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Volkswagen Golf


Toyota Yaris

Summary

Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf. More than 33 million produced over 40 years and seven generations. It's not quite more popular than blue jeans, or the iPhone, but it's close. 

Actually, make that seven and a half generations, because this is Golf 7.5; as the name implies, a substantial mid-life upgrade of the current model.

VW claims more than 200,000 Golfs have been sold in Australia over the last 15 years, but the small-car premier league is currently led by the Hyundai i30, Mazda3 and Toyota's evergreen Corolla.

Despite its global heavy-hitter reputation, Golf battles with a group of tier-two contenders in the shape of the Honda Civic, Kia Cerato, and Subaru Impreza.

So, to raise the stakes and, it's hoping, sales, VW has injected new life into its hugely respected marquee player with a range of design tweaks and tech upgrades.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.4L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.2L/100km
Seating5 seats

Toyota Yaris

Have you ever heard the saying you can’t get something for nothing? It could have been written about this all-new, fourth-generation Yaris.

It’s bigger, far safer and more feature-filled than the ageing city car it replaces. It introduces hybrid powertrains for the first time, debuts safety systems never before seen in a city car, and rolls-out the long-awaited cabin technology that the last Yaris sorely missed.

 All of which is good news? The not so good news? You will be paying handsomely for all those changes. Yes, the new Yaris marks the end of the sub-$20k Toyota. And it ends it by some margin.

So does the value proposition still stack up? Or are you better off taking the never-smaller step up to the bigger Corolla.  Join us as we find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Volkswagen Golf8.3/10

The Golf 7.5 is a great package from top to bottom. Volkswagen has hit all the right marks to bring its already excellent offering up to the pointy end of the intensely competitive small-car segment. And we think the entry-point 110TSI offers the best value of all. With high-end safety tech, amazing dynamics, a snappy drivetrain and sharp (introductory) drive-away pricing it will give the market leaders something to think about. And buyers as well.

Has Volkswagen done enough with this upgrade to put the Golf on your small car shopping list? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Toyota Yaris7.8/10

Very good in some areas, great in others, and with its serious safety credentials, the Yaris deserves to be a big seller for Toyota. But whether it's new pricing will get in the way of those ambitions remains the biggest question mark. 

Design

Volkswagen Golf8/10

Unveiled late last year at the Paris Motor Show, the new Golf is available in three flavours – the familiar hatch, and a compact wagon, with the latter forming the basis of an all-wheel-drive, Alltrack variant.

From a design point of view you'll be hard-pressed to pick the Golf 7.5, with exterior changes focused on new headlights, revised front guards, and a restyled bumper. Think of it as an almost unnoticeable haircut.

At the back, the bumper has also been refreshed, and LED tail-lights are now standard across the range.

The wagon is a handsome alternative to the ubiquitous compact SUV, with the lines of the roof and glasshouse (identical to the hatch from nose to C-pillar) flowing seamlessly into a gently tapering and neatly composed rear end.

Inside, there's a new 8.0-inch multimedia screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support standard on all models (as well as a 'Mirror Link' function for full Wi-Fi connection of tablet or mobile devices).

It's surprising how much of a difference the sleek new screen makes to the interior. Suddenly, the Golf's already premium character has been lifted to a different level.

The cool and classy cabin layout is otherwise largely unchanged, highlighted with dark accents on the volume models, and 'piano black' inserts on the Highline. The quality and attention to design detail are obvious.


Toyota Yaris8/10

Short answer? I like it. The Yaris wears a shrunken version of Toyota's design language, a little like a Corolla's been shrunk in the wash. 

Like with any car, the more you spend, the better it looks, and the little Yaris looks its sharpest in top-spec ZR guise, with its 16-inch alloys and two-tone paint job (the black roof looks especially sharp against the electric blue paint job).

The blacked-out grille area looks a little like a grouper feeding, but for mine, it works, lending the Yaris a street-smart style that sets it apart in the city car segment, but I simply can't stomach steel wheels on a car that's north of $20k, which rules the entry-level model out, for me at least.

