reset
Viewed : 19,431 times

The updated Volkswagen Golf, with its new 1.0-litre engine, takes on the Ford Focus and Seat Leon in an attempt to reclaim its title as the best hatchback in the world.

21 Dec 2017


We never quite understood the worldwide obsession with crossovers and compact sport utility vehicles because they don't exactly offer much more occupant space than sedans and hatchbacks. Neither is there a real need for the raised ride heights they offer, nor the all-wheel drive capabilities some possess, at least in Singapore.

What all the car most families in Singapore will ever need are those you see here, modern hatchbacks that offer sufficient performance, enough space for a family of four and more importantly, good fuel economy.

And in this segment, the undisputed title of being the class favourite has been claimed for many, many years by the Volkswagen Golf. Today, its resolute rival the Ford Focus and its cheeky cousin the new-to-town Seat Leon are veraciously vying to steal its crown.

The class favourite, the Volkswagen Golf (left), returns to find stiff competition from the likes of the Ford Focus (centre) and the Seat Leon (right)

Volkswagen has responded with a facelift of the Golf family and the latest of three that have arrived on our shores is the new 1.0-litre version, which joins the increasing class of downsized compacts here.

First sight

The Golf has never pretended to be one of dynamism. That's the job of its hotter GTI and R siblings, and also Seat's positioning in the Volkswagen Group. While the Golf has been facelifted to now wear lightly redesigned bumpers, and LED daytime running lights and taillights as standard, it isn't what you'd call eye-catching. Instead, it's classy and clean, bearing a design that wouldn't look out of style a decade before or after.

The Focus, on the other hand, isn't something you'd buy out of impulse because its rather bulbous sheet metal isn't exactly what we'd lust for.

Leon's sporty and clean styling has our vote in the design department, besting the stocky Focus and sedated Golf

The sharpest-looking one in this comparison is unarguably the Leon, which looks the most youthful. It helps that the Leon is the least common car, too, which makes it even more desirable to us.

Cabin fever

Thankfully, the Golf manages to recoup lost points with its tough-to-fault cabin. It has the cleanest and most expensive-looking design of the three, despite it being the most affordable car here at $104,900 at time of writing. The Focus and Leon cost slightly more at $104,999 and $105,900, respectively.

Everything in the Golf is exactly where you want it to be and fit and finish is on par with cars a price bracket up. Layout in the Leon is relatively similar, thanks to their Volkswagen Group ties but while the Golf has a more expensive touch, the Leon is more basic-looking, albeit sportier.

Fit and finish in the Golf remains unbeatable despite its rivals offering more features

The Focus has the funkiest cabin design, with buttons and knobs that aren't as intuitively placed but not far-off in terms of quality as compared to the Golf. It also loses some points for offering the least amount of headroom in the rear due to its sloping roofline. All three cars offer about the same legroom.

For junk in the trunk, the Focus' 316 litres of boot space loses out to the Volkswagen Group duo's equivalent 380 litres. It's also easiest to load items into the boot of the Golf thanks to its lowest loading height.

Even though the entry-level Golf is equipped with a new 6.5-inch colour touchscreen display that also packs Bluetooth and USB connectivity, it does unfortunately lose out a little to the slightly more expensive Focus and Leon by number of features.

What it lacks in space, the Focus makes up for with nice-to-have amenities like dual-zone air-conditioning

For example, it lacks the keyless entry, dual-zone air-conditioning, Apple CarPlay connectivity and steering-mounted controls, which its Ford and Seat rivals pack. It does, however, have an electronic parking brake and is the only one with rear air-conditioning.

Tarmac test

Matching its sporty good looks, the Leon is the quickest car in this test from 0-100km/h, taking 9.6 seconds while the Golf comes in second at 9.9 seconds and the Focus third, despite being the highest horse-powered car here, at 12 seconds.

Credit for this goes to the higher torque output of the Leon and Golf, which top out at 200Nm. These two cars also boast creamier dual-clutch transmissions than the Focus' more sluggish SelectShift.

Engine of the Leon is the punchiest with 114bhp and 200Nm of torque

But if you don't mind the slight lack of outright pace and prioritise a comfortable ride, the Focus could be right up your alley, thanks to its softer-sprung suspension setup that cushions bumps and ruts well.

That said, the firmer suspensions in the Leon and Golf aren't back-breaking by any means and do offer less roll and overall keener handling around corners. They too, have faster and sharper steering although that in the Focus is meatier.

Strangely, despite the Leon and Golf being the cars that offer a sportier drive, they too returned the best fuel economy, clocking 14.1km/L and 14.8km/L respectively, superseding the Focus' 12.5km/L.

Golf's seven-speed dual-clutch isn't just a smooth operator but also helps keep fuel costs low

So has the Golf managed to retain its label as the class favourite? It definitely does, in many ways. It's like the above-average student, a capable jack of all trades. However, Volkswagen shouldn't rest on its laurels because its rivals, for almost the same price, are coming at it with their game faces, competitive prices and better features. 

Facelift articles

The new Ford Focus 1.0 is a pleasan...

18 Jul 2016

Despite the downsized engine, the new Ford Focus Hatchback 1.0 is surprisingly fun, with its sharp handling and perky EcoBoost engine.
Read more

Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors

Price

: -

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder in-line 12-valve DOHC Ti-VCT Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

999cc

Horsepower

:

92kW (123 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

170 Nm / 4500 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A) SelectShift

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

12sec

Top Speed

:

192km/h

Fuel consumption

:

18.1 km/L

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors

Price

: -

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder 12-valve

Engine Cap

:

999cc

Horsepower

:

85kW (114 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

200 Nm / 3500 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

9.6sec

Top Speed

:

202km/h

Fuel consumption

:

22.7 km/L

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors

Price

: -

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder 12-valve TSI Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

999cc

Horsepower

:

81kW (109 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

200 Nm / 3500 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

9.9sec

Top Speed

:

196km/h

Fuel consumption

:

20 km/L

You may also like

1-10 of 20