Tag: Hot Hatch

By on June 10, 2021

Toyota is reportedly taking the performance aspects of its brand, which some of our readers might recall has been a little spotty, very seriously and has begun making plans to broaden the horizons of the Gazoo Racing (GR). The sub-brand, which seems to be gradually supplanting Toyota Racing Development (TRD), has introduced a slew of GR-badged models in Asia and Europe and will be affixing the title onto the returning 86 coupe. It has also slapped the performance designation onto the current-generation Supra here in North America, with no intention of stopping there.

According to Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota North America, the Japanese manufacturer wants to extend the GR treatment to even more models. (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2020

2020 Honda Civic Si front quarter

There was a time, not all that long ago, when I was all about Honda. I’ve lost count – at least seven variants of the big H have spent time in my various garages. Once, I even owned a Civic race car – no, it never raced in my care, but that’s a long story for another day.

Honda, despite the staid image presented by the majority of the lineup, makes it clear there are some gearheads building their vehicles. Full disclosure – some of those gearheads are friends of mine. They’ve always offered a few cars that make the experience of driving a genuine joy. Many have worn the red Si badge on the trunklid.

The thing is…after spending a week with the latest 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT, I don’t feel like I’ve driven the best that Honda can do. It leaves me wanting more. And that baffles me.

(Read More…)

By on June 26, 2020

2020 Mazda 3 Hatchback grey - Image: Mazda

A report earlier this year may have been what many longtime Mazda fans yearned to hear: that the company stands prepared to dump extra horses on its compact 3 sedan and hatch. Floundering since its launch, the little 3 could use a boost — in a number of ways.

Model codes ripped from a dealer’s computer system seemed to indicate a greater level of performance was on the way, and on Thursday Mazda confirmed just that. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2020

Toyota appears to be ready to answer a call, hinting at — but stopping short of confirming — the future arrival of a small car with outsized performance on American shores.

The automaker’s U.S. arm greeted Thursday by gathering up consumers who’d like to hear more about a GR-badged hot hatch from the company. GR meaning Gazoo Racing, an abbreviation already slapped on a two-door Yaris screamer not available on this continent. Boasting a very blown three-cylinder and all-wheel drive, this Yaris is not your coworker’s wife’s commuter. Nor will its one-size-up sibling be anything to scoff at.

Toyota clearly sees opportunity in the compact hot hatch space, and rumors and trademarks have spoken to this for some time. Today, Toyota’s speaking about it. (Read More…)

By on December 2, 2019

2001 Volkswagen GTI GLX VR6 in Denver junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBecause high-performance German cars require exactly the sort of regular maintenance and attention that most American car owners aren’t so good at doing, I find plenty of nice-looking factory-hot-rod Audis and VWs and Mercedes-Benzes during my junkyard travels. Most of those cars get scrapped because something expensive broke and the third or seventh owner wouldn’t or couldn’t spring for the repair.

Today’s Junkyard Find is different, though — here’s a GTI GLX that was running well enough to drive to the crash, found in a Denver-area self-service yard. (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2019

Toyota has teased the upcoming GR Yaris Prototype, scheduled to debut at the Rally Australia on November 17th. Based on the TNGA Yaris, we’re unlikely to see it stateside. However, Toyota expanding its Gazoo Racing lineup is still good news. The bigger it gets, the more likely we are to finally get one here.

Dubbed the GR-4, the vehicle appears to be a homologation car, allowing Toyota to run in the 2020 World Rally Championship. That WRC connection also means all-wheel drive and an amped-up powertrain are practically guaranteed.

With the debut relatively near, Toyota isn’t interested in giving away many details. But we can clearly see from the teaser image that the GR-4 has some seriously flared wheel arches — at least in the rear — and a lowered roofline. It’s going to be a very different animal from any Yaris previously encountered.  (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2019

vw

Mati writes:

Hello Sajeev!

Just finished reading your Piston Slap entry regarding the 2010 Audi A4, and I want to see what you think about my situation. Recently I relocated to the UK for work/travel and will be here for at least two years. I want to try something not available in the U.S. market and take advantage of the open roads here in the outskirts. I don’t live in a big town so no congestion/pollution tax to worry about.
My budget is £5,000 purchasing price, and my search for an euro hot hatch gave me only one Japanese branded product , some Fords, and a lot of interesting European models. But all around the 10 year mark give or take. In my situation would it be any better to go with an European 10-year-old hot-hatch then, say, a UK-Built Honda or a Ford?
A search on local classified and Bookface nets me a few nice results :
  • 2008 Honda Civic Coupe Type R
  • 2009 Ford Focus ST
  • 2007 RENAULTSPORT CLIO 197 F1 TEAM R27 LY 2.0
  • 2010 Citroen DS3
  • 2010 Peugeot RCZ
  • 2009 VW Scirocco
Looking forward to your reply! Cheers!

(Read More…)

By on May 31, 2019

Ford Fiesta ST and Ford Focus RS in Bark's driveway, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

Yes, dear readers, I’ve missed you. More importantly, I’ve missed your questions and the opportunity to provide my occasionally helpful feedback. So we’re rebooting the “Ask Bark” column, which will run approximately as often as I have time to write it (hopefully 3-4 times per month). But I’m going to be doing things a little differently than we were doing them before.

