Over the years, car brands have shared their vision for hot hatches through concept cars, taking advantage of the lack of limitations they provide. In this top 10 list we have included our favorite hot hatch concepts that we would love to see in production form, although we know that in most of the cases they were created only as design and engineering studies.
10. Nissan Pulsar Nismo Concept (2015)
Nissan launched the Pulsar Nismo Concept at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, hinting a possible production version of the Japanese hot hatch that could become a worthy successor of the Pulsar N14 GTi-R. The company didn’t unveil much information about the model’s powertrain however it could use a more powerful version of the turbocharged 1.6 liter engine found in the Clio IV RS.
The concept car had a satin gray paint combined with red details, while it featured a redesigned bodykit that included new front and rear bumpers with larger air intakes, extended side sills, 235/35 R19 tyres, a rear spoiler and more prominent front splitter.
Unfortunately the Nismo Concept didn’t make it in production, and the less powerful and less exciting warm-hatch Pulsar C13 DIG-T was the top of the range version of the C-Segment model with production ending in 2018.
9. Opel Astra OPC Extreme (2014)
In 2014, Opel unveiled the fastest front wheel drive car in their history, the Opel Astra OPC Extreme. The concept car was based on the Opel Astra J OPC, featuring a more powerful version of the turbocharged 2.0 liter engine producing over 224 kw (300 hp) while being 100 kg lighter than the production version thanks to extensive use of carbon fibre. Opel didn’t announce the performance specifications of the model that was also fitted with a limited slip differential on the front axle.
The OPC Extreme featured a racing-style livery and an aero pack including a large front splitter, extended side sills, a redesigned bonnet with air intakes, a large rear spoiler and high performance 245/35R19 tires. Although the concept car was street legal, it didn’t make it into production.
8. Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R (2013)
The most powerful hot hatch from Toyota, was the Yaris Hybrid-R concept unveiled in 2013. The petrol-electric hybrid powertrain produced a total of 313 kw (420 hp). The turbocharged 1.6 liter engine powered the front wheels through a sequential six speed transmission while two electric motors sent power to the rear axle.
According to Toyota, there were no plans of putting the Yaris Hybrid-R into production, as it was a design study for testing their hybrid engine technology, inspired by their Le Mans winning racecar. However, we were lucky enough to get a real hot hatch version of the Yaris in 2017 in the form of the less powerful but equally exciting Toyota Yaris GRMN.
7. Renault Zoe e-Sport Concept (2017)
The only fully electric hot hatch on our list is the Renault Zoe e-Sport Concept unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, inspired by Renault’s participation at the FIA Formula E Championship. The two-seater supermini was fitted with two electric motors producing (460 hp) and 640 Nm of torque, allowing a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of only 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 210 km/h, even though it weighted 1400 kg, mostly because of the heavy batteries.
The redesigned body made of carbon fibre had a little in common with the production version of the Zoe, thanks to the aggressive bumpers, the wider fenders, the new LED headlights and the unique side air intakes that add up to the recipe.
6. MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept (2017)
The MINI John Cooper Works GP Concept unveiled at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show was an extreme design study for the ultimate Mini for the racetrack, even though the company didn’t provide any information on the powertrain.
Visually, the hot hatch featured a significantly redesigned body, with floating fenders, rear spoiler, diffuser, deep bumpers and prominent front splitter made of carbon fibre. There is a small possibility of a limited production run in the following years, however the limited edition John Cooper Works Challenge remains the top of the range hot hatch for MINI since 2016.
4. Renault TwinRun V6 (2013)
In 2013, Renault launched the craziest and most powerful version of the Twingo – the TwinRun V6 concept car – unveiled during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. The spiritual successor of the R5 Turbo and the Renault Clio V6, was fitted with a mid-mounted V6 3.5 liter engine, producing 235 kw (320 hp) and 380 Nm of torque. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox, allowing a 0-100 km/h acceleration of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 250 km/h.
