Everybody loves a hero, whether it's a sporting legend or a movie star. It's the same in the motoring world, where almost all car makers hang their hats on tricked-up "hero'' versions of their bread-and-butter models.
But, just like human heroes, some hot cars beg to be seen and others disguise themselves Clark Kent style. Volkswagen's Bora V6 4Motion is the latest to join the unassuming hero-car clan.
The German car maker claims this four-wheel-drive version of its mid-sized Golf-based sedan is the fastest model in its Australian line-up. It hopes the new car will not only grab a slice of the sports-oriented, entry-level prestige pie, but will finally put the Bora range on Australians' shopping lists after a rather lacklustre first two years here.
The Bora has been the forgotten link in Volkswagen's Australian line-up. Most of its attention has been devoted to the trendy New Beetle and all-new Passat range. But the V6 4Motion's arrival has spurred the now company-owned subsidiary in Australia to really push the Bora range, with greater emphasis on advertising and marketing.
The arrival of the V6 4Motion model also coincides with a slight upgrade of the unique 2.3-litre five-cylinder model. Slightly more power comes from a revised cylinder head, and the basic 2.0-litre four-cylinder version gets a minor price adjustment.
The range-topping model comes only, and uniquely, with a six-speed manual gearbox and permanent four-wheel-drive transmission. It is powered by a 2.8-litre V6 engine, which produces 150kW of power and 270Nm of torque. Apart from performance, the flagship Bora also comes packed with a long list of luxury and safety features.
The cabin has leather trim and the dash gets walnut wood inserts. There is also an eight-speaker stereo system with a six-stack CD player in the boot. The Bora V6 4Motion comes with front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes and an electronic stability program.
THIS car is a pretty fast piece of machinery, but you wouldn't know just by looking at it. Its boxy, bland body hides one of the best engine and transmission combinations in its class.
Apart from its classy 16-inch alloy wheels, it just doesn't scream "sports car'' either in the car park or cruising down the road. But perceptions change as soon as you slip into the well-supported leather seats and turn the key.
The V6 engine has a meaty growl and a surprising amount of low-down pulling power. At one stage I even had to check out the hardware under
the bonnet to make sure it didn't have a low-pressure turbo charger strapped on its side.
With its close-ratio six-speed gearbox, the Bora V6 4Motion sprints away from the lights while the four-wheel drive transmission allows for maximum traction. The gearbox is quick and easy to shift, though the clutch can be tricky to get right at low revs.
In the twisty stuff, the Bora really comes alive, with only a hint of front-end push when things get serious. While the handling is tight, the ride quality doesn't suffer much. Bumps and tram tracks are soaked up with ease. The stereo system is top notch and the groovy blue lights in the dash are unique.
The all-black trim in the test car makes it feel small, but there's plenty of room for four adults and generous boot space for luggage. The Bora V6 4Motion is a well-built and well-sorted sports saloon. But it looks bland and, with its high price, will struggle to lure buyers from entry-level BMWs and Benzes.
Volkswagen will have a special body kit -- 17-inch alloys, a boot lid spoiler and wire-mesh grille inserts -- developed by German aftermarket companies Oettinger and Votex, but has yet to confirm the final price and availability.
The bottom line
Plus: Engine; handling. Good-quality sports sedan, lacks carpark cred.
Minus: Bland body; price.
VOLKSWAGEN BORA V6 4Motion
Price as tested: $54,400
Engine: 2.8-litre V6 with overhead camshafts and fuel injection
Power: 150kW at 6200 revs
Torque: 270Nm at 3200 revs
Transmission: Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Body: Four-door sedan
Dimensions: Length: 4376mm, width: 1735mm, height: 1444mm, wheelbase: 2513mm, tracks: 1513mm/1487mm front/rear
Fuel Tank: 62 litres
Fuel consumption: 10.7 litres/100km
Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Suspension: Fully independent with front MacPherson struts and torsion-beam rear with coil springs and anti-roll bars.
Brakes: Four-wheel anti-skid ventilated discs
Wheels: 6.5x16 alloys
Tyres: 205/55 R16
Warranty: Three years/60,000km
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