The Citroen Visa GTI was a replacement for the GT, replacing the 1.4-litre for the XU5 205 GTI engine, but dynamically the Visa was not a patch on the Peugeot and even the novel 5 door set-up couldn’t shift sales. The car worked best as a budget run-around and the GTI was pulled from the range only after 3 years of production.
No such issues with this selection of Japanese cars. Their time had come, and after a decade of producing worthy but unexciting cars, the era of the Hot Hatch brought out the best in them. The well-priced Toyota Corolla AE82 was the best version yet. As an FWD alternative to the motorsport oriented AE86, the Corolla GT, particularly in Twin-Cam form has developed quite a following.
Interestingly Honda also released two distinct cars in the same sector, the CRX and the Civic GT. The Civic was well placed in the market, with a refreshingly different shape mated to a good balance of power to economy.
While Daihatsu released the G11 models into the UK in reasonably ‘Hot’ form, it was the later G100 series of Charades that struck a chord with UK buyers. The GTti was a well-liked alternative, despite it only having three cylinders. A reasonable rally career helped raise the profile of the model and became their best-selling sports variant here.
I thought I’d add in a final Japanese car, but a slightly odd-ball choice for consideration. By putting a turbocharger in their short wheelbase 1800 model, Subaru created what could be described as the first Hot Subaru. Obviously, it’s party trick was the 4WD aspect, yet the engineers saw the potential for the car. Sadly, the UK was deprived of the Turbo version, so the car went under most people’s radars but the scene was set for a new generation of indecently quick Subaru’s.