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...