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by Daniel DeGasperi

‘Premium’ is perhaps the word most difficult to define in the automotive lexicon.

To some, it may be about delivering an image above the mainstream and the connotations of a badge; to others it may be about the tangibles of a product and the engineering behind the façade.

With the introduction of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class early this year, the entry point to ‘premium’ small car motoring was reduced to $35,600, which the also-all-new Audi A3 exactly matched when it arrived locally mid this year. The price of the base BMW 1 Series was also revised to exactly the same figure.

Premium hatch comparison 2

At around the same time, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta moved from a premium positioning towards the mainstream – its pricing slashed from $36,990 to $29,350 as featured here in middle-grade Distinctive trim.

The only other non-German in this test, the Volvo V40, hasn’t shifted from its premium pricing structure, costing $36,990 for the D2 Kinetic, which is the only diesel here as a base petrol isn’t available locally. 

Rounding out this comparison is the Volkswagen Golf, the class leader in the mainstream sub-$30,000 small car category that easily ousted Corolla, Mazda 3 and others in a CarAdvice mega-test earlier this year. The $31,990 103TSI Highline is the mainstream car to ultimately test whether premium motoring offers something a cut above, or just asks a pricing premium.

BMW 1 Series 1 BMW 1 Series 6


Between this six-pack, the only common standard equipment items are Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control, alloy wheels and rear parking sensors.

The Giulietta and 116i are the least well-equipped cars here. Neither gets Bluetooth audio connectivity, though BMW groups that must-have function with the automatic headlights and wipers (standard on the Alfa Romeo) as part of a $620 option package.

The 116i is the only car here to get regular air conditioning, where the others all get dual-zone climate control with the exception of the A180 that gets a single-zone system.

Audi A3 1

Audi A3 6

The Golf is the only car here with both standard sat-nav and reverse-view camera.

Its VW Group cousin, the A3 1.4 TFSI Attraction, lists both those items on the options list for $2990 – bundled with auto parking, front sensors, larger screen and premium sound – despite already costing more. Our A3 is also the COD (cylinder on demand) version that uses a bit less fuel but carries a $2300 premium ($37,900).

The V40 gets a standard rear-view camera but optional ($2750) sat-nav, where the Giulietta gets (an aftermarket detachable TomTom) nav but no rear-view camera. BMW charges $1200 apiece for sat-nav and a rear-view camera (the latter together with front sensors and auto parking).

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 1

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 7

The Mercedes-Benz matches the VW with a rear camera and front parking sensors, but navigation is optional ($2718 – with digital radio, larger screen and Harman Kardon audio).

The A180 then eclipses the Golf, though, by being the only model here that can automatically manouevre itself into a parallel or perpendicular spot.

While the Volvo and Alfa can’t park themselves at any price, Volkswagen asks $1300 for its auto-parking package, which is bundled with adaptive cruise control and auto-braking function below 30km/h should the car detect a collision and the driver fail to brake.

Volvo V40 1 Volvo V40 6

The V40 is the only car here with standard auto-braking below 50km/h and, in case a pedestrian is hit, uniquely an airbag pops up the bonnet to cushion the blow.

The A180 gets closest to matching the Volvo inventory, with Collision Prevention Assist detecting a collision and alerting the driver, then Pre-Safe tightening seatbelts and raising windows for a collision. But at no stage will the Mercedes-Benz automatically brake for the driver, and adaptive cruise (to match the VW option) is bundled in with lane keep assistance and a blind-spot monitor as a $2264 option.

Audi also offers adaptive cruise control, and it too packages the feature with a standard-on-Benz system that tightens the seatbelts and raises windows in preparation for an accident, in addition to a blind-spot monitor and auto high-beam for $1800. The A3 can’t at any price auto-brake at low speeds as can be optioned in the Golf, however; conversely, the Volkswagen doesn’t offer the latter two features optional on the Audi.

Volkswagen Golf 1 Volkswagen Golf 6

BMW offers a ‘light’ city braking function, blind-spot monitor and collision warning as a $1077 option. All these unquestionably premium safety features are unavailable on the Alfa Romeo.

The Alfa Romeo and Volvo are the only cars on test with cloth trim, where leather is standard on the others and can be optioned-in on the Golf ($2950), V40 ($2500) and Giulietta ($3000 – with electric seat adjustment and heated seats).

Fully electrically adjustable seating is also grouped in the Mercedes-Benz with heated (but not electric-adjust) front seats ($900), in the BMW with all of that plus keyless auto-entry ($2100), and in the Audi with all of that plus an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and auto-fold mirrors ($2990). The Volvo uniquely includes multi-way driver’s seat power adjustment with memory settings as standard.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 6


If the 116i seems sparse in terms of equipment, then that perception isn’t improved with its interior ambience. Vinyl-like leather trim – proper leather is yet another option ($1692) – and splashes of red trim fails to lift the dark interior that is made of only average plastics. At least its largest-here (6.5 inch) colour screen houses the most intuitive user interface – iDrive.

The Giulietta interior is more intriguing but the least premium here. There’s nicely-moulded soft-touch dash surfacing, but also mismatched door trims, a plasticky ‘DNA’ toggle – for Dynamic, Normal and All-Weather modes – and toy-like trip computer switches. Although a pixelated audio screen is shared with a $14,000 Fiat 500, the climate controls rotate nicely and look good with a piano-black finish. The Giulietta presents well for a sub-$30,000 model … which it now is.

Much more impressive are the interiors of the A180 and V40, both of which back their notable safety resumes.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 8  Mercedes-Benz A-Class 6
Above: Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Our test Benz came with an expensive-looking AMG Line kit that mimics the A45 AMG range flagship. The (popular) package that includes 18-inch wheels – up from 17s – a bodykit, leather/Alcantara bucket seats, contrast interior stitching, carbonfibre-look dash inserts, sports pedals and a Nappa leather steering wheel, in addition to sports suspension, costs just $1990. In any case, the silver and white gauges and aviation-cool circular tri-vents make the A-Class feel thousands of dollars more premium than the 116i.

The centre screen of the Volvo may be the smallest here (5-inch to the remaining cars’ 5.8-inch units) but the high resolution graphics make up for much, proving superior to the aftermarket-looking Benz ‘pod’.  The way the driver interacts with the connectivity systems is also first rate, and better than the Mercedes Comand single rotary knob. The V40 isn’t as flash as the optioned-up A180, but the textured grey plastics and liberal use of silver brightwork present well.

Predictable though it might be, the A3 walks it in for interior design. More than one judge – myself included – summarised that inside is the area the Audi proves its worth over its Volkswagen cousin.

