Well at least two of the top auto magazines have put forward THEIR answer for the best of the hot hatches, and the answer is...
The Ford Focus SVT.
Car and Driver put the SVT first when comparing it to the GTI and the Civic Si, and put the car on its' Top Ten list. Again.
Automobile Magazine compared the same cars as above, and threw in the MP3 and the Sentra SE-R Spec V, and again the SVT came out on top. The Focus also has the distinction of having been on their All-Stars list for both the regular Focus AND the SVT model individually.