Motorweek’s decades of history on television make it the perfect medium to look back into the automotive past and see how things are different now. It recently added old road test videos to its YouTube channel of the Acura NSX and Toyota Supra, as well as the Ferrari F40. For one of its newest flashback clips, Motorweek has exhumed an affordable five-car challenge of 1986’s premiere hot hatches.
By today’s standards, this is an eclectic field that features fondly remembered classics like the Volkswagen GTI 16-valve and Acura Integra. However, it also throws in some nearly forgotten contenders like the Dodge Colt Turbo and Ford Escort GT. The angular Toyota Corolla FX16 GT-S rounds out the group.
It’s fascinating to watch Motorweek run the quintet through the slalom, down the drag strip and on various roads. What’s most striking in this clip is the difference in the definition of a performance car between then and now. With its 16-valve, 1.8-liter four-cylinder, the GTI is the burliest of the contenders with 123 horsepower, but it still takes 8.8 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour. By today’s standards, that would make it a plain-jane economy car, and not even a particularly quick one.
Still, in their day, these hatches were the pinnacle of affordable performance. If you’re curious to see the winner of the nearly 30-year-old test or just want a heaping helping of nostalgia, this video is definitely worth checking out.