South Africa’s new vehicle market recently gained a handful of fresh-faced, high-priced hatchbacks. And that got us thinking: which are the most expensive hatches in the land? Well, we picked out the eight costliest...

8. Hyundai i30 N: R679 900

At the start of February 2020, Hyundai Automotive South Africa finally launched the i30 N, with a “limited number” of units set aside for the local market. The hot hatch employs a 2,0-litre turbocharged engine offering 202 kW and 353 N.m to the front axle via a six-speed manual gearbox. That’s enough, says Hyundai, for a sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 6,1 seconds and a top speed 250 km/h. Thing is, it’s quite a bit more expensive than rivals such as Renault’s 205 kW Mégane RS280 Cup and the DSG-equipped Volkswagen 7 Golf GTI...

7. Volkswagen Golf R: R684 400

There may be a new, eighth-generation Golf on the way but the Volkswagen Golf 7 R is still a strong seller locally. As a reminder, in February 2019, the SA-spec Golf R’s turbocharged 2,0-litre unit was upgraded from its previous detuned output of 213 kW to the full-fat 228 kW (and 400 N.m), sent to all four corners via a seven-speed DSG transmission. That’s enough, claims VW, for a blast from standstill to three figures in 4,6 seconds.

6. Audi S3 Sportback Quattro: R696 189

Like the closely related Golf 7 R above, the current-generation S3 Sportback is late in its lifecycle. But it’s still a capable performer, employing the same engine (and peak outputs, plus 0-100 km/h sprint time) as its Golf-badged cousin. Still, for a little extra cash over the VW, the Audi gains a premium badge and a maintenance plan rather than a more basic service arrangement. However, its standard wheels are an inch smaller in diameter...

5. Honda Civic Type R: R699 900

One of the most competent front-driven hatchbacks around is cresting the R700k mark in South Africa. While a lightly facelifted version is due to arrive locally in the third quarter of 2020, the turbocharged 2,0-litre four-cylinder engine is unchanged, still sending 228 kW and 400 N.m to the front axle via a six-speed manual for a claimed zero to 100 km/h time of 5,7 seconds. The extreme Limited Edition and stealthier Sport Line variants aren’t, however, on the cards for the local market...

4. BMW M135i xDrive: R711 452

While BMW’s F40-generation 1 Series has switched to a front-wheel-drive platform, the flagship M135i employs the Munich-based firm’s xDrive all-paw system. It’s also ditched the old (rear-driven) M140i’s six-cylinder in favour of a turbocharged 2,0-litre four-cylinder unit generating 225 kW and 450 N.m, channelled via an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission. The result is a sprint to three figures in a claimed 4,8 seconds (or one-tenth quicker with the upcoming M Performance package specified).

3. Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic: R758 946

On paper, Mercedes-AMG’s A35 hot hatch looks evenly matched with BMW’s M135i (watch the two battle it out on the drag strip), with its turbocharged 2,0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine sending 225 kW and 400 N.m to all four corners via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The result is a sprint from zero to 100 km/h in a claimed 4,7 seconds, a tenth quicker than its Bavarian foe despite a 50 N.m deficit.

2. BMW i3s eDrive REx: R804 600

While each of the seven other vehicles on this list employs a 2,0-litre petrol engine, the rear-driven BMW i3s REx counters with a 120 Ah lithium-ion battery and a synchronous electric motor (admittedly plus a small range-extending petrol unit that functions as a generator when the battery nears depletion). The electric motor in the i3s boasts 135 kW and 270 N.m, allowing the electric hatch to hit three figures in a claimed 7,7 seconds (with the range extender fitted).

1. Mercedes-AMG A45 S 4Matic+: R995 108

Yes, the most expensive hatchback in South Africa is Mercedes-AMG’s A45 S, which falls just short of seven figures (before you’ve added any options, of course). Affalterbach’s hyper hatch employs a turbocharged 2,0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine offering a whopping 310 kW (making it the most powerful four-pot in a series-produced vehicle) and 500 N.m to all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. The result is a sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in 3,9 seconds...