The Golf’s cabin is all ex­pen­sive touch points and sil­i­cone-damped slick­ness

Wheels (Australia) - - Part 2 Australia -

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

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