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Hot Hatches

8 min read
Hatchbacks are arguably Singapore’s second-favourite genre of cars, not far behind the highly popular SUVs. Here are three to drool over.

BMW 116I

Merely looking at the all-new BMW 116i removes all wonder why BMW is dominant in the premium luxury compact segment. Their latest in this popular category boasts a new front-wheel drive architecture that possesses a vastly improved dynamic response that BMW claims is “unprecedented” in its class.

Superficially, the car just looks darn hot. The front-wheel drive allows the car to enjoy new proportions and an elongated line. The shorter bonnet combines with a wide tail to give the BMW 116i a powerful stance, despite being five millimetres shorter than its predecessor.

From the front, the larger BMW kidney grille is in step with the brand’s move. New slanted headlights give the BMW 1 Series car a fresher look, and the full-LED lights can be specified with adaptive functionality.
Despite being shorter than the previous model, with also a shorter wheelbase, the BMW 116i actually offers more space inside! Graining effects and texture elements behind the steering wheel as well as on the doors and instrument panel gives an increased sense of luxury. Rear headroom is upped by 19mm, and there is an extra 33mm at the back. More importantly, luggage capacity has increased by 380 litres (1,200 litres with the back seats down).

High-quality illumination in the cockpit and interiors throw new light to the on-board experience of the BMW 116i. Drivers can choose up to six different light schemes, and also their brightness levels. The digital BMW Live Cockpit Professional system offers two 10.25-inch displays for quick and easy access to entertainment, navigation, and important information for the driver. The new BMW Operating System 7.0 also offers maximum connectivity and customisability, including an adaptive navigation system and a hard drive-based multimedia system.One great benefit of a premium compact of this size is agility — and the three-cylinder BMW 116i does not disappoint. The new front-wheel drive integrates with cutting-edge chassis engineering to deliver fast and precise handling. Part of this is attributed to the actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation (ARB) technology, which is being introduced for the first time in a combustion-engine car. This works with the Dynamic Stability Control system to significantly reduce understeer that is typical for front-wheel drive vehicles.

This third-generation BMW 1 Series benefits from the latest driver assistance systems. Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Park Distance Control, Proactive Driving Assistant, Rear Collision Warning, and Crossing Traffic Warning all help to make your journey a pleasurable and safe one.




POWER  109HP @ 4,300–6,500RPM

TORQUE  190NM @ 1,380–3,800RPM

0–100KM/H  10.6 SECONDS



Designed in Namyang, home of Hyundai’s Research and Development, and tested in the famed Nurburgring, one of the most demanding racetracks in the world. So says Hyundai’s marketing campaign for the i30 range.

The Korean brand has taken the i30 N performance range from its launch in 2017 to the present with the new i30 N hatchback, Wagon, and Fastback N. Along with it, Hyundai continues to push the envelope of performance, quickly veering away from its somewhat pedestrian past.

Don’t let the compact design fool you. This is a full-blooded, two-litre car that packs a punch with 280hp of power and 392Nm of torque from the DOHC in-line four-cylinder Theta T-GDi engine. And, if you didn’t realise that, then its handsome, muscular stature should have given this monster of a hatchback away.

Every way you look, the Hyundai i30 N Hatchback yells, “Speed!” Rear bumpers are aggressively sculpted with red racing line and integrated fog lights. The oversized exhausts tend to give away its sporty intentions. The car features Hyundai’s first-ever 19-inch forged alloy wheels that improve traction by reducing unsprang weight, especially when paired with high-performance Pirelli P-Zero tyres. And, noticeably, the rear spoiler, with its integrated triangular brake lights, combines form with function as it increases downforce for better road-holding around corners.The performance theme continues inside the cockpit with Hyundai’s driver-focused ergonomics putting performance at the fingertips of the driver. Paddle shifters are easily accessible from the perforated leather steering wheel, and the N Cluster display lets you see oil temperature, torque and turbo boost at one go.

