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Top 20: 1980s hot hatches to buy in 2021

The 1980s were the decade of the hot hatchback - a breed of car that all-but killed the popular mass-market sports car. Thirty years ago, the Golf GTI and its dozens of clones were the hottest property in town, and everyone wanted one on their driveway. And today, they're in demand as classics. Here are 20 top choices that you can buy for less than £3000 - although in some cases, finding one is far more of a challenge than actually affording one.

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Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk2

The original Golf GTI defined the hot hatchback genre when it went on sale in 1977, even if it wasn't the first on the market - but it was brilliant. Much was expected of the Mk2, and when it went on sale, it wasn't the fastest, or the most fun to drive - but it was the most complete. And inspirational on the right piece of road. So many survive today, and so common they are, that it's easy to forget that the Mk2 was launched 30 years ago. A massive following, and one of the most enduring icons of the 1980s.


Andrew Hosking    on 4 May 2017

Mk 2 Golf was easily the best!
What a let down the mk 3 was after the brilliance of the first two!!
I'd give the Corolla silver medal,then the Pug 205 a bronze

Darren graves    on 29 September 2017

Abarth the best I have never had a feeling like my two black 130TCs gave me wish I could afford one now
C748JHD and D241VRM still alive and well in Cumbria

Captain-Cretin    on 12 April 2019

No Skodas ??

(asked innocently).

RJP41    on 14 April 2019

The escort is the one to have as back in the day i worked at a ford garage so drove most cars ,I never understood people going mad for VW or any of the french stuff they all had their problems
(escort included ) but the Fords of that era we way out in front of the competition but lost there way
in the nineties ,I notice there is no mention of the RS turbo in its day quick and very easy to make quicker cheaply ,or one of the best handling cars alfasud although most rotted in front of you.
I must add I still have my Escort from the early eighties never welded original and 99% perfect sitting at the back of my garage waiting a recommission for back on the road as it always comes up in conversation .

John of Gloster    on 15 April 2019

I clearly remember the 1980s MG Maestro advert with the 0-60 statement ... The Golf GTi will be along in a second. Actually I believe it was rather more than a bare second. That was the 2.0L EFI version. Make that TWO SECONDS in the case of the MG Maestro Turbo... I owned one of those extra hot hatches which is still in family ownership.

The MG Maestro Turbo should be high, very high in that list of 1980s Hot Hatches but, no surprise, not included.

Thanks to the likes of Quentin Wilson and other Motoring Journos who place the hatch VW GTi high on their opinion, they along with Clarkson and co invariably failed to appreciate decent home product. Quite the opposite in many cases..Sadly twas always thus and MG no more in British Ownership. The Chinese are selling a few MGs though... Lots of the new MG ZS SUV/CROSSOVERS seen locally. Not my cup of tea but SUVs selling like the proverbial hot cakes in the UK Car Cnsumer circles now.

Sadly, Hot Hatches now a thing of the past.

Inelegant, fat gut, bulky and ugly SUVs are the way to go now.

bobber    on 15 April 2019

i thought the 205 should have been higher up the list, but was pleased to see the 309 in there.

Chasbot    on 15 April 2019

Citroen AX GT?

   on 15 April 2019

I expected to see the VW polo G40 on the list.Wonderful little machine

   on 23 June 2019

Nissan Silvia Turbo - WOW! Wish I still had it.

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