How do you bring driving fun into everyday life? With the fun-to-drive versions of everyday cars. Treat yourself to a competent compact sports car, as long as such models do not yet have to be traded on the dark web. One of these four: Cupra Leon VZ Cup, Hyundai i30 N Performance, Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy and VW Golf GTI Clubsport.
We don't want to rush you, but you need to be quick: In Norway, for example, there's only time until 2025 to secure a new combustion engine model. After that, it should be the end of the driving fun we love. Or do you think that electrically powered bundles of joy will slink around as nimbly as a Cupra Leon VZ Cup, Hyundai i30 N Performance, Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy or like the VW Golf GTI Clubsport?
Let's imagine that these four everyday athletes will no longer exist. That they fell victim to the determination of the current government. What would then be an alternative in the 300 hp class? The VW ID.4 GTX with 299 hp comes to mind as an example. GTX like GTI. But why "bundle of joy"?
Little weight=lots of fun
Because an X is far from being an I: A look at our database shows the empty weight of the GTX to be a total of 2,268 kilograms. Where, if you please, is this heavyweight supposed to show the sporting spirit of a compact Gran Turismo (GT) – in the future, when everyone is only supposed to buzz?
Two thousand two hundred sixty-eight. For transverse dynamics, this is about as agonizingly difficult as the number written out long. Because weight weighs three times: when accelerating, braking and turning in, every racing driver knows that. So what to do to avoid this crippling future?
Secure something light in time. Whereby we would be with our favorites from this comparison quartet. Why do we recommend the power-bursting compacts? Because they are classic first and only cars, they can do practically everything that is important: transport families, drive to work, convey joy in curves. In short, the essential F's are ingeniously combined in one car.
Although: With one of these four candidates, you would have to, well, just get through vacation trips to distant destinations. More on that later. First we look at the curb weight of the test cars, which all compete as double couplers; anyway, there is only the i30 N alternatively as a manual switch, which is only marginal. Surprisingly, the Golf GTI Clubsport is the light version, weighing 1422 kilograms. He is followed by his group brother and technical twin Cupra with 39 kg more (Renault plus 51, Hyundai plus 68 kg).
GTX=GTI + Golf 1 in the trunk
Wait a minute, can we rewind to count? Are they really... It can't be! mistyped? No: Compared to the Clubsport, the GTX mentioned at the beginning is actually an incredible 846 kilograms heavier – which roughly corresponds to the unladen weight of the original GTI.
Symbolized once again for careful thought: The mass of a similarly powerful electric sports car in the compact class would correspond to a Clubsport with the original GTI loaded in the trunk. Incomprehensible.
For us agility activists, the vertical axis is booming; we grab the keys to the four Hot Hatches, our highway heroes, flee into the underground car park and make off in our own flag.
Now we are on the way to the curves in the hills, where the roads have a high adventure value. Because we simply can't keep the steering wheel still. Well, at least we only want it until the right freeway exit comes into view.
When the going gets tough, each of the four hot hatches can maintain forward momentum up to at least 250 km/h. According to the technical data, 280 to 300 hp and 392 to 420 Nm work under the front hood, friendly to the use of transversely installed four-cylinder petrol engines, whose lungs are each pumped full of air by a turbocharger for maximum performance.
We're talking about engines that are satisfied with 6.6 to 7.4 liters per 100 kilometers - on our eco lap with an economical driving style. In this case, the athletes are still at least as fast, rather faster, than most e-cars that you encounter on the road.
VW Golf GTI Clubsport: all-rounder
Incidentally, only the two representatives of the Volkswagen Group manage 6.6 l/100 km; Accordingly, they achieve the lower test consumption, emit less carbon dioxide and therefore cause lower fuel costs than their two competitors. There are bonus points for this in the comparison test. Also for the longer range, also a product of economy and a pleasant side effect, especially on long-haul routes.
Although it's always nice to get more for your money. With the optional chassis control, more suspension comfort, for example. Gladly taken on the hasty delivery tour on the trunk roads.
Primus is the Golf - of course, who else, after all, the VW engineers know how to spread: This means exploiting the damper characteristics, the range from the rather unhindered to the sustained immersion of the pistons in the oil bath. Quick note: We add all included extras that are relevant for the scoring to the test car price to be evaluated.
The damping can be preset in 15 levels on the touchscreen; In addition, the adaptive control automatically recognizes the condition of the road and regulates the degree of hardness on bad sections or winding passages within a defined window without the driver having to do anything. And she can do that so convincingly that you only notice the positive effect of the whole adjustment: It fits in almost all situations.
