The Nürburgring is the proving ground for most serious sports cars, and for enthusiasts who don’t have all the money in the world, hot hatchbacks are usually the way to go.
So, if how fast the car you want to buy goes round the ‘Green Hell’ is an important factor to you, then check out the top ten below…
10. Ford Focus RS Mk.2 – 8:26 – 2009
Set back in 2009, the second generation of the large hatchback tackled the ‘Ring and came away with the fastest hatchback time of the year. Beating the Volkswagen Golf R32 and Scirocco to the time, this version of the RS still clings on to a spot in the top ten eight years later.
9. BMW M135i – 8:18 – 2012
This hot version of BMW’s large hatch was thrown round the track in 2012 and set a time comparable with the 2009 Porsche Boxster S and 2007 Lexus IS-F. The car was fitted with a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six that produced 328bhp and could get 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds. Unfortunately, the M135i is no longer in production, so the more powerful M140i will have to do.
8. Renault Megane RS R26.R – 8:16.9 – 2008
Besides having a mouthful of a name, the R26.R was an uber-lightweight hatchback that back in 2008 was ahead of the game. With dynamic bodywork, six-point harness and no luxuries of note, this Megane was quite ferocious with 227bhp at its disposal. That meant a 0-60mph time of 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 147mph – pretty good for nine years ago.
7. Honda Civic Type R Mk4 – 8:15 – 2016
With a 305bhp turbocharged flat-four, the previous Civic Type R was a bit chunky compared to previous models, but still packed a punch. Although it is nowhere near as quick as the latest version – see later on in the list – it could still reach 60mph in 5.5 seconds and go on to 177mph. Not bad at all!
6. Renault Megane RS Trophy – 8:07.97 – 2011
Despite having the same engine as the standard Megane RS, the Trophy version came with an extra 15bhp from the turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder block to end up with . 0-60mph was over in 5.8 seconds and it was adorned in a plenty of dynamic bodywork for it to stand out.
5. Ford Focus RS Mk.3 – 8:06.29 – 2016
Developed by Ford Performance, this Focus RS is arguably the maddest-looking yet – and it even comes with a drift mode! It takes 20 seconds off its predecessor’s time, but still couldn’t crack the eight-minute mark. What was mightily impressive is that it beat the V8-powered Ford Mustang that had recently been released, meaning the four-cylinder turbocharged unit packed enough punch to outstrip the coupe sports car.
4. Seat Leon Mk.3 Cupra 280 – 7:58.4 – 2014
Back in 2014, the Leon Cupra 280 did something unimaginable and broke the eight-minute barrier for any front-wheel drive car. Quite a feat for the Spanish hatchback, and although its time has been beaten since, it will always be the first. The looks don’t blow you away, but its performance does and thanks to the help of a Performance package, it continues to hold a top-five spot.
3. Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy R – 7:54.36 – 2014
Just months later than the Cupra, Renault’s latest ridiculously names version of the large hatchback managed to beat the 280’s time by just over four seconds. The white, red and grey livery stood out, while the 275bhp engine propelled the Trophy R to a top speed of 158mph. This is currently the fastest Renault on the list, but with a new Renault Sport Megane unveiled at 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, expect this time to fall soon.
2. Volkswagen Golf GTI ClubSport S – 7:47.19 – 2016
This stripped-out version of the most recognisable hatchback set a blisteringly quick time back in 2016. As well as being the most potent GTI yet – thanks to a 306bhp, turbocharged four-cylinder engine – it smashed the Trophy R’s time by using the same ethos, remove weight and add power. If it weren’t for a rather ludicrous car in front of it, this time would have been difficult to beat…
1. Honda Civic Type R Mk.5 – 7:43.8 – 2017
The latest version of the Type R only lapped the Nürburgring earlier this year, and even though it had a negligible power difference between it and the previous version, it still managed to beat it by over 30 seconds. The mad-looking machine only has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but it is so well setup that it didn’t need much more oomph. A worthy holder of the hot hatch title around the Nürburgring.