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2022 Hyundai Elantra N and Kona N

2022 Hyundai Elantra N (left) and Kona N

Ah, the factory hot-rodded compact car. It’s a genre that really came into its own during the first decade of the new millennium, influenced in part by the import-tuner craze and the unexpected blockbuster success of the 2001 movie The Fast and the Furious. Before long, several mainstream-brand manufacturers were offering snarky, youth-oriented versions of their bread-and-butter compact sedans and hatchbacks, with performance-tuned suspensions and gutsy turbocharged powerplants.

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE in King’s Red Metallic (a $395 option)

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE

ClassSubcompact Crossover SUV

Miles driven: 441

Fuel used: 14.6 gallons

2022 Subaru WRX

2022 Subaru WRX Limited

Consumer Guide Automotive Among hot-rod compact cars, the all-new, redesigned-for-2022 Subaru WRX doesn’t really have any direct competitors. This rally-racing-bred, all-wheel-drive sport compact’s closest historical rival, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, has already been gone for seven years–it was discontinued after the 2015 model year. At the moment, the WRX’s nearest competitor from an engineering standpoint is the redesigned-for-2022 Volkswagen Golf R, though that German-built AWD hatchback is significantly pricier to start and not rally-terrain focused like the WRX. Subaru identifies two equally new front-drive-only performance compacts as the WRX’s main competition: the 200-horsepower Honda Civic Si and the 241-horsepower Volkswagen GTI hatchback, both of which are also redesigned for ’22. Likewise in the ballpark (and also front-drive-only) are the 276-hp Hyundai Elantra N and Veloster N hatchback, and the Honda Civic Type R (we don’t know yet how powerful the soon-to-be-revealed new-generation Type R will be, but the previous-gen car made 306 hp).

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE in Pyrite Silver Metallic

Consumer Guide Test Drive

2022 Volkswagen Taos SE AWD

Class: Subcompact Crossover SUV

Miles driven: 311

Fuel used: 12.3 gallons

2021 BMW 430i xDrive Coupe

2021 BMW 430i xDrive Coupe in Portimao Blue Metallic (a $550 option)

2015 Audi Q52021 BMW 430i xDrive Coupe

Class: Premium Sporty/Performance Car

Miles driven: 265

Fuel used: 9.8 gallons

2022 Toyota GR 86

2022 Toyota GR 86

Consumer Guide Automotive As American new-vehicle buyers continue to choose SUVs in significantly greater numbers than traditional passenger cars, affordable cars of any type are less prevalent than they were as recently as five years ago. Enthusiast-friendly examples are a rarer breed still. When you sharpen the search to affordable, track-ready, rear-wheel-drive sports cars, you quickly determine they are approaching unicorn status.

Stellantis EV Day

Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast

Whether you drive a car, need a car, or just occasionally bum a ride with friends, you’ve come to the right place. Join the editors of Consumer Guide Automotive as they break down everything that’s going on in the auto world. New-car reviews, shopping tips, driving green, electric cars, classic cars, and plenty of great guests. This is the Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast.

Volkswagen GTI Ad, Car Commercials with Great Music

Volkswagen GTI Ad

I listened to a lot of music in high school, so it stands to reason that my earliest memories of driving are intertwined with recollections of the music I was listening to at the time. I wasn’t into the Rolling Stones yet, but I loved the Beatles, and spent plenty of time shoving Billy Joel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Dire Straits cassettes into the Radio Shack head unit in my 1976 Pontiac Ventura.

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn in Pyrite Silver Metallic

Quick Spin, Consumer Guide Automotive

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn

Class: Compact Car

Miles driven: 294

Fuel used: 12.0 gallons


Meet the 2020 Consumer Guide Best Buys

With Six Best Buy Models, Toyota Is Most Awarded Brand

 Honda Brand Claims Five Best Buys