We’ll take a look at how much power and torque these cars produce, as well as practical things such as fuel economy and interior space. Naturally, on-paper comparisons offer only so much insight into different vehicles, and we highly recommend checking out our full reviews of them — stay tuned for a full review of the new Veloster models. And if you want to compare any of these vehicles with some different models, be sure to check out our comparison tool. Now, let’s see how these hot hatches, and coupe, compare.
Engines, transmissions and performance
When it comes to outright grunt, the Ford Focus ST with 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque is the outright winner, with the VW coming behind with 32 fewer ponies and 12 less pound-feet. The Veloster and Civic are practically tied at roughly 200 horsepower and 195 pound-feet, while the Mini is just barely behind those two.
Every vehicle here offers a manual transmission, and it’s the only transmission available with the Honda and Ford. The Hyundai and Volkswagen each have dual-clutch automatic options, and the Mini is the only one to offer a traditional torque-converter automatic.
While the Hyundai, Honda and Mini all have the least amount of power, they also have the least weight to deal with. The Mini is the lightest with a manual model weighing in at just under 2,800 pounds. The heaviest Mini is almost the same weight as an R-Spec manual Veloster Turbo. The heaviest Veloster comes in just under 3,000 pounds, while the Civic Si squeaks in under 2,900 pounds. The Focus, although the most powerful, also has the most weight to carry at over 3,200 pounds. The VW weighs about 100 to 200 pounds less depending on transmission.
Although fuel economy isn’t the primary focus of these cars, it can still be a consideration, and for the frugal fun-lover, the Civic Si is the clear winner. It manages an impressive 38 mpg on the highway, and does no worse than 28 in the city. A Veloster Turbo with the dual-clutch transmission can match it in the city but is 4 mpg shy on the highway. Again, the Focus ST does the worst, likely a combination of having the most powerful engine and the most weight. It only manages 30 on the highway, and a disappointing 22 in the city. The Mini and VW are roughly the same, trading one or two mpg here and there.
Exterior and interior specifications
Surprising exactly no one, the Mini Cooper S is the smallest car of the group on the outside. It’s a full 15 inches shorter than the next shortest Hyundai Veloster Turbo, and over 25 inches shorter than the longest Honda Civic Si. It’s also the narrowest of the group. The Civic Si, though, is the shortest in height at 54.7 inches. The Ford and VW are almost tied for tallest with each barely under 58 inches.
The interiors reveal some interesting findings. The Mini has the most headroom for front passengers. But for both front and rear passengers, the Focus and GTI are the best. Moving to legroom, things are pretty close up front, with the Focus winning out and closely followed by Veloster and Civic. But what’s weird is that the Civic Si, the only true coupe, has the most rear legroom. The GTI is next best. The Mini is by far the worst for rear legroom, which again, is no surprise. Shoulder room is a win for the Civic up front, and a win for the Veloster in back.
For cargo space, the best bet is the Focus ST with 23.2 cubic feet, and the GTI is just behind with 22.8. The worst is the Mini at 8.7 cubes and the Civic Si is second worst at 11.9.
Pricing for these sporty cars is pretty tight, but the uncontested winner is the Veloster Turbo at $ 23,785. The Civic Si is only about $ 1,200 more at $ 24,995. Just over $ 1,000 more than the Honda nets the Focus ST and its roughly 50 additional horsepower and much more cargo space. But as mentioned, it also suffers in the fuel economy department. The Mini is possibly the worst value as the second most expensive car, but with the least amount of space and middle-of-the-road fuel economy. The GTI’s price is a bit higher than the Mini’s at just over $ 27,000, but it’s much more spacious and more powerful.
Editors’ driving experiences
We can’t yet speak to how the Veloster Turbo drives, as it’s a new model (but we will drive it soon). But we can offer some insights into the others. The Ford Focus ST is likely the most exciting drive, almost a muscle hatch. Our experience has shown it to pull fiercely, so much so that you can pick up on some torque steer. Its handling balance is also set up to be very quick and eager. The Honda Civic Si is an impressive corner carver with superb steering, handling, and shifting, not to mention lots of standard features, but it does feel like it could use some more power when compared to cars like the Focus ST and GTI. Speaking of which, the GTI is still arguably the ultimate all-’rounder. It has a clean, classy interior and excellent road manners while delivering a very involved driving experience. The Mini is still a nimble little thing with punchy power, but we find its handling to only be on par with the competition.
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