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Jeremy Clarkson has had a contentious career. Some of his unfiltered statements have helped sell tabloids for what seems like his entire run of covering cars for a living, and he’s the undisputed king of hyperbole and wry British comparisons. Whether you’re a fan of him or not, however, his encyclopedic car knowledge is undeniable, especially in regards to hot hatchbacks.

Just before “Top Gear” was rebooted in the early 2000s, Clarkson did “Clarkson’s Car Years.” I’ve watched this episode dubbed “The New Romantics” more than a few times, and its entertainment value stands up with every watch. Within its bookends, Clarkson does a rundown of how the hot hatch came to be, who the players were in the ’80s and ’90s, and why their numbers on dealer lots eventually dropped. At least in the UK; they never had much of a fighting chance at massive sales in America.

Many of the greats are discussed. The Mk1 VW GTI, Ford Escort XR4Ti, Peugeot 205 GTi, Ford Escort Cosworth, and even the Ford RS200, which is quite possibly the hottest, rarest hatch ever.

Who doesn’t love a good hot hatch? The VW GTI is still around, but we’ve also got the Civic Type R and Veloster N these days, two cars near-and-dear to my heart. On the downside, it’s a little depressing watching all these old Ford hot hatches after Ford stopped selling all hatchbacks in the USA not long ago. If Ford brought over the newest Mk8 Fiesta ST tomorrow, I’d put money down without even test driving it.

The video’s also a little throwback to the late ’90s and early ’00s; check out the old BBC production quality and graphics and the soundtrack of ’80s new wave tunes. Have a watch.

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