Hatchback Cars reviews

view thumbnails grid view horizontal compact blog view
2018 The Focus RS Heritage Edition is Here to Bid Farewell to the Current Generation

2018 The Focus RS Heritage Edition is Here to Bid Farewell to the Current Generation

Special edition hot hatch is a fitting goodbye

The current-generation Ford Focus RS has enjoyed an eventful life since it was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. But like all good things, the Focus RS’s time in the sun is about to end. Weep not, though, dear friends, because Ford is giving the hot hatch the proper swan song with the release of the Focus RS Heritage Edition. Limited to just 50 units, the Focus RS Heritage doesn’t dabble in the subtleties. It’s got enough goodies and equipment to make even hardened hot hatch fans tremble in excitement. And, if that little tease isn’t enough to persuade you, maybe the hatch’s bright orange exterior will do the trick.

Read more
2018 Subaru Impreza 50th Anniversary Edition

2018 Subaru Impreza 50th Anniversary Edition

Celebrate Subaru’s 50th year in the U.S. with a limited-edition sedan

Unveiled for the 2017 model year, the current-generation Subaru Impreza received a significant makeover inside and out compared to the previous model, but old engine was carried over with mild revisions. Despite not being that much more powerful, the sedan gets a lot of praise for its comfortable and roomy cabin, the standard all-wheel-drive system, and the available safety features. For 2018, the Impreza continues without any changes — which isn’t surprising given that it’s still relatively new — but Subaru is offering a limited-edition, 50th Anniversary package.

The bundle is part of Subaru’s celebration of its 50th anniversary in the United States. Established in 1953, the Japanese firm crossed the pond to the U.S. in 1968, when Malcolm Bricklin and Harvey Lamm founded Subaru of America in Philadelphia and began selling the tiny 360 model. This limited-edition Impreza is part of a larger scale 50th Anniversary offensive that includes the entire U.S. lineup, minus the yet-to-be-available Ascent. Yes, you can have the package on the Legacy, Crosstrek, Forester, Outback, BRZ, and WRX too, but we’re going to focus on the Impreza in this article.

Continue reading to learn more about the Subaru Impreza 50th Anniversary Edition.

Read more
2018 Hyundai i30 N TCR

2018 Hyundai i30 N TCR

Prepped for the Pirelli World Challenge

Launched for the 2018 model year, the i30 N is Hyundai first high-performance vehicle for the road. Although the N division is a few years old and responsible for the company’s solid rally campaign, road-going cars wearing this badge are still to come. While the i30 N already available in Europe, a similar version of the brand-new Veloster is coming to the U.S. in 2018. The i30 won’t make it on this side of the pond for road use, but Hyundai wants to use the beefed-up hatchback on the race track. Meet the i30 N TCR, Hyundai’s weapon of choice for the Pirelli World Challenge.

Showcased for the first time at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show, the i30 N TCR was launched alongside Hyundai’s new partnership with Bryan Herta Autosport. The result of this collaboration is a factory-sponsored race team that uses two versions of Hyundai’s i30 N TCR race cars currently available to customers in Europe. Bryan Herta will also develop all aspects of the team, including technicians, drivers, coaching, and management.

As the name suggests, the i30 N TCR will compete in the Touring Car Racing division of the Pirelli World Championship. The season kicks off in March and ends in September after six events across the U.S. You’ll be able to see the i30 N TCR on March 23-25 in Texas, April 27-29 in Virginia, May 25-28 in Connecticut, July 13-15 in Oregon, August 10-12 in Utah, and August 31 - September 2 in New York.

Continue reading for the full story.

Read more
2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Gorgeous looks and features from the bigger luxury Mercs

The third-generation A-Class has been around for only six years as of 2018, and Mercedes-Benz has already launched a redesigned model. That’s not exactly surprising though, as the Germans are looking to replace each model after a six-year cycle in the future and the A-Class is one of the first to be part of this strategy. Spotted stretching its wheels in Europe since early 2017, the new-generation A-Class broke cover in February 2018, about one month before its public debut at the 2018 Geneva Auto Show. And by the looks of things, the competition doesn’t stand a chance against it.

