BMW raised a few eyebrows when it debuted its front-wheel drive-biased 2-Series Active Tourer model, and people quickly called it “not a BMW,” it was a model which dilutes the brand, and just plain ugly. However, after spending a few days with the top-of-the-range plug-in hybrid version of the 2 AT, the 225xe iPerformance, its many qualities did start to shine through, in spite of my initial hesitation to like it.
And I did like it in the end, even if not for the usual reasons one traditionally appreciates a BMW. I found it very spacious to sit in, with surprisingly comfortable seats, I liked its excellent fit and finish, and even the one-box design started to grow on me.
The driving experience is also pretty good, but again, not very BMW-like. It drives like one of the larger models in the MINI lineup, and that’s no accident because they all use a shared (modular) architecture.
My tester was also made even more likable thanks to its plug-in hybrid powertrain which works very smoothly and seamlessly, allowing it to change its character from silent side street cruiser to a hissing, turbocharged all-wheel-drive people carrier with hot hatch performance.
2019 Toyota Yaris GR Sport
The Toyota Yaris GR Sport is the more down-to-Earth version of the limited-run GRMN. It features some sporty styling, but much of the oomph of the GRMN is gone, akin to a sheep in wolf’s clothes.
Last year, at the Geneva Motor Show, Toyota unveiled the Yaris GRMN hot hatchback to the world. A run of only 600 units was slated for 2018 for the car that was inspired by the Yaris WRC but, confusingly, presented itself with GRMN logos all round. GRMN stands for Gazoo Racing Masters of the Nurburgring – so not really related to rallying. In any case, the 209-horsepower pocket rocket was fun to drive and powerful enough to excite.
Now, a year later, Toyota brought to the Paris Motor Show a GRMN for the masses: the Yaris GR Sport. It’s based off the hybrid Yaris, so the figures are, frankly, negligible, but you do get great economy. What is more, the car comes in the usual Gazoo Racing white with red and black inserts and black wheels. It isn’t a hot hatch, but it’s sort of a stepping stone, a ”warm hatch.”
Keep reading to learn more about the Toyota Yaris GR Sport.
2018 Skoda Vision RS
Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, the Skoda Vision RS shows the path the Czech manufacturer is likely to take for the next generation of its cars. This is a hatchback, sized like a Volkswagen Golf, but sharpened up to the level of a hot-hatch. The Vision RS, a concept car, rolled under the Paris Motor Show lights with a 1.5-liter turbocharged gas engine producing 148 horsepower but assisted with an additional electric motor good for 100 horsepower. As a hybrid, the Vision RS demonstrates Volkswagen’s uncanny ability to craft modern compact cars and transform them into hot hatchbacks - a type of a car the company is definitely versed in (just remember the Golf GTI, the Leon Cupra, the Audi S3, and the Octavia, among others).
2018 Hyundai i30 N ’N Option’
The Hyundai i30N ’N Option’ is the i30 N customized to your preferences. Yes, the i30 N is already one of the best hot hatches on the market, but Hyundai reckons their customers want to make the cars their own, which is where the ’N Option’ steps in.
The Korean manufacturer thinks the 274-horsepower i30 N could take on some visual enhancements to make it look even meaner. That’s why Hyundai brought the i30 N ’N Option’ Concept to Paris. Yes, a concept, not the production-ready version. Granted, Hyundai assures us that this concept is the face of things to come in terms of ways you can personalize your own i30 N - as well as other Hyundais from the N lineup in the future.
Performance figures weren’t altered with the ’N Option’, but we don’t think that is a must. I mean, the i30 N already has a top speed of 155 mph from that buzzing 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot and 260 pound-feet of torque at just 1,500 rpm.
Read on to find out more about the i30N ’N Option’
Nissan has made the Japan-only Note e-Power Nismo even faster than before, with the new Note e-Power Nismo S. That “S” entails it has some extra power thanks to a boost in its electric output.
The Note e-Power Nismo, as its name suggests, is a Nismo-tuned version of the already existing Note e-Power and the Nismo S is one additional tier above. It features not only a power boost over the regular Note e-Power, but also gets a reinforced chassis as well as a much sportier suspension setup to transform its driving experience.
This extra performance is also mirrored in the way it looks, with new red-accented bumpers and side skirts and obligatory Nismo S badges front and rear - on the sides; the e-Power badge is displayed instead. According to Nissan, the car should provide “exhilarating acceleration,” while at the same time also being quiet and is touted as a new kind of Nismo experience.
In order to avoid confusion - Nissan also sells non-electrified Nismo and Nismo S versions of the Note, alongside the electrified ones. This new model detailed here is the e-Power Nismo S, which is a range extender hybrid.
