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Top 5: Fast, Forgotten Hatchbacks

By Daniel DeGasperi, 13 Sep 2016 News

Top 5: Fast, Forgotten Hatchbacks

Orphaned but somehow memorable, we pick the quick cars the market forgot

Some drivers just like to go fast for nix. We don’t mean Porsche 911 GT3 speed, but rather the enjoyment of a brisk chopping and changing between lanes in traffic in a relatively new car for not a whole lot of coin.

Here we’ve gathered cars that were fleet of foot, but perhaps not dynamically fantastic. The marketplace forgot about these sub-decade-old hatchbacks and sometimes with good reason. The upside is if you like to plant your foot to grab that fast-closing lane gap, these rapidly depreciating orphans may do nicely.

1. HSV Astra VXR

HSV Astra VXRThe Astra hatchback suddenly becomes relevant again – perhaps for HSV – when the locally built Commodore dies next year.

Bang-on $10K buys a 2008 model with 130,000km and a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder good for 177kW/320Nm resulting in a 6.4sec 0-100km/h claim.

They torque-steered a bit, but were grippy and composed, and generally fun. Not bad grunt either, considering a Golf GTI of the day had 147kW/280Nm.

2. Opel Corsa OPC

Opel Corsa OPCNext-generation smaller sibling to the VXR very briefly wore Opel Performance Centre (OPC) badges in Australia before the GM German brand sunk without a trace.

A pre-bargaining $13K buys a 2013 model with 60,000km that may still have Holden-backed warranty, with a 1.6-litre turbo four delivering 141kW/260Nm and a 7.2sec 0-100km/h. A fun, good jigger that was never quite Clio RS sharp.

3. Volvo C30 T5 R-Design

Volvo C30 T5Call it the Focus XR5 Turbo’s swanky Swedish cousin. With more funk than an Ikea showroom, Volvo wanted an absurdly high price for the 2.5-litre turbo five-cylinder three-door hatch new.

Thankfully the market has levelled them out and $15K buys a 2008 model with 76,000km, offering 169kW/320Nm and 6.7sec 0-100km/h. Unlike the Ford of the same era, you won’t feel like you’re sitting in a rubbish bin.

4. Kia Pro_Cee’d GT

Kia Proceed GTProbably the greatest driver’s car from a South Korean brand (via Slovakia in this case) and that’s no faint praise. The IRS-equipped Pro_Cee’d GT was an engaging steer, but lack of badge cache and auto availability crippled it.

The 1.6-litre turbo four made 150kW/265Nm and this Kia felt faster than its 7.7sec 0-100km/h claim. Sub-$20K buys a 2014 model with 25,000km and the seven-year warranty remaining.

5. Nissan Pulsar ST-S/SSS

Nissan Pulsar SSSThe marketplace has dumped the Pulsar ST-S and SSS out on the cheap heap. For under $15K you get a 2014 build with 30,000km, a six-speed manual and the same superbly energetic 1.6-litre turbo four with 140kW/240Nm in either the boggo ST-S or try-hard SSS.

We clocked a 7.8sec 0-100km/h but, although it has zero dynamics, the mid-range in this relatively light (1284kg) hatch is perfect for the city.