The Road Ahead : December 2010
MAKES YOUR DAY 45 DEC 2010/JAN 2011 THE ROAD AHEAD AUSTRALIA'S BEST CARS MOTORING medium under $50,000 volkswagen jetta 103 tdi THE 103 TDI retains a 2.0-litre turbo- diesel engine, but fuel efficiency has benefited from a move to latest- generation Bosch common-rail direct- injection. There's plentiful low and mid-range torque, 320 Nm at 1750-2500 rpm, to ensure excellent driveability. Combined with the standard slick- shifting DSG gearbox (the manual has been dropped), performance rates very highly. Well weighted, consistent and accurate steering, good grip levels and responsive handling ensure driver appeal and an engaging drive. Suspension tune has a European tautness but Jetta proved composed and mostly comfortable over a mix of typical Australian conditions. Judges particularly praised its excellent body control. The inside story is one of comfortable supportive seats including height and lumbar adjustment for front occupants and well-laid-out controls, although space trails a number of its competitors. The boot on the other hand is cavernous and there's the practicality of an asymmetric split-fold rear seat. Jetta scores highly for safety, with all models featuring six airbags and electronic stability control as standard. Unlike its sibling Golf, however, there's no driver's knee airbag. MLP: $35,990. medium over $50,000 bmw 320d lifestyle THE BMW 320D is a great example of maximising performance while minimising fuel consumption. As the entry-level variant, the Lifestyle offers a sizeable list of optional extras including high-beam assist, bi-xenon headlights, electrically-controlled (and heated) seats, alarm system, glass roof and satellite navigation. Its key feature is the enhanced 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine which delivers 135 kW of power, providing strength and purpose. The car is well- served by the six-speed automatic transmission's ratios and smooth, swift shifts. It doesn't hunt for gears and the engine's sizeable low down and mid range torque means fewer changes up or down. 320d boasts a taut European ride, precise steering and communicative handling. The judges awarded the car with a pair of nines for performance and handling, along with nines also for ergonomics and build and finish quality, which are considered trademarks of the prestigious Bavarian brand. Comfort is not forsaken, with the BMW offering a more than acceptable quality of ride but not at the expense of vehicle dynamics. The 3 Series typically holds its value on the used car market. MLP: $59,100. SCORES TOTAL: 770. 2nd: Hyundai i45 Elite, 744. 3rd: Mazda6 classic, 739. CRITERIA (OUT OF 10): VALUE FOR MONEY: Pricing 7 C, Depreciation 5 M, Running costs 7 M, Fuel consumption 10 C, Warranty 5 M, Insurance 6 L, Standard features 7 H. DESIGN & FUNCTION: Safety 9 C, Environment 7 C, Comfort 8 M, Space 7 M, Practicality 8 M, Ergonomics 8 M, Build & finish 7 H. ON THE ROAD: Performance 9 M, Ride 9 M, Handling 8 H, Braking 8 H, Smoothness/quietness 8 M. SCORES TOTAL: 801. 2nd: Volkswagen Passat CC 125 TDI, 790. 3rd: Audi A4 Tdi 2.0, 754. CRITERIA (OUT OF 10): VALUE FOR MONEY: Pricing 8 H, Depreciation 9 M, Running costs 7 M, Fuel consumption 10 H, Warranty 5 M, Insurance 7 L, Standard features 6 H. DESIGN & FUNCTION: Safety 8 C, Environment 8 C, Comfort 8 H, Space 7 M, Practicality 8 M, Ergonomics 8 H, Build & finish 8 C. ON THE ROAD: Performance 9 H, Ride 8 H, Handling 9 C, Braking 9 C, Smoothness/quietness 7 H. visit www.australiasbestcars.com.au MORE INFO LEVEL OF WEIGHTED IMPORTANCE FOR EACH SCORE: L=LOW,M=MEDIUM,H=HIGH,C=CRITICAL.