The most common engine type used in hot hatchbacks is the inline-four, however there has been some exception to the rule. In this feature we are going to pay tribute to 10 hot hatches that went into production with a V6 engine, hoping that we will get to see more of them in the future.
As you will notice, 6 out of the 10 spots of the list are taken by cars fitted with the VW Group’s VR6 engine which featured a narrow 15° angle design between the cylinder banks and a single cylinder head, allowing more compact dimensions and easier fitment to production models. However the list also includes some non-German and quite rare vehicles that are probably going to surprise you.
Note: The cars on the list are sorted by their engine size
The VW Golf IV V6 4Motion launched in 1999, as the most powerful and the fastest version of the model (outperforming the GTI) until the more sporty R32 arrived in 2003. It was fitted with a 2.8 liter 24-valve VR6 engine that produced 204 hp / 150 kw of power and 270 Nm of torque, combined with a 6 speed manual gearbox and the 4Motion all wheel drive system. The car accelerated from 0-100 km/h in 7,1 seconds and could reach a top speed of 235 km/h (147 mph). Visually, it was distinguished by the V6 logo on the front grille, the twin tailpipes and the 16 inch wheels, making it a really good choice for a “sleeper”.
The first generation of the SEAT León launched in 1999, based on the VW Group A4 (PQ34) platform (like the VW Golf IV and the Audi A3). The Seat Leon Cupra 4, launched in 2001, was the first performance version of the model fitted with the naturally aspirated, 2.8 liter VR6 engine that produced 204 hp / 150 kw of power and 270 Nm of torque, mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox. The car was equipped with 4WD system based on Haldex Traction multi plate clutch, while it featured firmer suspension setting and larger brakes. It could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 7,3 seconds and could reach a top speed of 237 km/h (147 mph). Visually, the Leon Cupra 4 featured restyled body-coloured front and rear bumpers (the front bumper is different from the other Cupra versions), extended side sills, rear spoiler, unique five spoke 17 inch wheels and twin exhaust pipes. Inside, the cabin was largely carried over from the fist generation Audi A3, featuring a sporty instrument cluster with white background and red lighting, three spoke steering wheel and aluminium pedals.
The VW Corrado VR6 launched in 1992, fitted with a naturally aspirated 2.9 liter VR6 engine producing 190 hp / 140 kw and 245 Nm of torque, mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox. The front wheel drive car accelerated from 0-100 km/h in 6,9 seconds and could reach a top speed of 235 km/h (146 mph). The same engine was also used in the VW Golf III VR6, with which the Corrado shared parts of the front and rear axle assembly. Visually, the Corrado VR6 was distinguished by the redesigned front wings with extended wheel arches to house the wider front tracks, new front grille with the VR6 badge and different foglamps.
The Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport was a mid-engine, rear wheel drive hot hatch launched in 2001 (Phase I) as the spiritual successor of the Renault 5 Turbo. The car, built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing, was fitted with a naturally aspirated 3.0 liter V6 engine (ES9), that produced 230 hp / 169 kw and 300 Nm of torque. It could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6,2 seconds and could reach a top speed of 236 km/h. Visually the car was radically different from the second generation Clio, featuring a significantly wider body with heavily extended wheel arches, larger bumpers and a unique side vent for cooling the engine that took the place of the rear seats.
The Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport Phase II was an updated version of the mid engined rear wheel drive model launched in 2003. The car was built by Renault Sport in Dieppe while Porsche assisted with the design. It was fitted with the a more powerful version of the naturally aspirated 3.0 liter V6 engine producing 255 hp / 188 kw making it one of the most powerful hot hatches of its time. Thanks to the power upgrades, the Phase II accelerated from 0-100 km/h in 5,6 seconds and could reach a higher top speed of 246 km/h, while featuring a new suspension setup. Visually the updated model featured new headlights and taillights carried out from the facelifted Clio range, restyled bumpers, a slightly larger rear wing and an updated interior. Production stopped in 2005, and there hasn’t been a successor to date.
