The Peugeot 205 GTi has been voted The Greatest Ever Hot Hatch by a global audience. Picture: Newspress.

Birmingham - Which is the greatest hot hatch of all time?

It's one of those debates that can get petrolheads seriously fired up, and never one with a clear-cut verdict.

Yet a group of prominent UK motoring journalists set out to settle that very debate by coming up with a shortlist of 50 vehicles and then getting a global audience to vote for their favourites.

The winner, announced at Autosport International's Performance Car Show in Birmingham, was none other than Peugeot's legendary 205 GTi, which South Africans were sadly deprived of after Peugeot pulled out of the country in the 1980s. 

These were the top 10:

1. Peugeot 205 GTi 1.6

2. Lancia Delta HF Integrale

3. Ford Escort RS Cosworth

4. Volkswagen Golf Mk1 GTI

5. Renault Clio Williams

6. Renault Clio 182 Trophy

7. Volkswagen Golf Mk2 GTI

8. Renault 5 GT Turbo

9. Ford Focus RS Mk1

10. Talbot Lotus Sunbeam

No doubt many hot hatch fans would have put the Golf Mk1 GTI or the Lancia Delta in top spot, but democracy in this case favoured the French pocket rocket, which was built between 1984 and 1994.

The original model had a 1.6-litre normally aspirated petrol engine that was rated at 78kW, but Peugeot upped the game with a 97kW 1.9-litre version just a few years later. The bigger-engined Pug, which was still astoundingly light, could allegedly sprint from zero to 100km/h in just 7.8 seconds, which was certainly a bragging right back in the '80s.

The 205 GTI was eventually succeeded by the 206 GTi, which in turn made way for the 207 GTi and today's 208 GTi.

Which is your ultimate hot hatch? Tell us on Twitter.