Commence The Early 90s Hot Hatch War!

Welcome to Sunday Matinee, where we highlight classic car reviews or other longer videos I find on YouTube. Kick back and enjoy this blast from the past.

Here's the lowdown: Ford has just come out with a new hot hatchback. It's intended to compete with the perennial favorite Volkswagen GTI as well as competitors from France and Japan. How do you know it's hotter than the standard model? Because it has a bunch of letters at the end of its name, that's why.


If you think I'm talking about the new Ford Focus ST — the archduke of hot hatches, as we called it — then think again. I'm talking about the Ford Escort XR3i, which in 1992 did battle with the GTI of that era, as well as the Citroen ZX Volcane and the Nissan Sunny GTI.

We can watch the epic war take place in this Top Gear clip from that year, where staid, bearded, non-Clarksonesque presenter Chris Goffey puts each car through their paces.

What's remarkable is how much the cars of that era are similar to their counterparts today. The Ford is the more powerful, more expensive choice, while the GTI is more of a bargain. The biggest difference between then and now is power. The XR3i put out a meager 130 horsepower, while the ST packs 252 horsepower, which was probably unfathomable back in the 90s.


Citroen is still in the game today with cars like the DS3 Racing, while Nissan (sadly) no longer makes hot hatches. Nissan's role is arguably filled by the Mazdaspeed3 these days, although we'd love to see them make a comeback.

Who do you think has made the best line of hot hatches over the years?

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