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chaparral
chaparral Dork
10/25/20 7:18 p.m.

I'm looking for a modern, fuel-efficient, fast hatchback. It'll see plenty of freeway work, some paved backroads, some dirt roads, some towing of 1000#, maybe a trackday or two if I take leave of my senses and leave my kart behind.  While I'm mechanically inclined, I'd rather not rebuild the bottom end to allow big-time power or swap out a perfectly good turbocharger. A lot of what I've driven recently was dull-handling or disappointingly slow, but I've got two potential winners:

1) A 2015+ Golf GTI - clean-handling, quiet, tall-geared, APR Plus takes it to 290 horsepower.

2) A 2013-19 Fiesta ST - sharper, worse-riding, roughly even with the GTI, and various chip-intake-exhaust combos take it to 220 hp or so and rough power/weight parity with the Golf.

Are there any disqualifying issues with these cars? Is there something that breaks on all of them? Will it return to iron oxide quickly? Good Fiesta STs start at ten grand around here, good Golf GTIs are fifteen, and at that price differential I'd say my preference is even. 

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
10/25/20 7:50 p.m.

GTI is probably going to be a more all around better choice. 

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
10/25/20 8:11 p.m.

I've driven both when buying my last car. FiST was the easy choice. Way better sensation of speed, more fun, nimble, sharp steering. Weighs 400lbs less. Easy to drop another 90lbs by swapping out the spare for tube of goo and aftermarket wheels. Not many fun cars out there in the 2600lbs range.

GTI has a nicer interior and is more sophisticated. I can understand someone selecting it, but it wasn't what I was looking for.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 SuperDork
10/25/20 8:17 p.m.

I LOVE my 2015 GTi. Never had a VAG product before, and man, I am changed. Was an '02 WRX wagon that a adored before this. Now I go from 24 MPG with zero bottom end, to 32 with torque everywhere, and the aforementioned possibility of a 50 state APR tune that takes the "210hp" to almost 300.

So, engine is fantastic, transmission is dreamy, but the interior.... man. I don't care about the ICE so much- that definitely is lacking with the 2015, but everything else is so above par, such varsity level.... worth a shot. I don't even have the plaid, which I think is way cooler than the black leather that I have.

 

Forgot to say- zero reason to go back to the dealer over 70k. Maybe one recall? Also, I wasn't pleased that the OG battery failed at 3 years. I do the oil changes.

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
10/25/20 9:20 p.m.

The ST is more playful and its a neat car.. But the GTi is my favorite of the 2. I think the Fiesta is too tall and the fit and finish and quality of materials on the interior is definitely subpar compared to the GTi.

I don't think towing with either car is really advisable.. but you do you.

Now, the GTI are not perfect, and when i looked at buying one my buddy made the comment. "i loved my GTi, although it did go through 3 water pumps. I can't remember if he had an MK7 or a MK6 in reference to that comment.

 

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
10/25/20 10:05 p.m.

For comfort I would go for the GTI, for cheapness of performance I would go with the ST. Civic Hatchback Sports could be an alternate option where it's a mix of both. Hondata tunes have them making decent power. They are also extremely underrated from the factory. 

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
10/25/20 10:54 p.m.
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) said:

 I think the Fiesta is too tall

Googled - Autoblog puts them at the exact same height. Edmunds puts the fist .4" taller. I'm 6'5" I fit well in both.

jv8
jv8 GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/26/20 5:53 a.m.

I've been driving a 2016 Golf R for 5 years and absolutely love it as a DD.  It is my first VAG product and I've had no issues... beginners luck?

I'd pick the GTI.

dps214
dps214 HalfDork
10/26/20 8:00 a.m.

I own a fiesta st and have never driven a gti. I generally really like the fiesta, my only real regret is that I could have waited a few months and gotten a gti for the same price during peak dieselgate time. The gti worries me a bit in long term reliability being a vag product, but those concerns are probably mostly unfounded. I don't know much about the gti but they seem good out of the box. The fiesta needs at least wheels and tires to make painted road lines not be noteworthy suspension events, and potholes not catastrophic, maybe a set of dampers as well. I don't know about the gti's tracking ability, but the fiesta needs a cooling system and a big brake kit to last more than about three laps at speed. And then there's the thing where using apex curbing is terrifying because it feels like that input could be enough to barrel roll it. I did one track day in mind and generally enjoyed it...but have no desire to again. I wouldn't be afraid of towing with it, but the hitch for it is only rated for 1500lb, but that's probably the same for most small car hitches.