Step inside, and you're met with a quality-feeling interior, if one that lacks some creature comforts and soft-touch materials when you consider the price point. There is no shortage of hard plastics, and even the material that lines the doors in the top-spec models feels paper thin.

The view from the front seats especially is light-years ahead of the car it replaces, with the 7.0-inch colour screen and digital driver display dominating the view. The back, however, is fare more austere, where you'll find seats and... well that's about it. 

Practicality

Volkswagen Golf8/10

At just under 4.3 metres long the Golf hatch is small, but by no means cramped. There's tonnes of room and storage space up front with two cupholders, door pockets with bottle holders, and plenty of oddments space including a decent glovebox and a lidded bin between the seats.

All but the entry model pick-up another pair of cupholders in the rear, with adjustable air conditioning vents and flow control in the back of the front centre console, too.

Speaking of the back, there's heaps of room in there. I'm 183cm tall, and sitting behind my own driving position, I enjoyed surprisingly generous head and legroom.

Volkswagen claims 380 litres of cargo volume with the 60/40 split folding rear seats up, and a generous 1270 litres with them tipped forward.

Pushing towards 4.6 metres in length, the Golf wagon only nudges up 15mm in the wheelbase, so passenger accommodation is virtually identical to the hatch. And not surprisingly, it's in the luggage department where things start to diverge.

Even with the 60/40 split folding rear seats up the wagon boasts a hefty 605 litres of load space, growing to a cavernous 1620 litres with the second-row seats folded.


Toyota Yaris8/10

The new Yaris measures 3940mm in length, 1695mm in width and 1505mm in height, and rides on a 2550mm, making it a bigger car than the vehicle it replaces. It will also serve up some 270 litres (VDA) of luggage space with the 60:40 rear seats in place.

The extra room is a boon for rear passengers. I put the backseat to the test sitting behind my own 175cm-tall driving position, and I had more than enough knee and headroom to make me feel comfortable. Then for the ultimate test, I put CarsGuide's tallest scribe (and NBA star in another life) Richard Berry in the window seat alongside me, and we decided we could both travel in genuine comfort. 

There are ISOFX attachment points in each window seat in the back, and cupholders up front, but the backseat does lack cupholders, a pulldown seat divider, air vents or climate controls, USB ports or power outlets - there's not much of anything back there.

Front seat riders get a pair of cupholders, a single USB port and power outlet, and a deep, phone-sized storage bin in front of the gear shift.

Price and features

Volkswagen Golf8/10

Headline news is an aggressive introductory drive-away pricing strategy, designed to challenge the traditionally cheaper segment leaders, with the standard features list growing appreciably at the same time.

The previous entry-level 92TSI hatch has departed the building, with pricing now set across an $18.5k band from $23,990 drive-away (MSRP $23,990) for the 110TSI, to the all-wheel-drive Alltrack 135TDI Premium at $42,490 drive-away (MSRP $40,990).

The hatch offers a choice of four grades - base, Trendline, Comfortline, and Highline - with the current 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine powering all of them. A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel 110TDI version is available in the top-shelf Highline spec.

For that shrinking pool of people familiar with three pedals across the driver's footwell, a six-speed manual gearbox is available in the base and Trendline models, with Volkswagen's excellent 'DSG' dual-clutch auto offered across the line-up.

The wagon range comprises the top three grades, with diesel again an option on the primo Highline. The DSG dual-clutch is the only transmission available.

The Alltrack is a two-grade affair – base and Premium - with the choice of a 1.8-litre turbo-petrol, or higher output 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, with any gearbox you like, as long as it's a DSG (six-speed for the petrol, and seven for the diesel).

The entry-level 110TSI hatch is anything but a 'bait and switch' price-leader. It's loaded with everything from cruise control (with speed limit function) to seven airbags and driver-fatigue detection.

In fact, on top of the new multimedia screen and its connected functionality, all Golfs are now also fitted with auto emergency braking (AEB), alloy wheels (of various sizes), air-con, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, and a rear-view camera as standard.

