I’M LOOKING TO BUY A PUNCHY HOT HATCH. I NEED SOMETHING A BIT BIGGER THAN A GR YARIS BUT I CAN’T STOMACH THE LOOKS OF A CIVIC TYPE R. THE FIELD HAS NARROWED TO EITHER A FORD FOCUS ST OR A HYUNDAI i30 N. WHERE’S THE SMART MONEY GOING HERE?
The smart money? That’s easy. Buy the Hyundai. I’d wager it’ll be worth a good deal more than the Ford three years down the road, it’s got a warranty that covers circuit use, it’s just as quick as the Focus in the real world, it’s cheaper to insure, it costs less to buy than the Ford, is better equipped and so on.
I could go on but I reckon you’ve got the gist of this by now. As an all-round hot hatch, the Hyundai i30 N is extremely tough to beat. End of discussion? Not exactly. You’ll probably want to drive both of these cars before you make your decision, because they feel markedly different.
Whereas the Hyundai is easy to key into quickly, the Focus requires a little more time to worm its way into your affections, but there’s something about the Ford that is hugely endearing. It almost feels like a hot hatch with overtones of muscle car in the way that the engine burbles and serves up huge torque from very low rpm.
There’s real character to the Focus ST, and character goes a long way. Just check the hot hatch group test versus the Renault Megane and the BMW 128ti in MOTOR's April edition for more details on its bona fides. Is it enough to swing the decision to the Blue Oval? Not if you go head over heart. That decision belongs to the Korean car every day of the week.
The issue here is that we don’t always buy hot hatches for purely objective reasons. We want to drive something that we end up loving, not admiring, and that could well make this decision closer than it initially looks on paper. Great choices, by the way.
2021 Ford Focus ST v 2021 Hyundai i30 N specs
Engine: 2261cc 14, DOHC, 16v turbo | 1998cc I4, DOHC, 16v turbo
Power: 206kW @ 5500rpm | 202kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 420Nm @ 3000-4000rpm | 353Nm @ 1450-4700rpm
Weight: 1508kg | 1429kg
0-100km/h: 6.1s (tested)| 6.24s (tested)
Price: $44,890 | $41,400
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