Best Hot Hatch - SVT, Civic Si, GTI, RSX, Mini, Beetle...



  • geoffd1geoffd1 Member Posts: 21
    I've had my GTI for 13 months and 31,000 miles. The dealer replaced an oil line to the turbo at the free 20,000 mile service. They also replaced a temperature sensor because there was a fault code that said the sensor had tripped. Other'n that, just the routine service, a flat tire, and two trashed windshields from rock dings.

    I have a 100K bumper 2 bumper VW extended warranty on the car. I'm starting to wonder if this will be the first car where I didn't get my money back on the policy many times over. Naah.
  • kevin111kevin111 Member Posts: 991
    So it would not surprise me in terms of bringing it to a 100K with very few problems. In the past decade VW has made dramatic strides in quality, even if it is still not quite at the level of the major Japanese brands.
  • rickroverrickrover Member Posts: 602
    That's my take on VW reliablity as well - they seem to be very reliable now. VW's certainly give the impression of a very well built car when you drive them. Nice material quality, fit and finish is top notch, so it doesn't suprise me that they are reliable as well.
  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    that some of you may find interesting: Design your ultimate Hatchback!

    And now, back to the subject of the Best Hot Hatch. Thanks for your participation.


    Hatchbacks & Wagons Host
  • icvciicvci Member Posts: 1,031
    I have a friend who works for VW/Audi customer service A.K.A. Perot Systems. Word is VW is having MAJOR quality issues. The interior is pretty, and it should be if you have to sit and wait for the tow truck.
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391
    So are German makes in general
  • kevin111kevin111 Member Posts: 991
    The Focus and the RSX made the list, the others did not. The nominies included the Mini, Tiburon, Focus, and RSX.
  • gambit293gambit293 Member Posts: 406
    It's worth mentioning that the Celica and GTI were not eligible to be nominated for consideration.

    I'm really surprised the Mini didn't get onto the 10-best. Reading MT's Car of the Year issue, it seemed like the editors barely chose the G35 over the Mini.
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391
    of how the Corolla, Elantra, & Protege beat the Focus in the last comparo. Let alone the reviewers hated the seats of the Focus.
  • mariner7mariner7 Member Posts: 509
    because the C&D editors had to choose the Focus as the token American. It should be eliminated just for quality questions alone. IMO Corvette should be there, no tokenism there.
  • kevin111kevin111 Member Posts: 991
    They were all over the Mini about how much fun it was to drive. What I think did the Mini in was the practicality standpoint. As an only car, the RSX has more room.

    The reason the Focus won was due to the combination of the good showing of the compacts combined with the SVT Focus (bunched in together). They really liked the SVT. With this in mind, I forgot why the Protege did not beat it out due to the strong showing of the Protege and the Mazdaspeed that is out.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    didn't I already read this someplace else?

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • unagidonunagidon Member Posts: 20
    I've read figures anywhere from the high 7's to the mid 6's. Mid 6's sound awefully low for 160 HP and 141 ft.Lb torque...

    As for hot hatches - Acura and Honda Si for refinement. Other's may be faster, but not as refined. Celica also very refined, but shifter not as good as RSX, and I find the 180 HP rather useless, unless you're always 5K rpm+ driving around in the city... Worse, you can get two extra doors, lots more space for a lower price in the Matrix!
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    300 extra pounds as well as a more comfort-oriented suspension and a much higher center of gravity. Not that it isn't a great car for its intended use, but for "hot hatch" activities, the celica GTS is much better suited!! :-)

    Civic SI and RSX base - surprisingly noisy (engine and tires). Not the car to take on the extended highway drive.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • huntzingerhuntzinger Member Posts: 356
    As for hot hatches - Acura and Honda Si for refinement. Other's may be faster, but not as refined.

    IMO, not too many truly "refined" HH's are available in the USA, such as the Audi S3, and BMW 325ti. OTOH, the MB C230K is available here, and is selling below sticker. Mine's now a year old and I'm quite satisfied with it.

    Celica also very refined...

    Obviously, a big "YMMV" applies to all of these as to what different people consider 'refined'. Personally, I don't consider any vehicle to be really refined if it has a seat that is uncomfortable for an average adult to sit in. This means that the Celica is out because of its cramped back seat.

    ...and I find the 180 HP rather useless, unless you're always 5K rpm+ driving around...

    A very old saying is that "...people buy horsepower, but drive torque." The lack of respectable torque was essentially why I declined buying a BMW 318ti when they first came out in 1995. In general, "stroker" motors tend to be good at delivering torque, as does also forced air systems (turbo or supercharger).

