Shrink-wrap superstars

Sub-5sec performance for just $60K? Say hello to the new wave of hot hatches

DAMION SMY

BMW M3 V8 drivers watch out: you’re about to be toasted at the traffic lights by the new breed of hot hatches that will not only carry the week’s shopping in the back; they’ll hit 100km/h in just 4.3 seconds!

Fastest of the forthcoming hot hatch armada is the $80K Audi RS3 due by year’s end. Its time of 4.3sec is comfortably quicker than the 2012 M3’s claim of 4.6sec, and it’s a steal at barely half the price.

At around the same time that this brutally quick Audi hatch – did we mention its 280km/h top speed? – arrives, Ford will add its own all-wheel-drive shopping trolley to dealerships.

Yes, the Focus RS will get its all four wheels, which does away mumbo to the macadam through with the need for a complex and costly Revoknuckle suspension.

This German-built hatch ditches the Volvo-sourced 2.5-litre turbo for a 2.3-litre Ecoboost turbo. Ford won’t divulge outputs for the Mustang-sourced mill, saying only that it packs “more than 235kW”.

For more, turn to page 58.

Renault is sending 50 examples of the Nurburgring lap recordholding RenaultSport Megane 275 Trophy R to Oz, although it may not hold that FWD record for long if Honda achieves its stated goal.

Officially, the Civic Type R is not confirmed for Oz, but they’d be mad not to. And then there’s Mazda, currently arguing FWD v AWD for the return of the Mazda 3 MPS. Based on the competition, the boys from Hiroshima surely have no choice.

Mazda 3 MPS

2016 COMING SOON

THERE’S one thing Mazda’s current stellar line-up is missing: attitude. The 3 MPS is the icing on the cake, and insiders insist the chest-beating hatch has been given the go-ahead to shred front tyres.

Engine: 200kW+ 1998cc 4-cyl turbo 0-100km/h: 5.0sec (est) Price, On sale: $50K, 2016 (est)

Ford Focus RS

PA CK S PUNCH AW D

WANT to overshadow a Ferrari for web traffic? That’s exactly what the new Focus RS did when announced as a 235kW monster, and the first RS with all-wheel drive.

Engine: 235kW+ 2261cc 4-cyl turbo 0-100km/h: 4.6sec (est) Price, On sale: $60K (est), early 2016

Honda Civic Type-R

SHARPER than a Samurai sword, tougher than a pint of English Stout, the UK-built Type-R is the fastest, most powerful and most accomplished ‘R’ badged Honda ever built. It revs to 8000rpm and has a V-max of 270km/h.

Engine: 216kW 1998cc 4cyl turbo 0-100km/h: 4.9sec (est) Price, On sale: $60K, 2016 (est)

Good news, folks, the stick shift lives!

IT MAY be rare, but it ain’t dead. Fans of heel-n-toe will be ecstatic to hear that the manual transmission, and its best mate the clutch pedal, have been e ve granted a reprieve by some of the car industry’s biggest performance brands.

Porsche has confirmed that the Cayman GT4 will be available only with a manual gearbox. That may be a deliberate to distance it from ve ar t ay move m the dual-clutch-only 911 GT3 dual-clutch-only – and even more hi-po GT3 RS revealed at Geneva – but we see it as a hat-doff to DIY gearchange fans.

Ford, too, has seen the value in giving three-pedal aficionados what they want – a chance to bunny-hop clumsily away 911 GT3 i from the lights – by slotting a threepedal manual into the forthcoming Focus RS.

That’s one more reason to look forward to driving the Blue Oval’s new all-wheel-drive scorcher.

Megane RS 275 Trophy-R

’RING REIGNING KING

WITH composite front springs and the air-con, radio and back seat binned, its priority is clear: speed. It holds the front-drive Nurburgring lap record that Honda so desperately wants.

Engine: 201kW 1998cc 4-cyl turbo 0-100km/h: 5.8sec Price, On sale: $61,990, now

Audi RS3 Sportback

0-100km 4.3 SECONDS . SECON

ZERO to 100km/h in 4.3sec. Take stock; that’s quicker than a Porsche 911 Turbo from a decade ago (4.9sec). And there’s room for thick-rimmed glasses and a spare turtleneck sweater, too.

Engine: 270kW 2480cc 5-cyl turbo 0-100km/h: 4.3sec Price, On sale: $80K (est), Q4 2015