- The Volkswagen GTI wasn't the quickest but delivered the most fun.
- The Subaru WRX struggled on our tight course.
- The Hyundai Elantra N deserves your attention.
COMPARISON TEST: 2022 VW GTI Beats Out Hyundai Elantra N, Subaru WRX
Two compact kings (and an also-ran)
This particular battle focused on the performance side of all three cars. We drove each car for two laps around a short autocross course to show off their speed, braking and handling. In the end, there were two clear contenders for best drive of the day.
2022 Subaru WRX Picture
Where they finished
The GTI came away as the star of the day even though it didn't set the quickest time on the course. Instead, the GTI separated itself from the group with engaging handling and responsive power. This set of attributes shone brightly on the autocross track.
The fastest time of the day went to the Hyundai Elantra N. This newcomer on the scene boasted the most powerful engine and grippiest tires in the group. Its crisp steering and acceleration easily impressed. The overly digital demeanor of the car left us wanting in terms of emotion, however.
Finally, the Subaru WRX brought up the rear in terms of lap times. It was the only car featuring all-wheel drive. Not coincidentally, it was the heaviest model of the three. It felt slower to respond to commands than the others, and its AWD system didn't provide any tangible benefit when powering around our admittedly tight cone course.
2022 Hyundai Elantra N
How we rank them
This result was not entirely unexpected. In Edmunds' ratings, the GTI and Elantra N received far higher scores than the WRX. In fact, there is nearly a tie at the top. The GTI scored 8.5/10 while the Elantra N scored 8.4/10.
These scores are not a direct reflection, as the two vehicles compete in slightly different classes (hot hatch vs. small sedan, respectively). However, they are an indication that both models generally met or exceeded our expectations.
The WRX, meanwhile, scored a 7.6/10 overall. While still good, this is not the glowing rating that the GTI and Elantra N received. What's more, the WRX recently suffered a decisive loss to the Elantra N in our Edmunds U-Drags competition. The WRX is genuinely fast and fun to drive, but it falls short compared to the sharper Volkswagen and Hyundai.
2022 Volkswagen GTI
Excitement is just as important as lap times at these vehicles' price point, and the WRX simply can't keep up in that aspect. Our highest recommendation goes to the GTI in this test, but the Elantra N is compelling in its own way.
2022 Hyundai Elantra N