There are two performance variants of the Volkswagen Golf, the GTI and the R. Both are what define the term “hot hatch” and both have the same excellence found in the Golf’s basic qualities. We spent a week in each of them to find out which is the better choice.
Both the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI and 2018 VW Golf R have roomy interiors, a versatile hatchback nature, and are excellent urban and suburban driving options. All things inherited from the parent Volkswagen Golf platform that the cars are designed from. The differences between the Golf’s performance variants are few, but important.
Most of the differences between the 2018 VW GTI and the Golf R have to do with performance. And price. Where the Golf GTI is front-wheel drive with good power at about $26,500 (base), the Golf R is all-wheel drive, with more power, and about $39,800 (base). We will say that those base price numbers are far from apples, though, and a more comparable starting point would be the GTI’s Autobahn trim, which starts at $35,000.
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
The 2018 GTI is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that has turbocharging to boost its output to 220 horsepower. That’s ten horses more than last year’s model. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a dual-clutch automatic is optional. Either are great choices, though for obvious reasons we like the manual better. We will concede that the dual-clutch is a beautifully-done transmission that deserves respect.
Fuel economy in the GTI is rated at 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway (manual) and slightly better (25/33) with the automatic. During our week with the GTI, we consistently ran 6.5-second 0-60 mph sprints. That’s impressive. Even more impressive is that with the dual-clutch transmission ($1,100 upgrade), it’s possible to get those same exact numbers. In cornering, we like to test on a 90-degree, 15-mph two-lane curve on a country road near here. Our goal is to make the corner as quickly as possible without “chirping” tires (losing traction). The GTI makes that two-lane corner at 62 mph.
The rundown on the GTI:
- 220 horsepower
- 24/32 mpg city/highway
- 6.5s 0-60 mph
- 62 mph 90-deg corner
- Comparable starting price $35,000
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf R
The 2018 Golf R uses the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four found in the GTI, but boosts the output to 292 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is, again, standard, but the upgrade option is to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that’s amazingly well-matched to the R. The Golf R is also all-wheel drive by default, with a front-biased torque delivery.
Fuel economy in the 2018 R is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway with the automatic (about a point less, each, for the manual). We were consistently getting sub-five-second 0-60 mph sprints in our automatic-equipped Golf R. Amazingly good numbers. And on that 90-degree corner mentioned above, the R went around at 67 mph.
The rundown on the R:
- 292 horsepower
- 22/29 mpg city/highway
- 5s 0-60 mph
- 67 mph 90-deg corner
- Comparable starting price $39,800
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI and R Head-to-Head
Now that we have the numbers for the two hot hatches, let’s get to the nitty-gritty. Which is better? The honest truth is that, for those who are seriously performance-minded, the R is the way to go. The price difference is the key issue for a buyer to get past, though, and the over four thousand in savings with going to the GTI is hard to look past.
Considering what most people will do with their VW Golf performance model, it’s unlikely that the justifications for the extra horses and beautiful handling that come with the AWD are worth the much higher payment. The Golf GTI is a great little car that handles very well when pressed and which will keep a grin on most driver’s faces. The R, however, adds that extra speed and power, better all-season handling, and (importantly) faster cornering thanks to the added AWD and higher power outputs.
Long story short, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R is a great hatch that’s all the fun it possibly could be. It’s about as awesome as a tiny hatchback can be, right off the shelf, and anyone who makes fun of one has obviously never spent time behind its wheel.
On the other hand, the 2018 VW Golf GTI is also a real goer with all of the aforementioned goodness. It adds daily usability and livability to the equation and is potentially $200 cheaper per month to buy. Two hundred bucks is a lot of beer money.
The decision really does come down to economics. If the kind of performance the R offers is extremely important to you, then get one. If you want great performance, but also daily livability (and more beer), then the GTI is your choice.
Which Genesis G70 Should You Get, The 2.0T Or The 3.3T?
The all-new 2019 Genesis G70 is the company’s first attempt at taking on the midsized luxury sports sedan segment, and in particular face off against the BMW 3-Series. We’ve been eagerly awaiting a chance to drive this vehicle since it was unveiled at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, and a few weeks ago at IMPA Test Days, we finally got our chance to do so.
