The iconic Volkswagen GTI was arguably the first "hot hatch" when VW made a small hatchback fun to drive, now in its sixth generation, the GTI still lives up to the original's sporting intentions.
The GTI is available as a four-door, with a 210-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox, (DSG), which allows the driver to shift sequentially, without doing the clutch work, via paddles on the steering wheel or the shift lever itself. An extensive list of standard equipment is included, features such as well-bolstered cloth sport seats with plaid inserts, halogen fog lamps, alloy pedals, SIRIUS satellite radio, 18-inch performance tires on alloy wheels, sport suspension, six airbags, tire pressure monitoring, an 8-speaker touch-screen audio system, Bluetooth and a multi-function leather steering wheel.
For 2014, the GTI overall is unchanged. The Wolfsburg Edition and Drivers Edition are the only two trims available.
The Ford Fiesta is a sub-compact, front-wheel drive, five-passenger car. Available in four and five-door bodystyles, the current benchmarks for the sub-compact segment are being tested by the Fiestas styling, comfort and luxury features, technology, and overall practicality.
The Fiesta is offered in three trims, S, SE, and a Titanium model. For 2014 there is the addition of the new ST trim to the hatchback lineup. Power comes from a 120-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission. An advanced six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission is optional. The ST gets a turbocharged, direct-injected version of the 1.6-liter that offers nearly 200-hp, mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Standard features on all models include air-conditioning, capless fuel filler system, power body-colored mirrors, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, aux audio input jack, electronic power-assisted steering and hill launch assist. Higher trim levels include cruise control, keyless entry, Ford's MyKey system, HD and satellite radio, alloy wheels, power windows, rearview camera with reverse park sensing, SYNC hands-free communications and entertainment system and SYNC with MyFord Touch. Standard safety features include AdvanceTrac electronic stability control, seven airbags including a driver knee airbag, tire pressure monitoring system, engine immobilizer and four-wheel anti-lock brakes.
For 2014, the Fiesta is a refresh with new interior and exterior styling, feature changes across the entire lineup and the addition of the ST performance hot hatch.
Chevy's enthusiasm for motorsports is palpable and it's particularly noticeable in the Camaro SS this year. The biggest news is the addition of a new 1LE package they've developed for the track day/road racer that significantly elevates the handling performance and thus the competitive edge of this 426-bhp V-8 Camaro. For $3500, the package includes an exclusive 6-speed manual transmission—complete with its own air-to-water radiator—with unique gear ratios and the biggest rear-end gear available in the Camaro line. It adds larger anti-roll bars front and rear, stronger rear axles, a strut tower brace, black 20-in. ZL1-based wheels with sticky 285-mm wide Goodyear Eagle Supercar G:2 tires and uprated wheel bearings/toe links/rear shock mounts/rear dampers/fuel pump/fuel pickups straight off the ZL1. Inside, the 1LE package adds the ZL1's sueded-microfiber-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and short-throw shift linkage while the outside treatment includes a matte black hood, front splitter and rear spoiler, the last two items of which are claimed to help reduce high-speed aerodynamic lift. Even if you're not opting for the 1LE package on your new SS (though you really should) all 2013 models will feature some new things such as a dual-mode exhaust, electric power steering, hill start assist (manual transmissions only), remote vehicle start (automatics only) and Chevy's MyLink color touchscreen for Bluetooth audio and smart phone integration.
Once upon a time, there was a Corolla wagon. But it just wasn't, you know, cool. So Toyota invented the Matrix crossover. Yeah, we know it looks like a Scion. But hey, the Matrix got here first. Restyled a bit last year, the Matrix is available as a base model with the Corolla's 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, or as a sporty S version that's powered by a larger and more powerful 2.4-liter. All-wheel drive is offered on the latter. The 5-passenger cabin has standard air conditioning, 4-speaker audio and cruise control. Flip down the split-folding rear seats and there's room for nearly 50 cu. ft. of stuff. A Premium Package spiffs up your Matrix with a power moonroof, USB/iPod port, Bluetooth streaming audio and XM satellite radio.
After decades of building various spin-offs for Chrysler, the company returned the favor three years ago by giving Mitsubishi a badge-engineered version of the Dodge Dakota. The Raider lineup shrinks for 2009 with the elimination of 4wd models. The LS 2wd soldiers on with a choice of extended and double cabs. A 210-bhp 3.7-liter V-6 is paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox on the former and a 4-speed automatic on the latter. Air conditioning, rear-access doors, variable wipers and a sound system with a CD player and auxiliary input are standard on the extended cab. The double cab adds power windows, door locks and mirrors; keyless entry, cruise control and 16-in. alloy wheels. An optional value package includes side steps, mudguards, a bed liner, cargo rail protectors, a scuff plate and a bright exhaust finisher.