By on July 17, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Sport - Image: HondaLaunched in mid-June 2017, the 2017 Honda Civic Type R is the first Honda-brand Type R product ever sold in the United States. And after generations of Honda enthusiasts tolerated relatively unimpressive horsepower totals from high-revving four-cylinder engines, Honda didn’t mess around with the latest, turbocharged Civic Type R.

306 horsepower at 6,500 rpm.  295 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm.

Yet before the Civic Type R was even on sale in the United States, we learned that the 10th-generation 2018 Honda Accord would kill the V6 and replace it with, you guessed it, the Civic Type R’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Incidentally, only a few days after that, we learned that the optional V6 in the Accord’s long-time rival, the new-for-2018 Toyota Camry, would generate 301 horsepower.

Win for Honda? Not so much, as Honda last week revealed a 2018 Accord 2.0T with 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.

Huh? What? Why? (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Image: Volkswagen

As Volkswagen progresses toward electrification and bolsters is court-mandated greener image, concerns arose that enthusiasts might be left to fend for themselves.

Those fears appear to have been entirely unnecessary. With Ford upping the ante with its hot-hatch Focus variants and newcomers like Hyundai’s attractive i30 N planning to enter the market with a minimum of 246 horsepower, VW knew it had to bring more to the table with its Golf. News from Germany indicates Volkswagen’s world-famous hatchback will lose some weight for its eighth generation and gain beefed-up powertrains. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2017

hyundai i30 n

After four years of development, Hyundai is ushering a new entry into the hot hatchback category with its i30 N. Based on the newest incarnation of the family friendly i30, known throughout North America as the Elantra GT, the N badge separates it as a serious performance model. Hyundai appears to be taking direct aim at the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen GTI, both through the N’s performance and styling — which seems to be a handsome amalgamation of the pair.

Available in two trims, the base model i30 N provides 246 horsepower while the performance package quipped version bumps that number up to 271 hp. Both use a turbocharged 2.0-liter and six-speed manual transmission and, according to Hyundai, can manage 0-60 times in the low six-second range. Power is sent to the front tires and only to the front tires, with an electronic limited slip differential to keep things manageable in the corners.

It’s a legitimate hot hatch and Hyundai’s first if you discount the Veloster — which you definitely may.   (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Type R - Image: HondaWe had not yet seen the 2017 Honda Civic Type R.

We did not yet know at what lofty level the 2017 Honda Civic Type R would be priced.

We didn’t know precisely when we’d have an opportunity to purchase a 2017 Honda Civic Type R. We didn’t know how powerful it would be, whether there’d be a CVT option, if the Civic Si would be powerful enough to decrease Type R demand, or how many aero-aiding elements the Civic Type R would be wearing when it came off the boat from the UK.

But we were told Honda thought it could sell 2,000 Civic Type Rs per month. Which is impossible. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2017

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT (Image: Steph Willems)

Years back, a neighbor of mine worked as an electrician’s apprentice while we both occupied different corners of a sketchy four-plex. Good guy. When an emergency arose, especially if the emergency was a sudden lack of tape, this was your man.

Anyway, with barely enough cash to buy beer on weekends, let alone a half-decent used pickup, the tools of his trade journeyed to the job site in a roomy, economical, and seemingly indestructible four-door liftback. It was, of course, a first-generation Hyundai Elantra GT, only with the contents of a small hardware store filling the area aft of the front seat.

A useful, if tepid, vehicle then, but one far more worthy of the GT moniker now.

The Korean automaker launched the Elantra GT in 2001, and has no intention of dropping the useful compact hatchback from the marketplace anytime soon, even though its U.S. executives required a dose of friendly Canadian persuasion to keep it alive south of the 49th parallel (according to Hyundai Canada brass). The pressure paid off, leaving Americans with yet another option in the “hotter hatch” segment.

No longer is the GT a one-engine affair, nor is it likely to continue as an afterthought in the minds of consumers. For 2018, Hyundai chose to spread the widest possible net with its newly enlarged hatch, hoping to lure would-be buyers away from better-known rivals while offering a sportier alternative to small crossovers. (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2017

2017 Ford Focus RS - Image: Ford2018 will be the final year for the current iteration of the Ford Focus RS.

Shed a tear.

Now shed another tear for the old base price, because the old base Focus RS is done, CarsDirect says. For 2018, Ford is equipping every U.S.-bound edition of the Focus RS with a limited slip differential, the RS2 package, and 19-inch wheels.

As a result, the $36,995 2017 Ford Focus RS gives way to a $41,995 2018 Ford Focus RS.

Paging the Civic Type R. Civic Type R to the showroom. (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo white front, Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

With the Civic Type R expected to appear on lots any day now, and no end in sight to the continued popularity of the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R, consumers can be forgiven for not thinking about the Hyundai Veloster.

The long-in-the-tooth model remains a valuable oddball for the automaker, but it isn’t without its flaws — namely, a super-harsh ride. Still, it’s a quirky model that adds flair in an increasingly conformist marketplace. Hyundai even saw fit to endow the Veloster with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder in a bid to perk up its little hatch.

