The Golf’s cabin is all expensive touch points and silicone-damped slickness
It’s well packaged too, with what feels like the most passenger space in the back, although beyond that it’s a bit mean. There’s no centre armrest, no door grab handles, no rear cup holders, no rear air vents, and a door armrest that seems to have been designed to cater better for baby T. rexes than Homo sapiens.
Aside from the glitzy piano black and chrome detailing, there are some notable downsides to the fascia design. The phone holder’s a waste of space, it’s the only car here with no shift paddles, and the door mirrors are set too far back, requiring a turn of the head rather than a flick of the eyeballs. The massive AEB intervention light atop the dash reflects in the windscreen and the starter button is hidden around the back of the wheel where the driver’s watch clasp will inevitably rake the leather rim. And the warning chimes are enough to send you postal.
It’s these sorts of errors that Volkswagen tends not to make. The Golf’s cabin feels smart and cohesive, and about the only minor ergonomic complaints are a poorly sited idle-stop kill switch, a fiddly USB input, and a central screen that has a slight look of the aftermarket about it when it powers down. Other than that it’s all expensive touch points, considered sight lines out of the car and silicone-damped feel-good slickness. Accommodation in the rear is good, although passengers won’t be able to get their feet under the electrically adjustable front seats if they’re set low.
The i30’s cabin looks clean and fresh, with red anodised-look detailing on the wheel, vent bezels, and air con controls that could have looked really cheesy but instead is just about subtle enough. The rear is the tightest of the bunch with a firm seat cushion, but that aside, it’s a class act. The ride quality is the best here too, the damping being initially soft in its travel and then firming up rapidly. Visibility out of the car is extremely good and the mirror placement is excellent, but the electric seat ought to drop a bit lower for a car with sporting aspirations.
No such issues for the Civic. It feels as if your rear end is skimming a few millimetres above the bitumen. It’s wide inside, with at least as much rear legroom as the Astra and a little more than the Golf. The chunky camera that sits on the passenger door mirror is a good idea in concept, but it’s often distracting when its image flicks up on the central display. Yet it’s probably a good thing as the rear three-quarter visibility on the Civic is scandalous. There are, however, some