Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin




SUVs are taking over the streets, but the humble hatchback is better value and more fun for those who like driving

The Golf used to be the cornerston­e of the Volkswagen range, but SUVs have eroded its place. No longer a volume seller, the Golf has become one of the most polished and expensive cars in its class – the sort of car targeted by upstarts such as Skoda’s Scala and the Kia Cerato GT.


As the most popular model in the line-up, the mid-range Golf Life is not cheap at almost $39,000 drive-away. For that, you get a digital instrument display, ambient lighting and smart keys, as well as individual climate control and power outlets in the rear seats.

A 10-inch touchscree­n on the dash displays satnav and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, without the need for a cord. You can also charge your phone wirelessly.

Safety gear includes eight airbags, auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane keeping and blind-spot assist and rear crosstraff­ic alerts.

The Golf is backed by a five-year, unlimitedk­ilometre warranty and servicing costs $1900 over five years.

The 1.4-litre engine is carried over from the previous model and uses 5.8L/100km to make 110kW and 250Nm. It works with an eightspeed convention­al automatic transmissi­on – not the more efficient dual-clutch auto normally found in a VW.

The new gearbox is smoother at low speeds than a dual-clutch unit, while soft suspension delivers a smooth ride, absorbing all but the sharpest bumps. The Golf remains fun to drive, inspiring confidence through the corners.

VW’s digital screens and well calibrated driver aids feel next-gen, but its older engine is a little coarse.


Volkswagen’s “Simply Clever” Czech spin-off brings nifty details such as tiny rubbish bins, a rechargeab­le torch in the boot and an umbrella tucked into the door.

You also get VW tech for less money. Priced from $36,990 drive-away in launch edition form, the Scala has 18-inch alloys, a 9.2inch touchscree­n with satnav and wireless smartphone mirroring, heated front and rear seats with partial leather trim, a digital driver display and more.

The Skoda has essentiall­y the same safety gear as the Golf, though you get one less airbag and cabin plastics that aren’t quite as nice.

It’s backed by the same five-year warranty but servicing is cheaper at $1400 for five years.

Its 1.5-litre engine has the same 110kW/250Nm peaks as the VW but is newer and more efficient. It uses 5.5L/100km thanks to a swift-shifting but occasional­ly jerky sevenspeed dual-clutch auto.

Another key difference between the Golf and Scala is simpler rear suspension that takes up less space, giving the cheaper car a noticeably deeper boot.

The trade-off is that the Scala is a little less fluent over bumps.

The lightest car here is precise to steer and genuinely fun in the hills, but its tauter suspension and sportier transmissi­on are less suited to urban life.

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