I drive a Ford Territory and am looking for a smaller, fun car to drive. I have two in mind, the VW Passat 206TSI R-Line and Skoda Superb Sportsline, both wagons with the same engine. Would you suggest something else? Ian Fairbairn The sporty wagon concept is much more popular in Europe than Australia, where we seem to have eyes only for SUVs, so our options here are limited. The Passat and Superb fit your brief. Smaller options include Skoda Octavia RS wagon and VW Tiguan 162TSI. Another two should fit the bill.
VW Passat 206TSI R-Line, from about $66,000 drive-away The Passat is a class act and the R-Line has all the latest driver assistance tech as well as a punchy turbo engine. VW claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.7 seconds, which is seriously quick thanks to all-wheel drive grip and loads of low-down grunt. It’s reasonably frugal on the open road. VW claims 7.4L/100km but expect double digits around town. You’ll also pay roughly 15 per cent more for 98 RON premium. Comforts include three-zone aircon, satnav, smartphone integration and Nappa leather. Adaptive chassis control allows you to adjust the car for sportier driving. Skoda Superb Sportsline, from $56,990 drive-away The Skoda has a sizeable $9000 price advantage and doesn’t miss out on much compared with the Passat. Standard items include adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking, nine airbags and bi-xenon headlights that peer around corners. Inside, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three-zone aircon, satnav, premium audio, ambient lighting, suede-look seat trim and a big boot that can be opened by swiping your foot under the bumper. The engine and slick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch auto are shared with the VW, so performance is comparable. A five-year warranty, compared with three years for the Volkswagen, makes it a compelling alternative. Subaru Levorg, from about $59,000 drive-away The Levorg is basically the wagon version of the brand’s cult car, the WRX. Powered by the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, it puts out 197kW/350Nm. Subaru claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.6 seconds. As with the VW and Skoda, it is all-wheel-drive and the suspension is slanted to sportiness, although it remains reasonably comfortable over potholes. It’s thirstier, claiming 8.7L/100km, and the continuously variable transmission can’t match its rivals for sporting feel. That said, it steers and corners well and when the engine is in its sweet spot, it’s fun to drive. There are auto braking and pedestrian/cyclist detection, while the interior is smart and well equipped, with leathertrimmed heated seats and satnav but no smartphone mirroring. Servicing is $2253 for six visits over three years.
Holden Commodore Sportwagon, from about $64,000 drive-away Bragging rights come with its 6.2-litre V8 (304kW/570Nm). It lacks the AWD of the VW and Skoda, though 0-100km/h times would be similar. Thirst is a claimed 13.1L/100km. It makes a wonderful sound, though, and will tow 2000kg-plus. Inside, clever tech includes head-up display, blind spot warning and auto parking. It’s not as upmarket but is more spacious, with a bigger boot. Warranty is only three years but servicing is much better value, at $717 over three years compared with $1346 for the Superb and $1764 for the Passat.
The Superb’s longer warranty, sharper price and clever interior make it the pick.