Audi A3 7

Audi A3 8
Above: Audi A3

Highlights include perfectly matched plastics; circular air vent dials that rotate with masterfully damped smoothness; toggle switches lining the dash that flick with well-defined clicks; and a thin centre screen that elegantly rises from the dashboard to display bright, high resolution graphics.

The Golf, meanwhile, has a superb interior for its $21,990 base price, but here, expectations raise with the pricing. The piano-black fascia of the 103TSI Highline is last year’s fashion against the light, art-deco simplicity of the 1.4 TFSI Attraction.

There’s a couple of areas in which the Mark VII Golf takes a slight step backward from the Mark VI, too – the door plastics don’t quite match the dash-top plastics as they used to, for example, and the rear doors get hard and scratchy trim (in the Audi, rear riders don’t get shortchanged with hard plastics). The screen resolution in the Golf hasn’t seemed to take a leap forward over the previous model, either, the infotainment graphics being the grainiest of the colour screens here.

Volkswagen Golf 7

Volkswagen Golf 8
Above: Volkswagen Golf

For long-distance drivers, both the Golf and A3 almost match the benchmark V40 for front seat support and comfort. The Giulietta gets the firmest, least comfortable seats of the group, but it at least offers grippy side supports. The Sport Line 116i goes a step further with electrically adjustable side bolsters and softer seats, tying for comfort with the sports buckets in the Benz.

Further rearward and the A-Class has the most legroom, with 270mm of space behind the front seat position of a 175cm-tall driver. Entry and egress to the Mercedes-Benz is hampered by small doors, however, and thanks partly to an optional sunroof ($2490 – with bi-xenons), there’s also the least amount of headroom here. Add a high beltline and black rooflining, and one rear-seat tester described it as like “sitting in a cave”.

The Alfa comes second for space, with only 10mm less legroom, but it offers much better access, headroom and a rear-seat air vent, but a flat bench.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 7

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 8
Above: Alfa Romeo Giulietta

The only other cars that get rear vents are the Golf and A3 that equal the V40’s 230mm of back seat space.

The Volvo gets almost bucket-like rear outer seats that provide superb support but put the most squeeze on a middle rider. Despite a cheaper pricetag, the Golf gets a centre fold-down armrest where the A3 joins the 1 Series being the only cars to miss that feature.

Thanks partly to its rear-wheel-drive layout, the BMW gets only 190mm of legroom and a large centre tunnel makes for the least room for centre riders, too.

BMW 1 Series 7

BMW 1 Series 8
Above: BMW 1 Series

There’s also no air vents or map pockets, despite both being available on higher-grade 1 Series models.

Boot space ranges from 380 litres in the VW and Audi, down to 360L (BMW), 350L (Alfa Romeo), 341L (Merc), and 335L (Volvo). There are a few caveats, though, such as the Golf getting a space-saver spare to the A3’s full-size unit, but also including a ski port as an extension of the armrest where its cousin doesn’t.

In addition to the 60:40 split-fold backrests standard across all six cars, the only other models to get fold-down centre sections of the rear backrest beyond the Golf are the Giulietta and A-Class. Both the Alfa Romeo and Volvo also get full-size spare wheels, where Mercedes-Benz and BMW don’t get any, but utilise run-flat tyres.

Volvo V40 7

Volvo V40 8
Above: Volvo V40


The Audi A3 1.4 TFSI Attraction COD and Volkswagen Golf 103TSI Highline both feature a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The Audi, however, uniquely includes cylinder deactivation technology that allows the engine to run on just two cylinders on light loads, to save fuel. The A3 produces its 103kW at a flat 5000rpm, where the Golf makes that same figure between 4500-6000rpm. Both make 250Nm of torque spread between 1500-3500rpm, and claim an 8.4 second 0-100km/h.

That time is six-tenths slower than the fastest car of the field, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Distinctive, its 7.8 second 0-100km/h claim applicable both to the manual tested and optional dual-clutch automatic. The Alfa Romeo has the same engine size as the Volkswagen and Audi, but produces a healthier 125kW (at 5500rpm) and identical torque (at a flat 2500rpm).

Audi A3 5

According to the official ADR fuel figures, the Giulietta is a slightly heavier drinker, claiming 5.8L/100km in laboratory tests compared with the Golf’s 5.2L/100km and the A3’s miserly 4.7L/100km. On our tests in mixed conditions, however, the Alfa slurped 8L/100km, marginally behind the Audi’s 7.6L/100km (a flat tyre during our test prevented us getting an accurate fuel figure from the VW).

No coincidence that the lightest cars here – the 1235kg A3, 1265kg Golf and 1269kg Giulietta – are also the fastest and, with the exception of the diesel V40, the most frugal.

The A3 gets within striking distance of the V40 D2 Kinetic for economy, though. The Volvo 1.6-litre turbo claims 4.2L/100km in the official tests but consumed 7.4L/100km on test – narrowing its lead over the Audi from 0.5L in the laboratory to just 0.2L on the road.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 5

Conversely, the Volvo is nowhere near the front runners for performance. Diesels are traditionally known as much torquier engines than petrols, but although the V40’s 270Nm (produced between 1750-2500rpm) is indeed the highest of this six-pack, it’s only 20Nm ahead of the smaller-engined petrol Volkswagen and Audi. The Volvo’s 84kW at 3600rpm is the lowest of the field, and when combined with a heaviest-car-here 1402kg kerb weight, the resulting 12.1 second 0-100km/h claim is disappointing.

The BMW 116i and Mercedes-Benz A180 both use 1.6-litre turbocharged engines like the Volvo, but those two petrol-engined rivals post much-faster 8.7 second and 9.1 second 0-100km/h claims.

The Mercedes-Benz almost matches the portly kerb weight figure of the Volvo, at 1395kg, where the BMW tips the scales at 1310kg. The A180 also makes barely more power than the V40, with 90kW at 5000rpm, and the least torque here – 200Nm between 1250-4000rpm. Perhaps the kerb weight combined with less grunt meant the Benz had to work harder on test, because across a mixed 500km loop it almost doubled its official 5.8L/100km figure with a disappointing 10.1L/100km result.

Volvo V40 5

The 116i claims the same economy on paper, and makes barely more power and torque – 100kW at 4400rpm and 220Nm between 1350-4300rpm – but its on-test result of 8.5L/100km proved far more impressive.

As with the tested consumption results, however, the driveability rankings didn’t exactly follow the on-paper claims.

The Giulietta may claim to be the fastest car here, but it doesn’t feel like it is because it suffers from low-down turbo lag. Below the 2500rpm peak torque figure it’s tractable enough, but feels dead flat when anything more than holding a set speed is asked. On even slight freeway hills, the dashboard indicator tells the driver to change from sixth to fifth gear and move revs higher than its 2200rpm (at 120km/h) if it is to maintain set speed.

