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Journeys : Dec10 Jan11
42 December 2010 / January 2011 Best Mid-Size Car Under $50k VW Jetta 103TDI $35,990 Driveline: 2.0 -litre, 4 cyl turbo diesel, 6spd DSG Fuel economy: 5.5 L/100km Safety Features: ABS, EBD, BA, TCS, ESC, DFSA, HAB ANCAP: n/a GVG: ★★★★ Volkswagen’s Jetta sedan has finished at the pointy end of the Australia’s Best Cars field several times, either as a class winner or more recently a finalist. Post ABC final testing last year, VW gave the Jetta range a refresh. That brought new models, new alloy wheels, some inter ior and equipment upgrades, plus revised engines and gearboxes. Combined with last year’s mid-size winner, the Golf 118TSI, moving class as part of this year’s ABC restructure, Jetta was again well in the title hunt. This year’s winner, the 103TDI, 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, 320Nm at 1750-2500rpm, to ensure excellent dr iveability. Combined w ith the standard slick-shifting DSG gearbox (the manual has been dropped), performance rates very highly. Age hasn’t wearied the current car’s dynamic appeal. Well weighted, consistent and accurate steering, good grip levels and responsive handling ensure driver appeal and an engaging dr ive. Suspension tune has a European tautness but proved composed and mostly comfortable over a mix of local conditions, including second-class gravel roads and corr ugations. Judges 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 occupant 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. Buyers will also be pleased by a full-size spare wheel in the boot, although it’s steel, not an alloy to match the road wheels. Front and rear parking sensors and an optical parking system are now standard on all Jettas. Jetta scores highly for safety, w ith all models featuring six airbags and stability control as standard. Unlike its sibling Golf, however, there’s no dr iver’s knee airbag. With consistently good scores in the Value for Money, Design and Function and On-road areas of ABC assessment, Jetta has, after all these years, what it takes to show its rivals a clean pair of heels in the race to grab the Best Mid-Size Car under $50,000 award. Best Small Car over $35k MINI Cooper D $36,100 Driveline: Fwd 1.6 - litre; 4cyl; 6-speed; manual transmission Fuel economy: 3.9/100km; Diesel Safety Features: ABS, EBD, BA, DFSA, ESC ANCAP: ★★★★★ GVG: ★★★★ If you run your eye over the entrants in this new category, it’s truly an eclectic mix. Not only does the class have petrol and diesel-powered entrants but also a hybrid. This was a class that, to get right, the judges had to put on their thinking caps. To complicate matters further, if you think of small cars and diesel engines in Australia, it’s not a natural fit. With the MINI Cooper D, the stars aligned to forge a winner. When launched in May 2009, the Cooper D added another bow to the MINI range and made a statement that’s its cool to drive a hip, dynamic small car but also in an environmentally- friendly way. The 1.6 -litre engine develops 80kW of power and is in a special class when it comes to fuel consumption, of sub four-litres per 100km. With the Cooper D, it’s not just about having one of the most fuel-efficient engines going. To win a new class, you need to tick more than just that box. The MINI Cooper D jumps ahead of its competition early in the game with four perfect 10s in the Value for Money section – pricing, depreciation, running and repair costs, and fuel consumption. That’s a feat that’s quite special in Australia‘s Best Cars. Those numbers are likely to excite the accountants out there. That’s also a recipe for a car that can evoke little in the way of excitement, but hey, this is a MINI we are talking about, and the Cooper D has chutzpah in spades. The styling might be retro and mimic the or iginal (it’s got the largest speedometer sitting prominently in the centre of the dash) but the build and finish quality more than befits this class and is above average. Not surprisingly, the Cooper D shines in the On The Road scores. A taut chassis and direct steering combine to deliver an engaging drive exper ience. Despite the modest power output of the diesel engine (compared with the petrol offer ings in this class), if you use the 240Nm of torque that’s available, you’ ll smile ever y time the road becomes twisty.
Oct Nov 2010
Feb March 2011