Mercedes-AMG GLA 45. The hottest of the hot? For sure, if one factors in the AMG-specific engine, which puts out a neck-bending 382 horsepower in such a small crossover. The GLA 45, part of the newly redesigned GLA range, will churn to 60 miles per hour in just over four seconds; don’t mind the industrial rasp of the engine, or the jarring ride.
Volkswagen ID.4. In the electric realm, an early candidate (and one of the very few) for spunky C.U.V. is the Tiguan-size ID.4, which is based on the platform of the ID.3 hatch already introduced in Europe. With its rather generic looks, one won’t mistake this $40,000 vehicle for a sports car, although its specs are fundamentally impressive, with 201 horsepower and an estimated range of 250 miles.
BMW X2 M Mesh. The compact X2 was introduced a couple of years ago to add some sass to a platform that supports the X1 as well as a couple of Mini models. The bodywork is sleeker than the X1 and doesn’t reduce cargo and passenger space by very much. Now the German brand is offering a dressier version of the 2, the M Mesh edition, on the front- or all-wheel-drive models. There’s little to gussy up the performance of the truck, but poseurs might embrace the exclusive grille, the 19-inch wheels and the sport steering wheel.
Toyota C-HR. It falls into the attractive/unattractive conundrum, depending on one’s taste. The interior is plain and functional, the touch screen is underwhelming, and the amenities are limited. The C-HR rides surprisingly well at moderate speeds on smooth roads, but it bucks and shakes in my Queens neighborhood. Needs more work to turn up the hot-hatch heat.
Honda HR-V. Looks swift but, like the Toyota, lacks power. Surprisingly, Honda is without a hot-hatch entry, unless you count the Civic Type R, which is essentially a track car. Perhaps the HR-V will develop some chops, especially now that the clever Fit hatchback has been axed in the United States.