There’s no question that this year is a special one for affordable performance cars. Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Subaru each have brand new offerings all vying for the top. In this full video review, the trio is put to an autocross course to find out the most important thing: which one is the most fun to drive.
And that’s important because sometimes it’s a bit too easy to discount poor driving engagement because a car is marginally more practical. In this test, speed and driving fun are the paramount concerns, as they should be. The Hyundai Elantra N is the newcomer to the segment and going up against heavy hitters in the new Subaru WRX and the new VW Golf GTI.
On paper, it looks like it might be the clear winner with more power than its rivals. Volkswagen is the lightest car in the bunch (by only a few pounds over the Elantra though) but it’s also the least powerful by a large margin. Subaru is the heaviest but it’s the only car here that sends any power to its rear wheels.
Edmunds seems to set up an autocross course and then only run each car a single time. First up is the Volkswagen and it lays down a 56.16 lap time with good handling, solid feedback, and no real blemishes.
Surprisingly, the WRX experience is far less pleasant. Not only does it understeer at numerous points around the course, but it also struggles to brake effectively. Both contribute to a final lap time of 56.69 which to our ears is pretty disappointing.
The Elantra N monsters both of them with a time of just 54.84. It does that thanks to a lot of performance benefits like the biggest brakes in the bunch, more power as mentioned above, and real launch control, which its rivals don’t have.
The host says he’d personally pick the VW since he doesn’t like the styling of the Elantra. Regardless, it’s interesting to see how much faster, and objectively better at being a performance-oriented vehicle, a total newcomer is compared to its more established rivals.