When it comes to performance cars on our side of the Atlantic, we like em’ big and loud. Whether that’s a reflection of cultural norms and values or a result of our wide roads (or a combination of both) is something for the social scientists to decide. It seems that the rest of the world likes to do things a little differently: if you’re looking for reasonably priced performance with plenty of every-day usability, the hot hatch is king. In that sense, they follow the same recipe as muscle cars: take the smallest, lightest vehicle in your lineup and stuff the engine bay with the most potent motor you can find.
If you were to examine that train of thought even further, you’d notice that the two supposedly fundamentally disparate performance car philosophies converge on yet another point: within the confines of their respective target markets, muscle cars and hot hatches share a thriving aftermarket scene. The urge to go fast, after all, isn’t tied to a single country. These 20 examples take that go-fast mantra and run faster with it than most: some of these are race-prepped track rats shod in slick tires that would get pulled over by police in under 10 seconds, while others are road-legal sleepers that’ll embarrass any Oakley-wearing frat-bro that’s looking for trouble in daddy’s Ferrari. One thing they all share however, is their ability to punch way above of their relatively plebeian weight class.
20KC TECHNICA SUZUKI ALTO
The Suzuki Alto is a cutesy entry into Japan’s crowded kei car segment, a regional market oddity that enforces strict rules on physical dimensions and engine displacement. That doesn’t mean that tuners can’t have fun with them.
This example was built by KC Technica for time attack duties at the Rev Speed Super Battle event hosted at Japan’s Tsukuba Circuit.
On the outside, it sports the company’s overfender kit and a set of 15-inch RAYS Volk Racing TE37 Sonic wheels. In order to up the output of the Alto’s inline-three engine, KC technical fitted a larger turbocharger, intercooler and freer-breathing intake, which brings total output to somewhere near double the original figure of just 64 hp.
19VFR800 INTERCEPTOR-POWERED HONDA N600
The N600 was a subcompact hatchback that also happened to be the first car that Honda ever sold on our shores. Though it was quicker than its 45 hp power output would have you believe, thanks to a curb weight of 1100 lbs, a 0-60 MPH time of 19 seconds was never going to light your hair aflame.
If you’re in love with the N600’s adorable styling but find yourself wanting a bit more pep, step right this way: along with a 0.8 liter V4 engine from a 1997 Honda VFR800 motorcycle, which pumps out 104 hp and revs to 12,000 RPM, this example has been converted to RWD and features an all-around independent suspension setup along with a sequential gearbox.