2021 Hyundai i30 N, Volkswagen Golf GTI, and Toyota GR Corolla: Why is Now the Time to Buy a Hot Hatch Before They Are Replaced by SUVs – Car News
Have a seat, hot hatch fans, we have good news and bad news to report.
First, the good news: with the updated Hyundai i30 N and the new Volkswagen Golf GTI arriving in a few months, we’re on the verge of a golden phase for Hi-Po hatchbacks. Soon after, a new Golf R and the as yet unconfirmed but highly likely Toyota GR Corolla will follow.
The bad news is that this may be the last generation of hot hatches.
These fast small cars have been a staple for some brands for decades, but are now facing major challenges on two fronts – the continued move to SUVs and the rise of electric cars.
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However, if this is to be the end of an era, automakers seem ready to send out hot hatches in style. It also speaks to the growing importance of performance cars for two brands that typically steer clear of them – Hyundai and Toyota.
VW probably invented the hot hatch with the first Golf GTI, and despite years of competition from Ford, Peugeot, Subaru and Honda, the sales giants from South Korea and Japan have only recently been more interested.
Hyundai is rapidly expanding its N range of services with the well-received i30 N. The updated i30 N will come with a more powerful 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine that now delivers 206 kW / 392 Nm, but (more importantly) get the option of an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This will help increase sales attractiveness and improve the collision course with the new Golf GTI.
The eighth generation Golf Hot hatch has more history than the Hyundai but can’t match in terms of performance. The latest Golf GTI will keep the same 2.0-liter turbo engine and produce 180 kW / 370 Nm, but VW will include a limited-slip differential that matches the Hyundai range.
And if that’s not enough power to satisfy, VW has an ace up its sleeve that Hyundai can’t keep up with – the new Golf R. It is expected to arrive in Australia sometime in 2022 and will have a more powerful engine (235 kW / 420 Nm). as well as all-wheel drive and a higher quality interior.
As we have written in the past, Hyundai has invested in maintaining an enthusiastic group of owners for the i30 N. With the launch of the updated model and the addition of the i20 N and Kona N by the end of the year, it looks like it’s set for a big 2021 as it tries to take over the more established Volkswagen.
Toyota’s plans to expand its GR sub-brand are on the horizon for both of them. The GR Yaris made a splash, but it is expected that this is just the beginning and the next arrival (after the GR 86) is most likely the GR Corolla.
It would compete with the i30 N and the Golf GTI and give the Japanese brand a long overdue entry into the most popular hot hatch market. While there are still all unconfirmed reports, the GR Corolla is expected to use the same 1.6-liter three-cylinder turbo engine from the GR Yaris, but with even more horsepower. It will get a bump from 200 kW to 221 kW to improve its “big brother” status while using the same all-wheel drive system as the rally-bred Yaris.
There have been conflicting reports about when the GR Corolla will be out, but don’t be surprised if it hits showrooms (at least in overseas markets) before the end of 2022.
Ironically, the greatest threat to this trio could come from within. All three brands are expected to launch high-performance compact SUVs in the near future. As mentioned earlier, the Hyundai Kona N is slated to launch locally this year, while the Volkswagen T-Roc R will hit the market in 2022. According to reports from Japan, the Toyota GR C-HR will also arrive soon.
While there is no guarantee that hardcore hot hatch fans will switch to these higher-end alternatives, the continued growth in SUVs coupled with the steady decline in small cars raises questions about the long-term prospects for small cars like the i30, the Golf, and the the Corolla.
While these popular models would likely be the last, if the death of Holden and his Commodore taught us anything, no model is too big to fail.
The other reason hot hatch fanatics should embrace the next range of options is that they could soon be replaced with hybrid or electric options as governments mandate cleaner cars. especially in Europe, where the strict Euro 7 rules are due to come into force in 2026.
As Ford recently demonstrated by discontinuing its longtime Focus RS, emissions standards are becoming increasingly stringent and powerful gasoline engines are in many cases too difficult and expensive to build.
While Volkswgaen has already discussed the prospect of an ID.R electric electric hatch that should be as fast as the Golf R, this won’t be the same for traditional hot hatch lovers.