FSP_ZX2
FSP_ZX2 SuperDork
10/26/20 8:30 a.m.

Is the 2018+ Elantra GT on the radar?  

I had a 2017 Elantra Sport, the sedan version--was a very nice car to drive.

 

Motor Trend called it the "Goldilocks Hatchback"

ZOO (Forum Supporter)
ZOO (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/26/20 9:15 a.m.

I own a 2018 GTI Autobahn, which means the performance package and the LSD.  Ours is leather (my wife's only flaw is that she hates Clarke Tartan).  My stepson and my friend both own Fiesta STs.  One with a Cobb access port.

The ST is much, much more raw.  In all aspects.  It's cheaper inside, it's raucous, firm to the point of stiff, and needs cooling and brake upgrades if you plan to take it to the track.  But it is an absolute hoot to drive.  It feels quicker than the GTI stock, and there is no doubt that with the Cobb tune it is much faster.

The GTI is sublime.  It is far more refined.  Can be had with an LSD (which makes it worth the price premium).  It's also substantially bigger -- I can get two mountain bikes in the back with the seats down.  It's a much more useful all-arounder.

I've been flamed for this -- but I stand by it -- the GTI reminds me most of my E36 M3/4/5 -- the specs are quite similar, as is the size and the weight.  It's not as easy to get sideways, but for everyday goodness it is on the mark.

JoeTR6 (Forum Supporter)
JoeTR6 (Forum Supporter) Dork
10/26/20 9:42 a.m.

I've had a FiST for three years and really like it.  It hasn't seen a track or autocross, but I've done substantial road tripping and have no issues with it.  Since moving to Colorado two years ago, it has been on dirt numerous times.  Chassis stiffness and ground clearance are a limitation on unimproved, washboarded roads.

For the money, it's definitely a fun ride.

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
10/26/20 9:47 a.m.

Get the GTi.  It's a MUCH better, nicer DD.  I'd also skip the APR tune and get a Cobb Accessport with an EQT tune instead.  Much more flexibility with the Cobb vs APR, plus when you want to sell the car you can unmarry the Cobb and sell it to recoup some $$$.

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
10/26/20 11:04 a.m.
ZOO (Forum Supporter) said:

It feels quicker than the GTI stock, and there is no doubt that with teh Cobb tune it is much faster.

Can be had with an LSD (which makes it worth the price premium).  It's also substantially bigger -- I can get two mountain bikes in the back with the seats down.  It's a much more useful all-arounder.

I've been flamed for this -- but I stand by it -- the GTI reminds me most of my E36 M3/4/5 -- the specs are quite similar, as is the size and the weight.  It's not as easy to get sideways, but for everyday goodness it is on the mark.

I don't think the FiST is quicker than the GTI stock, but FiST transmits a better sensation of speed it may "feel" that way. :)

A LSD is the thing I miss most in the FiST, but the FiST's "torque vectoring" tricks are fun. I've fit two mountain bikes in my FiST, but it was tight. When you remove the spare tire, the load floor can easily be dropped several inches. This exposes two metal bits which are really useful tie down points with a ratcheting strap. eg. I use these with my kayak or when transporting items like lumber.

I don't think comparing a GTI to an older BMW is inappropriate. It has a premium ride/handling feel, which is the secret sauce BMWs were lauded for back in the day. When driving the GTI I remember thinking that it was a tough competitor for the lower-end "premium" brand compact sedans.

Saron81
Saron81 HalfDork
10/26/20 11:07 a.m.

I had a Fiesta ST for 3 years and 90k completely trouble free miles... and I'd buy another one. 
If you're all about driving dynamics, it can not be beat. That said, the GTI is a much more comfortable car to live with I'm sure. 

ZOO (Forum Supporter)
ZOO (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/26/20 11:23 a.m.

I should add one other caveat -- the GTI can be had with LED and Xenon lights.  At (almost) 50, I appreciate good headlights more than many things.  The headlights on the FiSTs I've driven are abysmal.

You can't go wrong with either . . .

clutchsmoke
clutchsmoke UltraDork
10/26/20 1:45 p.m.

