The hot hatch has always been a perennial favourite of the traditional Darwin Award recipient as they provided significant grunt for relatively little outlay. Now, however, the perpetual jostling between manufacturers for hot hatch bragging rights requires that a new definition of what is hot be applied. Whereas previously hot hatches hovered around the 200 HP mark, with a few errant individuals rising to the lofty heights of 250 HP, we have now reached a watershed moment where the notion of ‘hot’, a term that is becoming increasingly obsolete, encompasses more than 350 HP.
Take Audi’s new RS3 for example, a car that occupies the enviable footprint of a gymnast yet is to be found packing 362 HP into its tiny frame. Quite frankly though this might as well be a pepper grinder in light of the gargantuan 376 HP that Mercedes, having hit a rather rich vein of form of late, has dropped into its unhinged A45 AMG. For those day-ones of the first era of the hot hatch, this sort of evolution must be truly staggering and akin to waking up one morning to Metallica after having lived the entirety of one’s life to the strains of Edith Piaf; a seismic event that must seem impossible at first glance. And for those who take a dim view of German lunacy, the poster child for working class muscle, Ford, has brought forth its Focus RS packing 350 HP and a special ‘drift mode’ that should keep heavy smokers happy. Whereas previous generations had to be content with nippy hatches that could cock a back wheel, those of this new age should err on the side of caution as these new breeds seem intent on destroying not only their rear tyres but all their occupants as well. Darwin would approve.