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    I really like the fun of high-revving engines, and do not mind revving them to get the power out, not to mention I dislike turbo lag.

    With the celica, however, Toyota made the crossover to the high-power cams at too high an rpm relative to the redline. They need to bring the crossover down 1000 rpm or so, then it would be the best HH deal out there.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • unagidonunagidon Member Posts: 20
    What does "YMMV" mean? By the way, I agree that the BMW, Audi S3 and Mercedes would be more refined than the Civic and RSX base. However, I was only comparing to cars in similar price class such as Focus SVT, GTI, etc. I've driven VW's before - pretty decent feel, but from what I understand, reliability is poor.

    Unfortunately, don't have the cash to buy higher end vehicles. So, I bought my brand new 2002 RSX base (with leather) for C$ 24,300 + 15% tax. For my purchasing criteria, I looked for fun factor, comfort for the front two passengers, < C$ 25K, and if absolutely necessary, force fit some passengers in the back when absolutely necessary. Was salivating for a used Miata, but that car can't even fit two golf bags....
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,296
    I really get a kick out of folks who say they dislike turbo lag but like engines that you need to keep high in revs for the power. Uh..... I call that lag .... maybe not "turbo" lag, but still lag.

    If you drive a stick, neither matters cause you just don't let it get into that dead zone.

    '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 54-car history and counting!

  • revdrluvrevdrluv Member Posts: 417
    Si more refined than a GTi? What are you measuring here? The GTi is one of the most refined hatches sold in this country (maybe second only to Merc), and thats part of the problem with it.

    The S3 is on it's way i hear. But I am not expecting it to really fit this category. It is only supposed to be marginally warmer than the current GTi, and I doubt that will cut it.

    I would argue that not very many of these hatches are hot enough. The Mini Cooper S comes closest for its steering feel. RSX-S is in there for it's engine. GT-S despite all its shortcomings is pretty sharp. All the rest are pretty soft and comfy. Not hot hatch stuff IMO.
  • unagidonunagidon Member Posts: 20
    As I mentioned in my earlier post, I do like the feel of the German (but made in Mexico) VW's, but I have two friends that bought brand new 2002 Jetta's - both spend more time in the service dept. than they'd like. Maybe I should better define what I mean by "refined" the next time I use the word.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    unagidon - RSX base should do 0-60 in 7.6-7.8 or so with a stick. Is it lunch time yet?

    revdrluv - After driving the Si for a while, I don't really like driving the GTI anymore (a friend has one). I don't like the body roll, and I hate the shift feel. However, refinement is sort of subjective. I think the Si is the better driving package, it's just not as luxurious.
  • unagidonunagidon Member Posts: 20
    I felt like I was playing GT3 when I test drove the Civic Si. And absolutely the best seats! But, I chose the RSX for looks, tighter chassis, and feels like more power. I think the Si rides better in the city though... Regardless, I like them both.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    I test drove the RSX too, great car. The main reason I chose the Si was because I got it for $15,980, and the cheapest RSX I could find was $18,500.
  • revdrluvrevdrluv Member Posts: 417
    $15,980 thats a steal! Can you even get an Civic Ex for that price?

    I would definately be behind the wheel of an Si for that price.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    All I know is that the dealership where I bought my Si was later advertising them (2002 cars) for $14,500! ($5000 off MSRP)

    If you would really be interested, I'm sure they still have some in stock. Last time I was there (3 months ago?) they still had about 12 of them in all colors.

    I love the car. Is it the hottest hatch? Not without better tires. Is it the best deal for the money, definitely. (Although definitely NOT at MSRP)
  • unagidonunagidon Member Posts: 20
    My dealer buddy called me in to test drive the car because he knew I was looking around for a fun car. Canadian MSRP is C$ 25,500. RSX base with leather (AKA Premium in Canada) is C$ 27,3000.

    Starting price (prior to negotiation) for brand new 2002 Si C$ 21,500. So, I figure I could of bought it for C$ 21,000+15% tax. However, I ended up with my brand new 2002 RSX Premium at C$ 24,300+15% tax. So, about US$ 2,400 difference for the RSX leather vs. Si.

    Brand new Focus SVT was advertised in paper for C$ 21K, so it might be a consideration if there's any in your area.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    some dealers STILL have '02 SIs on their lots. If Honda had priced that car $2K lower it would have sold them so quickly it would never have been offered with these bargain basement deals ($5K off MSRP - whew!)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    They started out marked up $2000. There are some people out there that paid $21,500 for that car. That is hilarious.
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Member Posts: 356
    What does "YMMV" mean?

