A handful of hopeful hatches that turned out to be horribly hateful
Since Volkswagen first coined the GTI genre with its Golf, mainstream manufacturers of every stripe have been trying to cash in on the idea of cars that go more adventurously than they might look.
Some hot hatches have been amazing, and all that most of us might ever want. Unfortunately, not every entrant managed to hit the high spot. Some of the hot hatches that have crept off various production lines turned out to be about as hot as a two-week-old bowl of porridge, and not much more edifying to drive either.
You may have your own rogues’ gallery. Here’s ours.
5. MG Metro Turbo (1983)
The MG Metro was a decent enough little car when measured against the limited build quality standards of the time. The Turbo version was a chance to hoick up both the performance and the price, but only one of those two things happened, and it wasn’t the one you’d want. The result was a car that was still quite pedestrian but that now came with a new-found ‘attribute’ of turbo lag – and a higher cost.
4. Alfa Romeo Arna (1983)
As far back as the 1980s it was plain that the Japanese had a knack of building affordable and generally reliable cars without much flair, while the Italians had an even longer reputation for great design but not so much on the reliability front. A joint venture between Alfa and Nissan should therefore have blended the positives of each company. Instead, in the Arna they blended the negatives: Nissan designed it and Alfa built it, ironically in a town called Pratola. It was every bit as bad as you might have expected it to be.
3. Renault Sport Clio V6 Mk1 (2001)
Much loved by Renault fans but mainly for its aggressive bully-boy looks, because the V6 Clio had too much weight, too little chassis sophistication, and not enough distance between its front and back wheels. Despite its 3.0-litre engine and its Tom Walkinshaw Racing build sheet it combined a lack of speed with an on-the-limit snappiness that made it a real handful. Going up in value now, perhaps because of the rarity that is increasing as they go off into the bushes.
2. Peugeot 207 GTI (2007)
From the dark days of Peugeot when it was decided that safety and dullness would replace character and handling excellence as Peugeot’s USPs, the 207 GTI was a drab drive that in no way lived up to its billing. It was doubly reprehensible when you realise it’s a 2007 car, so it doesn’t even have age as a defence. Now regularly appearing in sub-£1000 used car ads near you.
1. Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk3 (1992)
And here’s our ‘winner’ of the world’s worst hot hatches – the Mark 3 version of Volkswagen’s own Golf GTI. Overweight and underpowered, and grossly so in the laughably weak 115bhp format, the Mk 3 GTI was basically a cooking Golf with a hopeful name badge. A perfect example of how the GTI genre had gone downhill from the golden days of the Mk 1, the Mk 3 was boring in just about every sense. It would take VW not one but two GTI generations to recapture the lost ground.