Rejoice! The naturally aspirated hot hatch isn't dead ... sort of
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In this changing four-wheeled world, there are a range of different car types that currently sit on the chopping block. Just the other week, Lexus said that sedans need to shape up to survive. The same could arguably be said of the humble station wagon, too.
But while we all weren't looking, one of the most beloved segments shut up shop: the naturally aspirated hot hatch.
For many the humble hottie is the quintessential first car for the driving enthusiast, built to provide them with enough poke and handling finesse to have a ball, but barely enough power to break the speed limit.
Sadly, as hot hatches have progressively become hotter and hotter (and emissions regulations have become tighter and tighter), manufacturers have moved on to smaller-capacity turbocharged engines to propel their headline hatchbacks. And this has largely left the NA hot hatch out in the cold. Only Suzuki and their soon-to-be-replaced Swift Sport keep the tradition going on Kiwi shores. Though they too are about to move to forced induction.
But, there is one other naturally aspirated hot hatch. It was revealed late last week too, in preparation for the Buenos Aires Motor Show. It's the Renault Sandero RS Racing Spirit Edition.
That name sounds familiar because, as you might've guessed, this is based on Renault's sister company Dacia's Sandero economy hatch. Dacia already sell a reasonably warm Sandero RS, but this newly fettled variant turns up the dial a few notches.
Its new wheels come wrapped in Michelin PS4 tyres, which help translate the power generated by the bubbly 110kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine under the bonnet into grin-inducing thrust. And there's not a turbocharger in sight. Splashes of red and striped two-tone seats complete the look.
Of course, being a Dacia means that there are some cut-backs to manage cost. The rear doors come with wind-up windows, for example.
There is a but though, and it's quite significant — it's only going to be sold in Argentina. This despite the Sandero platform becoming widely available across Europe, including in the UK where they gained notoriety through James 'Captain Slow' May's continual and consistent adoration for the likable little car.
If that's not enough, Renault have confirmed that they'll only make 1500 of them. And in their local market, pricing is set to rival that of the giant-killing Ford Fiesta ST.
Alas, the fate of the NA hatch looks sealed.