Axon’s Automotive Anorak: The most expensive hot hatchbacks money can buy
High priced hot hatches are not a new phenomenon. For the past 40 years or more, if you’ve wanted to enjoy the benefits of higher performance, you have had to pay the higher price for the privilege of greater power, speed and add-on spoilers too.
When Volkswagen introduced the now-legendary Golf GTI Mark I into the UK in RHD form, for example, the 114 bhp model retailed at £4,705 (in 1979), costing almost 50 per cent more than an entry-level 1.1-litre, 50bhp Golf. A similar price premium also applied to a Peugeot 205 GTi over a base 954cc model, a Ford RS1800i over a standard three-door, and so on.
Renault Sport’s ultimate Megane RS Trophy-R Nürburgring Record Edition is very aptly named, however, as not only has this new ‘ultimate’ hot hatch broken the front-wheel-drive lap records at both the Nürburgring and Spa Francorchamps circuits, it has also set new price premium record for a high performance derivative over a standard entry model. If you want one, you’ll be paying a whooping 405 per cent more than you would for the entry Megane Play ‘poverty’ model. No, you didn’t misread that: at £72,140 a fully-spec’d Megane RS Trophy-R Nürburgring Record Edition is a staggering £54,345 (405 per cent!) more expensive than an entry-level £17,795 Megane Play with essentially the same bodyshell.
Granted, for this enormous 405 per cent price premium you get a considerably more exciting four-cylinder, five-door hatch to drive, with 296bhp on tap, a 163 mph top speed, and a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds. Over the base Megane, the RS also sheds some weight, as well as the rear seats, is if to prove the old adage that less is definitely more!
Looked at another way, for the cost of the top-specification RS Trophy-R Nürburgring Record Edition, you could pop along to your local friendly Renault retailer and buy an entry Megane at £17,795 for your everyday needs, a new £46,985 Alpine A110 for your weekend motoring thrills, plus a £6,995 electric Twizy for nipping down to the shops and still have £365 to spare on buying a decent lunch or weekend break to Paris.
To the best of my knowledge, beyond a few of the rare Group B road-going homologation specials, built in the 1980s to satisfy the contemporary Group B rallying requirements (such as the exotic Peugeot 205 T16, MG Metro 6R4, Lancia Delta S4, and so on), until now no other hot hatch has ever commanded such a high price premium as Renault’s new, and admittedly rather special, Megane RS Trophy-R Nürburgring Record Edition, though I happily stand to be corrected if you know otherwise?
Intrigued by the above, and in the interests of comparison, I’ve undertaken a quick, simple and very unscientific test to look at what other price premiums a selection of current range-topping hot hatch models command over their base price entry-point versions of the same model.
Ford charges an extra 26.4 per cent (£4,180) for a £19,995 Fiesta ST-2 over an entry £15,815 1.0-litre Zetec. At £28,010, Hyundai’s acclaimed 271bhp i30 N Performance hot hatch is a hefty 41 per cent (£8,170) dearer than the worthy but dull £19,840 i30 SE entry model, albeit the latter lacking the specification (and charisma) of its N sibling.
Peugeot wades in with an even greater 46 per cent (£9,620) price premium for its 260bhp, £30,375 308 GTi over the entry 109bhp, £20,755, 308 Active. Honda, on the other hand, charges 62 per cent (£12,145) more for its £31,550 Civic Type R over the £19,405 entry level SE.
Long-term hot hatch masters Volkswagen charges a moderate 24 per cent (£4,160) upgrade for its 197bhp, £21,520 Polo 2.0-litre GTI over the base 94bhp, £17,360 1.0-litre Beats. Volkswagen’s other hot hatch, the 242bhp, £31,755 Golf GTI Performance, meanwhile, sells for 40 per cent (£9,116) more than the entry 128bhp, £22,639 Golf SE. The most powerful VW Golf, the 306bhp, £33,535 Golf R, commands a further £1,780 over the GTI Performance price point, and an eye-popping 48 per cent (£10,896) above the entry Golf SE model!
As one might expect, the premium car brands ask even more ambitious price uplifts for their hot hatch models over the standard cars. Using the Audi A3 Sportback as an example, the entry 114bhp SE Technik model at £25,015 is £12,005 more affordable than the 296 bhp, £37,020 S3 Sportback and a considerable 185 per cent (£21,270) cheaper than the 395bhp, £46,285 RS3 Sportback.
That’s quite a premium to pay, but still a bargain compared to the staggering 405 per cent being asked for a fully-loaded Renault Sport Megane RS Trophy-R Nürburgring Record Edition. As for me, I’ll stick with my Panda 100hp ‘hot hatch’, take a new Alpine A110 for high days and holidays, and spend the rest on champagne and Marmite!