We were fortunate enough to sample both the affordable G70 2.0T (which is powered by a 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder) and the more powerful G70 3.3T (powered by a 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6) variants.
Both of these may be trim levels of the same car, but which one drives better? Here are our non-instrumented, seat-of-the-pants findings:
Acceleration Winner: 2019 Genesis G70 3.3T
This one should be fairly obvious, but when it comes to outright acceleration, the base model 2.0T doesn’t stand a chance against the 365-horsepower 3.3T, which rockets from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds. Although the 2.0T puts out a more than adequate 252 horsepower, the 3.3T’s acceleration is just nuclear, pinning you to the back of your seat.
In normal driving, the 2.0T feels perfectly fine, but crest 4,000rpm and it quickly runs out of steam. Luckily, that’s not the case in the more powerful G70. The twin-turbo V6 is a missile, producing meaningful thrust all the way to redline.
Handling Winner: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T
Although the 3.3T is much faster, the lighter 2.0T just feels better to drive. The 3.3T we tested had Hyundai’s H-Trac all-wheel-drive system, which coupled with the heavier V6 made the front end feel much heavier than the RWD 2.0T.
The 2.0T is more fun to whip into turns and exercise the superb chassis, while the 3.3T is more of a point and shoot affair. Sure, they share the same platform , but adding a heavier engine and AWD really changes the character of a car and the general sensations of driving.
Value Winner: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T
With a starting price of only $34,900, the base Genesis G70 2.0T undercuts the more expensive G70 3.3T H-Trac by over $10,000 as the 3.3T AWD starts at $45,750. Between the base 2.0T and the 3.3T H-Trac we drove, it was clear that the base model is anything but base. This little premium sedan is hugely impressive at the $35K mark. The interior is sophisticated and well appointed, while the exterior’s taught body and sleek styling cocoons a well-sorted chassis.
Other Genesis G70 trim levels have a lot to offer as well. Forego AWD, and the most affordable 3.3T can be had for only $43,750. For those of you looking to row your own gears, there’s even a 6-speed manual option (for the 2.0T only) that will set you back $37,900 and comes with a limited slip differential and other performance-oriented goodies. If you want all the bells and whistles, a fully loaded 3.3T Dynamic Edition clocks in at $52,250.
Overall, we think Genesis really knocked it out of the park with the new G70 sedan, delivering a dynamic vehicle that’s a ton of fun to drive. If you’re in the market for a luxury sports sedan, you owe it to yourself to test drive one today.
Pricing For The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N Released, Starting At $26,900
While the previous generation Hyundai Veloster was nothing to write home about, the all-new 2019 Veloster is an absolute blast to drive, with plenty of power and great handling dynamics. I recently took the Veloster Turbo out on some twisties, and I couldn’t wipe that grin off of my face, that’s how much fun I was having with the car.
But for those who want to dial up the excitement to 11, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N takes it to a whole other level, raising the car’s horsepower from 201HP to 250HP (or 275HP with the Performance Package), along with a variety of chassis, tuning and other upgrades that are sure to impress even the most hardcore driving enthusiasts.
Hyundai has been teasing us about the 2019 Veloster N for some time now, and we’ve all been speculating about how much this hot hatch would ultimately cost. And yesterday, we finally got our answer. As it turns out, it’s considerably less than we had expect.
Pricing for the 2019 Veloster N starts at $26,900, with the Performance Package model coming in at $29,000. That’s a LOT of bang for the buck, and it should put the other hot hatches out there on notice. (We’re talking to you, GTI, WRX and Civic Type R)
To me, spending the extra $2,100 for the Performance Package is a no brainer, as it gives you 275 horsepower (versus 250 horsepower on the standard Veloster N), N corner carving limited slip differential, a variable exhaust valve system, 19″ wheels with Pirelli P Zero summer tires, and better brakes front and rear.
One thing to note about the Veloster N – It’s only offered with a manual transmission. While I can appreciate their reasoning for doing this, it does limit the number of potential buyers, as many enthusiasts don’t know how (or don’t want) to drive a stick.
