Torque (Singapore) - - GROUP TEST -

As en­thu­si­asts, we can­not get enough of the Ford Fo­cus. It has the most power and the best han­dling of the three 1-litre hatchbacks. We also love its ac­cu­rate steer­ing and coupe-like cock­pit.

In­deed, the Fo­cus is so fun to punt around cor­ners that we’re will­ing to for­give its cabin, which is smaller and less prac­ti­cal than its two ri­vals’. What we can’t over­look, though, is the Ford’s slower per­for­mance. With a cen­tury sprint time of 12 sec­onds ver­sus the Golf’s 9.9 sec­onds and the Leon’s 9.6 sec­onds, it damp­ens the ex­cite­ment felt by a keen driver. An­other damp­ener is the $10,000 VES sur­charge levied on the Fo­cus, which in­flates its sell­ing price. With­out the sur­charge, the Ford would have of­fered even bet­ter value for money, as its OMV of $19.3k is about $800 more than the Golf’s.

The most ex­pen­sive car in this story is also, ar­guably, the most im­pres­sive. The 1-litre Seat Leon suc­cess­fully mar­ries form and func­tion to of­fer a cabin that’s not only cool-look­ing, but driver-friendly, too.

We also like how the Spa­niard has keener re­sponses and more oomph than its Ger­man cousin. In­ter­ested buy­ers, how­ever, will have to deal with the Leon’s stiff ride and even stiffer price, which is due to its sur­pris­ingly high OMV of $22k. The Volk­swa­gen Golf may not have the Leon’s sporti­ness or the Fo­cus’ han­dling qual­i­ties, but it re­mains our pick of this lit­ter.

The Golf’s strengths, which in­clude a quiet cabin, well-sorted ride and smooth power de­liv­ery, man­age to out­weigh weak­nesses such as the “miss­ing” key­less func­tions and man­ual air-con con­trols.

For just un­der $113,000, the Golf is a good choice for buy­ers who want a 1-litre hatch­back that of­fers max­i­mum bang for their buck.

(Left & right) Golf and Leon fobs have the widest but­tons which are also the nicest to press, but their keys have an an­noy­ing ten­dency to flip open in bags and pock­ets. Fo­cus de­vice (cen­tre) is not only lighter and slim­mer than the oth­ers, but also...

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