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Five naturally aspirated hot hatches we'd like to own

2020-08-07 09:45

Sean Parker

CLIO RS

2010 Renault Clio RS. Image: Netcarshow

• Almost all hot hatch models are turbocharged. 

• We look at models that use naturally aspirated engine. 

• Our list features the likes of the BMW 130i with its inline six-cylinder engine to the Volkswagen Golf R32.


There is a massive increase in used car purchases and searches. According to Autotrader, a total of 401-million online searches for used cars took place in 2019; this is a record and an almost 40% increase year-on-year. 

While many people aim to own performance cars, it's simply not a reality due to affordability. But waiting a few years for a vehicle to depreciate, and become more affordable is an option many consumers take. 

Hot hatches remain a popular used-car choice, and for the past 15 to 20 years most of them have been powered by forced-induction engines. 

Think of the modern R50 Mini Cooper S that used a supercharged 1.6-litre engine, or the MkIV Volkswagen Polo GTI that was powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine. 

We're asking you to forget about those for a bit and revel in five hot hatches from yesteryear that are devoid of a turbocharger or supercharger. 

First up is the BMW 130i, a Luxo hot hatch powered by the carmaker's popular 3.0-litre straight six-cylinder engine. The E87 model used the N52 engine churning out 195kW and 315Nm. It could reach 100km/h from standstill in 6.1 seconds. 

Next up is the Volkswagen Golf R32, a local favourite and arguably one of the best sounding hot hatches. It sat above the MkV GTI and produced 184kW and 320Nm from its 3.2-litre V6 engine. 


Which one of the hot hatches below would you pick, and why? Or, have you owned one you'd like to tell us about? Please email us here.



Renault Clio RS

Image: NetCarShow

It had a Haldex four-wheel-drive system and scooted to 100km/h in a claimed 6.2 seconds with the DSG. 

The wildcard on the list is the Fiat Stilo Abarth. The Italian's power comes from a 2.4-litre inline five-cylinder engine with a modest 125kW. It had a six-speed manual gearbox and offered decent driving dynamics. 

A carmaker known for producing outstanding driver's cars is Renault. And on the list, we have the last naturally-aspirated Clio III RS. 

Power comes from a 2.0-litre that has 147kW and a top speed of 227km/h. But the Clio III RS is more than a sum of its numbers, and it is widely regarded as one of the best hot hatch models ever. It had shorter gearing for first, second and third and tweaks to its exhaust, valve timing and ECU improved it over the 197 version. 

The Clio III RS is a future classic.

And finally, the Suzuki Swift Sport. A 1.6-litre engine with just over 100kW and 160Nm. The Sport version of the third-generation Swift proved one didn't need lots of power to have fun. 

It had a short-throw six-speed manual gearbox, fantastic direct steering and cheeky driving dynamics that made it fun to drive at 50km/h. 

5 NA
5 NA


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