In the UK, we’re the world’s biggest buyers of hot hatches as we appreciate their combination of intoxicating performance and useful practicality.
However, in recent years, hatchback sales have been increasingly eaten into by crossovers. These models offer the styling and high driving position of an SUV, but usually have a smaller footprint that makes them more usable around town.
In turn, the performance crossover is increasing in popularity, as buyers still want that go-faster kick but in the small SUV package.
Here we take a look at some of the best in the business.
Hyundai Kona N
Hyundai’s N brand might be in its infancy, but when it burst onto the road car scene in 2017 with the i30 N hot hatch, it was clear this was a serious performance car division.
Its latest model is the Kona N, which uses the firm’s stylish crossover as a base and adds impressive upgrades such as a 276bhp petrol engine, electronic limited-slip differential and a raucous exhaust.
Ford Puma ST
The Kona’s closest competitor is currently the Ford Puma ST. The Blue Oval has long had the go-to small hot hatch in the Fiesta ST, so it’s no surprise its crossover equivalent is also excellent.
Its 1.5-litre engine makes 197bhp, so it’s down quite considerably on power compared with the South Korean. However, it’s also about £5,000 less expensive and makes up for the lack of grunt by being an excellent steer.
Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S
Mercedes has seen huge sales success with the A-Class and GLA, which are the smallest models in the firm’s car and SUV line-ups respectively. Focusing on the GLA as the crossover, it has two high-powered AMG versions available.
The first is badged ‘35’ and has a few upgrades for more power and handling ability, but it’s the ‘45’ that has the major upgrades. It’s available as a 45 and 45 S, with the latter having a 2.0-litre engine that makes an incredible 415bhp.
It’s pricey though, with the entry 35 starting from just under £45,000, and the top-spec 45 S costing from about £65,000.
Another competitor in the premium performance crossover market is the Audi SQ2. The firm’s smallest SUV is available in S guise, bringing 296bhp and a sub-five-second 0-60mph time.
It’s not just fast, but also gets a sports suspension to improve handling, enhanced equipment levels, and sporty exterior upgrades.
If you’re looking for even more performance, though, Audi’s famed RS division has worked its magic on the slightly larger Q3. This model has 395bhp and is about half a second faster to 60mph.
Cupra is the sports car division of Spanish car maker Seat. It started life building faster versions of the firm’s road cars, but now it has branched out to build its own cars.
One such example is the Formentor, which looks absolutely fantastic with its sharp angles and sleek roofline. It’s not the most powerful in this list, but its quickest model is a plug-in hybrid with about 200bhp that also brings low running costs.
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Here’s something new and unusual – a mainstream electric performance car. Expect to see many more of these popping up in the next few years, but for now, we just have this ID.4 GTX from Volkswagen.
The firm is known for its quick GTI models, but its electric equivalents will wear GTX. It uses a dual motor setup that provides all-wheel-drive, makes 295bhp and has a few upgrades that should make it fun in corners, too.