Despite falling sales, Hyundai isn’t giving up on the model, and a new report claims the Korean automaker could give the next-generation Veloster a heaping dose of competitiveness in the hot hatch segment. (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version), Image: Honda

Earlier this month, Honda announced pricing for its hotter Civic Si sedan and coupe, both of which carry an after-delivery price of $24,775. However, at 205 horsepower, the 2017 Civic Si’s powertrain could leave some front-drive sporty car lovers wanting more.

Not to fear, the Civic Type R will arrive on dealer lots imminently. Offered on North American shores for the first time, the Type R adds an extra 101 hp to the Si’s power output, all thanks to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Torque tops out at 295 lb-ft, and a hatch is the only bodystyle available.

According to new photos of a fresh-from-England batch of Type Rs, the cost of that extra power amounts to about $100 per horse. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2017

Volkswagen Golf R vs Ford Focus RS

You know what I miss? Besides the second season of Miami Vice, the Atari 800, and a country where grown men didn’t agree to appear in simpering photography sessions commemorating their emasculating engagements to former late-night legends of the Sig Ep house at Ohio State? I miss the days when automakers didn’t field an entry into every single possible automotive segment. I miss that halcyon period where Mercedes-Benz made sedans and Porsche made sports cars and never the twain needed to meet except in the destination garages of their superbly tasteful owners. Back when everybody stuck to their individual knitting, the products were better (for their time, of course) and the brand identities made more sense. I’m reminded of something that my musical idol and harshest critic, Victor Wooten, once said: “Instead of learning other instruments … I take the time that I would spend learning those instruments … and I put that time into learning my instrument, you dig?”

As my future third-wife Este once sang, however, those days are gone. In $THE_CURRENT_YEAR, nearly every manufacturer competes in nearly every segment. Which brings me to this week’s question, submitted by an extremely verbose fellow who needs to choose a German hatchback.

(Read More…)

By on January 6, 2017

New Civic Type R Prototype breaks cover in Paris

It was all very exciting. The world of continuously variable transmissions was poised to grant entry to a new star — the snarling, winged and not-yet-born Honda Civic Type R.

Hot hatch aficionados who loathe the three-pedal life rejoiced, while most others recoiled. Well, rest easy, stick fans. Thanks to some very confusing wording in a report originating from England — where the Type R is taking shape — the wrong information got across.

No, there won’t be a CVT in the upcoming Type R.  (Read More…)

By on December 14, 2016

Toyota Yaris Gazoo sketch

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s unveiling of the Toyota Gazoo Racing-crafted Yaris Gazoo WRC rally car, Toyota has said a road-going hot hatch for the common man is on the way.

The automaker’s European division let the news slip in Helsinki yesterday, confirming rumors swirling around a possible hot hatch variant of the brand’s staid subcompact.

Still, Toyota left many questions unanswered. (Read More…)

By on December 13, 2016

Toyota Yaris Gazoo WRC

As it prepares to return to the World Rally Championship after a 17-year absence, Toyota and its Gazoo racing division just revealed a piece of brain candy for hot hatch lovers.

Making sky-high horsepower from its diminutive four-cylinder, the Toyota Yaris WRC hits the pavement — and dirt and snow — in Monte Carlo next month, but the vehicle itself could spell a less buttoned-down future for the brand. (Read More…)

By on October 21, 2016

Chevrolet Cruze Hatch RS Blue Line

Tarted-up production cars revealed at the SEMA show aren’t exactly the stuff of shocked gasps and hurriedly sent text messages to friends, but there’s often some useful gear to come out of the annual trade jamboree.

The blue window tinting and wheels on the pair of Blue Line “concepts” trotted out by Chevrolet ahead of the show likely impressed no one, but it’s what lies beneath that matters. Starting next year, the bowtie brand will let owners of its newly redesigned compact gain some extra horsepower in a manner that won’t void the warranty.

Yes, the Cruze is joining the tuner scene. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2016

2015 Toyota Yaris, Image: Toyota

Toyota doesn’t immediately spring to mind when a buyer thinks of driving excitement. Far from it, in fact.

While the brand carries an enviable reputation of reliability, strong resale value and general popularity, it suffers in the performance and youthful appeal department. That could change, with Auto Express reporting that Toyota could build on its return to the World Rally Championship with a production hot hatch.

Volkswagen Golf R, Honda Civic Type R, Ford Focus RS…Toyota Yaris? (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2016

2016_golf_gti_4215

It’s a sad day for Volkswagen Golf GTI purists and fanboys. The GTI — one of autodom’s quintessential hot hatches — will lose its two-door variant in the U.S. as the scandal-rocked automaker jettisons low-volume offerings.

A very familiar face and name broke the story at Jalopnik after a Volkswagen product manager mentioned the cancellation during the company’s Golf Alltrack media test drive. (Read More…)

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