The interesting thing about the upcoming A-Class, aside from the usual upgrades involving sportier looks, a refined, roomier interior, and more powerful and efficient engines, is that it will get a sedan version. The three-box model was previewed by the A-Class Sedan Concept in 2017 and as it turns out, it shares quite a lot of design features with the new hatchback. Inspired by the new CLS, the A-Class Sedan wasn’t just a fancied up concept, with most of its features transferred on the production five-door model. But until the four-door arrives to take on the Audi A3 Sedan and the China-only BMW 1 Series Sedan, let’s have a closer look at the most technologically advanced premium hatchback on the market.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

Read more
2018 Kia Rio GT-Line

2018 Kia Rio GT-Line

Prepare to meet Kia’s new sporty B-segment hatchback

They say great things come in small packages. In Kia’s case, that may well be true in the form of the Rio GT-Line, a "punchier" version of the company’s best-selling B-segment compact hatchback. According to Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer for Kia Motors Europe, the new Rio GT-Line offers a “range of comfort and safety features, superb versatility, and confident, sporty styling.” We normally take comments like this with a grain of salt due to their self-serving nature, but we’re making an exception this time because the Rio GT-Line does have all those qualities, and then some.

Read more
2018 Kia Rio - Driven

2018 Kia Rio - Driven

The humble hatchback goes highbrow for 2018

Ask anyone to think of the Kia Rio, and first recollections generally include its overall cheapness and lack of desirability. Well, Kia has worked hard to changes that for 2018, moving the humble hatchback up-market while actually dropping its base price. Is it too good to be true? To find out, I spent a week with the new 2018 Kia Rio 5-Door equipped in its range-topping EX trim.

It’s worth knowing the 2018 Rio isn’t technically new. In fact, it rides on the same platform as before and uses the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder. However, that’s where the similarities stop. The car has been slightly lengthened and widened, and the naturally aspirated engine gets improvements in efficiency and drivability. Of course, the 2018 Rio’s appearance is different, too. The new car looks more upscale than before, both outside and inside.

Let’s have a look at Kia’s most affordable model.

Continue reading for more on the 2018 Kia Rio 5-Door.

Read more
2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven

A premium feel to an affordable 5-Door

Mazda has always been an interesting automaker. Its combination of sportiness and affordability has given the car-buying public a good value for their dollar. Vehicles like the MX-5 Miata quickly come to mind. But the Miata isn’t Mazda’s only major success story. In fact, the Mazda3 has proven extremely successful since its introduction in 2004 thanks to is sedan and hatchback versions offering a fun-to-drive character with a reasonable sticker price. Now in its third generation, the 3 continues to offer those same attributes, but with an added level of refinement and class.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2018 Mazda3 5-Door equipped with the range-topping Grand Touring trim to see how Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” attitude was holding up. Happily, I can report the little car is a blast to drive and is impressively practical. See how the details shake out below.

Continue reading for more on the 2018 Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring.

Read more
2019 Hyundai Veloster

2019 Hyundai Veloster

The second-gen three-door offers style and fun without breaking the bank

First introduced in 2011 at the Detroit Auto Show, the Hyundai Veloster initially hit the scene as a replacement for the Hyundai Tiburon, the FWD 2+2 coupe built between 1996 and 2008. By contrast, the Veloster changed it up with a funky hatchback profile and 2+1 door layout (one on the driver’s side, two on the passenger’s side). In a segment filled to the brim with hard-hitting, well-established competition, the Veloster is a bit of an upstart, shaking things up with a unique attitude that still manages to make fun-behind-the-wheel a top priority. Throughout its life cycle, we’ve seen a wide variety of custom takes on the Veloster, but now, Hyundai is offering up a whole new second generation. Once again making its debuts at the Detroit Auto Show, the latest 2019 model year brings with it a variety of models and trim levels, including the base model, and the mid-grade Turbo and R-Spec models. There’s even a go-faster N version if that happens to be more your speed (check out our full review on the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N). Just as it was before, the new Veloster once again aims at catching the eye of enthusiasts, with a focus on making the whole package more engaging, both in terms of aesthetics and in terms of the driving experience. The latest model year also comes with a good bit upgraded infotainment stuff as well.

But will the Veloster’s sophomore effort be enough to topple equally enticing offerings from the likes of Mazda, Honda, or Ford? Read on for the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Hyundai Veloster.

Read more
2019 Hyundai Veloster N

2019 Hyundai Veloster N

The company’s second N model is coming to the U.S.!

