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28 February 2018

Five used manual hot hatches you could have for the cost of an i30 N

By Tom WhiteTom White

The i30 N is going to be a very reasonably priced hot hatch.

We’re also only going to get the one spec at launch time, the $39,990 ‘Performance’ version, only available with a manual ‘box. All that bodes well for anyone wanting to take a chance on the brand’s first properly hot hatchback.

It compares favourably to the Ford Focus RS which is tipped at just over $50k new, or the Volkswagen Golf R which comes in at almost $54k in manual form, although it is slightly less powerful than both of those.

That’s not to say 202kW/353Nm is bad by any measure, it just compares a bit more closely to something like the Peugeot 308 GTi 270…

With that in mind, we wondered what manual hot hatches you could get on the used market for the same cash. Let’s take a look.

2010 Ford Focus RS ($36,988)

This one comes in a neon shade of 'please pull me over, Mr. Policeman.' This one comes in a neon shade of 'please pull me over, Mr. Policeman.'

I’d say this car has held its value pretty well for a Ford. It’s one tough looking little three-door too, coming from that era where the X-Games and Ken Block briefly gave rally a headline-catching resurgence. At this price, all the ones on the 'CarsGuide' listings seem to be in equally wild headline-catching colours…

You also get an undeniably cool 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine (224kW/440Nm) that was also weirdly the powerplant in the contemporary Volvo XC70.

+ Five cylinders are awesome
- Arguably crappy interior

2017 Peugeot 308 GTi 270 ($39,700)

Understated, underrated. Understated, underrated.

For almost the exact same money you can get a virtually brand-new 2017 308 GTi 270. Personally, I reckon this car is underrated. Yeah, it has a strange interior and box-like dimensions that don’t exactly scream ‘cool’ but it’s weird and actually pretty fast and consequently everything a French hot-hatch should be.

Peugeot has been working down its engine sizes of late, so you only get a 1.6-litre, but it’s a little weapon that manages to push out 200kW/330Nm, it sadly has a fake exhaust soundtrack, though.

+ True weird French hot hatch
- Maybe a bit too weird…

2015 Volkswagen Golf R ($40,000)

Business in the front, business in the back. Business in the front, business in the back.

You can’t have the worlds potentially fastest, most obnoxious European hot hatch, the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG for less than $40k yet (besides, they’re all autos anyway). You can get the closest competitor though, the Golf R for just on the money, provided you’re willing to accept a few kays on the clock. 

It’s got the signature understated Golf looks, all-wheel drive and the 2.0-litre will provide you with 213kW/380Nm of turbocharged joy, arguably making it a cut above the front-wheel drive i30 N, even at a few years old. Thankfully, it’s still served up with a manual.

+ One of the world’s greatest hot hatches…
- …looks as anonymous as any other hatchback

2015 Volkswagen Scirocco R ($35,000)

Aw, jeez. This pic is low-res. Aw, jeez. This pic is low-res.

Like the Golf R, but want something weird, but not as weird as the Peugeot 308 GTi? Perfect. Somebody is selling their 2015 Scirocco R for $35k

For $5k less than the Golf you’ll get decidedly more eye-catching looks but lose the all-wheel drive and a couple of kW, putting you down to ‘just’ the 188kW engine from the old Golf R. The coupe/hatch layout is also a bit of a niche, but that might just be helping it keep its value.

+ One of the more eye-catching VWs
- Not as fast, or practical, or sensible as the Golf R

2015 Renault Megane RS 265 Cup ($36,989)

Casually slay V8s and frequently visit the chiro. Casually slay V8s and frequently visit the chiro.

Again, another overlooked French champ, the Megane RS Cup is for the discerning hot-hatch driver in the know. At this money, you can get one with very low kays and potentially in one of the variety of confusing limited-edition variants. 

The somewhat legendary F4RT 2.0-litre engine will give you 195kW/360Nm. That’s a bit lower than most of the others on the list as well as the i30 N. But, the Renault is famously track-focussed to a fault, being a bit feature-light and borderline uncomfortable so that it can also be lightweight and have Nurburgring-slaying handling.

+ Uncompromising, unapologetic French performance
- I hope you like your chiropractor

Would you go the i30 N over any of these hot hatch choices? Tell us what you think in the comments.