The term “hot hatch” has been widely used since the 1980s and the Volkswagen GTI has been credited with being the original hot hatchback, although that’s up for debate. Either way, there have been many other hot hatchbacks since then, including the Civic Si and Type R and now the Hyundai Veloster N. And since the latter is a formidable contender in the segment, we thought it would be interesting to compare the Veloster N to the current Volkswagen GTI and see which one would be a better buy.
Hyundai Veloster N
First up, let’s take a look at the worthy rival to the hot hatchback throne, the 2020 Hyundai Veloster N. The Veloster N was released for the 2019 model year and was largely carry over for 2020, so no need to worry about any major changes.
When looking at the Veloster N, you might notice it’s aggressive look and stance, however, it’s not overbearing. While it doesn’t look as subdued as the Volkswagen GTI, the car’s “N Design” front bumper, side sills, and rear diffuser and spoiler seem to do the car justice in terms of it being a good performer and it being able to “walk the walk.” Just to note: Those vents that you see on the front of the car are fully functional as they are used for cooling the brakes.
Under the hood, the Veloster N is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that pushes out 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Opting for the “Performance Pack” will bump the horsepower up to 275 and you can expect the Veloster N to get up to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and down the quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds.
The Veloster N is just as quick in the corners as it is in a straight line, thanks to its electronically controlled suspension tuning and Hyundai’s N Power Sense Axle design, which aids in more precise steering. Braking duties are taken care of by Veloster N’s large 13.6-inch brake rotors up front and 12.4-inch rotors in the rear.
In terms of front-wheel-drive performance, the Volkswagen GTI has been the hatchback to beat for the past few decades. The GTI has gotten better with every generation and the 2020 model year saw some great updates including standard front assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear traffic alert.
Driver assists aside, the GTI is still as great a performer as it ever was thanks to a potent 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine that produces 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque which can be mated to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. In either form, you can expect 0 to 60 times of around 5.7 seconds and a trip down the quarter-mile to last about 14.3 seconds. It’s only slightly slower than the Veloster N.
In terms of styling, the GTI takes a much more subtle route by sticking to its hot-hatchback roots and offering onlookers a no-nonsense hatchback design that lacks any fender flares, body kits, or large wings like its competitors. Instead, the GTI means business will its blacked-out front grille and large 18-inch tires.
The interior is much more buttoned-down as the interior fit and finish is neat and tidy as you would expect from the German manufacturer, as opposed to the “boy racer” like interior found in the Veloster N.
Is the Veloster N a hotter hatch than the GTI?
What makes a hatchback a “hot hatch” is that it has to be relatively unassuming on the outside but packed with performance on the inside. Truthfully, there’s not really a clear-cut definition, however, both the Veloster N and the GTI embody the term.
But is the Veloster really better? Technically, we would say yes because it looks sporty, has slightly better performance than the GTI, and has the technological handling advantage that the GTI doesn’t. Additionally, both cars are priced the same, so it’s really a coin-flip of a difference. But if we’re the ones flipping the coin, we would hope that the Hyundai Veloster N comes out on top.