Rory pits the new Volkswagen Golf GTI against three top contenders: the Ford Focus ST, Mercedes-AMG A35 and Hyundai i30 N.

Four fantastic hot hatches, each of which offers a great blend practicality and comfort for around the same price tag – but which is best? We compare designs, interiors, sound, driving enjoyment and lap times of each to find out.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The VW Golf was the original hot hatch, and some may still say it’s the best. Seeking to build on that legacy is the new Golf GTI. This is the eighth-generation model, and promises a solid blend of handling, refinement, technology and speed.
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI makes a great daily car. It’s good-looking inside and out, with nice materials used – the tartan effect sport seats are a particular standout. Once you’re inside, the GTI feels nice, soft and plush.

The VW Golf GTI’s two-litre turbo makes the least power of this group – 245 horsepower and 370 Newton metres of torque. You’ll get 0-62 in about 6.3 seconds, but faster versions will come, like the Golf R model.

It may not be the most powerful, but it handles well and is fantastic around corners.Learn more in our full review.
Hyundai i30n
The Hyundai i30 N is the cheapest car on this list but doesn’t necessarily feel it. It’s well-equipped, spacious, feels well put together, and the interior features materials of a decent quality.

In terms of the driving experience, the car offers firm handling and strong acceleration. The Hyundai i30 N also has a two-litre engine, which makes 275 horsepower and results in a 0-62 time of 5.9 seconds. It provides less torque than the Golf GTI, but that’s available over a much wider spread so it feels more urgent.

Read the full review.
Mercedes-AMG A35
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Mercedes-AMG A35 is at the premium end of the scale.

The interiors are some of the nicest on this list, featuring leather, chrome, ambient lights and enormous display screens that are easy to use and look great.

In a drag race, the A35’s win is a forgone conclusion.

Its performance is marked by better traction, power and performance than the other hot hatches featured. The A35’s two-litre turbo engine offers 306 horsepower and 400 Newton metres of torque, reaching 62mph from a standstill in an impressive 4.7 seconds.

The Mercedes-AMG A35 isn’t as playful as some of the other hot hatches and does understeer a bit, but with all-wheel drive it shoots out of corners without hesitation so you’re still getting a great driving experience.
Ford Focus ST
Last up, we’ve got the Ford Focus ST.

It may not be the most powerful or exciting looking hot hatch on this list, and the interior quality may not be the highest (there’s a fair bit of plastic), but the Focus ST makes up for that in a lot of ways.

This is a car that’s been built for people who love to drive. It’s been built by people who love driving, who care about their craft, and it shows. The suspension is brilliant, the gearbox is precise, and the cornering is great.

The Focus ST has a 2.3 litre turbo charged engine for 280ps and should get you 0-62 in around 5.7 seconds.

Read more in the full review.
For the results of the sound test and a full league table for the drag race, hit play on the video above or head over to YouTube and subscribe for more.