2019 BMW i3 120Ah
BMW introduced the i3 in 2013 and literally invented the premium compact EV segment in the industry. Not to mention, it has been ruling ever since. However, the i3 has been facing some heat lately from other market players like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt. In my opinion, it’s got the best looks and interior, but was lagging behind in its core duty – long travel range. But it seems like BMW has worked on this and has introduced the 2019 model with 120Ah battery pack.
2021 Honda Jazz
Honda is testing an all-new Jazz subcompact hatchback, also known as the Fit in some markets. It’s the fourth generation for the nameplate and it looks like it will retain the wedge-nosed one-box design of its predecessors, albeit with a slightly sportier design twist.
The camouflaged prototype spotted by our spies reveals quite a lot about the car, which is slated for a reveal no earlier than 2020, since the refreshed version of the current model only came out last year. Aside from the completely new and slightly more rakish-looking body, changes will be made to its powerplant lineup and interior. The hybrid version may share its powertrain with the new Insight.
2019 Vauxhall Corsa GSi
Whether you call it the Vauxhall Corsa GSi or the Opel Corsa GSi, one thing is for certain - the Corsa GSi is one zippy concoction made to make a lot of bang for not a lot of buck. Available in mainland Europe as Opel and in the U.K. as the Vauxhall, the Corsa GSi packs a tiny, 1.4-liter turbocharged, engine, enough power to surge to 62 mph in less than 9 seconds and, with a proper amount of sporty features honed by the OPC, enough character to make you happy.
2019 Ford Focus Active Wagon
Ford offers an array of Focus-derived variants of its latest generation compact hatch that include the base model, a sporty looking ST Line, a posh Vignale and a high-riding Active. All are available as practical wagons, and the Active is no exception, arguably making more sense to buy as a wagon than the standard hatch.
The Focus Active tourer (and the regular hatch too) sit 30 millimeters higher on its suspension compared to the standard model and features plastic body cladding for a more rugged overall appearance. Front and rear bumpers are different too, as is the grille which gets its own unique design.
This is Ford’s response to similar models from other automakers, like the Skoda Octavia Scout or VW Golf Alltrack, although unlike these models, Ford doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
2019 Mercedes-AMG A35
The Mercedes-AMG A35 is an intermediate, performance-oriented model of the fourth-generation A-Class hatchback. Offered for the very first time since the subcompact was introduced in 1997, it slots between the A250 trim of the standard A-Class and the range-topping AMG A45.
The AMG A35 is Mercedes’ response to intermediate performance-oriented hatchbacks from BMW and Audi. Both Germans brands have been offering models like the M140i and S3 for quite a few years now, and they’ve been very popular with customers who a bit more than what the standard models offer, but don’t want to go all out on proper M or RS cars. The AMG A35 joins the battle with more than 300 horsepower on tap, sportier looks, and all the state-of-the-art tech that Mercedes-Benz debuted on the regular A-Class.
Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-AMG A35.
Skoda is due to reveal an all-new generation of Rapid hatch next year. It should grow in size to match that of the VW Golf or Ford Focus, effectively moving it away from its current position between the Fabia city car and the Octavia. On that note, the new-gen model may not even be called Rapid. Since there is a lot of reshuffling within the Skoda range, the whole lineup could change, and the similarly-sized Octavia will be moved upmarket for its next generation.
2019 Kia Ceed GT
This is the new Kia Ceed GT - something called a warm hatch and is destined to reach Europe in an effort to upscale the entire Ceed family there. It will do so along with the new Proceed Shooting Brake. None of these cars will ever be available in the U.S., but they do show rather impressive effort focused on Kia’s reimagination of its brand. Kia isn’t a super-cheap car producer anymore. It has a coupe-like sedan with 373 horsepower, a grille called Tiger Nose, and now the Ceed GT that is powered by a 1.6-liter, turbocharged engine that develops 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Yup, the very same engine you can get here in the Veloster. Actually, imagine that I am whispering to you now - the Ceed GT is really, really similar to the Veloster Turbo R-Spec. Only, it has a normal number of doors.
2018 Hyundai Veloster SEMA Ultimate Street Car
Prepared to compete at the Optima Batteries’ 2018 Search for the Ultimate Street Car, Hyundai unveiled an all-new special Veloster N. It will enter the Optima Batteries GTC class and compete at the last two events of the year. The reasoning behind this new special edition Veloster N is straightforward. Hyundai is about to reveal the performance-focused Veloster N in the U.S. Generating hype by competing in events like this can only further the cause of linking the Veloster N name with performance and excitement.
"The OPTIMA Search for the Ultimate Street Car competition is the perfect venue to allow Hyundai to showcase its expanding performance envelope and introduce the N-brand vehicles to performance enthusiasts," said Joshua Vedder, Senior Group Manager, Customer Connect, Hyundai Motor America. "The vehicles are modified in a way that mirrors a typical enthusiast – gripper tires and suspension, increased power, etc.; and then tested in this severe environment. This is one way we ensure our vehicle will exceed our customers’ expectations."
