An eye to sporti­ness

Herald Sun - 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 Golf GTI Mk V, which I love. I saw a cou­ple of years back that the Audi A3 sedan got voted World Car of the Year. I got put off by the tiny boot of the A250. I have a fam­ily to carry and we also go on lots of week­end trips, in­clud­ing to the snow with snow­boards, skis etc so space and com­fort are im­por­tant. Kon­stanti­nos Minopou­los There was a time when the only choice for a quick com­pact was be­tween the Subaru WRX and the Mit­subishi Lancer Evo. But the Evo is dead and the WRX is not be­ing re­newed un­til next year. The turbo Golf GTI has al­ways set the 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 only has two doors and no space for a 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 to go again if you’re happy with 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 R 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 a driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that’s not as ex­treme (ie, jar­ring) as the ful­lon A45 sib­ling. It’s also well equipped and built, with the ben­e­fit of a three-pointed star on the bon­net. Audi A3, from $41,500

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

WILDCARD

Mini Club­man, from $35,800 It’s a prac­ti­cal wagon but has the cutesy Mini styling to dis­guise the 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 the cat­e­gory, com­bin­ing class and qual­ity with gen­uine en­joy­ment for the driver. If you re­ally have to blow the bud­get, the im­mi­nent Golf R raises the go-faster stakes without hurt­ing the ba­sics.

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