We’ve been going through somewhat of a performance car renaissance recently, and it’s expanded across the industry so widely that there are plenty of options even on the affordable compact end of the spectrum. Four of these cars, the Hyundai Elantra N, Subaru WRX, VW Golf GTI, and Honda Civic Si, are the real standouts in the segment, and automotive YouTuber Savagegeesse decided to compare them head-to-head to see which one is the best.
Of the four, the Hyundai is the most powerful with 276 hp (280 PS / 206 kW) and 289 lb-ft (392 Nm) of torque. Close on its heels is the WRX, which boasts 271 hp (275 PS / 202 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) of torque, but it also sends that power to the rear wheels as well as the fronts. Third most powerful is the GTI with 241 hp (244 PS / 180 kW) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque. The least powerful of the bunch is the Civic Si, which makes 200 hp (203 PS / 149 kW) and 192 lb-ft (260 Nm) of torque.
Pricing matches that order too, with the four base model cars getting higher in price as they get more powerful (the only exception being the GTI being $275 pricier than the WRX), and all four cars are powered by turbocharged inline-four engines mated to manual transmissions.
In the drag race, it was the WRX in first, followed by the GTI, then the Elantra and the Civic. The three frontrunners finished within a car’s length of each other, and the Civic was the only outlier finishing about two car lengths behind the rest. On the track, the Hyundai was the fastest, followed by the Subaru, the Civic Si, and the GTI. The GTI and Si are so good on the street that they compromise their performance capabilities. Likewise, the Elantra and WRX are so competent on the track that they need to make some tradeoffs with their comfort and refinement.
In terms of interiors, the Civic is described as a sort of jack of all trades with lots of functionality and solid driver inputs. The Elantra’s cabin is subtle with plenty of physical buttons and switches, and its standout feature is its phenomenal sport seats. Moving on to the GTI, it is the most comfortable and refined of the bunch, as well as the most practical due to it being the only hatchback. Finally, there’s the WRX with what was described as a rather dated interior, but it has the best visibility and driver inputs by far.
Overall, each of the four vehicles are pretty well rounded in their own way, so it really comes down to what you’re looking for as an owner. If you want all-out performance, go for the Hyundai. If you’re looking for maximum practicality and livability, get the GTI. If all-weather performance is what you need, the WRX is your friend. And if affordability is at the top of your list, the Civic is the best option.