The glass-polyester composite body with carbon fibre parts was based on a tubular steel frame, keeping the weight down to just 950 kg. Besides the power upgrades, the TwinRun featured Ohlins suspension and a limited-slip differential, making it the ideal city car for the racetrack.
4. Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport Concept (2015)
The VW Golf GTE Sport Concept launched at the 2015 Lake Wörthersee GTI event. The impressive show car was fitted with a three-motor plug-in hybrid powertrain producing 295 kw (400 hp) of power and 670 Nm of torque. The all wheel drive hot hatch could accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds, with a top speed of 280km/h.
3. Peugeot 308 R-Hyrbid (2015)
The Peugeot 308 R Hybrid Concept was the ultimate edition of the french C-Segment car launched back in 2015. The plugin petrol hybrid powertrain produced a total of 373kW (500hp) and 730Nm of torque combined with a four wheel drive system. Thanks to all that power, the hot hatch could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4.0 seconds, while its weight/power ratio reached a mere 3.1 kg/hp.
Visually, the 308 R Hybrid was distinguished by redesigned bumpers, neew bonnet, wider fenders, different side sills and a larger roof spoiler, however its design was rather conventional, hinting that Peugeot was considering launching a production version. Unfortunately, plans for production were cancelled, and the front wheel drive Peugeot 308 GTi 270 remained as the flagship of the hot hatch range.
2. Hyundai RN30 (2016)
Hyundai launched the RN30 concept car at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, previewing their N performance models and hinting on a top of the range version of the i30. The racing concept was fitted with a turbocharged 2.0 liter engine producing 280 kw (380 hp) and 451Nm of torque, transferred to all four wheels through a DCT gearbox.
The RN30 concept had a completely redesigned body, serving not only visual but also aerodynamic purposes, while being wider (1950 mm) and lower (1355 mm) than the C-Segment car it was based on. Among the most impressive visual aspects of the concept were the floating C-pillar shaping the huge rear spoiler, the deep bumpers with prominent spoilers, the wide fenders, the scissor doors and the yellow racing lights.
We knew that the RN30 concept was destined to be a show car however we can’t eliminate the possibility of a more powerful Hyundai i30 N with the automatic DCT gearbox and all wheel drive.
1. Volkswagen Golf GTI W12 Concept (2007)
This crazy mid-engined hot hatch concept was fitted with a W12 bi-turbo 6.0 liter engine producing an astonishing 477 kw (650 hp) and 720 Nm of torque transferred to the rear wheels through a 6-speed DSG transmission. The only 12 cylinder Golf in existence could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, with a theoretical top speed of 325 km/h.
Visually, the Golf GTI W12 was significantly wider than the production Golf GTI, with an aggressive bodykit consisting of redesigned front and rear bumpers, beefed-up fenders, extended sides, carbon fiber roof and a number of additional vents for cooling the enormous engine which took the place of the rear passenger seats.
The Golf GTI W12 was a show car developed in just 8 weeks for the Worthersee festival, however it showed the world what the designers and engineers can achieve if we allow them to create something without the limitations of the mass production,
BONUS: Hyundai RM16 Concept (2016)
Hyundai RM16 concept was unveiled in 2016 as the successor of the RM14 and RM15 design studies, with a mid-engine rear wheel drive layout. The car was based on the first generation Veloster and featured a 2.0 liter T-GDI engine producing 220 kw of power and 383 Nm of torque thanks to an electric supercharger. The power was sent to the rear wheels through a six speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential.
Visually, the RM16 had a wider body with aggressive bumpers, extended fenders, redesigned headlights, rear roof spoiler and the necessary side air intakes in order to cool its engine.
It seems that Hyundai has taken the hot hatch market very seriously as besides the i30 N and the Veloster N modelscurrently on sale, they are preparing a production version of the mid-engined RM16 with more than 260 kw (350 hp) of power from a 2.5 liter engine.