    "Your Mileage May Vary". Its been slang on the Internet/USENET for a long time as a friendly way of saying that individual opinions vary.

    By the way, I agree that the BMW, Audi S3 and Mercedes would be more refined than the Civic and RSX base. However, I was only comparing to cars in similar price class such as Focus SVT, GTI, etc.

    I find that this is a really hard price segment to pin down what people consider its upper & lower limits to be.

    From what I've seen, it seems to concentrate around two different price points. The first falls around $15-17K, which...guessing...I'd say is probably the more typical price point for younger drivers who are getting their first "nice" new car. The second seems to fall just a bit higher, around $20-22K, which is approximately the average new car (all types) price.
    The only question from there is what to do with the exceptions that are out of this price range, and the general problem is that there's not enough of them to make up their own category, so they become orphans. Currently, is there really anything other than the C230K that's available in the $25-30K price range that's actually imported to the US Marketplace?

    Unfortunately, don't have the cash to buy higher end vehicles.

    Understood. Prices are always going to be the main break point for buyers, but overall, the reason I mentioned it is because of my personal perceptions of what I think of when I hear a product described as "refined" and in general, I frankly don't see it for cars that are below average in price (IIRC, the average new car price these days is $20-22K). Now please understand that I'm not saying that there isn't a "best of" for a particular segment who's clearly better than the rest, but merely that for the sub-$25K market, I don't I've encountered anything that meets what "refined" personally means to me. Obviously, this is another YMMV.

    Insofar as why I say this, most of my opinion is based on the fleet rental cars that I'm driving 1-2x/month. Some of them are far enough removed to be called downright "rough", even though they may be good for their price segments. You tend to notice these things more as the distances from the airport increases: for example, I can do a 150 miles (one way) drive in my personal car (C230K) pretty much standing on my head, but recently in a Neon, I ended up taking ~3 rest breaks just because of how "unrefined" that car was, even though Missouri highways are far less crowded than home here in NJ and in much better shape.

    Was salivating for a used Miata, but that car can't even fit two golf bags....

    I have a friend in Philadelphia with one, and he's able to pack two sets of twin scuba tanks in his, along with his drysuit, regulators, fins, etc,...the whole Northeast Wreck Diver gear set. Of course the only caveat is that the 2nd set of twin tanks rides shotgun in the passenger seat, and he's got to temporarily lower the top to get them in :-)

  • revdrluvrevdrluv Member Posts: 417
    How low must that Miata be riding after all that??? And I thought I had stuffed a lot of junk in my Miata.

    As far as hatches go, the C230K and the GTi VR6 are the only ones we can buy that I would call refined. Some people might try and lump the IS300 sportcross and others into this category, but I don't.
  • bc01clsbc01cls Member Posts: 44
    I bought a 2002 SVT Focus new and gave $16K for it and have loved every minute driving it. So far the quality of construction is impressive. I had a 99 Civic Si which was fun, but could beat you up on a long trip. Not so with the SVT. Seats and ergonomics are much better in the Ford, which really surprises me. It's also got everything including kick a** stereo (6 CD 290 watt with 8" sub), moonroof, leather, 17" wheels, ABS, cruise, tilt, steering wheel controls, dual lumbar seats, etc. Also the new Si's are selling cheap because they are not the rev loving, fun handling, good looking cars that the 99-00 Civic Si's were. No more double wishbone all the way around, no more nice tires and wheels, etc. Plus, as a styling statement, they leave a LOT to be desired..IMHO.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,296
    How did you pay $3K below dealer invoice on the SVT? Is it really that slow selling??

    '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 54-car history and counting!