BMW 1 Series 5

The A3 and Golf, by contrast, lope over hills in their taller seventh gears without searching for a lower one. The dual-clutch gearboxes in both of them aren’t perfect – still evident is some surging when the brake is slightly lifted in heavy traffic – but they are for the most part smooth and incisive partners to the best engines here.

The VW Group 1.4-litre turbo is superbly refined and super sweet to rev out. The Alfa Romeo engine is louder and less pleasant to the ear, the six-speed manual of the rubbery and long-throw variety, and the clutch take-up edgy.

In fact, the BMW 1.6-litre and eight-speed automatic is superior to the faster Alfa, transcending its lowly outputs on the way to running the VW Group drivetrains to the wire. An ultra-short first gear makes the 116i feel perky off the line around town, and there’s none of the slight stagger off the line of the Golf and A3. For many drivers, that will be enough alone to place it ahead of them.

Volkswagen Golf 5

The way the BMW engine swings quickly to redline, and sounds louder but raunchier than the Volkswagen and Audi, may also place it ahead for keen drivers. It never feels as brisk – although it’s only 0.3 seconds off their claims – but the slickness of the auto helps greatly.

Conversely, the A-Class feels slower than its performance claim, and it suffers from a thrashy soundtrack, which is heard often as the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic hunts for the right gear. The ‘E’ mode the transmission defaults to on start-up is selfishly economy-focused to the detriment of driveability, and although ‘S’ is quite intuitive during hard driving, it forces the engine to worker harder than it probably needs to around town.

Meanwhile the V40 feels every one of its many seconds to freeway speed. Although the diesel engine is quite refined, with a distantly growly but none-too-clattery soundtrack, it’s slow to rev and the dual-clutch automatic slurs between its six gears. Once up and running, the Volvo feels quite effortless and torquey, as expected from a diesel.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 5


If you’re looking at ‘premium-ness’ from engineering integrity, then the A3, Golf and 116i are in a league of their own against the Giulietta, V40 and A-Class.

The BMW may not quite match the beautiful ride of the Audi and Volkswagen, but this rear-wheel-drive master remains the one to beat for driver enjoyment on a twisty road.

As with the 3 Series and 5 Series, the 1 Series has a pointy front end that loves to be rushed into corners before the throttle is flattened and the supreme chassis balance felt. The 116i is light, delicate and fluent, making the Golf and A3 seem remote and a bit soggy at the front end by comparison. Not only does rear-wheel drive have dynamic benefits, though, but it helps the BMW achieve an excellent, tight turning circle perfect for urban manouevring.

BMW 1 Series 3

BMW 1 Series 4

Without optional big wheels, its ride comfort is also impressive – third only behind the Volkswagen and Audi – and its rough road control the best here.

The only caveat to the BMW’s dynamic repertoire is the steering’s sizeable on-centre vacant patch. But we know from experience that choosing the optional ($669) variable-ratio steering on 1 Series is a valuable selection, improving sharpness and on-centre tactility.

Interestingly, the standard BMW steering splits the difference between the VW Group cousins. The Golf’s steering has greater weighting consistency than the A3 and feels more progressive as you start to move the wheel off centre. The A3 is too light in the first degrees of steering movement before it gets heavier.

Audi A3 3

Audi A3 4

But the Audi and Volkswagen both have nicely balanced and really quite enjoyable handling characteristics, though each prefers more sweeping and flowing roads to the tight mountain passes the BMW revels in.

The upshot is superb ride quality. There’s nuances of suspension difference between the Audi and Volkswagen, too – the A3 is surprisingly softer, with a slight floatiness but not necessarily a plusher urban ride. The Golf has a fantastic comfort-versus-control compromise but seems to pick up slightly more imperfections on the freeway at speed.

There’s less bodyroll in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Mercedes-Benz A180 than the Audi, BMW and Volkswagen, but far worse ride quality. Around town the Giulietta rides with firmly disciplined compliance, and although it can be a touch busy, it isn’t as constantly grumbly as our tested A180 on sports suspension.

Volkswagen Golf 3

Volkswagen Golf 4

On our back-to-back country road loop, the Alfa showed a slight lack of both compliance and control, proving both fidgety and flighty depending on the bump. Over undulations it would bounce too much, yet it would crash through sharper edged imperfections.

The Alfa has quite immediate, reactive steering, resulting in a keenness to turn-in that implies a high level dynamic ability. At least on smooth roads, the Giulietta is surprisingly grippy and stable, rather than playful and adjustable.

The A180 has more progressive steering, but its fast 2.1 turns lock-to-lock is deceiving because the large wheels impact the turning circle, which is massive. There’s also a looseness to the steering as lock is wound on that betrays the superbly tactile response of other Benz systems in the C-, E- and even S-Class.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 3

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 4

Yet the handling of the Benz is anything but progressive.

It sits flat, grips better than any car here at the front, and the rear end slightly pivots to help the nose point. Clearly, there’s more A45 AMG in the A180 than just the bodykit, but as with that performance flagship it is one-dimensional and likes bumps even less.

On country roads the A-Class was the worst car here both from a driver control and passenger comfort perspective. It crashed through badly over pot holes, and slammed into its bump stops over undulations which then caused the whole dashboard to shudder.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 3

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 4

The Benz’s country road ride proved as poor as the Volvo’s urban ride. For a car riding on 55-aspect Michelin ‘eco’ tyres, it’s surprising the way the V40 picks up every minute bump or ripple on the road and sends it through to occupants.

At speed the ride improves, and the Volvo was better than the Alfa and Benz on our country road test. It’s at least quiet and absorbed big hits far more smoothly than those two, although it remained restless.

Steering is also the highlight of the Volvo’s dynamics, with decent on-centre feel and consistent mid-weighting as lock is wound on. The chubby ‘eco’ tyres lack some grip though V40’s chassis balance is decent, even if it does feel heavy on its feet and will understeer early.

Volvo V40 3

Volvo V40 4


There’s a likeable car in the stylish and nicely finished Volvo V40, which also offers smart technology such as the pedestrian airbag and City Safety auto-braking as standard. But it needs suspension refinements, a competitive engine and either more equipment or a lower price.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class, likewise, looks good outside and in and features standard technology, plus its petrol drivetrain is superior to the V40’s, if thirstier. The A180 does, however, lacks the premium engineering expected of Mercedes-Benz.

A much more realistic value equation lifts the Alfa Romeo Giulietta into fourth place.

