The new hot hatch has a lot to contend with.
Toyota has been slowly rebranding itself as a maker of exciting cars. The Japanese automaker has always made "good" cars, just not ones for enthusiasts. But that's been changing. First with the Lexus LC 500 that came out in 2017, then with the Supra, and even the TRD sedans are more fun to drive than expected.
We've all been a little bummed that the hot GR Yaris isn't coming to the states, but the company did promise us a hot hatch. Now we have some info on a new Corolla Sport GRMN hatch variant that we're hoping will arrive here with almost 300 hp from the same 1.6-liter turbocharged three that's in the GR Yaris.
Officially, Toyota would neither confirm nor deny this is the hot hatch we're getting. Regardless, we figured there's no better time than now to decide where it will land in the admittedly small US hot hatch market.
Though we expect the new Corolla Sport to have all-wheel drive, it would match up nicely in price and power with the Honda Civic Type R and Hyundai Veloster N. The base Volkswagen Golf is gone for America, but the GTI and R will remain through generation eight. The R seems to be the right competition here, as the 228-hp GTI would be overpowered quickly in this group. So let's break them down.
The Honda Civic Type R came to the US as a 2017 model, the first Civic Type R in the states, sporting a turbocharged 2.0-liter making 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It's a front driver, but with its helical limited slip differential, possibly the best that's ever been produced.
The next entry on our list is the Hyundai Veloster N, which was borne from the more pedestrian Veloster hatch. It was engineered by Albert Biermann of BMW's M division, which is why its 275-hp, 260 lb-ft 2.0-liter turbo four pairs so perfectly with the MacPherson strut and electronically controlled suspension. It too is FWD and has a limited slip diff, but Hyundai's is electric.
The Volkswagen Golf R is all-wheel drive, as we expect the GMRM Corolla to be. For 2022 it makes 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque sent through a new 4Motion AWD system, for the first time connected to the traction control system. It can torque vector up to 100 percent of the power to either rear wheel, and it has a drift mode.
Finally, our new challenger. Rumors say the GRMN Toyota Corolla Sport will deliver 296 hp from the 1.6-liter turbo three in the GR Yaris. It will be fed to all four wheels through a six-speed manual with rev matching.
So, on power alone, the Golf R takes the crown, followed by the Honda Civic Type R, Corolla Sport and then Veloster N. But we know that outright power doesn't win races, power-to-weight wins races. The VW has about 3,150 pounds to haul around meaning it comes out to 10 pounds for each horse. The Type R tips the scales at 3,121 pounds for a ratio of 10.2 pph (pounds per horse). The Veloster N comes in at 3,036 pounds for 11.4 pph. We don't know the curb weight of the GRMN Corolla, but the regular hatch weighs 3,060 pounds. We could parse the weight of the engine, but for now we'll just use that, which puts the Corolla Sport's ratio at 10.3 pph. So with the overall lowest number, the Volkswagen Golf R should feel the fastest.
Now let's look at value. With a base price of $40,395, Volkswagen's horses cost $128 a piece. The Type R ponies are cheaper at $123. The Veloster N horses are $117 and the rumored Corolla Sport's would come out to 114 bucks. So, it looks like the Veloster N and the Corolla Sport will be the best deals on power, if that's your most important issue.
As for layout, the GRMN Corolla and Golf R are all-wheel drive, and the Golf can almost go RWD with the drift mode. The Civic R and Veloster N are FWD only. If you live in a colder climate, those first two might suit you better. Normally right now we'd go into transmissions, but we're happy to report that all four of these are offered with a six-speed manual, and obviously that's what we'd recommend.
More broadly, we'd recommend hatches over almost anything, if money has value to you. They have more space than the small sedans they're based on, handle better than a crossover and look cooler too. They don't even have to be hot; all hatches are good. Okay, most hatches are good. We're not going to recommend the Mitsubishi Mirage here, but for a (relatively) cheap car that's also fun, you can't do much better.