>> Wednesday, December 24, 2008
In 1976, Volkswagen introduced the world to the Rabbit GTi. The German pocket rocket defined a whole new class for entry-level lead foots. The DNA was simple; a lightweight, nimble chassis coupled with a high-revving fuel efficient motor, a couple of doors and a lift-gate at the back. The hot-hatch was born. Since then, grace has been replaced by grunt. Two hundred horsepower is the starting line. The Mazdaspeed 3, new GTi, and MINI Cooper S lead the way from across the ponds. Stateside, the Dodge Caliber SRT-4 and Chevrolet HHR SS bring more mass and muscle to the party. They may be a two-door stretch to the original definition, but hot and hatched they are. So are either of the latter two worth your money?