VW GOLF 90TSI COMFORTLINE
VALUE Never better in this respect but one in which it commends itself to Carsguide’s Car of the Year judges. The step up from basic 90 TSI is surely enough car for most. There are 16-inch alloys, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, dual-zone climate, front and rear parking sensors with visual warning and reversing camera. Capped servicing matches the Octavia for duration (extended warranty available). TECHNOLOGY This take on the 1.4 direct injection turbo four is good for “only” 90kW/200Nm yet it’s ample for a 1233kg hatch. Independent rear suspension makes a noticeable difference, as does the extended differential lock — a front-axle device that under hard cornering brakes the wheel with least traction. Claimed fuel use is, strangely, slightly greater than the Skoda at 5.4L/100km. DESIGN In this respect the twins under the skin are least compatible — we’re talking compact hatch and family-size car. But then no hatch so comfortably seats a burly, tall fellow in the back. You don’t get this headroom in some bigger sedans. The choice comes down to luggage space — the Golf has a hatch average 380L seats up and 1270L down. SAFETY Shares the full five-star rating from ANCAP, with seven airbags — the standard six plus a driver’s knee bag — within the highstrength steel bodyshell. There’s a fatigue detection setup, which monitors driver concentration based on your behaviour and sounds a warning if you appear to let attention wander. DRIVING Joshua Dowling at COTY: “If Rolls-Royce made a hatch this would be it.” The refinement is otherworldly —yet this is classed as a small car. It’s no GTI in terms of thrust or handling but the humbler Golfs have never been closer to the iconic range topper. The sevenspeed DSG is superb, with low-speed response clearly improved.