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Better and cheaper than the Golf: nobler, more pragmatic, cheaper

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B e cars are like football: up Getting there is hard enough, but staying up there is even more difficult. The opponents are getting better and better tactically, and their number is growing. No, we're not talking about Bayern Munich, but about the new VW Golf VII. Not only does it get the price on the sockets, luxury manufacturers are also increasingly stalking it with their compact models - see Mercedes A-Class, which after its concept metamorphosis has become a real golf competitor.

Or the Audi A3. Technically closely related to the VW Golf VII, it has already been successful as a sporty alternative. For the first time, however, the new A3 Sportback offers something that the four-door Golf cannot do: a longer wheelbase. While the predecessor created a larger luggage space via the longer rear part, the axles of the new one are about six centimeters further apart than the two-door model. This not only increases legroom in the rear, true to the technician's wisdom 'length runs', the driving behavior should also benefit from the extra centimeters. In addition, the interior, with its MMI control system, real-time traffic news, Bang & Olufsen sound system and wireless antenna coupling for mobile phones, is moving towards the luxury class.

Audi A3 Sportback 1.2 TSI with 105 PS from 22,500 euros

The surcharge is around 900 euros as before. The modular transverse matrix (MQB) introduced with the A3 finally allows different wheelbases to be implemented comparatively cheaply. An Audi A3 Sportback 1.2 TSI with 105 PS will cost 22,500 euros and make the four-door the most popular model in the series again. Of the 187,000 A3 sold in 2011, this variant accounted for 78 percent (two-door 15, convertible seven percent).

The Audi A3 Sportback, which will be delivered from February 2013, will, however, be a pioneer in one more point: As a TCNG with a converted 1.4 TSI engine and 110 PS, it can fill up with e-gas for the first time, so that almost CO2 free to drive. E-gas is artificially generated natural gas (CNG) that is produced using electricity from wind power plants. Gas from wind power? Someone wants to give themselves an eco-paint, right? At second glance, however, the project has charm: As long as the expansion of power lines does not keep pace with that of wind farms, it is deployedRenewable energy for gas generation is still better than letting wind energy dissipate unused. Even if the construction of the systems is factored in, the CO2 emissions should be below 30 g /km, so even hybrids can pack. For the sake of simplicity, e-gas drivers refuel at conventional CNG pumps. When paying with a special fuel card, the corresponding amount of e-gas should then be fed into the natural gas network.

Skoda will supply a significantly cheaper alternative to the VW Golf VII from mid-2013. Then there is the Rapid - the new series between the small car Fabia and the mid-range Octavia - not only with a notchback (available from November 2012), but also as a spaceback. You are now rightly asking yourself: what is a spaceback? The answer: Unlike classic station wagons, the body variant of the Rapid does not offer more luggage space than the sedan, but it has a shorter overhang and a crisp rear, à la Audi A3 Sportback.

Skoda Rapid Spaceback shorter than sedan

In figures: The Skoda Rapid Spaceback - the name is so far only a working title - is around ten centimeters shorter than the sedan (4.50 meters ), its trunk still swallows around 550 liters like that of the sedan. For the more chic design, Skoda collects an extra charge, even if only a few hundred euros, according to auto motor und sport information. The base price of the Rapid Spaceback remains fair at just under 15,000 euros. With a little more money, the simply furnished Czech can even be made a little noble. For a small surcharge, the glazing extends into the tailgate. In addition, Skoda has improved after criticism of the material quality in the interior of the Spaceback.

As with the sedan, the engine range extends from the inexpensive suction gasoline engine with 75 PS (1.2 MPI) to the supercharged 1.2 TSI (86 and 105 PS) to the charged 1.4 TSI with 122 PS. Only the 1.6 TDI with a maximum of 105 hp is available as a diesel.

Background: Skoda wants to keep its distance to the more expensive and technically more complex Octavia, the new edition of which will be available from dealers from spring 2013. Even the VW Golf VII Variant (in stores from autumn 2013) shouldn't be buffeted by the Rapid Spaceback. Rather, the golf opponents come from Korea. They are called Kia Ceed SW and Hyundai i30 cw. So it's not surprising that the Spaceback's dimensions and trunk volume are based on those of the two Korean compact station wagons.

