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The hot hatch is something that is often associated with young drivers and many people owe its creation to the Golf GTI in 1976. Though, the term hot hatch did not really enter the public domain until the mid-1980s, it was this landmark VW that spawned the love of cheap and cheerful, thrill happy autos.

With time car manufacturers saw the sheer love of these cars and the market for them and with time improvements, technology and adaptions have come fast and heavy.

However, as we’ve mentioned it was the Golf GTI that created the market for the hot hatch. The car had a modestly powered engine, relative to now but in the late 1970s it was something else. The 1.6l injected engine offered increased performance and was the first of numerous hot hatches to rise across the board. By the mid-1980s, car press had termed any car with three or five doors and high performance a hot hatch – essentially, small family cars with impressive performance.

Initially, Renault was the main hot hatch contender with VW in the market. Though, by 1984 a number of others began entering the market –seeing the spoils as more than worth the development costs for such cars.

Almost every manufacturer had a hot hatch version of its small family car and improvements came in all shapes and forms. Many cars of the time came with performance enhancing specs such as turbo charging, special carburettors and even super chargers. These developments continued and manufacturers became increasingly prone to adding bigger and bigger lumps to the cars.

In the 1990s safety became a concern and the high powered, almost tin like cars of the early 1980s were replaced with extremely sturdy, strong cars. By the end of the 1990s Ford’s Focus RS and Golf’s 4th and 5th generation GTIs were at the fore of the market. When you look at the specs you realise that these cars had come a long way from their origins and are often offered for business car leasing.

By the early 2000s it wasn’t unusual to have a hot hatch with around 200BHP and a 0-60 time that would equate to that of the 1970s super car. These cars had become extremely fast and also increasingly pricey, something that removed them from their original aim somewhat.

High end safety technology, amazing designs and also car technology meant that the price of the hot hatch had shot up remarkably. This meant that the cars were far out of reach of the young person looking for cheap thrills and those with less to spend. However, that said the second hand market for these cars is thriving and with increased reliability and depreciation, they are within the range of those that really love them.

Cormac Reynolds writes for First Vehicle Leasing a UK contract hire company with a wide range of cars for leasing.