This all-round ability is all the more astonishing since a particularly tough version is used here; the club sport marks something like the Über-GTI and is often upgraded to a track tool. After that, only the R would come in the internal golf ranking, although with its all-wheel drive (also financially) it is in a different region.
Tracktool with comfort and scary operation
A tracktool base with highway comfort? Yes, that goes together, not even the sport has to give up for that, on the contrary: only those who invest 1,045 euros for the adaptive shock absorbers will receive a Nordschleife set-up - the name says it all. Nevertheless, it is also wonderful for an ambitious house round and can be selected via the touchscreen. Like so much in golf. A frightening number of things, right down to controlling the air conditioning.
The Playstation generation may still enjoy zapping through the many scenarios; On the other hand, anyone who decides to move club sport and wants to access the ESP will curse the swiping and tapping; there is no longer a button. Unfortunately, practically everything that is adjusted, caught and caught in everyday life wants to be caught - that distracts you from traffic for a dangerously long time, and we rate it negatively in the sub-item operation.
Even the driving lights are controlled via touch-intensive fields that can hardly be felt. Similar, so-called capacitive, sensor surfaces can be found on the steering wheel rim. To meet these consciously is a task; It is more difficult, however, not to hit them – unintentionally. For example, the little corner responsible for the steering wheel heating on the outside right: How often have we turned it up and down with our firm grip on the handling track? As if it wasn't hot enough already. It is best to tape off the overly sensitive areas generously before a track day.
Cupra Leon VZ Cup: Country road rather than motorway
Cupra, the sporty subsidiary of Seat, has to take over the crude VW operating system, logical, identical parts, that's what corporations are about. After all, the VZ can do without the steering wheel pain; Buttons that are easy to feel are mounted instead of the touch surfaces.
By the way, "VZ" stands for "veloz", in Spanish "fast", and the word "cupra" is made up of "cup" and "racing". Which, for the Cup version of the Leon VZ, so to speak, underlines the racetrack assignment.He takes it twice as seriously, the name wants to express it - although the brand's portfolio now includes models that are likely to be found primarily on conventional roads, but hardly ever on a slope.
As standard, the steering wheel of the Cup, self-confidently called "Supersport", has a button for starting and another for changing the driving modes, which also control the adaptive shock absorbers. Unlike the Golf, the latter are also free of charge and work in a similarly broad manner. However, the chassis have subtly shifted the focus of the tuning from the highway to the country road; there the Leon nestles closer to the asphalt, while the Golf cuddles more with the highway. In nuances, mind you.
The VZ quickly made friends with the Boxberg handling course; Here we like that, unlike VW, Cupra has a direct selection button for activating the sports ESP (or for completely deactivating the driving control) in front of the gear selector lever. On the other hand, both group companies have in common how playfully their products burn fast laps into the course. Yes, you are incredibly fast so quickly that it warms your heart.
Sure-footed, Golf and Leon shimmy along the border ridge without slipping. Because all parameters seem to find their optimum by themselves. Only at first glance does such driving behavior sound irrelevant; in fact, even racing drivers appreciate a set-up that doesn't require dancing on the blade for best times. Hobby crankers benefit from this all the more as they feel a sense of achievement after just a few warm-up laps. Feelings of happiness and high flyers included.
Like the Golf, just interpreted differently
The GTI in particular has perfected its virtuoso fluency over generations, rounding it off with handy tuning of all relevant human-machine interfaces; Gas response, steering and brake pedal do not push themselves into consciousness with superficial sharpness. This leaves enough computer capacity for the senses to concentrate fully on the course of the route.
The Cupra Leon wants to be perceived more acoustically, hissing through the auditory canals under load. Here, sportiness is interpreted in a striking manner, as is the case with the cup seats with their intrusive bolsters. And with the sharper steering characteristic compared to the Golf.
It requires more concentration when driving straight ahead, but on the other hand encourages you to detect peculiarities of the axle kinematics: If you throw the VZ into the curve, a spontaneous stimulus follows the rear axle - strong enough to notice it, balanced enough to be able to enjoy it. Even without drift experience. Because the rear doesn't really twitch, it just stumbles, which makes the Cupra look pretty eager.
Of course, the closer you actually get to the limit, the more stable the situation becomes. Up to the gentle turn-in understeer.Incidentally, the latter explains the slight lag when changing lanes twice on the test site - you can find the individual values in the technical data at the end of the text.
Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy: Playing tail
Only the Mégane offers a truly agile rear end, here as a Trophy. It responds to all sorts of commands, be it that you use the R.S. brakes into the corner, steers in harshly, abruptly lifts the gas pedal at the apex or in left-right combinations conjures up a load change. Strength follows in sync with momentum, aligning the chassis to the next straight without exceeding a critical threshold. Anyone who catches the flow dances exuberantly with the rear and front. On the country road that seems demanding.
Yes, there is life in the booth. This design carries you away – right down to the lateral dynamic exuberance when the rear axle slides discreetly, supported by the standard all-wheel steering depending on the speed range. And when she sniffs curiously at the outer edge of the curve. Only to get back on the ideal line shortly thereafter, as soon as you step on the gas – the mechanical lock pulls the Renault violently out of the corner. Feelings of a hero arise because you seem to be defeating a beast.
The other three purely front-wheel drive athletes also monitor traction using mechanical locks; those, however, are electronically controlled. In the Cupra and in the VW they use a correspondingly smoother, although no less effective. Speaking of which: no one here in the test has problems converting the enormous power into propulsion without twitching all over the track.
Even in our favorite curves, which are peppered with overturning bumps and compressing depressions, the locks find the right tone in the dialogue with the driver. The one-dimensional shock absorbers of the Renault alone reach their limits with these requirements.
They are the only ones in the test who have to do without an adaptation, making do with the hardness of a traditional sports suspension. It needs speed to work at least semi-smoothly. The same applies to the R.S. steering. On the highway, however, the hard suspension is simply unreasonable. And that explains the remark from before: if you have to cover long distances with the trophy, you should be able to suffer.
Rarely is the superiority of shock absorbers with adjustable characteristic curves shown so drastically as in this comparison test. Because the GTI and Leon also deliver hardness - as an offer for the circuit, not mandatory for everyday use.
Hyundai i30 N Performance: Emotions before performance
Of course, you can generally push an adaptive system into the tough corner. That's what Hyundai has chosen.The performance setting of the electronically adjustable shock absorbers feels like it starts with "Sport" and increases in firmness by two levels. Only the tenderest attitude is useful on public roads. "Tender"? Euphemism. Whereby: In fact, despite its grimness, the chassis manages to nestle the i30 N against the asphalt pores. That makes it rigorous, the front barrier supports it to the best of its ability. Can you feel it in the steering? Of course: One-handed show-off cruising is forbidden in all four hot hatches anyway - that is beneath the dignity of these very special models.
The Hyundai is very energetic and is therefore not for couch potatoes, it would only shake them, because it pulsates at all ends. It can be diversified like no other in the set-ups, which of course only means the number of possibilities; The performance in no way comes close to the spread of the VZ or Clubsport.
In the obsession, on the other hand, not to the French competition in the form of the Renault. The i30 N shares his preference for wagging the rear, but less radically. What both have in common is that they provide a popular basis for serious sports equipment and are accordingly often seen on the circuit. On the one hand, this may be due to the fact that only they turn to the limiter in the manual transmission modes of their sportiest settings if no higher gear is requested by the rocker switch. And that they also don't shift down when kicking down. "Manually" means full command, which is exactly what you want on a closed track, but you don't get it in the Golf and Leon.
Everyday capability secondary
For i30 N like R.S. there are now plenty of trackday accessories. For example, Hyundai even offers a removable cross brace in the trunk ex works (180 euros). Yes, it stiffens the chassis and makes steering more precise, but it also limits the transport capacity, and we note that as a disadvantage in terms of functionality. As we also note the low loading sill and the difficult entry into the rear of the Renault in the evaluation sheets. Key word: suitability for everyday use.
What made the sports driver's heart beat faster: The Hyundai i30 N received more effective brake cooling with the last facelift. In any case, the performance version has a larger disc at the front and thus decelerates at about the same level as the Golf.
Brake king Mégane
The competition comes to a standstill even earlier, above all the Mégane, which anchors about four and a half meters earlier than Hyundai and VW with warm components from 130 km/h. The latter shines with the best controllable pedal feel.
Apart from that, the motor power is also easy to control.The two-liter called EA888 only seems like an old acquaintance, but has gained bite in the evo4 expansion stage, reacts pleasingly awake to the gas, underscores the load with a sonorous vocal power - intoned by the sports exhaust system of the expensive performance package (3,950 euros).
The EA888 also empowers the Cupra: step on the gas, feel the whiff of the turbo, experience the boost. In an unmistakable form. Precisely because the four-cylinder delivers, the seven-speed double coupler seems slightly overwhelmed as soon as you tug on the shift paddles in euphoria - the gear change is a long time coming.