For a little bit of added fun, the N DCT system lets you ramp up the experience without removing your hands from the steering wheel. Holding down the N Grin Shift button will kick the car into maximum torque, acceleration and exhaust sound. This downshifts to the lowest possible gear for the longest possible time with the countdown on the cluster showing you the remaining seconds for the boost. N Power Shift provides a powerful ‘push’ feel when upshifting, and increases acceleration with more than 90% throttle, delivering maximum power to the wheels. If you’re keen to take the car for a spin around the track, N Track Sense Shift selects the right gear for optimum performance so you can just focus on steering.

Even the interior lets you know that this is no slouch of a car. The mono-form N Light Seats with lateral support lets you “sit like a pro” while pampering you with premium leather and Alcantara material. Contrast stitching ramps up the style factor throughout the cockpit, while the metal pedals and silver finish in air vents hint at the car’s thoroughbred DNA.Hyundai SmartSense provides all the driver assistance and safety features you can ask for. Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist (keeps you centred in your lane), Leading Vehicle Departure Alert, High Beam Assist (automatically lowers your high beam when it detects a car approaching in front), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, and Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist are all included. Driver Attention Warning even perks you up with a warning if its senses that you’re nodding off.

Hyundai cars are quickly improving with the design of its user interfaces. The eight-inch display complements the seven-inch digital cluster. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, and the entire dashboard, cabin surfaces, and overall design heralds a new sophisticated approach of this increasingly popular brand.




POWER  280HP @ 6,000RPM

TORQUE  392NM @ 2,100–4,700RPM

0–100KM/H  5.4 SECONDS



No discussion about hatchbacks ought to transpire without mention of the Volkswagen Golf. This is probably the quintessential four-door hatchback and the 35 million units sold over its 45-year lifespan testify to its popularity.

This eighth-generation version of the VW Golf doesn’t deviate too far from its predecessors, as it comes equipped with subtle enhancements that bring the new car into a new age. The Golf variants currently available in Singapore are the Golf Life Plus, Golf R-Line, and Golf GTi.

While there are understated changes to the lights of the new model, it’s under the hood that the differences are most significant. The Golf 8 has a mild hybrid engine that helps it attain a 10% reduction in consumption. The 48V belt starter generator, 48V lithium-ion battery, and the latest TSI engine team up to form a mild hybrid drive that allows the car to coast with the combustion engine completely turned off. The 48V mild hybrid system works in tandem with the 12V system, with recuperation of energy prevalent upon braking. Active Cylinder Management further shuts down two of the four cylinders at appropriate times to minimise consumption and emissions.
A new digital era has also dawned on the Golf 8. The new 10.5-inch digital instrument and infotainment systems offer touch buttons and touch sliders. Voice control is available, and drivers can customise the display environment to their preference. Windscreen head-up display is now available (only in the GTi), and the light and vision functions have been redesigned and bundled for a more intuitive operation. The Golf R-Line variant includes a multifunction steering wheel with touch controls.
Additional features in the VW Golf 8 range include wireless charging, gesture control, automatic dimming of interior lights, and keyless access. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is MirrorLink, which allows operation of your smartphone’s apps through the car’s receiver. Wireless charging is also available.

As with previous iterations, the Golf 8 comes with different equipment package specifications: Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. All three offer improved and enhanced features compared to their predecessors. The good thing is that the basic package is already rather comprehensive, offering a wide range of driver assistance and safety features. Proactive Occupant Protection System, Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, Side Assist with Rear Traffic Alert, and Cruise Control are standard.The VW Golf 8 range extends to the R-Line, with its amped-up design accents, 18-inch Bergamo alloy wheels, integrated head restraints, multifunction leather steering wheel, and brushed steel pedals. The range climaxes with the new eighth-generation VW GTi; with its 2.0 TSI engine, 245PS of power, and 370Nm of torque, that is, obviously, another story in itself.




POWER  150PS @ 5,000–6,000RPM

TORQUE  250NM @ 1,500–3,500RPM

0–100KM/H  8.5 SECONDS


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