Apart from the new specially prepared racing Veloster N, Hyundai unveiled an awesome Ioniq with the drivetrain from the Kona Electric. That one will try to defend the title it won at the 2017 National Championship in the GTE class. Nevertheless, we are focused now on the Veloster N as it did receive some serious upgrades over the streetcar that will come soon to our market, but it remain a street-legal machine.
Applying much the same magic as to the stunning i30 N, Hyundai translated the Veloster N into a car capable of competing with the likes of the Civic Type R, the Golf GTI, and the Focus ST, among others. We have been expecting the Veloster N for some time. Actually, ever since we saw that stunning mid-engine Veloster with a 2.0-liter, 296-horsepower turbocharged engine back in 2014.
2019 Hyundai i30
The Hyundai i30 (better known as theElantra GT), just received a small update in Europe. Hyundai made it compliant with the features shown on the i30 Fastback, introduced new versions of its diesel engine and granted a bit more equipment for one of the most important cars it has ever introduced on the old continent. The new Hyundai i30 does not differ a lot from the last year’s car.
2019 Mini Cooper Oxford Edition
Mini just introduced the Cooper Oxford Edition. It is a special edition Cooper intended for full- or part-time students, postgraduates or those who graduated in the past year. Albeit being the cheapest Cooper on offer right now, the car actually packs more gear than the entry-level Cooper Classic. Small fun hatch is available in three-door and in five-door form with the prices starting at $19,750 (destination charge excluded). The five-door is a $1,000 more expensive.
2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rabbit Edition
I find it unsettling to call a car the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rabbit Edition. The name Rabbit actually was an official designation in the U.S. for the car otherwise known as the Golf. In some strange world of mine, the name of this new car sounds like Golf GTI Golf Edition. Nonsense aside, the Volkswagen Golf GTI Rabbit Edition celebrates the Rabbit nameplate and it may be one of the last specials of the Volkswagen Golf GTI for this generation. In the name of exclusivity, Volkswagen announced it capped the Golf GTI Rabbit Edition to only 3,000 units (they’ll sell it all really fast) and it will make it available throughout the country. So hurry up.
2018 Volvo 360c
Volvo has pulled the sheets off of the 360C, a fully autonomous electric concept car that showcases a new way to go about domestic travel without having to pay the exorbitant amounts attached to airline tickets. The 360c concept is essentially a bedroom on four wheels that Volvo views as a possible alternative to regional flights. It’s not expected to go into production anytime soon, but it does open the door to a new and innovative way of using autonomous driving technology.
2019 Ford Focus ST
After seven successful years on the market, the third-generation Ford Focus was replaced by a brand-new hatchback. Although it’s too early to say whether the new model will be as successful as its predecessor, it has many features to brag about, starting with a new platform that will underpin several Ford vehicles in the future. It also boasts a sportier exterior, new tech inside the cabin, and a revised engine lineup. With the standard Focus on its way to dealerships as of 2018, it’s time to talk about the RS model. The performance-oriented model might arrive by the end of the year and rumors and renderings are already making headlines on the internet.
Ford’s very own competitor for the all-popular Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Focus ST will benefit from all the cool features of the new Focus, but it will receive a few extra features inside and out. The sportier exterior with more aggressive cues will be joined by an exclusive interior, while its engine will provide the most power in an ST model yet. Until the next-generation Focus RS arrives, the ST will sit at the top of the range in terms of performance and pricing. Let’s take a closer look at what we already know about this car in the speculative review below.
Update 8/15/2018: The next-gen Ford Focus ST prototype has finally been caught on camera. Check out our special spy shot section below to check it out for yourself.
21 Awesome Hot Hatches That Americans Can’t Drive
The world of hot hatches is far more interesting than what we in the U.S. can ever fathom. The Europeans are particularly fond of them (the Brits especially), which led to the development of some of the most amazing cars. Some of them have never even appeared on U.S. shores. Believe it or not, I have found 21 awesome hot hatches from the past five years that have never set their tires on this side of the pond.
While compiling this list, I have come to a conclusion that buyers and drivers in the U.S. are usually really predictable. Apart from some producers who do not sell in the U.S. at all, international safety (UNECE) standards for car production are the ones to blame for a shortage of some of these cars.
We’re not compliant with those standards as we have our own set of rules called the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In short, a disparity like this makes it very expensive for car producers to create two different versions of a car. And, that is exactly what is needed if you want to sell the same car in the U.S. and in the rest of the world.
Nevertheless, walk through this 4,853 horsepower list and imagine what your life would be like if some of these hot hatches could actually come here.