While I’m still happy to answer your “What Car Should I Buy” questions (which is, coincidentally, the name of a series on a competing site that is probably in no way, shape, or form a ripoff of the original “Ask Bark”), I also want to answer more of your “how do dealerships work” questions. A recent job change has moved me outside of the world of directly selling advertising to dealerships, so I no longer feel that I have any conflict in revealing all of my dirty little secrets to you, the people. So if you’ve ever wondered exactly how a foursquare works, or why you never seem to be able to get KBB Excellent for your trade-in, or anything like that, shoot your questions to [email protected]

And if you’re a recent TTAC convert, you’ll get the idea after reading today’s question, which comes to us from long-time reader and commenter, Sobro. Click the jump and let’s get to it.

(Read More…)

By on April 15, 2019

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo front quarter

Hyundai turned itself into a successful brand by building sensible, reliable cars and crossovers that match up nicely with the competition. Where rival carmakers have a product, Hyundai has a very similar alternative. Making a sale by imitating the class leaders is generally a winning strategy.

And then you have the 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo – a car that really has no similar rival. No other automaker offers an asymmetrical three-door, sloped-rear-light hatchback. No matter how functional it is or how well it drives, all conversations about the Veloster start with its funky layout.

(Read More…)

By on February 18, 2019

Europe invented the hot hatch, so perhaps it’s fitting that the Ford Focus ST lives on in that market. But we’d be lying if we said we were happy about it — especially after hearing just how good the next-generation model is shaping up to be. While Ford nixed the model in North America, part of its decision to prioritize high-margin crossovers and pickups, it continues perfecting the model for customers in other parts of the world. By our estimation, there’s real headway being made.

Available as a five-door hatchback and a real-deal wagon (available later), the 2019 Focus ST receives a version of Ford’s 2.3-liter Ecoboost turbo boasting 276 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Alternatively, there’s a 2.0-liter diesel option tuned to 187 horsepower. While we can’t speak to the diesel model, the gasoline variant should be a hell of a lot of fun. The old ST certainly was, and the new Euro-spec Ford tacks on an additional 25 horsepower and 40 foot-pounds.  (Read More…)

By on December 26, 2018

2018 Fiat 500 Abarth cover

Anyone else fondly recall Sport Compact Car magazine? For over two decades, that dead-tree, updated-monthly blog brought the latest in import performance trends to newsstands and mailboxes. I know that I waited for my copy impatiently, just knowing that this month would be the one where I found the perfect stuff with which I could poorly modify my ancient Accord.

Each issue brought forth little cars with tons of character, but after a while a theme was established — big wheels, big exhaust tips, and a lowered suspension with little compliance became the standard. With the dying of that great magazine, and the de-evolution of the Fast and Furious franchise away from accessible cars, the tuner culture seems to have drifted away from mainstream consciousness.

There aren’t many new truly compact cars that invite this sort of tuning, let alone those that come so equipped from the factory. The 2018 Fiat 500 Abarth is a throwback to those days — days where a loud exhaust and a booming stereo meant fun on Saturday night.

(Read More…)

By on September 18, 2018

While the 2019 Mercedes-AMG A35 hatchback was supposed to be unveiled at the Paris Auto Show next month, Australia’s Redline released details and images a little prematurely. Normally, a leak this premature would leave us feeling overwhelming suspicious. But the accompanying imagery, all of which is appears to be sourced from Daimler’s marketing department, seems valid.

Unfortunately, this AMG variant is assured to remain in Europe to duke it out with the Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R. But when/if Mercedes decides to bring a sedan version stateside, it’ll probably boast similar figures.  (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2018

Hyundai Veloster N

Hyundai’s Veloster has gone from an oddball offering drivers a reasonably good time on a budget to something that can compete with the Volkswagen GTI and Civic Si. It’s no longer the hot hatch you settled on to save money; it’s a legitimate alternative.

Outfitted properly, the updated Hyundai can hold its own in the hot hatch segment. However, it does not appear to shame any of the veteran entrants. The GTI remains the total package while other models offer their own unique advantages. But the Veloster, specifically the R-Spec with the 1.6-liter turbo, remains in the mix with a leaner price tag.

This changes when the Hyundai’s N sub-brand arrives in the U.S. market.  (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2018

2018 Volkswagen GTI front quarter

Depending on how pedantic you feel like being, one can argue that the original Volkswagen GTI was not the first hot hatch. Alec Issigonis, with the revolutionary Mini, clearly inspired Volkswagen to move to the space-saving front-engine, front-drive, two-box form factor, even though the Austin/Morris original never had a true hatchback. No matter. Whatever the lineage, there’s no arguing that keeping mechanical bits in a separate box from the fleshy bits can yield impressive room from a small car.

My personal fleet reflects my typical suburban middle-class life — a minivan, a body-on-frame midsize SUV, and a midlife crisis disguising itself as a roadster-shaped shelf in the garage, not to mention the press car gravy train making frequent stops. And while my wife and I drive separately to our respective offices, pretty much all other times we are together in a single car.

I sometimes forget that many families throughout the world really don’t have a use for multiple vehicles — they need one that does everything. Hauling people, hauling stuff — one car does it all. That’s where the two-box solution shines. And if the driver likes driving, the minimal weight and compact dimension are a natural plus. So, the 2018 Volkswagen GTI is quite clearly shaping up to be a perfect one-car solution.

(Read More…)

By on June 18, 2018

1996 BMW 318ti in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe most affordable BMW in the United States, during the middle years of the E36 platform, was the 318ti. A four-cylinder hatchback, it sold for about two-thirds the price of a six-cylinder 328 sedan or coupe.

In 1996, buyers could get a version with a huge canvas-covered sunroof, known as the California Edition, and that’s what I have found in a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

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