The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N will begin arriving at dealerships in December.
7 Ways To Improve Your Car’s Perfomance
When I drove a 1996 Mustang GT, I thought it was the fastest thing on the road, with a 4.6L V8 that put out 215HP, and a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds. But by today’s standard, that’s considered rather slow, with many family sedans (like the 2018 Camry V6) packing 250-300 horsepower, and sports cars putting out 400+ HP. Pretty crazy stuff, right?
So what can you do if you own an older sports car and you want to give it a little performance boost? Or go all out and turn it into a race car? From the laws of speed and motion, here are 7 surefire methods you can use to improve your car’s performance:
1) Aerodynamics and Weight:
Aerodynamics deal with how bodies move through the air. Physicist Sir Isaac Newton proved that the force executed by any car depends on its mass and acceleration. The higher the mass, the higher the force. This eventually increases the drag. Something like an aero kit can help your car slip through the air faster.
You can cut a car’s weight by removing heavy mechanical components. The components may include your air conditioning, heater, speakers, or even your backseats. You can also remake the interior using lighter materials, like replacing your glass windows with polycarbonates, which are strong, tough and lightweight.
2) Bushing Replacements
Most cars leave the factory with rubber bushings in their suspension. They are cheap, absorb shocks and vibrations, let the suspension turn freely, and won’t bind easily. The downside is that they compromise your car’s handling somewhat. But if you are willing to give up a little civility in the name of better handling, replacing your bushings with polyurethane ones will give you more responsive handling and acceleration.
Upgraded bushings are a quick and easy way to breathe some new life into your old ride.
3) Check Your Air Filter
Your car’s air filter is it’s first line of defense against contaminants. But it can get dirty over time, and many people neglect to replace them when they should. This can negatively affect your car’s performance, as it struggles to pull in air. So if your a mechanic recommends that you replace the car’s air filter, change it.
There are a number of aftermarket air filters (like K&N) that reportedly deliver improved air flow, which in turn leads to more power. These require more maintenance (periodically oiling your filter, making sure not to foul your MAF sensor), but it’s just another way to squeeze a few more horsepower out of your ride.
4) Use High Quality Components
You know that saying “You get what you pay for”? Well it’s true. When you’re working on your car, you want to use high-quality components from reputable sources, not some random part from eBay that you bought because it was cheap. Stick with an established brand that has a long history in the business for that piece of mind.
The same holds true for aftermarket parts. If you’re upgrading your older Porsche, you want to stick with a name like Fabspeed, who offer Porsche 996 performance upgrades that will make your car feel stronger than ever, along with a warranty on their parts.
5) Install A Supercharger
By compressing air supplied to a car’s engine, superchargers give room for more oxygen to enter the engine. In reality, a car can have a lot of fuel. But without enough oxygen, the car will hardly accelerate.
Installing a supercharger will give you an immediate boost to your vehicle’s performance, with more horsepower both off-the-line and during acceleration. It’s a great way to take your car’s performance to the next level, though it’s a costly (and complicated) upgrade.
6) Enhance Performance Using Computers
Unlike classic cars, which you could tune with a basic set of tools, today’s cars are increasingly complicated, relying on computers for things like fuel delivery, spark, and more. What’s more, cars are tuned from the factory rather conservatively, and the car’s ECU can be reprogrammed to give you better performance.
There are plenty of resources where you can learn to program your car’s engine management program. Or you can go to a professional tuner, who can put your car on a dyno and give you a custom tune. These prove especially beneficial if you’ve got a turbocharged car.
7) Install Quality Tires
What connects your car to the road? Tires. Most mechanics would agree that tires are in fact the most important part of your car. If you’re looking for faster acceleration, better braking, and overall stability, you should invest in a quality set of Ultra High Performance tires, which will dramatically change the demeanor of your car.
You should always make sure that the tires are properly inflated as well, as too much or too little air pressure can dramatically affect a car’s performance.
As you can see, speed isn’t the only factor that defines a high-performance car. Hopefully these tips will help you turn your tired ride into a high-performance car that’s able to hang with the competition on the streets.