Step into to the Trendline from $25,490 drive-away (MSRP $24,990), and things like rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, parking sensors, different 16-inch alloys, and a rear centre armrest (with cupholders) come your way.

Then the Comfortline from $29,990 drive-away (MSRP $28,990) adds 17-inch rims, dual-zone climate control air, 'Comfort' front seats, chrome interior and exterior highlights (including the wagon's roof rails), and a storage drawer under the front passenger seat.

Stump up for the Highline from $35,990 (MSRP $34,490) and the fruit starts to tumble in, with the highlights including 'leather-appointed' trim, 'Comfort Sport' front seats with electric adjustment and memory function for the driver, keyless entry and start, interior ambient lighting, LED headlights and a panoramic electric glass sunroof.

Three option packs are offered – 'Infotainment' ($2300), available on Comfortline and Highline, brings the excellent 'Active Info' configurable instrument display. It also adds 'Discover Pro' multimedia, delivered through a larger 9.2-inch screen, managing sat nav and other functions via gesture, touch, and voice control, as well as a top-shelf Dynaudio sound system.

'Park Assist', taking over the wheel for perpendicular or parallel parking manoeuvrers, is the star of the 'Driver Assistance' package ($1500), and the R-Line pack ($2500) brings the look, and some of the feel, of the GTI and Golf R, with a bodykit, bigger rims, and tuned suspension.

The entry-level Alltrack 132TSI at $35,990 drive-away (MSRP $34,490) is close to the hatch and wagon's Highline spec, although you'll need to opt for the flagship Premium version from $39,990 (MSRP $38,490) to pick up the partial leather trim, heated front seats and LED headlights.

Alltrack option packs are 'Driver Assistance' ($1800), 'Infotainment' ($2300), and 'Sport Luxury' ($2900), which includes 18-inch alloys, the electric seat adjustment, panoramic roof, and more.


Toyota Yaris6/10

Let’s get the tough stuff out of the way first: the new Yaris arrives in three trim levels - the Ascent Sport, SX and ZR - with the cheapest, manual-equipped vehicle costing $22,130, stretching to $32,100 for the most expensive, hybrid-powered ZR.

That marks an entry-point increase of almost $7000, with the former model’s cheapest offering being the $15,390 Ascent Manual - a price increase of more than 40 per cent.

An even tougher pill to swallow? The cheapest Corolla is the manual-equipped Ascent Sport, yours for $23,895 ($1765 more than the entry-level Yaris), and if hybrid is your bag, you can opt for the $27,395 Ascent Sport Hybrid - which means you can get an electrified Corolla for less money than an electrified Yaris. 

Anyway, let's unpack. The Yaris range kicks off with the Ascent Sport, which can be had with a manual transmission ($22,130), or with a CVT automatic $23,630.  

Outside, you get 15-inch steel wheels, halogen headlamps, LED DRLs and tail lights and rear fog lamps. Inside, you'll find fabric seats, manual air-con, a USB charge point and a 12v power outlet.

On the tech front, you'll find a 7.0-inch touchscreen inside with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a smaller 4.2-inch driver info screen. You'll also get a six-speaker stereo and DAB+ radio.

But it's on the safety front where the tiny Yaris really shines, with the brand boldly declaring it the world's safest city car. But we'll circle back to that under the Safety sub-heading.

The range then steps up to the SX, which can be had with the conventional petrol ($27,020), or with a hybrid powertrain ($29,020), which adds a lithium-ion battery and electric motor. The new hybrid system includes a pure EV driving mode, but Toyota is thus far unable to confirm now many electric-only kilometres it will deliver.

That extra spend also buys you navigation with live traffic, auto air-con, keyless entry and push-button start, a digital speedo, tachometer and hybrid use gauge, as well as a leather-accented wheel and better cabin materials. Outside, you get 15-inch alloys, LED headlights, privacy glass and silver exterior design elements.

Finally, you can opt for the top-spec ZR, available as a petrol ($30,100) or hybrid ($32,100). For that, you get optional two-tone paint, as well as 16-inch alloy wheels, and a rear spoiler.

