Hot Hatches and Sport Compacts Need Not Apply
While we expect hot hatches to be entertaining to drive and quick in a straight line, sometimes more pedestrian compact cars surprise us. These days, you don’t need a performance variant of a compact car to get something quick. Sure, cars like the Volkswagen Golf GTI are plenty fun, but what if you don’t have budget or you simply need something to get you from point A to B as quickly as possible? Here are a dozen Motor Trend tested non-performance compact cars. All of them can hit 60 mph in under 9 seconds, which used to be the territory of sport compacts.
2016 Scion iM
0-60 mph: 8.9 seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.8 seconds at 82.8 mph (133 km/h)
Scion‘s newest entry into the compact segment, the iM, is essentially a rebadged Toyota Auris, which is sold in Europe and Japan. Under the hood, you’ll find the same 1.8-liter I-4 from the Toyota Corolla Eco but tuned to 137 hp with 126 lb-ft of torque. With the standard six-speed manual, the Scion is quicker than its sedan sibling and offers more space and practicality to boot. With the discontinuation of the Scion brand, the iM becomes a Toyota after the 2016 model year.
2014 Dodge Dart GT
0-60 mph: 8.7 seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.6 seconds at 82.7 mph (133 km/h)
The Dodge Dart GT is more of a cosmetic package than a performance variant. Sure, it comes with a sportier suspension setup, but it still isn’t up to the same level as modern sport compacts. Under the hood you’ll find a 2.4-liter I-4 rated at 184 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, giving the car one of the higher power ratings in its class.
2014 Fiat 500L
0-60 mph: 8.6 seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.4 seconds at 85.3 mph (137 km/h)
Quirky, polarizing, and unusual are words that describe the Fiat 500L, a tall hatchback with a cabin with room for you, your friends, and your gear. When paired to the standard six-speed manual gearbox, the 1.4-liter turbo-four makes the most out of its 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque to give you good power for passing other cars and hauling whatever treasures you’re transporting.
2014 Hyundai Elantra GT
0-60 mph: 8.4 seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.4 seconds at 84.5 mph (139 km/h)
Despite the badge, the Hyundai Elantra GT is more of a practical hatchback than a grand tourer. It’s powered by a 173-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 that can paired to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, depending on how involved you’d like to be in the task of driving. Should you need to haul stuff, there’s up to 53 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded for your Ikea sprees.
2014 Ford Focus Titanium
0-60 mph: 8.3 seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.3 seconds at 85.7 mph (138 km/h)
Easily one of the most entertaining compact cars to drive, the Ford Focus ensures that you have plenty of fun behind the wheel. While its 2.0-liter I-4 only makes 160 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque, the available five-speed manual should keep you engaged and having fun on the road as you take advantage of the car’s nimble handling.
2014 Kia Forte EX sedan
0-60 mph: 7.8 seconds
1/4 Mile: 16 seconds at 87.3 mph (140 km/h)
Currently one of the best values in the compact class, the Kia Forte offers plenty of upscale features and a spacious interior. When equipped with the 173-hp, 2.0-liter I-4, the Forte becomes one of the more powerful entries in the segment and offers plenty of zip to get you around slower traffic. A refreshed Kia Forte sedan debuted at the 2016 Detroit auto show.
2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI
0-60 mph: 7.8 seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.9 seconds at 87.8 mph (141 km/h)
No other compact car defines jack-of-all-trades like the Volkswagen Golf. Since it’s a hatchback, the Golf has a cavernous interior that can fit plenty of cargo and up to five people. Should you want to have a little bit of fun, the Golf also offers excellent handling in the twisty bits and a 1.8-liter turbo-four with 170 hp and up to 199 lb-ft of torque to help you pass slowpokes.
2014 Mazda3 S Grand Touring
0-60 mph: 7.3 seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.6 seconds at 90 mph (145 km/h)
Considered the driver’s choice in the compact segment, the Mazda3 drives better than it has any right to. When equipped with the 184-hp, 2.5-liter I-4, it’s one of the quickest non-performance compacts on sale today. As a cherry on top of an already sweet package, versions equipped with the six-speed automatic can achieve up to 29/40 mpg (8.1/5.9 L/100km) city/highway depending on the body style.
2013 Volkswagen Jetta SE
0-60 mph: 7.3 seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.5 seconds at 90.5 mph (146 km/h)
After it gained the new 170-hp, 1.8-liter turbo-four, the Volkswagen Jetta went from one of the slower entries in the compact segment to one of the quickest. With 184 lb-ft of torque on tap from 1,500 rpm, the Jetta makes it easy to pass stragglers on the highway, and with a large, roomy interior plus a spacious trunk, you’ll be able take your friends and their gear on a road trip with ease.
2016 Honda Civic Touring
0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.5 seconds at 92.4 mph (149 km/h)
A major step above the car it replaces, the 2016 Honda Civic immediately became the compact car benchmark thanks to its excellent combination of speed, agility, comfort, space, fuel economy, and technology. When equipped with the 174-hp, 1.5-liter turbo-four, the Civic is a powerhouse that not many cars in its class can equal while offering 31/42 mpg (7.6/5.6 L/100km) city/highway.
2014 Kia Forte Koup SX
0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.1 seconds at 93.9 mph (151 km/h)
Straddling the line between economy car and sport compact, the Kia Forte Koup SX offers plenty of power thanks to its 201-hp, 1.6-liter turbo-four and a standard six-speed manual gearbox. Think of it as a value-packed alternative that also offers strong acceleration and decent handling capabilities wrapped in a stylish package.
2014 Kia Forte5 SX
0-60 mph: 6.6 seconds (six-speed automatic); 6.7 seconds (six-speed manual)
1/4 Mile: 15.1 seconds at 92.8 seconds (149 km/h) (six-speed automatic); 15.1 seconds at 92.6 mph (149 km/h) ( six-speed manual)
The Forte5 SX proves that Kia has made strides when it comes to making sporty cars. Featuring the same 201-hp, 1.6-liter turbo-four found in the Forte Koup SX, the Forte5 SX is essentially a lukewarm hatch that’s getting hotter. Like its two-door sibling, the Forte5 SX can be had with a six-speed manual for maximum driver involvement.