Motoring Correspondent Jonathan Crouch picks out three options in this segment you may not have considered…
Fancy a used hot hatch? Motoring Correspondent Jonathan Crouch picks out three options in this segment you may not have considered…
If you want a used hot hatch, you’re not short of options. The shopping rockets everyone tends to think of are cars like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and the Ford Fiesta ST – but what if you want something a bit different from the norm? We thought we’d bring you a few interesting left-field suggestions….
The affordable option – SEAT Ibiza Cupra (2009 - 2017)
SEAT chucked a whole load of technology at the hot hatch Cupra version of the fourth generation Ibiza supermini. A 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged engine, a 7-speed DSG twin-clutch paddle shift gearbox and an XDS electronic differential made it one of the most advanced small cars around. Does it makes sense as a used hot hatch buy?
Well broadly, yes. At the end of the day, it's horses for courses. If you're a red-blooded hot hatch enthusiast, you'll have no time for eco-conscious hot hatches like this one. You'll want a Renaultsport Clio 200 and happily put up with its firm ride, noisy engine and high running costs. The Ibiza Cupra is for a more thoughtful kind of buyer. Someone with bills to pay and a green conscience. Someone who still loves to grip-and-go but doesn't need to be doing it every waking mile. For you, this Ibiza Cupra will suit perfectly, quick but resolutely high-tech and in every way 21st century. Truly a shopping rocket of our times.
Are there issues? Well, we came across quite a few very satisfied Ibiza Cupra owners but inevitably, there were a number of issues. Some owners found that the headlamps fogged up. Others complained of things like broken front springs, creaks and rattles from the interior and the need to replace coil packs. There were a few reports of turbo problems too: in one case, the turbo wouldn't work when the engine was started but when the engine was started a few times, it started to work again. Check into all these things on your test drive.
Ibiza Cupras from this era are pretty affordable. You're looking a needing to find around £5,600 for an early '09-era model, with values rising to around £12,700 for one of the last of the 1.4 TSI versions sold in 2016. The Bocanegra version with its distinctive black frontage is only worth fractionally more than the standard model. If you'd prefer the later version with the 1.8-litre TSI 189PS engine, then you'll need a later '16 or '17-era car, which will be priced between around £11,800 and £13,600. A 'Black Edition' version is worth about £800 more.
The unusual option – Hyundai i30 Turbo (2015 - 2017)
Hyundai wants a more dynamic image. Back in 2015, it didn't quite have the products to back this up, but it paved the way for the really sporty models that were to follow with this car, the i30 Turbo. It's not really any sort of GTi but it did bring a welcome dose of extra image and performance to the MK2 model i30 petrol line-up. Subtle, well equipped and quite as quick as it needed to be, this car showed us a little more of what this Korean brand's successful family hatchback was really capable of.
With this i30 Turbo model, you get a 'warm' hatch to suit someone who likes the idea of a bit more petrol power in their Focus-class model but doesn't want to come over all 'GTi'. Other brands, you could certainly argue, offer cars that satisfy this need more effectively. In terms of equipment, ride and refinement though, this model could still appeal to the right kind of buyer. For all that, it's likely to be a rare sight on our roads.
Are there issues? Well, we came across lots of satisfied i30 customers in our owners' survey but inevitably, there were a few who had issues. Known faults on this model include the knocking sound that a few owners have noticed from one of the wheels. There were reports of several power steering failures. And a handbrake recall. One buyer had the rim on his car's steering wheel disintegrate, and had to replace the high-mounted rear stop light. Another buyer had to fork out for a clutch replacement. Customers have noted that some of the interior finishes can get scratched quite easily and the alloy wheels fitted to top models are quite easy to kerb. Other than that, it's a clean bill of health. Hyundai's brilliant five-year warranty arrangement means that these vehicles very rarely fall into premature neglect.
As for prices, well you'll be doing well to find an i30 Turbo - few were sold. If you can, you'll probably be paying in the £14,000 to £16,000 bracket for the various '15 and '16-era models on offer.
The premium option – MINI Countryman John Cooper Works (2012 - 2016)
The first generation version of MINI’s five-door MINI Countryman might not seem like the obvious choice for hot hatch John Cooper Works treatment but the result might just surprise you. No other MK1 model MINI Countryman offered more power, enough to skittle you to sixty two mph in just 7.0s, helped by prodigious all-wheel traction. It's quite a package.
True, the John Cooper Works Countryman is never going to be the obvious answer to any 'which car?' question. It's just too niche a thing for that. Even so, we have a sneaking suspicion that this MINI might suit quite a significant number of used market people very well, assuming that they could be persuaded to consider it in the first place. It's very fast, brilliant fun, is nicely built, looks good, feels unique, swallows a small family and won't cost a fortune to run. If those don't sound like the ingredients for a very promising car, then we’re not sure what does.
An pricing? Well the least expensive way into a Countryman John Cooper Works model is to opt for 2012 example with 211bhp, which will set you back around £12,100. In 2015, a slightly pokier 218bhp version of this engine was introduced. Prices for this start at around £15,600, rising to around £20,000 for a later ’16-era car. If you want an example fitted with the paddleshift Steptronic auto gearbox, there’s a price premium of around £1,400.
Are there issues? Well MINI Countryman build quality is pretty good but there are a few things you’ll need to look out for. There have been reports of heavy clutch wear on ‘ALL4’ 4WD models like this one. Look out for things like dashboard creaks over bumps, annoying buzzing sounds from the doors and peeling exterior chrome beltline trim. There have been reports of surface rust taking hold on some components, specifically the water pump and the wheel nuts. Plus corrosion has been reported on the optional two-tone alloy wheels. Finally, we came across a couple of owners who reported that the interior reading lights had a mind of their own, switching on when the car was locked.