Volvo V40 2

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2


Its ride and handling balance is marginally more convincing than the Benz and Volvo, although its interior is the least impressive here, its turbo engine is laggy and it lacks some safety equipment. The characterful Italian isn’t premium, but then it doesn’t ask a premium, either.

The BMW 116i should challenge the front runners in this contest because, although it isn’t premium in terms of its interior furnishings, it absolutely is in its engineering and that’s the brief for this comparison test – for these small hatchbacks to genuinely feel a cut above the mainstream small car crowd.

The value equation needs to be much more convincing, though.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2

BMW 1 Series 2

Which leaves the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf cousins. From a driving perspective, the Golf is the better car, with nicer steering and slightly more accomplished underpinnings.

Conversely, the A3 feels more premium in its interior furnishings and fit out. With the brief in mind, the Audi has the potential to be the winner – and many buyers who could afford the extra would clearly opt for the Audi badge as a preference. As with the BMW, however, the value proposition is left short with the likes of optional navigation and a reverse-view camera that shouldn’t come at a premium on a premium car.

Its cheaper cousin has those items standard, still leaving buyers with plenty of room to option premium safety tech that still remains optional on the A3. And, by the narrowest of margins, the Volkswagen Golf wins by being a hatch that successfully bridges the mainstream/premium divide with sufficient luxury and a wealth of refinement.

Audi A3 2

Volkswagen Golf 2

This comparison review first appeared in the December 2013/January 2014 issue of the CarAdvice iPad magazine app. Head to the Apple App Store to download the entire issue.

Photography by Easton Chang.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Distinctive
Price: $29,350 (as tested)
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol
Power: 125kW at 5500rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 2500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
0-100km/h: 7.8 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.8L/100km claimed (8.0L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 134g/km

Audi A3 1.4TFSI Attraction COD
Price: $37,900 ($42,890 as tested)
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol
Power: 103kW at 5000rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1500-3500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-100km/h: 8.4 seconds
Fuel consumption: 4.7L/100km claimed (7.6L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 110g/km

BMW 116i Sport Line
Price: $35,600 ($39,720 as tested)
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol
Power: 100kW at 4400rpm
Torque: 220Nm at 1350-4300rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 8.7 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.8L/100km claimed (8.5L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 134g/km

Mercedes-Benz A180
Price: $35,600 ($40,080 as tested)
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol
Power: 90kW at 5000rpm
Torque: 200Nm at 1250-4000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-100km/h: 9.1 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.8L/100km claimed (10.1L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 135g/km

Volkswagen Golf 103TSI Highline
Price: $31,990 ($35,440 as tested)
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol
Power: 103kW at 4500-6000rpm
Torque: 360Nm at 1500-3500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-100km/h: 8.4 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.2L/100km claimed
CO2 emissions: 121g/km

Volvo V40 D2 Kinetic
Price: $36,990 (as tested)
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel
Power: 84kW at 3600rpm
Torque: 270Nm at 1750-2500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-100km/h: 12.1 seconds
Fuel consumption: 4.2L/100km claimed (7.4L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 110g/km

  • Sumpguard

    How predictable. Though you did only give the car 4.5 stars. What happened to the 5 stars you gave it in 2013?

    I’ll take the Merc thanks.

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      We use a thorough assessment criteria to award the best car in each given category. In this instance, the praise given to the Golf and A3 is justified, and reflected by global media and awards, not just CarAdvice. The five star verdict for Golf was last year given to the entire range, particularly the 90TSI which remains rated as such. Conspiracy theorists may note that VW is one of the smallest advertisers on this site. Thee is no bias to any car or manufacturer, just clear, informative, independent reviews that we believe to be the most thorough in the business. We’re also open to critique and constructive feedback. Please feel free to give that. Enjoy the article. Cheers, Dan DeGasperi, deputy editor, CarAdvice.

      • Sumpguard

        It is illogical that you would score the “entire range” 5 stars then lower your mark on one of the vehicles as this implies one of the models was less than perfect and therefore the “entire range” should never have been given 5 stars?

        • Daniel DeGasperi

          The Volkswagen Golf range is rated at 5 stars overall. The 103TSI that bridges the gap between the regular grades and GTI is rated at 4.5 stars. It is not ‘illogical’ to give a range verdict if the overwhelming majority of grades are rated as such, particularly when the rating difference is 0.5 stars. We back up our ratings with clear assessment procedure so that potential buyers of all classes have a definite understanding of the pros, cons and differences between each model. Cheers, Dan DeGasperi, deputy editor, CarAdvice.

          • Jon

            But what about the reliability issues, especially with their DSG?

          • gtrxuone

            Don’t forget the twincharger handgrenade,auto electrical faults,Fairfax media forcing Vw to cover there legally binding warrantys on the Dsg’s.

          • Golf honest

            So true, the reliability of the Golf is a HUGE issue that many reviewers seem not to hear. As a owner of a 4 year old 39000KM Golf I can tell you it is a significant issue to me. I’m on my 3rd set of diesel injectors, the DSG gear box has been an ongoing nightmare and to cap off that the front wheel bearings went at 38,000KM.

      • DanielR

        I posted a negative comment about VAG which would have been about the 3rd comment here, yet it hasnt been published which is interesting. Also the VW 103TSI engine does not have 360NM as listed in the specs.

        • DanielR

          The actual fuel usage for the VW is also missing from the specs.

          • Phil

            the article states a flat tyre on the Golf prevented an actual use comparison – given the Golf has a spacesaver, which I think has a recommended limit of 80kmh, that shouldn’t be a surprise.

        • Golfschwein

          It got caught by the Disqus language trap, Daniel R. You can try again, if you like.

          • DanielR

            Weird, I don’t recall using any bad language. Never-mind.

      • Robin_Graves

        I find it pretty hard to believe there is absolutely no bias on this site when the moderator’s username is ‘golfschwein’ and criticism of VW’s chequered history for reliability are ‘moderated’.

      • genesis1

        red flag >>>”Conspiracy theorists may note that VW is one of the smallest advertisers on this site.” so do they do cashinhand instead?

        • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

          Yes, that must be it…

      • genesis1

        vw leather-option-$2950, bmw proper-leather $1692…

      • Zaccy16

        yep you are 100 percent correct daniel, i have not read a publication that has not rated the golf and A3 excellent cars and best in their respective classes, wheels magazine for example had a review similar to this one with the golf 103 tdi highline diesel up against entry level premium diesels and the golf one, wheels also versed the base golf against the small car class and the golf one easily, as you stated in your small car megatest, every publication in the UK has had nothing but praise for the golf/A3, many rating it car of the year, a certain irish publication on youtube rated the golf as the best car of 2013 a couple of days ago, great thorough review daniel with a honest result!

