Crystal ball: New hot hatches to look for in 2016

Crystal ball: New hot hatches to look for in 2016

Almost by definition, the most exciting newcomers of 2016 will be high-performance sedans and hatches – quick but practical cars that are within reach of people on average earnings.

Ford’s Focus RS (pictured top) will be the wildest hot-hatch to join their ranks. It will sell alongside the Focus ST in Ford showrooms from February. Unlike limited-run previous versions, the new RS will have all-wheel-drive, which will help it deploy the 2.3-litre Ecoboost four-cylinder turbo engine’s prodigious 257kW.

Focus RS highlights include a dynamic torque vectoring system, a drive mode system with launch control and a ‘drift’ mode, and selectable sport suspension. There will also be 19-inch alloys and gripping Recaro front seats.

Subaru -Levorg -front -driving -around -cornerThe Subaru Levorg is set to roll up around the middle of 2016. This wagon version of the WRX will fill gaps in the local line-up opened left by the departed WRX hatchback and Liberty wagon. It will offer the performance of the former – though only through a CVT automatic, not a manual – and much of the space and practicality of the latter.

We’ll also be treated to a Peugeot 308 GTI (pictured below) in February. Considering how good the mainstream 308 line-up is – and the fact the GTI will be a manual-only front-drive with a 200kW 1.6 turbo – it should be a cracker.

Peugeot -308-GTIIn recent years, there have been few Japanese hot-hatch alternatives to cult Euro offerings such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Renault Megane RS275. While our fingers are still crossed for a new Mazda 3 MPS, the Hiroshima brand recently hosed down speculation that a hotter 2.5-litre turbo version powered by the CX-9’s new engine would join the 3 range.

We’d also have welcomed the 228kW Honda Civic Type R offered overseas, with its direct-injected 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder. But with the ninth-generation Civic set to be superseded, the ordinarily rev-happy Honda’s first snail-assisted Type R looks highly unlikely to make it to Oz.

Fiat -124-spider -topIn traditional sports-car form, we can expect to see the Fiat 124 Spider, a restyled version of Mazda’s new ND MX-5 with the Italian brand’s own engines and gearboxes. We’re enthused about the revival of the 124 Spider badge, and by the prospect of a factory turbocharged derivative of the religiously non-turbo MX-5.

Hot limited-edition versions of the Ford Falcon badged ‘XR Sprint’ will also roll from Broadmeadows in 2016, in a send-off for the model before Ford shuts its local manufacturing operation in October. The XR Sprint will come in both V8-powered XR8 and turbo six cylinder XR6 Turbo forms, and while the Falcon has fallen out of fashion, the pair should still be ripper drives and a fitting finale.

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.