Hot Hatch Rivalry: MINI Cooper S vs Volkswagen GTI

Two of the best hot hatchback on the market today.

Two of the best hot hatchback on the market today.

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 Ask a gear head what was the first “hot hatchback,” the majority of them will answer with the Volkswagen Golf GTI, which was first produced in 1976 but didn’t reach American shores until 1983. Some will say the Mini Cooper S, first appearing in 1963 and was a hot hatchback in every respect except lacking an actual hatchback.

Here at Sports Car Monitor, we like to take looks at The Car Connection’s Bottom Line reviews and pit cars against each other. This week it’s going to be the 2010 MINI Cooper S versus the 2010 Volkswagen GTI. This comparison is helped by the fact that both cars are two doors and start at nearly the same price-point, $23,000 for the MINI Cooper S and $23,290 for the Volkswagen GTI.

For Styling the MINI Cooper S wins. It has retro-futuristic styling that mimics the original MINI and has an array of options that can customize the car to the owner’s taste. The interior is also well designed with the only exception is the center speedometer. The Golf shares its body with the regular Golf but comes with its own distinct traits that can be pointed out at a glance.

Performance is very similar between the two. The 200 hp GTI rips 0-60 in 6.7 seconds while the 172 hp Cooper S manages to 7 seconds. The MINI has the best shifting manual, but the GTI comes with the superior automatic with its DSG transmission. Both cars are some of the best handling factory front-wheel-drive cars, though the Cooper S run-flat tires increases ride harshness.

The interior experience is nearly the same, Both cars offer enough room for six-footers up front, but at the cost of rear seat occupants, thought the GTI has more room than the Cooper S. Both cars benefit with those rear seats folded down and give owners the cargo capacity that hot hatches are know for. As written in the GTI Bottom line, “The upright shape and sizable glass areas give the GTI great visibility, and the feel isn't unlike that of the MINI Cooper.”

For Safety, the GTI has a slight advantage over the Cooper S. Both cars come equipped with anti-lock brakes, six airbags, and stability control. They also come with a variety of four-t- five star NHTSA ratings. However the GTI comes standard with traction control while it’s an option on the Cooper S.

What kills the Cooper S in options is that the Volkswagen comes with plenty of standard equipment, while the MINI features are almost all options. An example is that the GTI comes standard with USB and Bluetooth compatibility which will cost extra on the Cooper S.

So in the end, it appears that the 2010 Volkswagen GTI edges out the MINI Cooper S. Both are excellent hot hatches, but the GTI gives better value per money and safety.

But this is just an on-paper comparison. Hot hatchbacks are always cool, and these two are prime examples of what this segment has to offer.

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