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From Toyota Yaris GR and Ford Fiesta ST to Mercedes-AMG A45 S and Mini JCW GP, 2020 has been the year of the hot hatch

What was your favourite hot hatch that launched in 2020?

There is no doubt 2020 has been a tough year all round, but hot hatch fans had more than a few reasons to rejoice with a long line of fresh metal to keep them happy.

No less than six new or refreshed hot hatches have hit Australian showrooms this year, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down as 2021 will play host to a new Hyundai i20 N, automatic i30 N, Volkswagen Golf GTI, BMW 128ti and more.

However, these were 2020’s most tantalising models that combined both pace and practicality.

From Toyota Yaris GR and Ford Fiesta ST to Mercedes-AMG A45 S and Mini JCW GP, 2020 has been the year of the hot hatch

Ford Fiesta ST

Starting at the smaller end of the spectrum, 2020 saw the launch of the new-generation Ford Fiesta ST, which now uses a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine to deliver a 147kW/290Nm punch.

Priced at $32,290 before on-road costs, the Fiesta ST is also one of the most affordable hot hatches available in Australia, and can compete against the likes of the one-size-up Volkswagen Golf GTI in straight-line performance.

The six-speed manual-only gearbox might turn off some customers that get stuck in traffic, but should appeal to those who want the most engagement from their vehicles.

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

Toyota GR Yaris

Toyota also unleashed its hotly-anticipated GR Yaris to commercial success, selling out its first 1000 units in just one week.

However, the first lot of GR Yaris’ were sold at a special discounted price of $39,950 drive-away to boost interest in Toyota’s new performance sub-brand.

With pricing now back up to its full $49,500 before on-road costs price, expect interest in the 200kW/370Nm three-door, manual-only, all-wheel-drive hot hatch to soften a little.

The Rallye version of the GR Yaris is also coming in 2021, which boost prices up to $56,200 drive-away for the first 200 units, but adds front and rear limited-slip differentials and stickier rubber.

Ford Focus ST

Ford’s second hot hatch to hit showrooms in 2020, the updated Focus ST is now the top dog in the small hatchback range with news that the RS version will not make a return.

Adopting the 2.3-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine from the previous gen Focus RS and current Mustang EcoBoost, the 2020 Focus ST punches out 206kW/420Nm.

A first though is the availability of a seven-speed automatic version, which is priced identically to the six-speed manual at $44,890 before on-road costs.

Ford Focus

Ford Focus
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

Honda Civic Type R

Arguably the best front-drive vehicle on the market, the facelifted Honda Civic Type R just arrived in Australian showrooms in October.

With a $3000 price jump to $54,990 before on-road costs, the Type R is more expensive than ever, but buyers are compensated with quicker-acting adaptive dampers, revised steering, better-performing brakes and more optimised engine cooling.

The engine, sadly, remains the unchanged, but still delivers a punch 228kW/400Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo-petrol unit, which is paired exclusively to a six-speed manual gearbox.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)


Though limited in number, the Mini JCW GP is probably the most hardcore hot hatch that launched in in 2020.

Removing the rear seats in favour of a strut brace, as well as much of the active safety equipment means the JCW GP is designed primarily for track use.

The lower ride height, rock hard suspension tune and mechanical limited-slip differential also alludes to its track-focussed intent, while the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine has been tuned to 225kW/450Nm.

Drive is fed exclusively to the front axle via an eight-speed automatic transmission to enable a zero-to-100km/h acceleration run in just 5.2 seconds.

Oh, and in case you couldn’t tell, the JCW GP is easily distinguished by its wide bodykit and attention-grabbing rear wing.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S

The new king of the hot hatch world thanks to its scarcely-believable 310kW/500Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 S shot straight to the number two position on the AMG sales charts this year.

With big power though, comes a big pricetag, as Mercedes now asks $93,600 before on-road costs for an A45 S.

You will beat most cars off the line though, with the A45 S able to accelerate from 0-100km/h in less than four seconds thanks to its all-wheel-drive grip and quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In-cabin tech and equipment also abound, including dual 10.25-inch screens for the multimedia and instrumentation, premium Burmester sound system, 19-inch wheels, heated front seats, and a raucous exhaust system.