HOT HATCHES ARE MORE THRILLING THAN HYPERCARS

Edric finds him­self more thrilled by a Hyundai than a McLaren.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - EDRIC PAN

SET­TLING into my seat on a flight last month, I pulled out an au­to­mo­tive mag­a­zine (of course) for a leisurely read. But was I drawn to the piece on the bru­tal new McLaren Senna, or the spec­tac­u­lar thou­sand horse power, Adrian Newey-con­ceived As­ton Martin Valkyrie? No, my in­ter­est was piqued in­stead by the re­view of Hyundai’s new hot-hatch, the i30 N.

Truth be told, my eyes glaze over when I en­counter a gush­ing ar­ti­cle about yet an­other whizz-bang hy­per­car. Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron, AMG Project One, the afore­men­tioned As­ton Valkyrie – I’ve barely glanced at their breath­less press re­leases and mag­a­zine previews, and cer­tainly couldn’t re­cite their tech­ni­cal or per­for­mance specs.

In­cred­i­ble en­gi­neer­ing feats they may be, but they leave me cold, so alien are they in con­cept, abil­ity and sheer price to any­thing you or I are likely to en­counter in real life. And even were I to some­how blag my way into the driver’s seat of the Valkyrie or an­other of th­ese ex­otic de­vices, I’d prob­a­bly end up only tick­ling a quar­ter or so of its po­ten­tial be­cause, not be­ing Max Ver­stap­pen, that would be all the speed, grip and ex­plo­sive fe­roc­ity that my awestruck mind and limited hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion could process. Con­duct a mean­ing­ful re­view of the car? For­get it. The Hyundai, on the other hand – now that’s a car I can iden­tify with. Com­pact, well­built, quick (275hp, in its more pow­er­ful guise), com­fort­able and an ab­so­lute

hoot to drive, from what I’ve read.

A Korean Golf GTI, in other words, only cheaper and faster, and with a man­ual gear­box as stan­dard. It’s a car which would eas­ily shrug off my traf­fic­clogged daily work com­mute, yet prove a thrilling part­ner for a week­end B-road blast up the Malaysian east coast.

And it’s not just the Korean hot-hatch that’s caught my eye. I’ve al­ways been par­tial to af­ford­able, ev­ery­day per­for­mance cars (my daily drive is a four-door Civic Type R), so Re­nault’s newly minted Me­gane RS, with its 280hp 1.8-litre turbo en­gine and rear-wheel-steer (a first for this seg­ment), looks tasty too.

And I’ve also been a long-time fan of the grand-daddy of this genre, the VW Golf GTI, hav­ing sung its praises in my pre­vi­ous Torque col­umn.

In th­ese ev­ery­day he­roes, you can en­joy your­self be­hind the wheel while fly­ing un­der the radar; in a hy­per­car, you’ll end up on Stomp even if you’re just pot­ter­ing to the shops for some pet food. And when you get to the mall, there’ll be nowhere to park be­cause your front split­ter prob­a­bly can’t clear the carpark hump. And you’re not about to try ei­ther, with a hun­dred pairs of eyes just wait­ing to see you scrape that ex­otic car­bon fi­bre.

A hy­per­car se­ri­ously cramps your style, while a hot hatch lib­er­ates you. And that’s why I find my­self more cap­ti­vated by a Hyundai than a McLaren.

HOT HATCHES HAVE AL­WAYS BEEN EDRIC’S THING. HIS FAVOURITE CAR OF ALL TIME? THE PEU­GEOT 205 GTI.

APRIL 2018

Nei­ther the McLaren Senna nor the As­ton Valkyrie ex­cites Edric like a good hot-hatch can.

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