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…)

By on August 30, 2016

hyundai N Division

Hyundai’s plans to diversify the Elantra lineup continues apace, with the automaker dropping teaser images of the next GT hatch and posting a video of a possible N-badged high-performance variant.

Expect more maturity and style from the hatchback Elantra, and, if the automaker is really serious about its N Division, a turbocharged stick-shift funmobile with room for camping equipment. (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2016

Rallycross! Lydden Hill, 29 May

This past weekend was one of the best in motorsport, with action from the Nurburgring, Monaco, Indy, and Charlotte.

Not to be left out, the entertaining FIA Rallycross paid a visit to Lydden Hill in the UK. Next, they’re off to the Hell Circuit (yessir, that’s its name) in Norway on June 10th.

(Read More…)

By on May 19, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Golf R Lapiz blue

$26,415.

$36,470.

$43,395.

The jumps in price from the four-door Volkswagen Golf GTI to the Volkswagen Golf R to the Audi S3, three closely related cars, are not insignificant. Yet in spite of the dollar differences, or perhaps because of the dollar differences, the trio inevitably undergoes the value proposition comparison, as if “value” is the reason 460 buyers per month spend around $40,000 on a Volkswagen hatchback.

I’ve now been privileged to spend a week with each car. Sadly, a Lapiz Blue 2016 Volkswagen Golf R just left my driveway to make room for, as fate would have it, a 2016 Toyota Prius.

And I have no trouble making the case for the Golf R as the fast VeeDub to own. (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2015

2016 Ford Focus RS

Ahead of its arrival at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England, the 2016 Ford Focus RS’ horsepower figures were officially revealed.

(Read More…)

By on April 23, 2015

2001 Honda Civic Type RIt’s going to be a while before you can buy a next-gen Honda Civic Type R in North America.

We’ve seen the relatively thinly veiled version of the next Civic. Patent images were published on TTAC last week. But, according to AutoGuide’s Colum Wood, American Honda’s Executive Vice President, John Mendel, told reporters after the New York Auto Show that the Civic Type R won’t appear here until at least 2017. “It could be an ‘18 by the time it gets here,” Mendel said.

Clearly, the pricing scheme for the Civic Type R is many months away from being revealed, let alone determined. Yet the most interesting revelation from Mendel wasn’t about the wait, but rather the number of Type Rs Honda believes the company can sell in the United States each month after the car arrives.

“I’d hope we could sell a couple thousand a month,” Mendel said, a number which – in current terms – would have accounted for approximately 8% of the Civics sold in America in the first-quarter of 2015. (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2015

2015-toyota-yaris-wrc

Find the Toyota Yaris a bit ho-hum? Thanks to FIA’s homologation rules for the World Rally Championship series, it soon won’t be.

(Read More…)

By on April 21, 2014

003-volkswagen-golf-r-400-concept-1

To show the potential of the new Golf, VW has taken the 290 horsepower, all wheel drive Golf R and turned up the heat on the hot hatch with the Golf R 400 Concept, introduced at the Beijing auto show.

(Read More…)

By on November 21, 2013

Hyunda Veloster Turbo R Spec 01

Bowing at the LA Auto Show is the Veloster Turbo R-Spec, aimed at pulling in tuner-oriented shoppers through a halo inversion designed to, someday, have them drive away in a Genesis sedan.

(Read More…)

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