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Focus, i30, Civic, Astra and Peugeot 308 against VW Golf in the test

Hans-Dieter Seufert
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W as your heart desires, the VW Golf never has taken care of. He wants to win over buyers, not just hearts. Because it has to be a car for everyone, some accuse it of being cool and nerdy. But even critics admit that it is an impressive engineering car. A few numbers help to understand the nature and meaning of the Golf: 38, 1975, six, 1980, 187.054 and 7.9.

The VW Golf I launched 38 years ago. It has been for six generations since 1975 best-selling car in Germany - except in 1980. The Golf VI sold 187,054 times from January to September. There are a few Jettas, but its market share is higher than that of BMW as a whole - at a good 7.9 percent. If it were its own brand, the Golf would be the fourth most successful in Germany after the rest of VW, Mercedes and Audi, with two and a half times as many registrations as Hyundai. That explains the fuss around the Gulf. And why he wants to win so badly.

VW Golf lavishly decorated as a highline

The major revolutions are over with the VW Golf. Longer already. They certainly existed in early generations: GTI and diesel in the Golf I, all-wheel drive and four-valve technology in the Golf II, crash resistance and TDI in the Golf III. With the Golf IV we come to ESP, navigation system and blue cockpit lighting. Golf V? Multi-link rear axle maybe. Golf VI? Well, well. In any case, number seven brings itself up to date with the latest safety standards with driver assistance systems, otherwise it is more of an evolution despite the completely new design; its boxy shape ensures undisturbed space for the passengers inside. In the front you travel on very comfortable, strong side seats, the rear is furnished with a finely shaped bench. Behind it there is space for 380 liters of luggage, with the height-adjustable intermediate floor the Golf now creates a level loading area. In comparison, the highly variable Honda Civic looks like a participant in an origami world championship.

The low variability remains one of the few weaknesses of the VW Golf, which otherwise has good all-round visibility, high-quality workmanship, vehemently decelerating brakes and extensive safety equipment scores. Its chassis dispenses with hectic handling, enables calm, swift country tours, but above all a very high level of comfort with adaptive dampers.

It was all about fine-tuning, including the engine. The new TDI makes 150 PS, self-ignition thickly insulated, responds homogeneously and pulls the VW Golf VII despite longTranslation of the six-speed box vehemently and economically. In view of such qualities, criticism is difficult, even with the price. 28,815 euros with adaptive dampers sounds steep, but the Golf comes lavishly equipped as a highline and is cheap to maintain. Is that enough for a golf medal, or can the rivals counter it?

Ford Focus - comfort even without adaptive dampers

With dynamism like the Ford Focus. Although it has sharpened its handling sharpness a bit in the current generation, it remains the most agile here with the almost poisonous appealing, precise and feedback-intensive steering. However, the gentle load-changing urge with a full load in fast corners turns into a swivel, which means deductions for driving safety.

At the same time, the Ford Focus proves that a chassis with a sporty basic mood can offer pleasant comfort even without adaptive dampers . On bad routes, the Focus passes on short bumps a little bit harder than the Golf, but when loaded, it can handle rough bumps better. Well-padded seats integrate the driver and front passenger deep into the car. The feeling of space suffers from the space-consuming cockpit and the flat A-pillars. In the rear, which is spacious in itself, the retracted roof line pushes from the side.

A 140 hp diesel rumbles in front. Smooth running or revving are not among its core virtues, but sturdy pulling power is. So move on to the next of the six precisely shifted gears early on. Those who come to terms with the more robust noise, the somewhat confused operation, the simpler materials and the 0.5 liter /100 km higher consumption will find the Ford Focus, which is around 2,000 euros cheaper, which is the toughest golf rival this side of the premium league /p>

Honda Civic with an acceptable level of comfort

Somewhere on the way from curve scraper to space wizard, the Honda Civic has become lost over the past generations. Now he's neither really right. But it scores enormously with its load volume of 477 to 1,378 liters, and can also flatten the back seat or fold up the seat cushions like cinema seats. But the folding is at the expense of the passengers. Because the technicians placed the tank under the front seats, the seating position moves up. Pilot & Co. crouch on poorly supporting armchairs just under the roof. The position does not match the steering wheel, which complicates the already somewhat complex handling of the two-story cockpit because the displays are covered. The passengers sit too high on the poorly shaped rear seat.

