STATEMENTS Which of these contenders would appeal the most to motorists looking for a stylish and practical European hatchback under $123k?
A car chosen by a buyer because of its design isn’t just a regular runabout – it is also the owner’s automotive style statement. The three hatchbacks we’ve gathered here are known for their strong designs, which make them stand out on every road and in any carpark. Arguably the most recognisable vehicle in this story is the MINI One 5-Door. Good looks aside, the One will be keen to show it actually has the practicality to measure up to rivals like these. Also eager to display its practical side is the updated A1 Sportback.
The latest entry-level Audi is now more efficient, thanks to its new 1-litre 3-cylinder motor, which replaces the 1.4-litre 4-cylinder in the original model. It may not look as flamboyant as its two competitors, but the Volkswagen Golf nonetheless boasts a handsome design. The Golf is also the largest contender here, but it will have to prove that it off ers more than just roominess in order to convince buyers. Which of these stylish hatchbacks, in our opinion, would be most appealing to the shopper with a $123k budget? Continue reading to find out.
ENGINE: Audi’s 1-litre 3-cylinder with 95bhp and 160Nm sounds the nicest, and is the most economical motor, too.
ENGINE: MINI’s 1.2-litre 3-cylinder with 102bhp and 180Nm feels the most willing, but is slightly thirstier than its rivals.
ENGINE: Volkswagen’s 1.2-litre 4-cylinder with 105bhp and 175Nm is the quietest engine here
Seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic delivers the quickest gearchanges.
Six-speed automatic has the fewest ratios, but is the smoothest when moving off.
Seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox isn’t as quick as the A1’s, but it’s equally seamless.
COCKPIT: Has the highest build quality and is the only one with paddleshifters (as tested), but it lacks a proper footrest, which affects the driver’s comfort on long drives.
COCKPIT: Coolest cockpit, with funky lighting, and it’s the only one with keyless ignition. Front seats’ extendable thigh support will be welcomed by the driver and co-driver.
COCKPIT: Most spacious for front occupants, who get the best headroom and biggest storage points. It’s also the only cockpit with an electric parking brake.
BACKSEAT: Better suited to petite passengers as backseat space is at a premium. The seatback angles are too upright and cannot be adjusted either/ BOOT: Audi’s 270-litre cargo area is the least suited to loading/unloading items at night, due to its unexpectedly small boot light.
BACKSEAT: Ideal for families with small children, as the Isofix markings are the clearest. Rear windows are also fully retractable, unlike the other two cars’/ BOOT: MINI’s 278-litre boot space is the most convenient as it has the lowest loading height and, like the Golf, has a 12-volt power outlet.
BACKSEAT: Roomiest of the trio and roomy for occupants with big feet, too, thanks to ample footwell space. Also the only backseat with rear air-con vents./ BOOT: Golf’s 380-litre cargo capacity is the most commodious and comes with an integrated parcel shelf for greater cargo-carrying flexibility.
The golf is the most comfortable, the a1 is the nimblest, while the mini one has the punchiest performance
The Audi A1’s drivetrain sounds sweet and is comparatively frugal, but its relaxed character probably won’t suit drivers in a hurry. Although the car’s interior is smaller than the others, the cabin’s quality is the best in this price range. The A1 would have earned a full “A1” score if the rear bench was more comfortable. When it comes to hatchback space and comfort, the Volkswagen Golf is unmatched in the market segment named after it.
KEYS (From left) The buttons on the Golf’s switchblade-type key have the best tactility, the One’s fob looks the funkiest, while the soft buttons on the A1’s key are the easiest to press
This automobile’s overall design might look conventional compared to its two chic rivals, but it appeals to drivers who prefer understated style. The car’s list price is also very appealing: At press time, it costs $11.2k and $12.5k less than the A1 and One respectively. The MINI One is the priciest of this trio, but its design has the most panache and its drive is the most enjoyable. The fact that it off ers decent practicality makes its style statement more complete.