PH Service History: Tales of the Unexpected

If my esteemed colleague Mr Bird's first impressions are anything to go by (and they usually are), the Toyota Yaris GRMN is a bit of alright. Toyota and Gazoo, it seems, have come together to produce something really quite remarkable given the Yaris's rather pedestrian image, even with its rather dizzying price in mind. And that's to be applauded. I don't know about you, but I love it when an otherwise drab hatchback not renowned for its performance prowess spawns a version intended for us enthusiasts that actually cuts the mustard.

Truth be told, though, Toyota has form in this department. Who remembers the Yaris and Corolla T-Sport of the early '00s? Neither was in danger of troubling the top of its class - the former more a benign Suzuki Swift Sport rival, the latter endowed with a heady engine but too soft a chassis - but today their obscurity makes them temptingly cheap, especially if you're after a daily with some poke that isn't one of the usual suspects. How cheap? Well, I reckon £1,500 for this 2003 Corolla should do the trick, and of course, you get Toyota's legendary reliability thrown in too.

Toyota wasn't the only company trying to get in on the hot hatch act back then. Skoda was doing it too - and while today the vRS range is well established, when the sub-brand was first launched back in 2001, the Felicia was still in production and the Favorit was still fresh in the memory - as, of course, were the myriad skip-based jokes Skoda was desperately trying to shed. So the idea of a hot Skoda (especially one based around the rather lacklustre Mk4 Golf chassis) was met with some raised eyebrows, to say the least.

Of course, as history records, the Octavia vRS was a roaring success, combining the model's prodigious space and practicality with a chassis that, while hardly the last word in deftness, still allowed for plenty of entertainment. Today, they're deeply appealing as fantastic all-rounders, and this one looks to be a gem; for that money, I'd rather the mileage was lower, mind you, but I guess beggars can't be choosers.

Moving to something more recent, it's impossible to ignore the keen value of the Kia Cee'd GT these days - another car that represented it manufacturer's first attempt at performance machinery. The caveat is that with 204hp it isn't up there among the quickest hot hatches of its era, but don't let that fool you into thinking it isn't a desirable thing. You get a supple chassis that works beautifully on a British B-road, soaking up bumps and allowing you to carry speed well into corners, even if it can't quite keep with the big boys in terms of ultimate agility.

I reckon the Cee'd GT looks great, too, but what about that value? Well, this example - barely three years old with one owner, and backed up with a full history - is just £11,461, and still with more than four years' warranty left. If I was in the market for such a thing right now, I'd be sorely tempted.

If you've a little more cash to splash, may I suggest the Cee'd's cousin once removed - the Hyundai i30 N, a car which arrived to great acclaim just a few months ago. Of course, the keener-eyed among you will note that this isn't Hyundai's first hot hatch - that was the i30 Turbo, itself a redress of the Cee'd GT. But the N did break new ground for Hyundai, taking the company firmly into the realm of the super-hatches and doing so in deeply impressive fashion.

It's still rather new, but used examples of the i30 N are starting to hit the used market now - this one looks like an ex-demo and comes with a useful saving over list, given that it's probably got a few of the options boxes ticked. That said, I think I'd probably hold fire for the time being and wait to see how badly depreciation hits - in a year's time, with four years still left on their warranty, these might start to look like an even greater bargain.

Which leaves me pondering possibly the daddy of all unexpected hot hatches: the original Renault 5 Turbo. Granted, Renault had always had a finger in the performance car pie, but the world had barely been introduced to the concept of a hot hatch before La Regie released this utterly barmy mid-engined homologation special. Imagine how preposterous the idea of 160hp in a small hatchback the size of a bean tin must have seemed way back then.

With all that weight of history behind it, it's no wonder a 5 Turbo will set you back vast money these days - even if it's the slightly-less-special Turbo 2. Believe it or not, this 41,000-mile example at £64,995 is actually the cheapest in our classifieds. Worth it? Well, we could argue the toss all day; either way, though, it rather puts the price of the Yaris GRMN in the shade, doesn't it?

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (23) Join the discussion on the forum

  • NelsonP 14 Jan 2018

    It's great to be alive when you drive a Renault 5.

  • Itsallicanafford 14 Jan 2018

    Chaps, I know that you need to generate copy that steers people to the classified section but come Clio V6, 106 rallye, megane r26r, Mk1 golf Gti etc etc?

  • Butter Face 14 Jan 2018

    Itsallicanafford said:
    Chaps, I know that you need to generate copy that steers people to the classified section but come Clio V6, 106 rallye, megane r26r, Mk1 golf Gti etc etc?
    You’ve just named some of the best known hot hatches ever made. Surely the point of the piece was to highlight some of the oddities or left field options out there.

    The R5 was an oddity when launched so is a good place to finish off.

  • avenger286 14 Jan 2018

    Had a 3 of the cars mentioned in the article.
    Yaris t sport(new) , Good fun car, engine was a little gem, brakes were fantastic.
    Fabia vrs(new) , Blistering quick in a straight line, 60mpg on a long run but over all spent more time back at skoda with verious issues back end was very twichy. Gave up with it after 2 years.
    Octavia vrs (year old) possibly one of the best all-round cars and for a petrol turbo was economical. Was to soft on a b road and just loved to understeer and was also back with skoda more than it should of been.
    I now own another little surprise and forgotten about car, a Twingo 133 that is more fun than the above cars, rarer, as reliable as the yaris, more economical and always over shadowed by the swift sport in the same way the corolla is by the civic.

  • paulwirral 14 Jan 2018

    £64,995 ? I can still remember seeing a turbo 2 advertised in autotrader, in the days when it was one pic and a short description , for about 6k , I didn't go to view it as I thought it was a little to far to go being over an hour away ! I do remember thinking it was reasonably priced though !

View all comments in the forums Make a comment