      • BSMonitor

        The VW and the Audi might be nice to drive on a road test but there is no way i would be risking my hard earned on one of these hand grenades.

      • Superlative

        I take it that reliability is not a criteria then. It has not been mentioned once in review.

    • Zaccy16

      its all relative sumpy, the range as a whole got 5 stars but this particularly 103 tsi golf got 4.5 out of 5 because of the competition in the premium segment

  • davie

    Good review, well presented and explained. I enjoyed reading it.

    There are a lot of intangible things that buyers look for in this segment of the market so it makes it hard to judge objectively.

    also, was the Lexus hybrid hatch thing considered for this review? I’m guessing it is pitched at this sort of buyer but would probably be ignored by people seeking a euro badge.

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      As the CT200h is coming in for an extensive facelift soon, the decision was made to omit it from this test. Cheers, Dan DeGasperi, deputy editor, CarAdvice.

      • Richo

        Forget about the Lexus, why not the Citroen DS4? Or was bland or dated styling a pre-requisite for selection in this test?

      • Viv R

        Come of it Daniel, that excuse doesn’t wash! Several of the other cars such as the BMW and Alfa are long in the tooth. The Lexus CT200h is only a couple of years old with the coming changes mostly affect the front styling.

        The Lexus should have been included because it is a significantly different drivetrain concept for a small luxury hatch. It may well have come last in this comparo, but test it to prove it. Otherwise you just get morons that have never sat in a Lexus dishing it as a fridge on wheels. Besides, unlike the VW/Audi you won’t have to worry about it spending weeks in dealer servicing waiting for major repairs (eg a DSG transmission replacement or repairs to the 1.4L twincharger engine).

        I also agree that the DS3 should have been included. It is the sexiest design in the luxury hatch segment by far, even pipping the Merc. Still laughing at the inclusion of the low rent Golf and junk brand Alfa.

    • guest

      This is a bit like the old style Wheels Magazine reviews, fairly thorough, quite short on Top Gear style “look how cool we are” – just the basics and that’s all. A good article. It’s the way things should be done.

      Despite the verdict, the A-Class, for its crashy ride just looks so good in that stunning AMG bodykit and those big wheels. Red suits it well too. And I’d choose one for that reason (I also like the interior).

      Shame the BMW doesn’t have such sharp styling to match the brilliant chassis and transmission.

  • tyuiop

    For that money the CT200h would be the best built and the best by a long shot.

    • Phil

      um, no. It’s a Prius in a dinner jacket. And it’s more expensive than any of the models tested, much more in higher trim spec. Easily beaten on the value equation by the Golf.

      • chironex

        And by that token, the A3 isn’t a Golf in a dinner jacket?

        • AndyGF

          No bad thing…

          • janon

            Actually it’s a horrible thing. Makes the Audi pretty much a suckers car existing to create value in the VW as is the case with most Audis lately. At some point this HAS to catch up with VAG. It’s ludicrous that every VW/Audi showdown ends either in a tie or in the VW WINNING. What kind of sucker wastes money on the Audi in these cases???

        • Phil

          More of a lounge suit than a dinner jacket – it’s not that big a step up. But yes.

    • heya

      imho if you fancied one of those save your money to buy a corolla and donate the difference to a charity.

    • Zaccy16

      unfortunately its a over priced prius, i agree it has a nice interior but it has a rubbish transmission, remote handling and has rubbish performance

    • Ae Neuman

      ct200h is a piece of junk !
      yes it’s well built but as exciting to drive as your fridge.
      one of the most unsporting cars ever !
      worse than a prius as prius doesn’t pretend to be anything but a green sop.

      • resolution1234

        I suspect you haven’t driven one beyond the showroom? I used to dislike it initially but having driven one for a year now (the second car in the house), it has now become a choice car for every day driving.

        • Ae Neuman

          not at all biased are you ?
          drove one for three weeks.
          an appliance.
          no soul, no great shakes in any department except smug factor.

  • barry

    Seen the hatch comparison scrolled down to the bottom page to see if Golf or Audi was the winner without reading the review.The A180 is the clear winner in my view.If I was in the market for one of these hatches it would be the BMW 116i.

    • Observer

      A180 is the clear winner in your view, but you would take the 116i? Any justification in choosing your 2nd preference?

      • barry

        116i doesn’t have the same interior spec as A 180 or even climate control A/C.Bmw is allways my choise in German cars,rwd,1 series also look good in the flesh.Also the best auto transmission in the review and best handling.

  • Observer

    Just in case you missed all the reviews of 2013… VW wins them all and seems set to do the same for all of 2014. Didn’t even read the review as I knew VWAdvice would crown the… you guessed it, VW.

    • DAVIDZ

      AMEN, what you said its SO OBVIOUS but they continue to think we don’t see this…lol

    • CraigS

      Actually no, the Polo came behind the Feistiva and the Clio in one of the tests.

      • Observer

        Hi Craig, best you re-read the article. The Clio and Polo score 4 stars each, but the Polo is labelled the ‘best’ car in the class.

        • CraigS

          Qoute from test:

          “The Fiesta ST is worthy of comparison with the costlier Megane RS265 and Focus ST class. It wins this comparison test, easily.

          At the other end, the Volkswagen Polo GTI takes third because although it offers a cracking engine and excellent dynamics, it is also lacks the front differential it sorely needs, or the gearbox and stability control calibration to back its focus. It’s also expensive to service and lacks equipment.”
          Observer best you read the right article

          • Observer

            You said it came behind the Clio 200 and Fiesta ST? Odd, as the Clio hasn’t been tested here in RS 200 guise except on it’s own. The light hatch comparison was the garden variety ones, where the Polo and Clio score the same star, but the Polo wins.

        • Zaccy16

          the polo is the benchmark and won the light car class comparo which included the polo, clio, fiesta and kia rio but the Polo GTI came behind the fiesta in the light car class hot hatch comparo, completely different artcle

          • Observer

            He mentioned it also came behind the Clio, hence my confusion as the Clio 200 hasn’t been tested in a comparison yet,

    • CraigS

      And lets no forget the Golf was voted car of the year all over the place, so this result is hardly unique to car advice.

      You seem to discount the possiblity that they are actually the better cars in the test.

      • Stevo

        VW: beautiful in the showroom, great on the test, but a nightmare for many owners.

    • Observer

      I’ve since read the article and must commend Daniel and likewise the CA (VW?) team for what is always a thorough and comprehensive review, but one that does away with the entertainment bull of plenty of other Australian journalists.

