Tag: Hot Hatch

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…)

By on March 27, 2018

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport front quarter

I’m not joking. The Supertramp song in the title did indeed start playing on SiriusXM’s Classic Rewind station as I pressed the start button after another long day at the office. I’m sure “Take The Long Way Home” and Foghat’s “Slow Ride” are the most often-played afternoon drive time songs for classic rock stations nationwide, but it seemed serendipitous.

I didn’t have to be home right after work. It was a dry, sunny, albeit brisk afternoon. And I had a willing partner – the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport – fitted with a proper six-speed manual gearbox. Instead of turning south at the roundabout toward home, I turned north, dropped a gear, and followed the meander of the river. Magically, I’d forgotten about the day I’d spent glued to spreadsheets.

(Read More…)

By on February 28, 2018

VW Golf GTI

Ages ago, the GTI was a trim level of the Golf, bringing the heat to a funky little hatchback and virtually creating a segment. Now, there are actually three different flavors of GTI: S, SE, and Autobahn.

Given the vast gulf in price of the three, and my love for affordable yet fun wheels, your humble author naturally thinks the base model leads the way.

(Read More…)

By on January 19, 2018

2017 Ford Focus RS - Image: Ford

Did you watch HBO’s new David Simon show, The Deuce? It takes a while to get started, kind of like Season 2 of The Wire, also a Simon creation, but it eventually acquires some real momentum. Anyway, if you ever get around to seeing it, you will hear that the opening theme is a carefully edited version of Curtis Mayfield’s “(Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go.”

One of the best sections of that song goes something like this:

Everybody praying
And everybody saying
But when come time to do
Everybody’s laying
Just talking ’bout, “Don’t worry”

As you’ll see below, however, when it comes to using performance automobiles for improbable-bordering-on-impossible family tasks, sometimes people do more than just lay around…

(Read More…)

By on December 22, 2017

26.1 pounds of boost. A seriously stiff suspension. Matte paint finish. Brash red-painted brake calipers. A showy wing. A silly loud exhaust.

Do any of those describe your mental image of a Mercedes-Benz product? Or, when presented with that combination of features, do you conjure a car rejected from one of the early The Fast and the Furious films?

When the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 was revealed a couple of years ago, I recall writing it off as a pretender – after all, it’s a crossover! After spending some time in this absurd vehicle, however, I began to appreciate the magic of AMG.

(Read More…)

By on September 13, 2017

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Not long ago, I wrote glowingly about the new Honda Civic Type R. Part of my praise was based on the fact that the Type R is bargain-priced compared to its competition.

Yeah, I liked the Type R. A lot. Even took a little crap in the comments for it (fair enough). But again, a big reason for my praise was the price. If the Type R was stickered the same as its three main competitors – the Ford Focus RS, Subaru WRX STI, and Volkswagen Golf R – would it still be “all that?”

On its own merits, sure. It’s very, very good. Great, even. But a strong argument can be made that all things being equal, the Golf R is even better. And I’m about to make it.

(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 7, 2017

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“It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you.”

-Rakim, I Know You Got Soul

Anybody who was thinking Aaliyah when they read that quote, feel free to click “X” in the top corner of your browser. To everybody else, it’s good to be home at TTAC. Since my last post here, people across social media have been asking me three questions:

  1. Whatever happened to your Focus RS? Do you still have it?
  2. So, how about that Focus, huh? Are you ever going to update us on it?
  3. ????

Okay, so it’s really only been one question. Fear not, friends. I’m back like a rebel making trouble to tell you all about my first nine months of FoRS ownership. Also, my thoughts on Maxine Waters. No, just kidding. We’ll stick to the Focus thing.

(Read More…)

By on March 7, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version)

If you’re an enthusiast in your thirties, there’s a good chance you’ve coveted Honda’s Civic Type R from a distance for the majority of your adult life. While the Civic Si made it to North American shores, it seemed like the whole rest of the world was enjoying its racier sibling without us. I personally knew at least two people in high school who stuck false Type R badges onto unsporting Civics, rounding out the lie with cheap aftermarket rims and a noisy exhaust.

The opportunity for those dishonest people to redeem themselves is now closer than ever. Honda has finally dished on the Civic, reassuring westerners that this Type R will be true to form while reminding us that the wait is nearly over. Just make sure you’ve budgeted some extra dough for new front tires and are practicing your lift-off oversteer technique. (Read More…)

By on November 4, 2016

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

Yep, that’s my driveway. Based on my non-scientific observations and complete lack of research, I’m going to say I’m the only person in the world to have both a Ford Fiesta ST and a Ford Focus RS. Well, okay. I’m a person in the world who has a Fiesta ST and a Focus RS, which makes me uniquely qualified to compare the two.

“Hold up,” you might be saying. “Who compares a car that stickers for just over $23,000 with a car that runs $43,000 plus additional dealer markup?” (And yes, I know that you can get FiSTs for under $20,000 now. We’ll get to that.)

Well, it’s not as crazy of a comparo as you might think.

(Read More…)

By on October 5, 2016

2016 Ford Focus ST

The origins of this series focused on wheels inhabiting the dank basements of the price scale for particular models. This suggestion, then, helpfully sent in by a member of the B&B, doesn’t appear to fit that measure.

However, I and a few others consider the ST to be a model unto itself, not unlike the manner in which Volkswagen treats the almighty GTI in the Golf lineup. So, what can buyers expect in a No Frills model of the Ford Focus ST?

(Read More…)

By on August 5, 2016

dodge omni glhs (Image: Sotheby's)

The Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon twins didn’t get much respect in the 1980s, and even today’s hipsters – who’ll cling to anything avante-garde or ironic – failed to bestow them with latter-day reverence.

Well, never mind the haters. If you’re in Monterey, California on Aug. 19, and you have a hankering to spend a seemingly ludicrous amount of money on a 30-year-old econobox, your day has come.

RM Sotheby’s plans to auction a 1986 Dodge Omni GLHS, once owned by legendary tuner Carroll Shelby. This was the original hot hatch, with only 500 of the Shelby-tuned, turbocharged and intercooled Omni variants build before the model’s swan song. (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2016

Honda-Civic-Type-R-Live-05

Honda’s America-bound Civic Type R promises to be a scorching front-wheel-drive hatch with a 340-horsepower turbo 2.0-liter, according to an overseas report. Run and hide, Volkswagen Golf R.

The British publication Auto Express released exclusive information on the next-generation Type R, which is expected to bow as a 2017 model and (finally) make its way to North American shores. (Read More…)

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