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Journeys : Feb March 2011
February / March 2011 29 On the chassis and suspension front, GTI sits 15mm lower than standard Polo, tuned ESP, Extended Electronic Differential Lock XDL (an electronic limited slip diff ) 17” alloy wheels and up-spec brakes. Interior styling takes its cue from Golf GTI with tartan-patter n seats, plenty of glossy black surface treatments along with brushed chrome air vents and door handles. Despite being a hot hatch, fuel consumption is 6.1l/100km, which is 24% better than the previous GTI. Safety is to the same high level as the standard Polo with plenty of acronyms and five ANCAP stars. The car is priced at $27,790 for the three door and $28,990 for the five door (plus on roads). the front-rear torque split. A few laps around Phillip Island racetrack showed a clear difference between the two models. The auto lacked the turn-in and mid-cor ner bite of the manual and even in f lappy-paddle manual-mode, the auto would still shift up without the authority of the driver. While it didn’t press my buttons, Subaru is saying it will be welcomed by some buyers. Amazingly, the entry level WRX is priced at $39,990, exactly the same price as it was when it was first released back in 1994. The STI gets a $2000 price reduction over the prev ious model, with both auto and manual versions coming in at just under $60,000. For my money, the WRX offers plenty of bang for your buck, combined with ag gressive looks and everyday drivability. The STI in manual form is still a hardcore machine that can only truly be tested to its limits in the controlled area of a race track. Polo GTI Just when you thought you had your hot hatch garage sorted, V W set the cat among the pigeons with the release of the Polo GTI. Powered by a twin-charge (super and turbo- charged) direct injection engine that produces 132kW and 250Nm, Polo is never short of power. With the supercharger doing the business in the lower end of the rev range before cutting out and letting the turbo look after the top end, it feels a lot better than the stated power output. Coupled to a seven-speed DSG transmission (no manual option) with paddle shifts on the wheel, you have ever ything you need to consider GTI for a spot in your garage. Honda Insight Honda has had a foot in the door of hybrid vehicles for a number of years now, the most common being the Civic Hybrid. The first generation Insight didn’t make much of an impact when released back in 2000, with only around fifty being sold in Australia. But the second generation will shake that up, with the first sub- $30,000 hybrid to hit our shores. Insight runs what I’d describe as a mild hybrid system – the petrol engine is running all the time, although under certain circumstances the electric motor is doing all the work. Honda calls it IM A (Integrated Motor Assist). The 1.3L petrol engine with the hybrid drive-train gives an official combined cycle of 4.6l/100km and emits 109g /km of CO2. On the road, a very tight suspension set-up recalled the first generation Insight, but as the drive progressed and the roads deteriorated, ride comfort wasn’t compromised. Handling was typical Honda, with precise tur n-in and a well-weighted wheel. Drive-train performance via the CVT was adequate if not sporty. Because of the electric motor assistance, maximum torque was available from just above idle, so getting off the line wasn’t a problem. With a maximum five-star ANCAP rating, generous internal proportions, standard Bluetooth and reversing sensors and $10,000 cheaper than its main rival Prius, Insight is well worth a look for those considering a greener image. Life on the move
Apr May 2011