To be a contender in the sport compact category, there are a few things you must bring to the table. There at least three or four that immediately come to mind; small, sporty, inexpensive and relatively practical. They should also clearly stand out from their more pedestrian versions.

Our friends at Edmunds gathered a group of six of the hottest sport compacts available in the US today and put them through their paces to determine the best of the best. The six contenders for the title are (in no specific order) the 2006 Honda Civic Si, 2006 MINI Cooper S, 2007 Mazdaspeed3, 2006 Volkswagen GTI, 2006 Chevy Cobalt SS and the 2006 Subaru WRX TR.

Who won? Check out the finishing order after the jump and follow this link to read the entire article.

[Source: Inside Line]


Some quick facts on the field; all of the vehicles are powered by four-cylinder engines with displacements ranging from 1.6 to 2.5 liters, and all of them featured forced induction except for the Civic Si. The MINI Cooper S and the Cobalt SS readied for battle packing superchargers and the GTI, WRX TR, MAZDASPEED3 are all boosted by turbochargers. The Civic Si, MINI and MAZDASPEED3 are the only vehicles equipped with both a six-speed transmission and limited slip differential, and the WRX TR is the only all-wheel-drive of the bunch.

The barrage of tests began with some everyday driving in each that included kids, trips to the grocery store, etc to get a feel for the practicality of "living" with each vehicle. Then they each went for an all-out assault on the 1.8-mile carousel ride called The Streets of Willow Springs for track evaluation. Finally they returned back to the test facility for the statistical stuff: 0-60, braking distances, skidpad, etc.

Testing finished up with some good old fashioned subjective driving consisting of 400 miles of California's finest between LA and Monterey, followed by a return trip on the highway to give the arms and legs a rest.


Sixth Place: 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS

Fifth Place: 2006 Volkswagen GTI

Fourth Place: 2006 MINI Cooper S

Third Place: 2006 Honda Civic Si

Second Place: 2006 Subaru WRX TR

...and the winner is: 2007 MAZDASPEED3