An eye to sportiness
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.
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.
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.
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.