2016 Ford hot hatches
4x4, Buyers' advice, Motoring News, new models, sports cars

Hot hatches finding a cool new market

  • Sporty small cars with powerful engines
  • New buyers challenge “boy racer” stereotype
  • Fiesta ST now  in two  body styles
2016 Ford hot hatches
2016 Ford hot hatches  Image: Ford Europe

BRENTWOOD, England – Hot hatches – sporty small cars with powerful engines once seen as the preserve of “petrol-head” car fans are becoming a mainstream choice for car-buyers who are far from the stereotypical “boy-racer”.

Ford, a prolific producer of such cars, reports that hot-hatch sales across Europe are booming: more than 22 200 Focus RS and ST versions of its Focus and Fiesta, the company reports, were sold during the first three-quarters of 2016. Orders for the Focus RS have exceeded 9100 since launch.


A media release from Ford Europe says: “Customers choosing practical performance models are increasingly ranking equipment levels and compact size, along with powerful engines and driving experiences that better combine ride comfort with driving dynamics, a purchase conditions.

“The Focus RS, Focus ST (petrol and diesel) and Fiesta ST have technology that enhances daily driving, such as Ford’s Sync communications and entertainment systems and heatable seats.”

Data from a Ford survey indicates that the average age of hot-hatch buyers has risen from 38 in 2010 to 42 this year (2016) and that eight percent more women bought one in 2015 than did in 2010.

2016 Ford hot hatches
2016 Ford hot hatches Image: Ford Europe

Ford Europe’s trends manager Sheryl Connelly has identified a trend towards durable, multi-function products – a desire for a “Swiss Army life”.

“More and more are being attracted to products that deliver versatility, adaptability and utility,” she added. “Perhaps this is even more true of millennials careful to invest in products that can support them through lifestyle and life stages.”


Sarah Stringfellow, 31, from Brentwood, England, Connelly says she was attracted by hot-hatch versatility: “The Focus ST appealed because it is fast, looks great, isn’t too big yet has plenty of room for shopping or luggage for a weekend away.

“What I hadn’t expected was its sense of luxury, its power, and the way it drives. I’m now hankering for a Focus RS!”

More-practical hot hatches continue, in Europe at least according to Ford, to hold their appeal to a dedicated customer base as they age and their lifestyles change. “They have,” the automaker reports, “found that having a family no longer rules out owning a hot hatch as an everyday car.

“Performance-car fans unable to afford their dream car when they were younger can now consider a modern hot hatch and there continues to be a hard core of hot-hatch fans who believe anything with more than three doors is not worthy of the hot-hatch description.”


The Ford Focus RS five-door has a 262kW, 2.3-litre, EcoBoost petrol engine, all-wheel drive and driver-selectable driving modes – one of them specifically for the newish sport of drifting.

The Focus ST four-door hatch has a 188kW EcoBoost petrol or 140kW turbodiesel engine. The Ford Fiesta ST hatchbacks deliver 136kW from a 1.6 EcoBoost petrol engine and the new 150kW Fiesta ST200 but is only available as a two-door hatch.

Ford has a history of popular hot hatches dating back 35 years to the Fiesta XR2 – a follow-up to the Escort XR3. By the end of 2016 Ford, globally, will have sold more than 200 000 performance cars, including Mustang, Focus RS, and ST and Fiesta ST – nearly double the number it did three years earlier.

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