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Car enthusiasts love the Volkswagen Golf GTI for its sporty design and power. With its turbocharged engine, the GTI provides impressive performance for a thrilling and engaging driving experience. Providing precise handling and responsive steering, the Golf GTI is ideal for drivers wanting fun and functionality. But it isn’t the only game in town. The Honda Civic Si is a popular GTI rival. However, if you want a sporty Golf GTI alternative that isn’t a Civic Si, check out these five cars.

1. Hyundai Elantra N

2023 Hyundai Elantra N viewed from the left rear in a darkened hazy room
2023 Hyundai Elantra N | Hyundai

The Hyundai Elantra N is a high-performance compact sedan starting at around $33,000. That’s $2,500 more than the Golf GTI’s $30,500 sticker price.

MSRPs aside, the Elantra N offers a thrilling driving experience with more power than the GTI. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under Elantra N’s hood harnesses 276 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. It’s similar to the GTI’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, producing 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque.

Like the Golf GTI, the Elantra N seats up to five passengers, but it provides 14.2 cubic feet of cargo space, whereas the GTI has 12 cubic feet. Both cars are pretty evenly matched in advanced safety features, like automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.

2. Hyundai Kona N

The Hyundai Kona N is on par with the Golf GTi and its zippy sibling the Elantra N. The Kona N’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provides the same power output as the Elantra N, with 276 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. It’s also equipped with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive, whereas the Golf GTI has a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with standard front-wheel drive.

The Kona N starts at around $34,000, slightly higher than the Elantra N and over $3,000 more than the Golf GTI. It can seat up to five passengers and boasts generous cargo space — 19.2 cubic feet versus the 12 cubic feet in the GTI. And like its VW competitor, the Kona N offers an impressive list of advanced safety features. They include blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

3. Subaru WRX

With a starting price of around $28,000, the Subaru WRX is considerably cheaper than the Golf GTI.

The WRX has a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 271 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It has a six-speed manual or a CVT with paddle shifters. All-wheel drive comes standard, as does a sport-tuned suspension for spry handling and thrilling performance. The WRX seats up to five and has 12 cubic feet of cargo room. 

Overall, the WRX offers excellent value. It costs less than the Golf GTI, provides more power, and has standard all-wheel drive. It also has more passenger space, but the GTI has a more refined interior with many technology features.

4. Toyota GR86

The Toyota GR86 starts at about $30,000, about $500 less than the Golf GTI. It packs a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder making 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The GR86 comes standard with rear-wheel drive and offers a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.

This two-door sports car has a sporty yet refined interior. However, it seats only four passengers and has only six cubic feet of cargo space.

Although this Toyota costs slightly less than the VW, it can’t match the Golf GTI in power, seating, and cargo space.

5. Toyota GR Corolla

The Toyota GR Corolla starts at around $30,000, slightly less than the Golf GTI. But it also offers less power than its VW rival. This hot hatch packs a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 168 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. It has a six-speed manual transmission or an optional automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters. 

In addition, the GR Corolla has front-wheel drive, a sport-tuned suspension, and a limited-slip differential for an exciting driving experience, Edmunds reports.

It seats five and has a decent amount of cargo space at 13.1 cubic feet. Overall, the GR Corolla strikes an attractive balance between sporty performance and practicality.


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