A similar phenomenon bothered us in the GTI. Mégane and i30 N react at least a little faster. As a sports driver, you generally wish for more presence of mind from dual-clutch transmissions: bang, bang, that's the way it has to be.
With the Hyundai, a rough starting strategy on hills is also annoying - particularly annoying when parking and exiting. Furthermore, the start-stop system and the clutch keep getting in each other's way. Therefore: If you have already decided on the i30 N in your mind, you should rather take the manual version.
VAG in the engine chapter at the front
And its engine? Compared to the VW-EA888, the two-liter i30 N is a little less currently on the gas foot. Of course, he is nominally 20 hp short of his competitors; once the 280 horses trot off, at least some rambazamba is offered – acoustically. Similar to the chassis, Hyundai pulls out all the stops of what the fanboy understands by sportiness.
Others can definitely be irritated by spluttering and spluttering; then the only thing that helps is to configure a custom mode on a steering wheel button in the touchscreen, in which the exhaust is leveled comparatively less cheekily.
The Mégane sounds fuller, although hardly less present; we know his Einsachter from the Alpine. There he has already led us to storms of enthusiasm. This time the wind is blowing more gently: The R.S. not.
Especially on our handling track in Boxberg, which requires constant gas changes with its tight weave, the 1.8 seems inhibited. Which is in stark contrast to the uninhibited stern. We took the engine power denial as an opportunity to put all four hot hatches to the test.
The result of the performance measurement explains the hesitant appearance of the Mégane. The Trophy can be accelerated from 0 to 200 km/h not only by Clubsport and Cupra, but even by the actually weaker Hyundai.
This can be understood as a symbol for the outcome of the whole comparison test: The order corresponds to the acceleration ability of the participants (if you take the values over Tempo 130 as a basis for the consideration). Why high blood pressure patients should stop reading at this point. Unless they can stand the GTI in first place. Or the R.S. to four.
We have long since given you the basis for making decisions beyond the point rating. We have unraveled who circles through the curves more experience-oriented than result-oriented. Who could form the basis for a hobby racing car that is transported to the ring on the trailer. On the other hand, those who glide through everyday life without making any compromises and can adjust the intensity of their sportiness according to the occasion.
Ultimately it's a question of taste or price
The scoring, on the other hand, determines the best all-rounder, as always. Anyone who excels in only one special discipline will hardly make it to the top - on the other hand, our scheme, which is divided into chapters, offers every reader the opportunity to set their own priorities and to determine a personal favourite. About the handling hero Mégane.
The fact that it performs sobering overall is due to the moderate range of assistants and multimedia features, in addition to the engine's moderate willingness to perform, the highest consumption and the worst suspension comfort. Furthermore, its approximate gap dimensions.
The Hyundai stands out as the king of costs with its comparatively low price including fairly complete equipment and the longest guarantee promise. Why does he still end up just behind second-placed Cupra? For example, there are the rather rough ESP interventions, which we rate under driving stability.
The GTI, on the other hand, wins the race because it is a Golf that shines in almost every aspect of everyday life. Still, dear haters, this isn't a win through the back door. He also wins because he waves around the pylons the fastest. Because it pulls away from everyone at 130 km/h. And because it presents even the liveliest steering.
That's exactly what it's all about: the desire to steer. She drives each of these four hot hatches in various forms, that should have become clear after reading this text. Just as the driving pleasure offered by these comparatively light compact sports cars is linked to their low weight. With an additional 850 kilograms, it would hardly be possible to draw a line with the electric car mentioned at the beginning with a similar performance.
Now: buy or save
Regardless of the outcome of this comparison test, just pick your favorite - all four celebrate driving in a way that will later only be the subject of stories. Because all four models are on the list of acutely endangered car types.
If you don't have enough cash today to put away a Fahrfreudianer, you can continue to save - possibly on a used one. The sales bans are not yet effective in Germany, but they are looming.
As I said: No rush, but hurry up!
The GTI wins because it - hear, hear! - is the fastest. Also the most comfortable. Its engine has pressure and runs economically. What else do you wish for? More wildness in the rear.
Safety equipment, as the Leon demonstrates, also conveys determination - purely felt, which is more important than driving dynamics values. On the other hand, there is still potential here.
The wild dog throws himself into the stuff, is cheap, but leaves little to be desired. A little more comfort, a little less ESP obtrusiveness - it would already be number two in the future.
The brakes do a tremendous job, the engine doesn't live up to its promise. Deficits in the assistance systems seal fourth place. But the agile rear, friends...