Do you have to drive it everyday? If I had to drive one daily I'd choose GTI. If it's not everyday the FiST is more about fun.

dps214
dps214 HalfDork
10/26/20 2:40 p.m.
Snrub said:

I don't think the FiST is quicker than the GTI stock, but FiST transmits a better sensation of speed it may "feel" that way. :)

The thing the fiesta does best is feel fast. In a vacuum it feels incredibly fast, it's not until you have a direct comparison that you realize it's actually not that fast. Ever since I got my cayman I've found that the fiesta now pretty much lives at full throttle and still isn't as fast as "normal" driving in the cayman. But that said it's still plenty fast for a fun commuter car and the torque band is, in a lot of ways, more satisfying for street driving...or maybe less satisfying, but the satisfaction happens at 40, not 85, and there's something to be said for that. The GTI is definitely the more "adult" car, with some amount of refinement, a nicer interior, and a suspension tuned to be good across the board, rather than the ford "the customer MUST know it's sporty!" approach.

einy (Forum Supporter)
einy (Forum Supporter) Dork
10/26/20 6:39 p.m.

If you go with the GTI, put ~ $100 a month in the 'fix it' jar.  Based on my 2011 GTI experience, bought new, perfectly maintained ... you'll eventually need it.  Wonderful, wonderful car from a user's perspective, but it costs money over time to run it on a daily basis. 

On a Mk7, consider replacing the stock plastic oil pan with a metal one.  I believe FCP Euro (and probably others) have a kit to do this.

If you put a tune in it, and have a manual trans, launch lightly, or plan on upgrading the clutch.

Watch for rust formation between the bottom of the front fenders and where they meet the rocker panels.  I'd even hazard to suggest pulling out the sound deadening squishy foam blocks that you can see when you open the front doors and look in that lower end of the gap.  (I assume the Mk7 still has those, as my Mk6 did.)

I have no experience with the Ford.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/26/20 7:48 p.m.

I have a pretty extensive "review" (with updates) on my 2018 GTI, in case you want to read my detailed thoughts on it (as someone coming out of a moderately-built 2009 WRX...)

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/2018-gti-initial-thoughts-after-a-week/143511/page1/

BLUF: It's not a particularly exciting car, but that's because it's really, really good at pretty much everything even in near-stock form, so there's almost no drama no matter what you ask it to do. I'm at 25k miles+ now and have had no issues with it, and i drive it very hard. 

chaparral
chaparral Dork
10/26/20 9:18 p.m.

In reply to clutchsmoke :

I will only have one car if I get one of these. It's replacing a 6-speed G35S, which I enjoy on the road and in the garage but don't enjoy at the gas station and the parts counter. 

chaparral
chaparral Dork
10/26/20 9:28 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

That's a useful review and set of updates. These cars are new enough that anyone but the Michael Andretti-level car killers shouldn't have too many problems, so any horror stories would be telling. I figure I could get away with running at stock power through the worst of the winter, add some in the spring, then swap the turbocharger and clutch/flywheel after a couple of years, and avoid boredom for a while.

pirate
pirate HalfDork
10/26/20 9:31 p.m.

I have a FiST and really like it as a daily driver. I don't track or autocross the car but it is a hoot to drive. My only complaint is having to replace a A/C compressor (23,000 miles) but just out of warranty based on 36 months with no help from Ford.

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
10/27/20 8:37 a.m.

You can make stupid power on these.  A friend with a Mk 7 R did a turbo swap and he makes 500awhp on E30.  An R on the stock turbo, with a downpipe and E30 will make 420awhp.

I wouldn't bother replacing the plastic oil pan unless you plan on going off roading, which is just a poor choice in any hot hatch.  If you're worried about the oil pan, add the golf alltrack skid plate.  It bolts right on.

Saron81
Saron81 HalfDork
10/27/20 8:44 a.m.
chaparral said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

That's a useful review and set of updates. These cars are new enough that anyone but the Michael Andretti-level car killers shouldn't have too many problems, so any horror stories would be telling. I figure I could get away with running at stock power through the worst of the winter, add some in the spring, then swap the turbocharger and clutch/flywheel after a couple of years, and avoid boredom for a while.

Are you not familiar with VWs reputation? 

(Only kinda kidding.) 
 

I had the Mountune MP215 kit and exhaust on my Fiesta for 95k of the 97k I had it. I feel like it was really just right for the car. A nice little bump over stock, but not overpowering the chassis, brakes, or ruining the character of the car. With a cheap set of 15" steelies and winter tires, it was a great 4 season car. 

 

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