Tightly tuned, the chassis maintains an acceptable level of comfort, but hardly contributes to dynamic driving behavior. The small steering wheel and the hectically appealing steering suggest agility, guide the confusing HondaCivic but imprecise around bends. He also twitches with the rear when the load changes. On the other hand, the 150 hp 2.2-liter engine shines, it pulls vehemently, turns unperturbed, remains cultivated and consumes the least at 5.9 L /100 km. Together with the energetic brakes, this brings the Civic far forward, although it is neither particularly cheap nor ambitiously processed. The rich equipment contrasts with the lack of assistance systems. Even xenon headlights are only available for the Exclusive version, which is 4,450 euros more expensive.

Hyundai i30 only for everyday use

He is one of the most feared rivals of the VW Golf, but above all a superficial car. And this is how it works: If you twist through everyday life with it, it impresses with plenty of space, cozy seats, easy operation, fine materials and careful workmanship. But we are not satisfied with the superficial. The i30's deficits show up in the tough test: the chassis. Without a load, the suspension can withstand severe bumps, when loaded it runs out of reserves, the whole front end starts jumping, the Hyundai i30 bucks over the rough road. For the steering: Three selectable characteristics of the power assistance are of no use, because each lacks feedback and precision, the steering builds up synthetic and changing restoring forces. It ruins the already tranquil handling.

Finally: with the brakes. Small cars undercut values ​​by 39 meters today, and it decelerates worst in the wet and on the sides of the road with different levels of grip. The drive also costs the i30 many points. The economical 1.600er starts limp, the long gear ratio increases the torque lethargy. The temperament is sufficient - like the whole Hyundai i30 - when normal everyday use is in the foreground.

Opel Astra sparsely equipped

The Astra is a good car. That had to be said, in all the discussions about Opel and despite all the criticism of this compact car, which has become too heavy, too big on the outside and too scarce on the inside. After three years with him, we know that the space, the overview and the ease of use with the many buttons are not among his great strengths. On the other hand, it convinces with its massive workmanship, comfortable seats and the balanced chassis. Even without an adaptive damper, it skilfully oversprings bad stretches, and together with the feedback-sensitive steering, it ensures smart handling.

The rumble and hard-drinking two-liter guarantees a strong pull with 165 hp - whereby the high weight together with the long gear ratio puts you on the temperament presses. Even with the powerful diesel, the - admittedly sparsely equipped - Opel Astra Edition is a good 4,200 euros under the Golf. There is still space to order the adaptive xenon light for 1,250 euros. Itis brilliant and easily outshines a few weaknesses of the Astra.

The Peugeot 308 rumbles, chucks and shakes

In In our little section “Prejudices that we should dispose of” we find that French cars are particularly comfortable. But the Peugeot 308 rumbles on the bad road, stuck on the highway over cross joints and shakes over cobblestones. Which is also due to the fact that the French test car was equipped with 18-inch wheels - probably on the erroneous assumption that it would benefit from handling. Any dynamic talent thwarted the jerky, imprecise steering, which hardened when changing direction quickly. Oh yes, it still has drive influences, as if the word had been invented especially for them.

The chassis and steering weaken a car that could position itself as a comfortable alternative with ample space, wide seats and rich equipment . You get used to the operation as if you were hooking the six-box. The rattling of the casually processed body is overheard when the strong, somewhat fuel-intensive diesel starts to rattle off to a brief Newton-meter rush. But this shows, as in the absence of modern assistance systems, that the Peugeot 308 is no longer a big number after five years.


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