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If you want to be the first person on your block with Volkswagen's latest Golf R parked in your garage, you need to clear some time from your schedule on January 8. VW is opening the pre-order books for the first 500 Stateside examples, complete with some nifty accessories.

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Which Hot Hatch Is Best? We Argue It Out...

They're pretty darn similar. And yet our views are oh so different.

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Opel has used its Facebook page to show off more of the woven carbon fiber bits that will adorn its Astra OPC Extreme, promised to be the fastest production car it has ever made available to the public. Utilizing lessons learned during last year's campaigns with the Astra Cup spec-series car, it looks like every exterior component gets reworked in order to make the street-legal most of the turbocharged 2.0-liter that is expected to dispense over 300 horsepower through the front wheels (the stand

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The V8 grunt of the Mustang has defined Ford performance cars in the US for the last 50 years, but in Europe, the Blue Oval has nearly as a long history of building some of the best hot hatches on the market with the Fiesta, Escort and later the Focus. The latest Fiesta ST has just hit the roads on both sides of the pond and has been enthusiastically received thanks to its combination of a peppy, turbocharged engine and hatchback utility.

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A racecar for the road. Usually that statement is nothing more than marketing, but Opel may have actually done it with its Astra OPC Extreme. It promises that the hot hatch is the fastest production Astra it has ever sold.

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Audi was out testing its upcoming S1 on the streets of Germany when our trusty spy photographers snapped the new, all-wheel-drive hot hatch that's set to succeed the limited-edition A1 Quattro.

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As much as we may love hot hatches like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST, there are a number on offer in Europe that we'll just never get here. And soon we'll be able to add one more.

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I'm not overly inclined to professional jealousy, as a rule. Sure, I go a bit green around the eyes when Ramsey draws the 911 GT3 trip to Weissach, Harley is tapped-in to drive a completely stunning Porsche 911 by Singer, or, you know, Drew Phillips gets to shoot a Lamborghini Veneno in the middle of a desert like some sort of sheik. I hate you guys...

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The new Mazda3 is a stunner, both aesthetically and from a driving perspective. As with all good things, though, there's always room for improvement. That's where the wizards from Mazdaspeed come in. Mazda's in-house tuner has been tweaking and turbocharging the five-door Mazda3 since 2007, with impressive results.

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Over the last year, we've had the chance to drive two of the most exciting hatchbacks in the BMW family – the BMW M135i and the Mini Paceman John Cooper Works – but Autocar has managed to get the two corporate cousins together for a head-to-head comparison. Just like our initial impressions of the Paceman JCW, Autocar has little to complain about this new 215-horsepower hatchback... until it begins to factor in the faster, better-mannered and similarly priced M135i.

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Ken Block and Vaughn Gittin, Jr. are two of the masters of artistically abusing automobiles, so you know a video with both men in it is going to be a good one. In the fourth installment of the Focus ST Sessions series from Ford, Gittin and Block are given the keys to a 2013 Focus ST and a Volkswagen GTI, and then let loose in an abandoned neighborhood.

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Alas, of all the not-for-U.S. models we see every year, some sting more than others. While the Volkswagen GTI may define 'hot-hatch' stateside, the 2013 Audi S3 ups the ante, and it looks even tastier and forbidden up close.

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Finally, what might be some good news for the beleaguered Peugeot. The Gallic brand has let loose details on the 208 GTi, a hot hatch that hopes to do a better job of channeling the much beloved 205 GTi than the intervening 206 and 207 models. Our drive of the standard 208 revealed a hatch that stoked some of those old fires, and on paper the 208 GTi has two of our favorite things going for it: less weight and more power.

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There have been rumors that the Top Gear juggernaut may be nearing its end, but James May (the guy who most recently ignited the retirement talk) has been quick to shoot them down. And even if the show were nearing its end, we can at least count on another season coming, and soon. The Top Gear blog says that Series 17 begins on June 26 on BBC Two, BBC HD and all your favorite torrents immediately thereafter.

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Another day, another hot-hatch that the United Kingdom can enjoy while thumbing their nose at our relative lack of hot-hatchitude here in the States. Ford has just announced another limited-edition run of Fiesta S1600 hatchbacks.

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2011 Audi RS3 gets the silent film treatment – Click above to watch video after the jump

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2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2011 Ford Focus RS500 – click above for high-res image gallery

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Mégane Renaultsport 250 -- Click above for high-res image gallery

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