      My only gripe with this test seems to the the first part of it, the ‘premium’ part. Having been to other countries in the world it amazes me how VW has managed to garner the premium status here, where in other markets they are so mainstream. Could it be the reason that Audi could do better here, but have VW kicking at their heels?

      Sure, they have done an amazing job at getting the Golf range to come here slightly better equipped than in Europe or other countries, hence the slightly more ‘premium’ feel, but I guess they needed to do that to be more competitive with the Japanese and Koreans. Which leaves me with the feeling that the VW Golf isn’t premium and hence the perception of what is premium is subjective. I know for one when my mother went looking for a ‘premium’ light SUV she cross shopped the VW with the BMW, but ultimately took the BMW (which wasn’t as cheap and with less features) purely because it is the more premium vehicle.

      So it really doesn’t matter who has the better vehicle in this test, as most people I believe will rank the vehicles purely based on the badge’s worth…

      • janon

        Which is why you’d have to be nuts to buy the Audi. It’s a scam. At least the bmw isn’t just “badge engineering” which the Audi CLEARLY is when THE BEST they can do is TIE a VW. Really a shame that VW has turned Audi into a suckers car

  • genesis1

    is this really a “PREMIUM” comparison? The golf is premium? Alfa Romeo!?!? should be called the European brand comparison.

    • heya

      premium is not intrinsic to the car, it is in our minds. i think the article meant european small car under
      $40,000 comparison! the government got me to think premium is a taxation thing …

  • Kenny

    Hi CA
    The Audi A3 once equipped with Adaptive cruise control (part of the $1800 pack as mentioned above) can brake to a complete stop at speeds under 30km/h
    Also the comfort package is only $2200 not $2900

    • Noel

      You are correct Kenny.

    • Marka

      So many options-we need a spreadsheet to compare!

  • Barry Hamburger

    Is Australia the only country where Golf is considered premium? Looks rather bland on the inside. Genuine question. Would never pick one though…too boring and common. Good article! I always like the actual fuel consumption figures. Mercedes always seem to be the worst offenders.

    • guest

      Did you read the review? Vw beat premium brands like sister company Audi.Mercedes and Bmw.

      • DAVIDZ

        CARADVICE is part owned/bank rolled by vw & hyundai groups, so they where always going to [cough] “win”
        Lets talk about vw golf issues, dsg, software, rattles, stopping etc etc

        • seekingananswer

          CARADVICE is this true? Are you partly funded directly by VW and Hyundai?

          • yuiop

            Most likely. Add KIA as well.

          • Zaccy16

            daniel from CA had a great comment at the top of the comparo that puts those dumb comments to rest!

          • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

            No. We are not partly owned or skewed towards or anything by any manufacturer! Our editorial team have nothing to do with the advertising that shows up on the site either.

        • guest

          All tales of woe.Not Vws fault people put the wrong fuel in there cars.

          • Sumpguard

            Yeah because the wrong fuel caused the transmissions to fail , the dashboards to rattle and the electronics to pack in.
            *rolls eyes*

          • lkjh

            My friend put rocket fuel in her Golf and 2 months later the engine and transmission collapsed. True story :)

      • Barry Hamburger

        Is this true? That would explain its place in the lineup then. Ive never heard of it being called premium before.

        • Barry Hamburger

          Also, please correct the torque reading in the spec sheet for the Golf as well…id almost, remotely for a second overlook the blandness and even consider one if it had 360nm!!

        • guest

          Vw are like the Australian cricket team…At the top of there game..Vw have won 5 comparisons in a row….

          • Barry Hamburger

            I see ! Cheers for clearing it up. Was genuinely curious. So basically the reason is that , while its not a premium car, when compared by websites such as these to other premium cars, it comes out on top and is thus given the title ? Makes sense now.

      • janon

        Yes. Which is why it’s time to steer way clear of Audi. WAY too common a scenario these days. VW buyer feels like a genius superhero, Audi buyer feels like a schmuck that got played. Can’t see why anyone would purchase an Audi when they are beaten time and again by VW (GOLF R beats even RS in pro reviews)

  • O123

    BMW looks hideous with those halogen lights. I think I would take the volvo, such a looker!

    • Zandit75

      Beemer looks hideous regardless of what headlights it has. It is genuinely the ugly duckling of the brand.
      Needs a clean slate re-design.

  • O123

    So many options!!!!!

  • F1orce

    I really like the Audi A7


    The golf is NOT a premium car, its a entry level vehicle….

  • Robin_Graves

    The way I see this review is that all the ‘premium’ euro hatches are inferior to a non-premium golf. Factoring in the huge reliability cloud lurking over the golf then the best choice would be a Mazda 3, i30 or focus , unless the badge means more to you than the car.

    • MalR

      Could not agree with you more. IMO the new Mazda 3 looks better that anything here and would be by far the best buy for a practical every day car that you would be able to keep after 5 years because of it;s bullet proof reliability. (Yes I own a Mazda)

    • Zaccy16

      the new mazda 3 is going to give the golf a run for its money IMO, both are far ahead of the normal small car class!

    • Jckhhkv

      Dude the i30 along with its competitors are CRUDE cars.

      My company has 2012 i30 and it’s gutless, unrefined, handles like SH**T and the interior wears out very quickly.

  • Declan Collins

    I won’t lie the only thing going through my head at the end of this comparison was option option option option option $$$$$$$$.

  • Fed up

    Vw does well in a review and the usual thoughtless trolls have to not only question the results but also question the integrity of the reviewer and the site itself. You lot should probably do yourselves a favour and not read anything on the internet, it might offend you. And if something you personally don’t rate does well, then of course it just be because the company in question bribed the reviewers.

    Grow up, you pathetic children.

    • guest

      Well put and correct.The Vw jealously is amazing on this website and others.

      • gtrxuone

        Bulldust,Vw do make some great cars at reasonable prices hense the massive sales.However any review that puts the Golf ahead of 116i (maby just).European motor journolists are calling the Aclass the car of this time.Its a bad error of judgement to put the Golf first in this review or someother factor at play.

    • Tone

      We only do this because VW fanboys are (a) so easy to bait and (b) so rabid. They’re basically Apple fanboys with wheels.

  • Zaccy16

    Great review CA as per usual, very competitive segment these days as all cars on offer has good aspects, the A3/golf have the best range of abilities though,


    Golf is not a premium model in Aus, VW don’t even market it as one so why it’s here is a mystery. Alfa and Volvo occupy the middle ground between affordable and premium.

    The true comparo here 1 series vs A3 vs A-Class, as these 3 are the only real rivals to one another. A-Class is the best value despite ride quality shortcomings, hence why it’s the best seller out of the 3.

