Unfortunately for young people nowadays, insurance premiums have risen to a point where they make owning a hot hatch almost unattainable for your average under 21 year old who has recently passed the test. There was a time when owning one when you were that age was obligatory, and we had Peugeot 205 GTI competing with the likes of the XR3i for the attention of the younger generation. There have been some fantastic examples over the years but we thought it would be fun to produce a list of those hot little hatches we have drooled after over the years.
Peugeot 205 GTI
Already mentioned is the Peugeot 205 GTI. This is probably number one on the affection list for everyone who was a teenager in the 1980s. The 205 was introduced in 1983 and the first GTI came onto the market a year later. Initially it was driven by a 1.6 injection petrol engine and followed up later in the same year with a 1900 injection version. Both became available in a cabriolet version. This car was an instant hit and the styling did not alter in the 15 years that it was in production.
Ford Escort XR3i
The Escort XR3 and XR3I range were iconic hot hatchbacks of the 80s. Sleek, swift and desirable, they represented everything that young, upwardly mobile generation of the eighties was striving for at the time. The XR3 made its appearance in 1980 as a sporty 1600 cc hatchback and was followed up in 1983 with the petrol injection version, the XR3i. The ride and handling of the car got an overhaul and it was slightly lowered . With the introduction of the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system and new gearing, the car was capable of a top speed of 120mph and 0-60 time in 8.5seconds.
Volkswagen Golf GTi
The early mark 1 Volkswagen Golfs were not the refined vehicles they are today. They were rough, tough and gutsy, not to mention very quick indeed. They were also incredibly desirable. Acknowledged as the first of the hot hatch generation, the GTI was first on sale in 1976 and spawned a whole host of imitations. With its 1600 injection engine it could reach top speeds of 110 mph with a 0-60 around 9 seconds. Throughout the 80s and into the 90s, the Golf overshadowed all the other hot hatches.
Renault 5 GT Turbo
The Renault 5 cruised through the 70s without attracting much attention and then in 1984, the first GT turbo rolled off the production line. Short, squat and brutally fast, its 1.7 turbo engine could reach top speeds of 118 mph and with a 0-60 of 8.4 seconds it had more acceleration than any of its competition. In fact it was arguably the fastest hot hatch of its generation. A later model went on to dominate the rally scene for several years.
For the lad about town in the late eighties and early nineties the Mark 2 Astra GTE was probably the ultimate teenage hot hatch icon. The mark 1 GTE started life in 1983 as the first colour coded hot hatch with the bumpers and mouldings coloured to compliment the rest of the car. The GTE mark 2 with its 1800 cc petrol injection engine rivalled the Renault GT turbo for speed but with its flared arches and colour coding it outdid them all.
These were the days before global warming, petrol price rises and massive insurance premiums. These were the days when young people could travel in style and get there quickly. Today a young person wanting to drive one of these cars would be unlikely to get an insurance premium quote for under £5000 for a year.
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