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The CAR Top 10: hot-hatch halfwits

Published: 12 August 2016

► CAR’s Top 10 hot-hatch nightmares
► From the Proton Satria GTi...
► ...to Ford’s Mk2 Focus RS

1) Proton Satria GTi

‘Handling by Lotus,’ said the badge, but ‘horrible to look at’ said everyone else, thanks to those ridiculous riveted-on arch extensions. The Satria was a decent steer, and a common sight at UK race schools, but was in desperate need of a suitable engine – the 138bhp 1.8 was as charmless as a Tinder chat-up line.

Toyota Corolla T-sport

2)  Toyota Corolla T-Sport

On paper, the ‘hot’ Corolla wasn’t that different from Honda’s hot-hatch-de-jour Civic Type R. In practice it was miles off-beam. Bland styling, a boring interior and an engine so short on torque it’d make an RX-8 feel like an airport tractor unit, meant it was comprehensively ignored.

MG Maestro

3)  MG Maestro

The 2.0 EFi version of this MG hot hatch was actually okay, but it had plenty to make up for: its 1600cc twin-carb predecessor guzzled fuel like it was trying to artificially spike global oil prices, and the über-quick Turbo’s Tickford body kit was as heavy handed as a boxing mitt with a horseshoe sewn 

Citroen Visa GTi

4)  Citroen Visa GTi

Another brilliant PSA chassis, this time mated with the same zingy 1.6 found in the 205 GTI, ensured the Visa was great to drive. Unfortunately it looked like a sack full of spuds, and not normal ones, but those freakish lumpy types supermarkets normally bin for fear of turning us off veg for life. 

Ford Fiesta XR2i

5) Ford Fiesta XR2i

This was Ford at its classic phoned-it-in late 1980s worst. The styling was mercilessly cribbed from Peugeot’s pretty 205, but sadly the chassis and engine teams weren’t paying as much attention when the Pug was in the photocopier room. ‘Another duff fast Ford,’ screamed our cover line. RS Turbo was even worse.

Ford Focus RS Mk2

6) Ford Focus RS Mk2

The RS was a blast to drive. Specifically, it was like driving over an IED every time you put your foot down, exploding into the adjacent lane despite the fancy Revo-knuckle suspension. Had it actually exploded it might have been less repulsive. Give us the unruly but really rather handsome Mk1 any day.

MG Metro Turbo

7) MG Metro Turbo

More ass-handed Austin-Rover nonsense. The wimpy A-series’ archaic four-speed ‘box was only man enough for 94bhp so the force-fed Metro struggled to break 10sec to 60mph. Breaking, per se, was not an issue, though being rumbled by the law for not wearing a seatbelt could be, thanks to the Day-Glo red webbing.

Alfa Romeo Arna Ti

8)  Alfa Romeo Arna Ti

Nissan and Alfa ‘Cherry’-picked the worst of their respective character traits for this short-lived mongrel. Alfa supplied the reliability and labour, Nissan the instantly forgettable styling and handling. High point when new was the flat-four; high point now is about 80mm, as they’ve all been crushed.

Saab 9-3 Viggen

9)  Saab 9-3 Viggen

A titan among torque-steerers. The Viggen’s 230bhp might seem tame now, but it was enough to help the fastest 9-3 change lanes without touching the wheel long before Tesla had developed the tech. Viggen fans recommended asbestos gloves to prevent friction burns under hard acceleration.

Volvo 360 GLT

10)  Volvo 360 GLT

Rear-wheel drive and an Alfetta-style transaxle layout were novel in the hot-hatch class, but only because everyone else had switched to that new-fangled front-wheel drive a decade earlier. Not quick, despite 2.0-litre motor, and OAP styling hardly made it top of any thrusting boy-racer’s shopping list.

Read more CAR top tens here

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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