  • VWfan

    VW Golf is judged the better car:
    VW Golf is $4,000 cheaper once on-road (excluding the Alfa) and the only car with Sat Nav and Park Assist standard.
    One could spend some or all of that $4000 difference and the gap would then widen further, creating a hands-down victory. Well done VW!
    P.S. I wish the Golf DID have 360Nm, actually it’s 250 and from 1500rpm?!!

    • barry

      You missed a few points.The Cheap soft touch plastics start to crack after a few Australian summers.
      Most modern Veeduds are hitting the wreckers yards by the end of the NCW.
      Everything rattels and creeks like theres a Reggae band playing in your back seat.
      Aircond don’t work properly in the summer
      Must I go on.

      • Zaccy16

        My polos interior is as good as when it came out if the show room, no rattles or squeaks and it is on it’s 3rd Aussie summer!!

        • barry

          Zaccy if Golf wasn’t in this this review.Who would win.Do you like the look of the BMW 1 series,to me they look better live than in picture.

          • Zaccy16

            i agree the 1 series doesn’t look to bad in real life especially the excellent m135i

      • Golfschwein

        Spoken like a true non-owner. Every single item you claim is actually false.

        • barry

          Just what ive been told brother.You as Mod should no the truth should never stand in the way of a good story.

          • Golfschwein

            yer right..told by whom? Or, tell ya what, if you like being told stuff, how’s this? I had my Golf outdoors for 4 years out of its 5, and nothing ever broke, cracked or flaked. Nothing rattled. The air con was fine and I sold it with 103000 kays still feeling like it was brand new. Chalk that up as being ‘told’.

      • BP

        Barry prey tell, what are you basing your opinions on? Have you owned a VW and if so which model and what vintage. Some of what you say has a modicum of truth if you’re referring to 70’s and 80’s models, not too sure after that. I’ve owned 3 dsg models, total 230,000km, two batteries, one set front discs and 2 sets disc pads.

        • Robin_Graves

          Look what the cat dragged in

          • BP

            Way too cryptic for me Robin, what do you mean?

          • Robin_Graves

            I thought for a moment the man of many aliases had returned.

        • Slipped DSG

          ….and a partridge in a pear tree.
          Your comments have provided me with too much goose for Christmas.
          Do you think 3 DSGs for 230k is good.By the way it is not all model DSGs effected so you probably missed a bullet.

          • BP

            Of course 230k without incident is nothing special. My point is, and I don’t question other peoples’ experiences noted on this site, but my own experience has been not a single warranty claim or issue. Yes, I had both the 6 and 7 speeds. Keep going and I’ll get the whole 12 days :)

          • Slipped DSG

            Your personal very limited (less than 3 DSG 7 speeds) experience is so insignificant when compared to the hundreds of thousands cars recalled.
            So your point seems to serve no real purpose than to be self congratulaory on your wise purchase.But remember the clock is still ticking on that potential timebomb and may take even less time than the next 12 days to go off-sleep tight.

    • janon

      Excellent showing by VW… Another disgrace by Audi. Costing more and either tying or losing against VW. VW is for smart buyers, Audi is for suckers is the lesson here. Well done VAG. GOOD LUCK against BMW and a newly invigorated MB

  • WileE

    You would need to be brave to buy the VW or Audi with the historical problems experienced with their auto transmissions.
    Unfortunately trouble free motoring is not tested and rated.

    • Barry the GTI guy

      Utter tripe. Seems you’redesperate ly trying to garner likes by jumping on the vw-bashing bandwagon.

      • WileE

        Go tell that to the 26000 owners whose vehicle was recalled for a faulty auto transmission (in Australia alone) .
        I call that an absolute disaster that deserves more than a bashing .

        • Richard

          You fail to mention Honda and Toyota owners around the world facing recall after recall…

          • WileE

            You fail to differentiate the nature of the recalls .
            Toyota and Honda did not have major problems with major components like gearboxes anything like the VW auto transmission problem hitting 1.6m cars world wide.
            The Japanese tend to own up whereas the Germans only respond when there is public pressure, unless of course its a cheap fix and not worth the bad press.

          • Sumpguard

            Not to mention this thread is about a line up of Euros so the Honda and Toyota are invalid here.
            Recalls are part and parcel of ownership but VW’s recall was a major one that they tried to avoid here in Australia. They get all the attention they deserve. it’s not jealousy as claimed above. It’s outrage !!
            I could go and buy any of the models in the Golf line up tomorrow should I desire so it has nothing to do with jealousy.

  • Captain Nemo®™

    I can’t imagine many people in the market for a premium small car like the A180 or the 116i would actually take CA’s advice. And say nope that Merc A180 i have always wanted and admired i,am now going to buy a Golf instead because CA says its better.

    • homer

      Maybe not, but there’s a good chance they’d drive one and find out for themselves which is the better car.

      • Steppenwolf

        Yes, but when buying a premium car, I think things like emotions play a large role. And I think the A180 will, for many, have a large edge.

  • Zandit75

    Seriously, the Beemer has got to take out the ugly award for this, and any, comparison.
    How can this car look so odd and out of proportion compared to the rest of the brands range.
    Admittedly, the X6, and 3GT look weird also, so it is not alone in the barn.

    • Spike

      Seriously the Alpha face is creepy and comes from an episode of Dr Who.
      The Golf is very RSL and the Volvo is very Fordesque.
      Some people think the Merc looks over done and others think the Audi is boring.
      Not surprisingly the BMW may look ok by comparison and some may actually prefer its looks.
      So the winner is…….. Mazda 3.

      • Richard

        How come you can’t spell ALFA? It’s even on the article!!!

        • Spike

          How come you can’t recognise a PUN when you read it?!!!!!!

  • Alasdair

    Mercedes – no manual option, Audi – I actually don’t like the interior, BMW – tiny back seat, so may as well buy an 85/BRZ/MX-5 plus it’s ugly, Golf – too common (same as the Mazda 3, for all intents and purposes good cars but it seems every man, his dog and his dogs dog has one), Volvo – too heavy. I’d test drive the Alfa because I like the inside and outside. As for outside the test, I initially hated my brothers Focus Sport but drove it again today and really enjoyed it, but the clutch take up point is a bit high, I’m not too fussed about all the tech and whilst I know it has all the park assist stuff I still like to see the bonnet. Oh and it’s ugly as sin. My mate has the CT200H Luxury sport, really nice interior but no manual and pretty ugly outside to my eyes. Back to the Gold, dads girlfriend has a manual mk V comfortline (the 103kw diesel) with I think around 160,000 miles and has had no problems, and loves it. She previously had a V70 and an 03′ 330Ci convertible which would be ‘premium’ cars when they were sold here.

