Renault’s Clio has taken out the top spot in a list of the 21st century’s hottest hot hatches.

UK’s largest online motoring community PistonHeads called on its readers to cast their vote to deliver the results.

The appropriately named RenaultSport Clio 182 Trophy scooped first place, followed by big brother the RenaultSport Megane R26.R, with the Honda Civic Type R EP3 rounding out the top three.

As one of the largest markets for hot hatches, the UK has a strong appetite for cars offering supercar-like B-road thrills but wrapped in a far cheaper and more practical package.

PistonHeads asked members of its motoring community to nominate their favourite hot hatches from the last 20 years, before running a poll on the top 10 nominees to determine the final order.

With the last two decades offering consumers the widest selection of hot hatches yet, the poll generated heated debate, with members casting over 500 votes to determine the 21st century’s ultimate hero to date.

In the end, the top 10 nominees ranked as follows:

10.Alfa Romeo 147 GTA
9.RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup
8.Ford Fiesta ST MK7
7.RenaultSport Clio V6
6.VW Golf GTI MK5
5.BMW M140i
4.RenaultSport Clio 172 Cup
3.Honda Civic Type R EP3
2.RenaultSport Megane R26.R
1.RenaultSport Clio 182 Trophy

The French manufacturer cleaned up, with a further three places taken out by Renaults — the Clio 172 Cup, Clio V6 and Clio 200 Cup coming 4th, 7th and 9th respectively.

The six cylinder BMW M140i and Alfa Romeo 147 GTA also caught the attention of the PistonHeads community, with these cars finishing 5th and 10th respectively.

The practical yet fiery Volkswagen Golf GTI Mark V and Ford Fiesta ST Mark 7 filled the 6th and 8th places respectively.

The rarer the hot hatch the better, as the top two were produced in limited numbers.

Only 550 examples of the first place Renaultsport Clio 182 Trophy were produced, and the Megane R26.R was rarer still with only 450 rolling off the production line.

PistonHeads editor Nic Cackett said people often think of the 1980s as the golden era of the hot hatch.

“While it’s true that there are a host of unrepeatable classics from this time that have gone on to inspire the hot hatches of today, the reality is that in the 21st century we’ve never had more choice, performance and usability in this sector,” he said.

“Hot hatches have a huge following in the motoring community, especially in the UK, and although there are many favourites, it’s interesting to see which features most commonly attract the attention of car enthusiasts.

“All of the cars in the top 10 offer genuine driving thrills and a quick peruse of the PistonHeads Classifieds over a cup of coffee reveals some can be had for temptingly little money.”


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Clio the icing on the cake


Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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