The Stinger marks a change in direction by Kia
Price: from £31,995
THERE are lots of reasons to like Kia. From its sharp styling and ever-improving line-up to its excellent value and brilliant seven-year warranty, there is much to love about the Korean firm.
But you probably would not put driver enjoyment too high up that list. Until now.
This Kia Stinger is a four-door saloon focused on getting those driving enthusiasts who might have overlooked the brand in the past through the showroom door.
Although there are lesser petrol and turbo-diesel versions, it is the flagship 370bhp GTS that will draw most attention – and rightly so.
The brilliant Stinger is just the start of Kia’s range becoming more fun to drive and we like what we see.
Just 300 of this Ford model will be produced
Want to spend 2018 in the Red? No, we are not talking overdrafts, we mean this new limited Ford Focus RS Red Edition.
Just 300 of this fast Ford will be produced with a contrasting black roof, door mirrors and rear spoiler along with partial leather Recaro seats and carbon-fibre trim.
It also comes with some tasty black 19in-alloy wheels and limited-slip differential for serious drivers, which along with the RS’s standard Drift Mode should make it a great set of wheels for track days.
The new Honda Civic has 320bhp from its 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine
Price: from £30,995
Among hot hatch fans, Honda’s Type R badge needs little introduction, especially with the Civic.
On the surface this fifth-generation Civic Type R is as wild as ever, with its extreme body kit and spoilers and boasting 320bhp from its 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine.
Under the skin, though, the reality is that while it is just as much of a driver’s machine as before, it has softened a little to make it easier to live with on a day-to-day basis.
It is still a superb car, though, handles brilliantly and, crucially, you rarely seem to miss the four-wheel drive of rivals.
It might still be too extreme for some but for us this Civic Type R is one of the best yet.
The Peugeot 308GTI could be one of the most underrated cars out there
WE firmly believe that Peugeot’s 308 GTI is one of the most under-rated hot hatches on the market.
As well as boasting the latest upgrades to the rest of the 308 range, the GTI does not shout about its performance like some hot hatches but instead gets on with getting its 270bhp to the Tarmac and firing you toward the horizon at a rate of knots.
Add to that some pretty sharp handling and steering along with little body roll through corners and while it might not hog the limelight like some, this is genuinely a hot hatch that you could drive day in and day out.
The VW Up is capable of 0-60mph in just 8.8 seconds
FOR a company that invented the hot hatch with the Golf GTI back in 1976, this latest flagship version of the Up has a lot of similarities.
With 115bhp from its 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine (the Golf had 110bhp), the Up is capable of the 0 to 60mph sprint in just 8.8 seconds and boasts a 122mph top speed.
Both are thanks in large part to its 997kg light weight but the Up also boasts sports suspension and various exterior and interior trim touches that will be familiar to hot hatch fans.
There are even Tartan seat covers, just like the original Golf.
We already love the Up in standard form but this just makes it even better.
A 1.8-litre turbo engine with 249bhp should tempt potential buyers
On sale: May
IF you do not think that the Alpine A110 of the 1960s is one of the most beautiful automotive designs of all time, then we will be more than happy to direct you to the nearest optician.
This modern interpretation of that classic from Renault is meant to tempt buyers out of their Porsche Caymans and Audi TTs, which is no one’s idea of an easy task. But this new A110 is equipped to do just that.
There is a 1.8-litre turbo engine with 249bhp, which might not sound much given those rivals but its lightweight aluminium body means some very impressive performance indeed.
Experts are predicting a 0 to 60mph time in an incontinence-inducing 4.5 seconds.
With speed and style, if any car can get buyers to look beyond the talented German competition it should be this beautiful new Alpine.