Hot Hatch Group Tests

For those on the lookout for their next hot hatch, 2016 is possibly the best year yet to be doing so. With the Ford Focus RS 2016, Audi RS3, Honda Civic Type R, Golf R and Mercedes A45 AMG all standing at the smoking starting line, car enthusiasts truly are in for a choice of between beasts. Here we take a look across this collection, examining just how these hatches got on during the two big group test reviews from Auto Express and Top Gear.

Starting with the stats

These two respected auto expert collectives pitted the stealth of the RS’ 350bhp, 2.3-litre engine (which achieves 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds, and has a top speed of 165mph) against the best of the best from its class. Here are the same stats for each of the RS’ rivals:

Bhp  Top Speed    0-60mph Engine size
Audi RS3 362 155mph 3.1 seconds 2,480cc
Honda Civic Type R 305 168mph 5.5 seconds 1,996cc
Golf R 296 155mph 4.6 seconds 1,984cc
Mercedes A45 AMG  354  155mph  4.5 seconds 1,991cc

The Focus RS: A firm Top Gear favourite

The Focus RS has been much touted as the hottest ever hatch by Top Gear (who, as it happens, had put the RS through some serious paces during a 2,000 mile tour around Europe). However beyond their obvious preference to the RS and all that it delivered in its third edition, the Top Gear team wanted to provide the RS with a level playing field to show off its credentials against others within its class. And the result? Well whilst the RS was a solid first starter off the line (with that supercharged launch control) the fact that the A45 boasts duel-clutch, computer controlled transmissions ultimately meant the time between shifts saw the RS lose ground. Yet beyond this they note something that all Focus RS fans know: this is a car that ultimately provides a better drive, delivering a rough, ready and seriously rugged experience that simply makes driving fun.

As for the others within this group test the team found that the Honda, lacking four wheel drive, was a nonstarter for the up-hill race, the Civic Type-R couldn’t handle the less than perfect (e.g. wet) conditions for all of its 306bhp which is powered through front wheel drive only, and the Golf, well that received a real roasting, with the reporter stating that it was “soft and slow-witted, underendowed both aurally and visually, and generally outclassed”. Ouch!

Auto Express: A showdown between the RS, the Golf R and the Audi RS3

Autoexpress had a shortlisted version for its starting blocks, choosing to pit only the RS, Golf and Audi RS3 against one another; ultimately they placed the hot hatches with the RS coming in first, the Golf in second and the Audi in third. These placements were explained by the RS’ four-wheel-drive and track designed suspension, whereas the Golf was criticised (similarly to Top Gear) for its lack of excitement, with the Audi following up the pack with lacklustre handling that comes at a pretty mighty cost (the RS comes in at between £29,995 to £32,900; the Golf at between £31,775 to £38,685 and the Audi RS3 at between £40,795 to £51,185).

Safe to say then that Auto Express and Top Gear are in agreement: The Focus RS 2016 truly is in a class of its own!

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