AN EYE TO SPORTINESS

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - WHICH CAR? -

THE QUES­TION

I’m look­ing at get­ting a com­pact sporty car for not more than $60,000. The three that I’ve nar­rowed it down to are the Audi S3 sedan, VW Golf GTI Per­for­mance and the Mercedes A250. I cur­rently have a Mk V, which I love. I saw cou­ple of years back that A3 sedan got voted World Car Year. put off by the tiny boot of A250. I have a fam­ily to carr y and we also go on lots week­end trips, in­clud­ing snow with snow­boards, skis etc so space

com­fort are im­por­tant. Kon­stanti­nos Minopou­los There was a time when the only choice for quick com­pact was be­tween Subaru WRX and the Mit­subishi Lancer Evo. But

Evo is dead is not be­ing re­newed un­til next year. The turbo Golf GTI has al­ways set stan­dard for hot hatches but now the big Euro­pean lux­ury brands, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, are pro­duc­ing im­pres­sive com­pact con­tenders. Volk­swa­gen will have a GTI Per­for­mance Edi­tion of its up­dated Golf in Au­gust but it could be a stretch for you — even with 180kW — be­cause it’s only go­ing to be a three-door. The same goes for the Re­nault Me­gane RS, which is a great lit­tle pocket rocket but

has two doors and no space for fam­ily or week­end es­cape equip­ment.

CHOICES

Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI, from $42,340 Still the car to beat with 162kW and great dy­nam­ics and qual­ity, so no rea­son not go again if you’re happy your GTI. If you want more power, the up­dated Golf R is avail­able from Au­gust with 213kW and all­wheel drive. There’s also a limited edi­tion Wolfsburg Golf

wagon of­fer­ing more prac­ti­cal­ity for $59,990.

Mercedes-Benz A250, from $54,800 Flawed in the boot but still a sweet pack­age with 160 use­ful kilo­watts and driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that’s not as ex­treme (ie, jar­ring) ful­lon A45 sib­ling. It’s also well equipped built, the ben­e­fit of a three-pointed star on the bon­net.

Audi A3, from $41,500 You’re look­ing at the A3 sedan but pick for your needs is Sport­back, which is a gen­er­ous wagon-style hatch. The turbo 2.0-litre (140kW/320Nm) is built over­tak­ing, the cabin lovely but be­ware ex­tra-cost op­tions.

WILDCARD

Mini Club­man, from $35,800 It’s a prac­ti­cal wagon but has the cutesy Mini styling to dis­guise big box in the back. The JCW model with 170kW packs lots of sporty gear for greater driv­ing en­joy­ment.

VER­DICT

You only need to up­date your Golf GTI. It’s still the bench­mark in cat­e­gory, com­bin­ing class and qual­ity with gen­uine en­joy­ment for the driver. If you re­ally have to blow bud­get, the im­mi­nent Golf R raises go-faster stakes with­out hurt­ing ba­sics.

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