Rapidly competitive even against price breakers

The price of the Rapid is also competitive against the price breakers from Korea, thanks to its inexpensive technology McPherson front axle and simple torsion beam rear axle, which it shares with Seat Toledo and the Chinese VW model Santana /p>

In addition to the Spaceback, the VW Group still hasanother spacious compact model in the pipeline. From the end of 2013, Seat will also be offering a station wagon version of its Golf brother León for the first time. The León ST fills the gap between the small station wagon Ibiza ST and the larger Exeo ST. With a base price of just under 17,000 euros, it costs noticeably more than the Rapid Spaceback, but is already equipped with the modern 1.2 TSI (86 PS) turbo gasoline engine. With the ST, Seat is following the aggressive pricing policy of the new León, which will start at a slim 15,390 euros from November. The compact is 200 euros cheaper than its predecessor. But Seat doesn't just want to be cheap: unlike the Rapid Spaceback, León ST customers can also choose powerful engines. The fact that the Ford Focus ST is the only compact class station wagon with 250 hp cannot be ignored by the Spanish brand with its sporty claim. The Seat León Cupra R (currently 265 hp) could also be available as a station wagon. A board decision is still pending.

Toyota is reacting to the VW Group's model offensive in the compact class and is renewing its golf opponent Auris. It is a bit flatter, longer and optically more modern from January at prices from a good 16,000 euros at dealers. For a surcharge of around 1,500 euros, the Japanese will also reanimate the compact station wagon from summer 2013, which was still part of the range at the time of the Auris predecessor Corolla.

Toyota Auris Hybrid with a trunk volume of 310 liters

The engines, on the other hand, are being tightened: The powerful 2.2-liter turbodiesel (177 hp) is no longer available due to a lack of customer interest, while the hybrid will be in the next Auris Generation should get significantly more fans. Because the combination of gasoline and electric motor is so compact that it does not limit the trunk volume as before. The current Auris Hybrid only has a trunk volume of 310 liters, 44 less than the model with a pure combustion engine. The hybrid system is also available for the station wagon right from the market launch. In 2014, however, the engine range changes significantly again: From then on, BMW diesel engines will power the Auris. In addition, the two companies will cooperate in the future on alternative drive technologies.

Volvo is continuing its clever niche policy and is presenting the Volvo V40 Cross Country as an additional variant of the compact model in addition to the V40 R with a dynamic look and sports suspension. The most important differences to the conventional version are the 40 millimeter higher ground clearance and seating position, all-wheel drive for the top version with 2.5-liter T5 turbo gasoline engine (254 hp) including automatic and various visual changes: the front section is characterized by a dark bumper, a chrome-framed bumper Radiator grille with hexagonal honeycomb and a newly designed daytime running light. Thanks to an integrated underrun protection, a trip into lighter terrain is also possible, thick door sills give the Cross Country the lookCharacter of an all-rounder. In the interior, Volvo relies on high practicality: In addition to a luggage net, there is a sturdy safety transport net, holders for shopping bags and a double floor, which allows various options for dividing the compartment under the trunk. The back seat can be split 40 to 60, the back of the front passenger seat can also be folded down, which increases the variability enormously.

Two Petrol and three diesels for the Volvo V40

Two petrol and three diesels from 115 to 254 hp provide propulsion in the Volvo V40. The most economical variant is the 1.6-liter diesel with 115 hp, which should bring it to an average consumption of 3.8 L /100 km. This value corresponds to CO2 emissions of 99 g /km. All Cross Country variants are basically equipped with brake energy recovery and an automatic start-stop system - regardless of whether they are combined with the six-speed manual gearbox or the six-speed automatic. The equipment also includes hill start aid, while hill descent aid is reserved for the V40 Cross Country T5 AWD.

Volvo plans to sell around 17,000 units per year from the CC, which is manufactured in the Belgian plant in Ghent. Around 50 percent of this will be in Europe and 30 percent in China. Sales will start in January 2013 at prices that are around 2,000 euros above those of a comparable V40 (from 24,980 euros) - an offer that VW cannot currently offer for the Golf.

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