What’s Better: FWD Hot Hatch or RWD Sports Car?

2015 Ford Focus ST

2015 Ford Focus ST

Torque steer remains one of the spikes in the soul of the hot hatch.

Regardless, people love the little hatchbacks for their front-wheel drive and turbocharged engines. They are just as fast as some rear-wheel-drive competition and often have prices to match.

In my humble opinion, the hot hatch is for the guy or girl who wants a fun, fast car but wants everyone else to think they are driving something sensible and normal.

Take the Ford Focus ST for example.

At first glance, no one will look at the car and be taken by its design or assume it’s probably the fastest car in a 5-mile radius. People will just see another econo-box Focus and look away.

What they won’t know is that a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder cranks out 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque while using a 6-speed manual gearbox to put the power through the front tires. It’s a combo good enough for a 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds.

The Focus ST competes with the likes of the Volkswagen GTI and the Mazdaspeed3. Each of those cars has its fiercely loyal fans, but each is like an economy car mixed with equal parts Atlas V rocket.

Personally, I prefer my speed to come wrapped in a package that tells the world of its capabilities.

Maybe, though, fans of the hot hatch have a point. Here are three reasons to get one:

  1. Being FWD, the hot hatch will handle snow and ice much better than its RWD counterparts.
  2. There’s a lot of power for the money.
  3. There’s usually more room for friends and stuff in a hot hatch.

Then again, the hot hatch has some drawbacks, too.

  1. Torque steer can be a serious pain in the butt when accelerating, especially out of corners. The wheels that steer shouldn’t be the wheels that drive.
  2. Day-to-day driving can get tiresome because of the tight suspension and manual transmission.
  3. The sound is more like a buzzy whine than a powerful growl.
  4. For the same price, or less, one could buy a V6 Mustang. Enough said.

For my money, I’d rather have a Mustang or something comparable. But what about you:

Are you a hot hatch person? If so, which one is your favorite?

-tgriffith

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1 Comment

  1. Totally agree!!!

    I drove both FWD hatchback and RWD coupe.
    My conclusion is that fun driving of RWD cannot be substituted with FWD.
    There are certain practical benefits of hot hatch but it is not a good option for real driving fun

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