A very rare model of our list is the MG Metro 6R4 Clubman launched in 1985. Only 200 examples were produced as a homologation version for the Group B rally car. It was fitted with a mid mounted naturally aspirated 3-litre V6 engine designed by David Wood, featuring twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Power was sent to all four wheels through a 5 speed manual gearbox. The production model was detuned to 250 hp / 186 kw and 309 Nm of torque, while the rally spec produced 410 hp / 306 kw. Thanks to all that power and the 1050kg weight, it could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 4,5 seconds. The car didn’t share any mechanical resemblance with the MG Metro, and visually it was quite different as weel featured a significantly wider body made of GRP with aluminium roof panel and steel doors.
The only Italian hot hatch of our list is the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA that was launched in 2003. The car was fitted with a 3.2 liter V6 engine (also known as the known as the Busso engine) producing 250 hp / 184 kW and 300 Nm of torque that were sent to the front wheels through a 6 speed manual gearbox. The 147 GTA could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6,3 seconds and could reach a top speed of 246 km/h (153 mph). At the time of it’s launch, it was the most powerful C-Segment hot hatch. To cope with all that extra power, it featured a unique suspension geometry and setting, as well as a new vehicle dynamic control system (VDC). Visually, the GTA’s redesigned bodykit included new front and rear bumpers, extended side sills, wider front fenders, unique alloy wheels, rear spoiler and twin exhaust pipes.
The most powerful version of the fourth generation Golf, was the VW Golf IV R32 launched in 2003. The car was fitted with a 3.2 liter 24-valve VR6 engine that produced 245 hp / 180 kw of power and 320 Nm of torque, combined with a 6 speed manual or dual clutch automatic (DSG) gearbox. Other modifications included the 4Motion four wheel drive system, larger brakes, stiffer springs, lowered suspension by 10 mm, independent rear suspension, more responsive steering and throttle, a new sports exhaust and ESP. The car accelerated from 0-100 km/h in 6,6 seconds (6,4 seconds with the DSG) and could reach a top speed of 247 km/h (153 mph). Visually the R32 version was distinguished by the redesigned, deeper front and rear bumpers with larger air intakes, xenon headlights, extended side sills, blue brake calipers, OZ 18 inch multi spoke alloy wheels, twin exhaust pipes and a unique Deep Blue Pearl metallic colour. Inside, it featured Konig sport seats and aluminium details.
The VW Golf V R32 launched in 2005 as the range topping variant of the fifth generation Golf. Like its predecessor, it was fitted with a transversely mounted 3.2 liter VR6 engine producing 250hp /184kw of power and 320 Nm of torque, mated to a six-speed manual or DSG automatic gearbox. It also featured an updated 4MOTION four wheel drive system with a new electronically controlled Haldex coupling a wet plate clutch. The car could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6,5 seconds and could reach a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Ride height was lowered by 20 mm and the car featured four-link rear suspension, higher-rate springs and dampers in both axles, reworked electro-mechanical power steering and a more powerful braking system. Visually, the Golf V R32 was distinguished by the redesigned bumper with larger air intakes and contrasting chrome-finished front grille while it also featured bi-xenon headlights, body coloured side sills, body coloured rear bumper extension and centrally located twin exhaust pipes. Inside, it came with Recaro seats, sporty multi-function steering wheel with paddle shift, aluminium alloy gearknob, sporty instrument panel and leather upholstery.
The fastest version of the Golf-based New Beetle, was the 250-unit limited edition VW Beetle RSI launched in 2001. The car was fitted with the naturally aspirated 3.2 liter VR6 engine that produced 224 hp / 165 kw of power and 320 Nm of torque, combined with a 6 speed manual transmission and the 4motion four wheel drive system. This rare Beetle could accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6,7 seconds and could reach a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph). Other modifications included a racing inspired suspension setting, 18 inch wheels with 235/40ZR-18 tyres, and a Remus exhaust. Visually, the Beetle RSi featured a unique bodykit with larger bumpers, larger air intakes, flared wheel arches, extended side sills, 18 inch OZ Superturismo wheels, twin exhaust tailpipes, roof spoiler and a very large rear wing. Inside the car featured Recaro racing bucket seats, carbon fiber trim, billet aluminium inlets, rear cross brace behind the seats and orange leather upholstery.