WITH winter fast approaching, this issue of CAR is packed with fun-to-drive cars to add some spice to your mid-year reading enjoyment. Crucially, not all of these machines cost millions of rands. Most of them are, in fact, the average petrolhead’s dream cars because they’re attainable. I’m talking, of course, about hot hatches.
Back in 1976, when VW first wheeled out the Golf GTI, regarded as the world’s first true hot hatch, it couldn’t have foreseen what a crucial segment this would become. Perhaps that’s why, a few generations in, it took its eyes off the ball so badly that it very nearly lost the GTI faithful. The recovery started with the fifth-generation of the Golf, but it has taken until now, with the launch of Mark 7, for VW to convincingly take back the crown it helped to forge in the first place. According to Autocar’s Steve Sutcliffe, the new GTI sets the benchmark. See page 26.
But, speedy Golfs, Astras and Méganes are big and expensive. For those reasons, the segment for thrilling smaller, cheaper hatchbacks is swelling fast. Boy-racers rejoice; 2013 promises to be a good year if you’re in the market for something practical yet entertaining. The three contenders featured in this issue, Peugeot’s 208 GTi (page 30), Ford’s Fiesta ST (page 34) and Renault’s Clio RS (page 38), are all potential segment champions. What’s more, they’ll be here in a matter of months. But best of all, they should land at your local dealership at well under R300 000.
Like you, I’m looking forward to reading the comparative test that will undoubtedly follow when these cars arrive, as I won’t be round to drive them. Those of you who follow the business press and CAR’s social-media platforms will know that I’ll soon be departing the hot seat for a position at GWM South Africa. I’ll say my goodbyes next month, but this issue represents the last one I signed off in its entirety. I hope you’ll enjoy it, because I certainly enjoyed putting this particular month’s glamour feature together. Better late than never!