Introduced in 2011, the Hyundai Veloster replaced the Tiburon (known as the Coupe in other markets) in the United States. Essentially a hybrid between a hatchback and a coupe, the Veloster is available in a three-door configuration only and uses small-displacement four-cylinder engines exclusively. Offered in base and Turbo trim, the Veloster gained an N version with its second-generation redesign. The higher-performance variant crafted by the still-new N division will be the first beefed-up Hyundai to cross the pond to the U.S.

Previewed by a series of concept cars with mid-engined configurations, the high-performance Veloster debuted alongside the standard hatchback at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. Both boast sportier styling, new technology, and improved engines, but the N model also sports a number of aggressive aerodynamic updates, exclusive features inside the cabin, and turbocharged engine powerful enough to give the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST a run for their money.

Continue reading to learn more about the Hyundai Veloster N.

Read more
2019 Honda Insight

2019 Honda Insight

The Japanese hybrid returns after four years!

Introduced in late 1999, the Honda Insight was the first production car to feature the company’s then-new Integrated Motor Assist system. It was also the first hybrid launched in North America, arriving in showrooms seven months before the Toyota Prius. Production ended in 2006, after only 17,020 units built, with plans to roll out a replacement in 2009. The second-gen model arrived on time, but this time as a five-door hatchback. The Insight was discontinued for the second time in 2014, mostly due to slow sales. Come 2018 and Honda is set to revive the nameplate with a modern design and a new drivetrain. A pre-production prototype was unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, with the production model likely to follow by the end of the year.

"The Honda Insight is anticipated to receive fuel economy ratings competitive with the best hybrids in the segment, with styling that will have universal appeal inside and out and best-in-class passenger volume," said Henio Arcangeli Jr., senior vice resident of American Honda. The redesigned Insight will join four other electrified Hondas, including the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, Electric, and Fuel Cell, and the Fit EV. Most specs are still being kept under wraps, but Honda did unveil a few details about the car’s design and technology. Let’s find out more about it in the review below and don’t forget to come back for updates, as Honda will probably release more data by the end of the year.

Continue reading to learn more about the Honda Insight.

Read more
2018 Renault Clio R.S.18

2018 Renault Clio R.S.18

It’s mostly of the cosmetic variety, but it’s still good enough to get our attention

Renault’s involvement in Formula One has crossed over into its production car business at various points in the past. Now, the French automaker is dipping into that pond again with the launch of the Clio R.S.18, a new iteration of Renault’s feisty five-door hatchback that traces its roots to the Clio 220 EDC Trophy.

Read more
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT – Driven

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT – Driven

America’s version of the i30 hatchback

The Hyundai Elantra GT is completely new for 2018, bringing with it a very European flair to the longstanding Elantra GT nameplate. But despite its Elantra name, the GT version isn’t a hatchback version of the current Elantra sedan. Rather, the 2018 Elantra GT is a renamed 2018 i30, which is sold around the world. The i30/Elantra GT rides on a shorter wheelbase and have different interior stylings than the Elantra sedan.

So what’s that mean for Hyundai-shopping Americans?

It means the 2018 Elantra GT is a surprisingly classy and solid hatchback. Its fit and finish are impressively upscale, and its long list of features reiterates Hyundai’s value proposition. The GT even does hatchback things well, slotting between the Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic Hatchback in cargo volume behind the second row. Fold the 60/40-split seats down, and the GT outdoes the competition by no less than two cubic feet.

Keep reading for the specifics and driving impressions of the 2018 Elantra GT.

Read more
2017 Honda Civic Type R - Driven (Again)

2017 Honda Civic Type R - Driven (Again)

We spend a week with Honda’s golden boy

The Honda Civic Type R has quite a legacy to its name, though none of it happened on American soil. Thankfully, that’s changed for 2017 as Honda has finally brought the Type R Stateside. In fact, its turbocharged engine is made in Ohio before being shipped to Wiltshire, England for assembly in the car. That’s right, this Japanese hot hatch has an American heart and is born in Britain. How’s that for multi-cultural? But more than that, the Type R’s appearance on U.S. soil means we finally have the chance to compare it to its fiercest rivals – the Ford Focus RS, Subaru WRX STI, and Volkswagen Golf R.

