MINI’s JCW (that’s John Cooper Works) name is older than you might think. Its heritage stretches back to John Cooper, the British racing driver and engineer who not only pioneered the rear-engined layout in single-seat racers, but also figured out that the Issigonis-designed BMC Mini would make a rather good race and rally car. A point that went on to be proved most famously by Paddy Hopkirk’s fabled win in the 1964 Monte Carlo rally.
The current Volkswagen Golf R is a legend in its own lifetime. Many previous versions of fast, four-wheel-drive Golfs might have had seemingly more exotic V6 motors, but it’s the 2014, Mk7 generation with its 296bhp, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that really proved how spectacular the hottest Golf could be.
By 2012 Renault’s fast car division seemed unable to put a foot wrong when it came to building hot hatches. It was no surprise therefore when that year’s Renault Megane 2.0 Renaultsport 265 proved to be an instant hit, nor indeed that it continues to make a fine purchase six years on with good examples now available for around half of the original £24,825 list price. In fact, at this moment in time it might just be the most interesting Half Price Hot Hatch of them all.
Hang on a minute: a Kia hot hatch?
‘Sort of’, is probably the best answer to that, and if the Pro ceed GT is not outright hot then it is certainly sufficiently warm to warrant a few column inches here. That’s especially so when you realise not only that the car’s original £19,995 asking price was decidedly keen, but also that clean used examples can now be found for £10,000 or less. And so another Half Price Hot Hatch is created.
It is no secret that the Seat Leon Cupra has long provided access to the same engines, gearboxes and technology as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, but for a heavily reduced price. So the story went when the third generation Leon hot hatch was introduced to the UK in early 2014, using the VW Group’s MQB architecture as also seen on the Golf. Difference was, Seat added a lot more power to the mix…
While not officially called an Impreza, the WRX STI that was sold between 2008 and 2013 was a clear descendant of the rally-bred saloon that had so dominated the performance car scene in the 1990s.