  • unagidonunagidon Member Posts: 20
    compare with the Acura RSX? Haven't driven the Focus yet, but my bro-in-law is considering a new car. So, the Focus will be a possible alternative.
  • bc01clsbc01cls Member Posts: 44
    I paid 16K since Ford offered rebates on the leftover 02 models. Lot of bang for the buck. SVT's are relatively unknown and thus slow selling (only 4,788 built in 02), so resale will be poor IMHO, but I plan on enjoying it for quite a while. (Also like the exclusivity and stealth factor.) RSX will be faster since it has more hp (type S) and most likely better built since the RSX models come from Japan. We have a 2001 CL Type S in the family as well and the Ohio build quality is not up to par when compared to Japan. Still love that car though, since ours has been rattle free compared to what I've read on Acura forums. Guess it depends on what you want. Focus extremely handy and roomy since it is a hatchback, and absolute fun to drive. More like a motorcycle with windows, yet not punishing. Hard to describe, but I just fell in love with it.
  • snakerbillsnakerbill Member Posts: 272
    I drive a lot. I bought my RSX in Feb 03, and I now have 32K miles. I have had no trouble of any kind except three rattles I never want to keep a car beyond the warranty so I am looking to buy an 04. I have a friend who works at a Ford store who has ordered an o4 ZX3 Automatic with the new 2.3 engine. (l45 HP/l49 Pound feet at 3400 rpm)He said that I could come drive it when it comes in and if I don't like it I don't have to take it. Like everyone else the reliability issue concerns me. However according to CR the reliability index for the newer cars has improved enough for them to recomend the car. My other choice is to buy another RSX, but I am having a hard time with the idea of buying a duplicate of a car I alredy have which is in perfect condition except for some rock chips on the front. I have driven the devil out of this RSX and it has never faltered in any way. I can buy this loaded ZX3 for 15600 out the door. The RSX will cost l9900 out the door. I have looked at a lot of other cars but these are the only two which meet my needs or desires. I must have a small car. I can't stand these giant vehicles on the road now. I must have an automatic trans, prefer 5 speed. Do not want big rims with skinny tires, do not want plastic body add=ons. No unframed window glass. No premium fuel.(What a waste of money) The only other car with the proper credentials (for me) is the V6 Accord Coupe. By the way only two door cars are interesting to me. Does anyone out there know of a better choice for my consideration/ I welcome all replys/ideas/suggestions from people who know what they are talking about. Many thanks. Snakerbill
  • flasvtflasvt Member Posts: 64
    That would have been the perfect car for you to replace your RSX. From the RSX to the Focus there are a whole bunch of cars you can take a look at. The VW Golf, Hyunday Tiburon, Pontiac Sunfire (YUK!!). I however, would take a close look at that Focus your friend is telling you about. The Focus is a fantastic car and one of the best values out there. I just got my second. The first one was a ZTW station wagon with an automatic transmission and the ZTEC engine. I just traded it in last weekend for a 5-doors SVT.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,296
    Ion (although technically more than 2 doors)

    '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 54-car history and counting!

  • snakerbillsnakerbill Member Posts: 272
    What a change, but I bet you are happy with the SVT. I want one so bad I can taste it, but no automatic, so no sale. The same thing was true of the RSX. I would rather have had the
    type s but again no auto. Why don't the mfgrs let the customer decide what kind of trans they want? It seems to me that every car I really like, i.e. Honda S2000 Honda Civic Si, etc etc do not come with an automatic. With the advent of the five speed automatics there seems little reason to want a 6 speed especially in traffic. Plus I think the autos are so good now that they will outlast a clutch and syncros on a manual. How do you cope with the manual after having the automatic? I looked at the Cougar several years ago, and it had no power and the build quality seemed pretty bad. Another case of a good design poorly executed
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    Thank god that some cars are only available with manual, anything to forestall its inevitable death.
  • capitanocapitano Member Posts: 509
    The whole point of sporty cars like the SVT focus and RSX are defeated by automatic trannies. They rob so much power. If you like the car so much learn to drive a stick. You'll be amazed.
  • dudkadudka Member Posts: 451
    I have to chime in and say "Thank god they don't offer auto's on the sporty versions" Besides sucking power, automatics give you a disconnected feeling form the car, which is ok for most drivers. But if you insist on getting S2000, Si, RSX-S, SVT or Cooper S You have to BE ONE with the vehicle. What's a better way to FEEL the car than a manual transmission with a clutch (manumatics don't count)
    Automatics are for 3 kinds of people.
    1. Disabled
    2. Old ( I mean over 80), I have seen a few 70 year olds rowing through gears though
    3. People who only want the car to take from point A to point B with no other involvment. It also allows them to talk on the phone and drink coffee at the same time as they are driving in the left lane blocking everyone from getting there in a timely manner. But then they don't need the extra performance offered by the sportier versions.

    I drive from CT to NJ everyday, and I have to say I enjoy driving my Si over Auto CR-V. In stop and go, you just leave it in 1st or second and play with the throttle. Allot less tension in the calves that I was getting from driving auto. In auto you have to constantly switch form gas to brake in stop and go, in manual you just let off the gas and the car slows down, occasionally I do have to press the clutch and step on the brakes.

