Car Buyers' Guide: Five-door sports hatch
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When it comes to safety with speed you can't beat a Volvo but the Golf and Megane are very close behind
John is looking for a five-door European sports hatch with high performance and great looking design that will work around the inner city but also be big enough for an occasional weekend trip out of town.
"Fuel economy is a consideration but engine performance is what I am really after, as is a vehicle that has better-than-average handling abilities and safety features," John says.
"The Golf GTI appeals but with so many on the road I was wondering if there are other options with similar spec and performance levels in a similar price bracket. What about the V40 Volvo?"
The budget: $65,000
The new-car side of the motoring industry has, in general, come a long way in recent times in terms of producing vehicles that appeal to the buying public in more ways than one. And in doing so they have expended their opportunity and potential to attract a completely new client base while at the same time staying loyal to some of their core values.
Volvo is a good example. Mention the V word to a group of motoring-minded people and you could almost bet the house that the first thoughts that spring into their minds are all about safety.
The brand is recognised the world over as being the market leader in vehicle crash avoidance, and that same passion and drive to be innovators in this area of motor vehicle design still rings true today. Where the big change has happened is in vehicle design.
Volvo is a genuine player in the market for those looking for that European flair combined with a clear point of difference.
So John, what Volvo models may appeal in comparison to the extremely popular VW Golf GTI and what else is out there for you to consider?
VW Golf GTI Auto
The $60,990 Golf GTI carries an impressive specification and safety package including electronic stability control, multiple air bags and a system called "multicollision brake", which automatically initiates braking if the car has a collision, and continues to brake as necessary to prevent or minimise the severity of subsequent collisions.
The GTI also automatically activates the hazard lights to warn drivers travelling behind if full braking is applied. The 2.0l 4-cylinder engine produces 162kW of power and 350Nm of torque.
Volvo V40 T5 R
The R-design combines sporty interior and exterior looks with a stiffer chassis to enhance the driving dynamics. It meets all your performance criteria with the 2.5l 5-cylinder turbo-charged engine producing an impressive 187kW of power combined with 360Nm of torque. As you would expect, active safety is leading edge for this market segment with the V40 gaining the highest Euro NCAP rating for adult occupancy. The retail price is $64,990, which is a reflection of the high R&D costs associated with crash avoidance innovation.
Renault Megane RS265
The Renault is another possible option to at least cast your eye over.
The safety list is impressive as is the power output of 195kW from the 2-l turbo-assisted engine (8.2l/100km).
The 6-speed manual may appeal, but the lack of rear space may not. Priced from $53,990 to $59,990.
If you want individuality and a vehicle that does stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons then Volvo may be worth consideration, as is the Renault.