5. Volkswagen Golf R32
In Europe during the 1990s, the hot hatch class was under heavy fire from insurance agencies, earning the image of a hooligan’s express. This meant most car manufacturers stopped producing such cars. Some produced one mild model they considered a hot hatch. After the crazy ’80s and the high-tech Delta Integrale and RS Cosworth of the early ’90s, the rest of the decade lacked interesting models. Volkswagen’s Golf GTI was constantly selling well and VW was one of the companies that never abandoned the market. But the company was thinking of the future of the hot hatch class. The 21st century brought many technological innovations, electronic systems, and improvements in construction, so why not implement all that in a hot hatch of the future?
This is how the R32 came about in 2003. Volkswagen took the Mk4 body shell and installed the best hardware it had in the early 2000s. That meant the R32 had intelligent all-wheel drive, a 240 HP 3.2-liter V6 engine, a luxury interior, and a host of electronic aids. This wasn’t the first AWD hot hatch or the fastest, despite its 0 to 60 mph time of 6.4 seconds. However, it was the first “Uber” hatch that combined luxury and effortless high-speed cruising with exciting driving dynamics. Also, this was the first hot hatch to use the DSG transmission, which is a standard in this class today.