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By 7 August 2013 | Categories: News

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Premium hatchbacks are very popular in South Africa due to plenty of tech and safety features, sublime styling, comfortable ride quality, and a dash of sportiness to boot. 

5. VW Golf 1.4 TSI Comfortline DSG

VW’s hallowed Golf is a heavyweight amongst the regular hatchback cars such as the Ford Focus, Renault’s Megane and Toyota's Auris. Within the premium price category, however, it lacks brand appeal against the likes of the BMW 1-Series, Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-class. Propelling the Golf 1.4 TSI forward is a 1395 cc turbocharged four cylinder engine that efficiently churns out 90 kW at 5000 RPM and 200 Nm of torque between 1500 and 4000 RPM. This sees the gorgeous Golf bring up 100 km/h on the speedometer in 9.3 seconds from standstill, and reach an illegal top end of 203 km/h.

The Golf boast the best-in-class (along with the A3 that uses the same engine) fuel usage figure of 5 litres per 100 km on a combined-cycle (town and highway driving). Other standard features included with the R289 400 RRP are an 8 speaker audio system that boasts a 5" touchscreen; start/stop system; and an electronic park brake with auto-hold feature on inclines/declines.

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4. Volvo V40 T3 Elite

The V40 is one of the most eye-catching vehicles from the Swedish car maker’s stable as well as within this comparison. It is rocketed forward by a 1596 cc four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that develops 110 kW at 5700 RPM and 240 Nm of torque between 1600 and 4000 RPM. Volvo claims a combined-cycle fuel usage figure of 5.4 litres per 100 km, whilst the 0-100 km/h acceleration time is 8.8 seconds.

Besides head turning looks, the V40 also sports a plethora of innovative safety features including City Safety, which is a low-speed (up to 50 km/h) collision avoidance technology. This tech can sense slow moving cars ahead of you and in the event of an impending collision is able to pre-charge the brakes to activate faster. If the driver fails to brake in time, City Safety automatically brakes and switches off the throttle. RRP: R313 200.

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3. BMW 116i

BMW’s 1-Series certainly offers the sportiest ride out of all the cars in this comparison. Its 1598 cc TwinPower turbo four cylinder engine cranks out 100 kW at 4400 RPM, coupled with 220 Nm of torque at just 1350 RPM. Drivers can launch the car to 100 km/h in 8.7 second and reach a top-end of 210 km/h. Being more sparing with your right foot should see the average fuel consumption figure drop to a claimed 5.6 litres per 100 km.

Drivers can pick up a 116i with 8-speed auto Steptronic transmission for R300 500, but as with the Merc and Audi, the RRP can easily exceed your budget if you kit out your vehicle with some premium options. These include the M Sport suspension package (R3 800), professional navigation system (R18 100), as well as front- and rear park distance control (R2 900). Standard features include BMW’s Professional RDS radio that sports six speakers, plus a 6.5" monitor for extended display of on-board computer data.

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2. Audi A3 1.4 TFSI S

While the new Merc A-class would undoubtedly obtain envious stares from other motorists and pedestrians, the A3 sports the best-in-class interior. The 1.4 TFSI can reach 100 km/h from standstill in 9.3 seconds and is able to hit 203 km/h (hopefully only on the racetrack or private road). This is thanks to its 1395 cc turbocharged petrol engine that delivers 90 kW at 5000 RPM and 200 Nm of torque from a low 1400 RPM. As with the Golf, the combined-cycle fuel usage is an amazing 5 litres per 100 km.  

For the recommended retail price of R300 000, buyers get Bluetooth connectivity, Daytime running lights (non-LED-based), an electrically retractable 5.8" display, and seven airbags. The RRP can quickly shoot up to dizzying heights if you opt for premium options the likes of Bang and Olufsen Sound System (R8 180), MMI (multimedia interface) Navigation Plus system with touchpad (R22 200), and Xenon Plus Headlights (R10 030).

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1. Mercedes-Benz A180 BlueEfficiency

In April, Mercedes-Benz introduced its radically restyled A-class that immediately became the (aggressive) belle of the premium hatchback ball. The A180’s sublime stylish bark is backed by some capable powerplant bite. Under the bonnet resides a 1595 cc four cylinder petrol engine that delivers 90 kW at 5000 RPM and 200 Nm of torque between 1250 and 4000 RPM. This is enough to send the Stuttgart stallion galloping to 100 km/h in 9.2 seconds, onto a terminal velocity of 202 km/h. More conservative drivers should obtain a fuel usage figure of 5.7 litres per 100 km.

Also included in its RRP of R285 750 is an eco stop/start system, and Attention assist which intermittently checks whether the driver is awake and alert.

Overall though, the A180 offers the best exterior styling, a classy and sporty interior, and a comfortable ride that helps the car ascend to the top of our premium hatchback comparison.

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This article first appeared in TechSmart 119, August 2013.

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