In Drive’s comparison test, we have chosen three key rivals. The second-generation Mazda3 MPS is almost as new as the GTI, having arrived in July. It continues as the range-topping model of one of Australia’s most popular cars.
Our next competitor is one of the cult performance cars of the past 15 years: the Subaru WRX.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, which rolled out last year, joins our test in hatch, or “Sportback”, form to round out a quartet of circa-$40,000 five-doors.
As with the original GTI, all four are based on mainstream hatchbacks but with more powerful engines, firmer suspension and a sportier look.
So which hot hatch best excels at combining the key elements of price, practicality and performance?