  • MattOz

    The A3, like the A1, is just a VW in business attire. It just for those who want to get into the brand, and for over $40K, a GTI is a much better proposition. It’s nicely packaged, quick and turns well. In this comparison itself, why pay $7K extra for pretty much the same thing? It has the same engine. is about the same size. So the Audi looks a bit better and possibly with higher quality materials inside, but I won’t pay that much more money for a bit more garnish.

    • janon

      Agreed. Audi has become a joke and the joke is on it’s customers. Great that VAG only cares about VW, but let’s not pretend that Audi is in the same class as BMW or MB. Someone who wants premium would be smart to run from Audi. Someone who wants a VW should just buy one

      The car mags are afraid to tackle this problem. They just endlessly select VW as the winner, or make it a tie, and conclude that the Audi is ok too because it’s the same car (just for a lot more money)

      VAG has become GM in the 70s. Good job!

  • Matt

    Great comparison test.

    Though there should be a word or two about how hideous the 1-Series is, it’s mindboggling to think that in 2014 a Hyundai or Kia would look better than a BMW!

    • Deegs

      I ain’t religious, but amen to that!

      • JohnGC

        Well no, there shouldn’t be a word about the design of any car in this test as the author clearly states that the comparison is based on engineering. Subjective criteria such as looks are best left to the individual.

  • Tone

    The best thing about any comparo that GolfAdvice makes when a VW is in the mix is that you can skip right to the end and say ‘yep, told you so’.

    Anyway, a VW is hardly a ‘premium’ vehicle. That’s like calling Beck’s a premium beer.

    • Alasdair

      I think you and many other commenters here missed the point of the Golfs inclusion. It was included bto see if it’s engineering and ride and handling etc match or beat those of cars who wear a ‘premium’ badge. And according to the reviewers, it’s a slightly better car. I think they’re boring and too common myself but basically every car website in the world rates the Golf. Volkswagen wouldn’t make any profit it they were paying off every automotive website, so crazy as it may seem, they may have a good thing. If you don’t like it don’t buy it

      • janon

        Which means on,y a special kind of moron would buy an Audi. So if this is the point of the Golf, and I agree it is, then the laugh isn’t on bmw or MB, it’s on Audi. Nice that Audi exists to create artificial value for VW buyers. Premium shoppers should avoid Audi like the plague is the message here (because trust me that true premium buyers don’t want a Golf, but would have to be idiots to but a Golf with 4 rings on it)

  • homer

    All you VW haters, start taking the pills, ’cause my prediction is Golf will win Wheels COTY…. again.

    • marge

      So what some really rubbish cars have won Wheels COTY.

      • Robin_Graves

        Camira, P76, VN commodore to name a few.

        • BP

          All were seriously good cars for their time and all had serious quality issues. To save you the reply “Just like a Golf”

    • DAVIDZ

      what is wheels?

      • homer

        Dave why are you always yelling? Chill out, take your medication and try to comprehend that others may have a different perspective on really important things, like cars, than you.

  • Deegs

    Great comparison. Really enjoyed it. I own a VW and, despite a poor recent reputation re dsg and dealer service, I’ve always been of the opinion that they really have the luxury hatch market nailed. Drove a 90tsi the other day, and a much more engaging, yet refined drive, than anything else driven in recent memory… Keep up the great work!

  • Rocket

    Why are European car makers allowed to understate their fuel economy figures by so much? A Falcon can average 10 litres per 100km without even trying yet some of these premium hatches can barely do much better.

  • JohnGC

    Great review, very thorough and consistent with a lot of individual reviews I’ve read of the same cars. However, you go further by being able to compare each car on the important dimensions. I’ve got the 116i but bargained hard to overcome the dubious value that you question. I agree that the Golf is a worthy winner overall though.

  • Norm

    These are some of the strangest photos I’ve ever seen.

  • Kd

    Neither the VW or Audi on test have a 1.4 Twincharged engine.

  • Richo

    Well if that is the case then why not include the VW auto group’s value brand Skoda Octavia? Perhaps the Czechs can tweak the design and bolt together the car better than the Germans. Jeez, while you’re at it try the VW budget brand SEAT Leon as well to see if the Spaniards can do the same?

    And if we are talking Euro hatches then why not the Honda Civic? Or doesn’t design and manufacture in England count as Euro?

  • Richo

    Yeah right. Toodle down a flat road at 80 km/h with a tail wind in an unladen Falcon might just get below 10 L/100km. Thrash any of these cars with a full load and they must just get above 10 L/100km.

  • Viv R

    Well it was actually about so-called “Premium” brand hatches which would make the Lexus highly relevant.

    The Honda Civic is a ridgy didge Euro hatch. Look beyond the badge to were it is designed and manufactured! Also what happened the Citroen DS4 in this comparison?

    I’m not saying that these cars are the best cars – just they just should have been included. Otherwise re-label the article as a comparison of conservatively-styled, Euro-branded, Euro-built hatches. Ie cars for wealthy pensioners!

  • John Palamara

    How can you compare auto only cars to manuals. This a farce of a test review and continues to show bias towards Golf/Audi. I have had VW’s and ALFA’s and for charm, performance, drivability and dare i say reliability the ALFA kills the boring Golf hands down in every category.

    • JohnGC

      I don’t think charm was one of the criteria. Take a deep breath and have another read, try not to get too emotional when someone says they prefer a car different to the one you bought. They’re not saying you made a mistake and likewise your choice of car doesn’t make this review a farce. This is an well written, balanced and thorough review. And my car didn’t win either.

  • janon

    Why does Audi exist again? I don’t think I’ve *ever* seen a pro review select an Audi over a VW. Here there is a tie because the cars are basically clones. So regardless of what one may think about VAG and this review, I think everyone can agree that Audi is pretty pointless. If you want the VAG design philosophy buy a VW and save money. If you want true premium experience or a more dynamic drive, buy a BMW or MB.

    Even at the RS level, the Audi is always dead last against the competition. Against the GOLF R, the Audi S, and even RS, lose. I want to like Audi, but it’s become possibly the biggest scam in the auto industry. Great for VW fans, makes a true fool out of Audi buyers.

  • Vincent Jones


  • Daws7

    Reliability? Golf is one of the least reliable European cars. Mechanics in my city love them because it keeps them rich? (Mine made me promise not to buy one).
    My neighbour has a late model one and says the car has a habit of slipping out of gear when going downhill! The wonderful VW GOLF!! In the end I bought an Alfa – much more interesting to drive than Golf. No problems at all so far!

  • Tom

    the Volvo in the same test as a golf…..this test is a joke…..The volvo is the best and the most value of the cars here…..and to own and drive a Volvo every day is a privilege……