    I just wish Corvette, the epifamy of sports cars, only came in manual, Chevy actually charges you an extra $600 to get manual in the vette.
  • mdrivermdriver Member Posts: 385
    I agree with dudka. It amazes me when I look at a lot full of, say, Miatas and see hardly a manual amongst them. Then try looking for a manual Toyota Corolla S. Almost impossible. In Europe it's the opposite. Hard to get any small car with an auto. Even the police in the UK drive around in cars with a manual. Can you image the cops here (US) being told they have to start shifting themselves? As autos become better (especially CVTs), I predict manufacturers soon will no longer offer a manual in the US because they won't be able to justify the cost. I'm moving to Europe, where they have the Civic Type R. Bye.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,296
    cops driving a manual? how do they check the computer?

    I've got one of each. I use my auto for my 2 hours commuting in Jersey traffic and I've got my manual convertible for the days I want to have fun. I used to be in that "autos suck" camp, but I've realized I can have the best of both worlds when I need it.

    Manumatics don't count? Geez, I hate to think of all those Ferrari drivers who are "so disconnected from the road". Brings a tear to my eye.

    '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 54-car history and counting!

  • dudkadudka Member Posts: 451
    first of all, I doubt ferraris use conventional manumatics, I always thought ferraris and other high performance cars had sequencial shift transmission which still utilize clutch. I would like to see a ferrari or mazerati with torque converter.
    Secondly, when did you see a ferrai being driven the way it was meant to be driven? Most of them are trailer queens. I see a lot of them in Greenwich, being trucked around town on a flat bed. Rarely do I see one on the road redlining all 12 of its cylinders. Majority of people who buy thise high performance cars, and BMW's as well, buy them for the status quoe they carry. Most of these people wouldn't even know if their (ferrari/lambo/bimmer/ insert high price brand) if their cars had a V8 or a V12, Vanos or no Vanos. The only reason they bought it, because they could afford to buy it and to show the (neighbors/friends/family) that they can drop $300,000 on a car.
    I only know a few people that actually take their M3's to the track and drive them the way they were meant to be driven.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Member Posts: 591
    You'll see some M3's used properly. Low actual speed on most courses, but redlined engines nonetheless.

    I agree though: it is sad to see powerful cars granny-driven, being passed by Geo Metros. Many owners could make their purchases much cheaper by just buying 'badge horsepower' as they never use the real thing.

    And yes, manually shifted slushboxes are different from sequential shifting manuals. Very different. Without a clutch, it just isn't the same. This isn't to say I don't enjoy a good automatic on my family-mobile but for my fun-mobile it has to be clutched.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Member Posts: 865
    I don't think the cop who is driving has to check the computer, his partner does.

    Long live the stick!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,296
    Here in Jersey, there are still many many cops who drive around without a partner in tow.

    Yes, ferrari still uses a clutch, but not one that you operate. F1 style paddle shifters are becoming a very popular choice for high-performance car manufacturers (and have been around quite some time now). There are even those that peform BETTER than a manually operated manual tranny. Granted, I know that's not what we are talking about here, we are talking about, as hpulley pointed out, manually shifted slushboxes. I just wanted to make the point that a car doesn't have to be fully manual to be a good driver's car (just the mainstream ones that most of us can afford).

    '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 54-car history and counting!

  • mdrivermdriver Member Posts: 385
    Checking the "computer" while driving? Have you ever used a cell phone or drank a cup of coffee while driving a manual? I have. Besides, no one should be typing away on a computer while driving regardless of transmission type. Not only do many (but not all) cops drive manuals, but many taxi drivers do also. That boggles the mind! A job in which you drive all day and have to shift. That's real dedication to the manual. I don't get it though. Autos are available over there and their cost and fuel usage are pretty insignificant. So it must be through choice that most UK drivers still choose manuals.

    Anyway, hot hatches are still largely unavailable in the US. Europe has them. The Civic Type R and the Focus RS amongst many other excellent European brands. They get the good stuff. We get hatch excuses (except for the RSX Type S which is essentially the same as the Civic Type R).
  • wetwilliewetwillie Member Posts: 129
    I would NOT lump them together. They do NOT compete against each other. BMW is a driver's car, yupster popularity notwithstanding. Ferrari is a novelty.

    I wish (BMW) they made a hatch like the 318 of not so many years ago - only with the jewel-like straight 6.

    As for hot hatches here, there are only 2 as far as I can tell. The VR6 GTI and the Mercedes C230K, with 6-sp. of course. The Acura/Civic renditions are souless and the Focus is junk!
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