugeot 205 GTi (1984-1994)
You might know the GTI as a car that reshaped the hot hatch concept. It started with a design by Gérard Welter, enhanced with side moldings and red accents. Even the early models, like the 1984 version with a 105-bhp 1.6-litre engine, were agile due to their light weight. The GTI evolved, getting more powerful engines in 1986, like the 130 bhp 1.9, which offered more torque and came with better brakes and tires. Over time, the interior improved too, especially in post-1990 models with black trims.
The GTI is known to be among the most durable 90s hatchback cars, but it can wear out if pushed to its limits. Special editions from ’89, in colors like Sorrento Green and Miami Blue, are particularly loved, especially with their leather and power steering features. Original versions are highly valued, partly due to the GTI’s status in the ’90s car culture and its appearance in media like Max Power magazine. However, be cautious of signs of wear like damaged seats, gearbox issues, or suspension problems. And since the car is known for its tricky handling, leading to potential accidents, it’s wise to check for any crash damage.
Renault Clio Williams (1993–1996)
The original Clio 16V might have had the right tech, but the special version, made to meet racing standards, truly turned it into a successor to the 5 GT Turbo. This car’s charm wasn’t just about its association with the successful Williams F1 team. It was genuinely high-quality, featuring a front sub-frame from the early ’90s Clio Cup race car and improved suspension. The engine was upgraded from 1.8 to 2.0 liters, delivering 148 bhp at 6,100 rpm. This model, combining a light weight of 981kg, a naturally aspirated engine, and a manual transmission, set a benchmark for new generations in car design.
Renault 5 Turbo 2 (1983–1986)
The R5 Turbo, not as famous as the Peugeot 205 T16 in rally history, still made a significant impact in European rallying, much like the Ford Escort did in the previous decade. Being a French, mid-engined, turbocharged car in an era when turbo lag was notably prominent, it stood out as particularly cool. Looking back, its 1.4-litre engine with 158 bhp might not seem impressive, but its placement behind the seats, rear-wheel drive, and bold design by Marcello Gandini at Bertone made it exceptional. The Turbo 2 model followed, replacing the original’s aluminium doors, tailgate, and roof with steel to reduce costs.
Renault Megane R26.R (2009-2010)
Renault Sport’s engineers are not only top-notch but also skilled at crafting a car that’s great for everyday driving. Take the 227bhp R26.R, possibly their best work: on a dry road with warm tires, it feels like you’re gliding on a wave of incredible, unending grip. Its front end responds amazingly, taking you exactly where you want to go—almost like it’s reading your mind. The improved dampers and flexible springs play a part, but the real game-changer is its (optional) track-specific Toyo tires, which, surprisingly, perform well even in the rain.
Lancia Delta Integrale Evo 2
The transformation of the Delta from a simple Italian car competing with the Golf to a World Rally Championship hero is a big part of its legend. In a time when rallying drew more crowds than Formula 1, Lancia was a star attraction. The Delta was already ten years old when the Integrale 16V was introduced at the 1989 Geneva motor show, and it quickly proved its mettle by winning the San Remo Rally. Road versions were made to meet racing rules.
By current standards, its 212 bhp might seem modest, but it was more than enough to power this car down country roads, especially with the help of a Torsen differential. The Momo steering wheel and seats trimmed with Alcantara added flair to an interior that still looked like it was from the 1970s, even by 1993. As with any car, parts like suspension bushes, brake pads and discs, and the cambelt will need regular checks and replacements.
Ford Fiesta MkVII ST (2013–2017)
This small car seemed almost perfect. Its 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine was enhanced to produce 180 bhp (197 with overboost) and 214lb ft of torque, all channeled through its front wheels. Surprisingly, the front wheels didn’t have to work too hard. This was due to a traction control system that directed power to the wheel with the most grip, acting like a limited-slip differential. The car also featured a stiffer rear torsion bar, disc brakes on all wheels, and was lowered by 15mm. What really makes it stand out is its speed, control, and balance, allowing you to drive fast without the need to slow down much.
Renault Clio 182 Trophy (2005)
The idea that motorsport enhances car design was really put to the test with the Clio 182 Trophy, a special edition limited to 500 units. It’s one of the classic hatchback cars that features a unique suspension system with separate reservoirs for oil and gas, allowing for stronger damper rods. It also sits 10mm lower than the standard Cup car, thanks to its hydraulic bump stops and shorter springs. Priced at £15,500 in 2005, it was expensive for a small car with a simple interior and an awkward driving position. However, its small size and maneuverability, combined with 180 bhp from a 2.0-litre engine, make it a delight to drive, especially considering it only weighs 1,090kg. It’s an excellent choice if you can find one for sale.
Discover Some Timeless Classic Hatchbacks
Embrace the thrill of driving with these iconic hatchbacks, each a masterpiece of automotive engineering. From groundbreaking designs to rally-bred performance, these cars have set benchmarks and won hearts. What are you waiting for? Get to know the best hatchback of all time and discover the exhilarating blend of power and agility!