As it turns out, I’ve driven each of the competitors. Each are immensely fun and worthy of loads of respect over their engineering and outright impressive performance. The Type R joins those ranks with the same impressive level of technical wizardry and high-tech manufacturing techniques. I’ll dive into some of that, along with comparing it to the RS, Subi, and Golf R. It will be a fun ride, so read along.

Continue reading for more on the 2017 Honda Civic Type R.

Read more
2019 BMW 1 Series

2019 BMW 1 Series

The little BMW hatchback is coming back to America

We didn’t get a chance to enjoy the second-generation 1 Series here in the States, but with the introduction of the third-gen model, BMW has decided we are worthy yet again. So far, very little is known about the new 1 Series, but one big factor could be rather detrimental to its success: it’s shifting from a RWD architecture to a FWD architecture. It’s a move that’s surely ruffling some feathers in the Bimmer community. This switch is made possible by UKL platform that debuted in the 2014 Mini Cooper and now underpins the new 1 Series Sedan, 2 Series Active Tourer, and the X1. Outside of this, the new 1 Series will shed its homely exterior design in favor of a more aggressive look with a slightly longer wheelbase than previous models. Rumor also has it BMW is dropping the three-door model, leaving just the five-door hatch to fight against models like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, among others.

More importantly, however, is the fact that the UKL platform will translate to more space inside for rear seat passengers and cargo. Compared to the Mini Cooper, the new 1 Series will be a bit longer and is even said to be coming back to the U.S. And, to add even more fuel to the fire, the BMW 1M could come back with as much as 360 horsepower on tap – just enough to put the Focus RS and Golf R in their place. But, before we get too far into all of that, let’s take a short walk down memory lane before diving into hints offered by the first round of spy shots.

Updated 12/27/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming BMW 1 Series out for a new testing session, this time during its first winter testing.

Read more
2020 Project Redspace

2020 Project Redspace

A funky futuristic EV box for surviving the urban environment

The Earth is teeming with humanity. In 2011, the world population hit a head-spinning 7 billion people, and it’s only getting more crowded – at an accelerating rate, too. Most folks live in and around staggeringly dense urban centers called “megacities,” called as such thanks to population figures that eclipse the 10-million mark. With such incredible numbers of people to serve, transportation systems are at their limit. So what’s the solution? Something like Project Redspace might very well be it. Produced by a Chinese firm and aimed primarily at the Chinese market, the Project Redspace (Redspace as in “Revolutionary Electric Dream Space”) is an all-electric commuter with a unique twist. The driving philosophy behind its creation was to leverage space wherever possible, finding an ideal amalgamation between form and function through inherent adaptability and customization, all while leaving the door open for the integration of forthcoming autonomous systems. Introduced in concept form at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, this very well could be the transportation solution for future U.S. city dwellers.

While the Project Redspace certainly doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before, that’s kind of the point, or at least half of it. Spearheading the project is Chris Bangle, a noted American car designer with a resume that includes a stint at BMW and Fiat. Backed by Chinese partners from CHTC Motors (China Hi-Tech New Energy Automobile Co., Ltd), Bangle says that he managed to design “a space that decided to become a car,” and he’s deadest on meeting the needs of the traveling public of the future. While this might be a prototype model, a production iteration is reportedly just years away. Read on for the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2020 Project Redspace.

Read more
2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

Luxe compact hatchback, no schnitzel

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Read more
2018 Audi RS3 By ABT Sportsline

2018 Audi RS3 By ABT Sportsline

German tuner gives Audi performance sedan a solid makeover

ABT Sportsline is no stranger to working on performance vehicles of German origin and ahead of the 2018 Essen Motor Show, it’s releasing its latest piece de resistance with a kit for the Audi RS3. The kit is available for both sedan and sportback versions of the RS3 and is packing an assortment of different accessories covering the car’s exterior, interior, drivetrain, and suspension.

The result of ABT’s work on the RS3 gives Audi’s performance sedan a whole new personality. Not that it needs one, but there is something to be said for a car like the RS3 that doesn’t get enough attention as it should. The Audi, after all, has to deal with both the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-AMG C63, two of the most established German performance vehicles in the market today. It’s more than capable of holding its own even without the assistance of ABT Sportsline, but if you own an RS3, this king of aftermarket package is one of those offerings that’s going to be hard to turn down. In the end, improvements come in many forms, and in the case of the RS3, there’s enough of them from this program to justify a good long look at the kit.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Audi RS3 by ABT Sportsline

Read more