Inside, you get sport seats up front, paddle shifters for the non-hybrid model, and nicer interior design elements like piano black inserts and Y (for Yaris) embossed seats. You also get a head-up display, blind-spot monitoring and an intelligent parking system.

Engine & trans

Volkswagen Golf8/10

The Golf hatch and wagon range is in large part powered by the EA211 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine, a stalwart of the Australian Golf range since the seventh-generation version arrived here in 2013.

Featuring 16 valves, direct-injection, and a single turbocharger, in Golf 7.5 guise it produces 110kW from 5000-6000rpm, and 250Nm across a broad plateau from just 1500-3500rpm.

Base and Trendline models are available with a six-speed manual, while VW's excellent (and ever-improving) 'DSG' dual-clutch auto spans the line-up.

If diesel's more your thing, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit is available on the Highline model, producing an identical 110kW at 3500-4000rpm, with torque stepping up to 340Nm from 1750-3000rpm.

The diesel's a manual-free zone, with the seven-speed DSG the only option, but no matter what type of transmission you choose, drive goes exclusively to the front wheels.

Climbing (modest) mountains and fording (gentle) streams is the Alltrack's department, with power coming courtesy of a 1.8-litre turbo-petrol four, delivering 132kW from 4500-6200rpm and 280Nm from 1350-4500rpm.

Alternately, a higher output version of the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four is an option on the high-spec Alltrack Premium, delivering 135kW from 3500-4000rpm, and an even gruntier 380Nm, the peak arriving at 1750rpm and hanging around until 3000rpm.

Petrol Alltracks are fitted with a six-speed dual clutch auto, while the diesel features an extra ratio, both sending drive to all four wheels via the '4Motion' permanent all-wheel drive system.

Built around an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch pack, 4Motion uses an ECU integrated with the car's ESC set-up to continuously vary the torque split between front and rear axles.


Toyota Yaris7/10

The Yaris is offered with a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine which will produce 88kW and 145Nm, paring with a six-speed manual transmission in the cheapest model or a CVT auto in the more expensive cars.

The hybrid system adds a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor for a combined power output of 85kW (Toyota hasn't confirmed the torque figure), which suggests its running a de-tuned version of the 1.5-litre engine.

The new hybrid system includes a pure EV driving mode, but Toyota is thus far unable to confirm now many electric-only kilometres it will deliver.

Fuel consumption

Volkswagen Golf8/10

Gone are the days where a manual gearbox would outperform an auto transmission in the battle of the bowser.

Volkswagen claims the base (petrol, manual) Golf will consume 5.7L/100km on the combined (urban/extra urban) cycle, emitting 133g/km of CO2 in the process.

But swap out the manual for a dual-clutch, and that figure drops to 5.4L/100km for the hatch (128g/km) and 5.6 for the wagon (131g/km).

Tick the diesel option for the top-shelf Highline and your wallet will be even happier; the hatch consuming just 4.9L/100km (129g/km), and the wagon a round 5.0 (132g/km).

Step up to the Alltrack petrol and you're looking at 6.8L/100km (160g/km), with the high-output diesel sipping only 5.4 (142g/km).

The fuel tank in the hatch and wagon holds 50 litres, while the Alltrack's grows to 55 litres. And it's worth noting the petrol units are tuned for minimum 95RON premium unleaded.


Toyota Yaris9/10

The perks of a hybrid powertrain reveal themselves here, with the electrified Yaris reporting a claimed 3.3L/100km on the combined cycle, with 76g/km of C02. Petrol-powered cars (CVT) make 4.9L/100km and emit 114g/km of CO2.

Petrol vehicles are fitted with a 40-litre fuel tank, while hybrid cars make do with 36 litres.

Driving

Volkswagen Golf9/10

The overriding, almost overwhelming first impression in driving any recent Golf is the outstanding ride quality. You'd swear the wheelbase was half as long again, because it rides like a larger, luxury car.

Even the entry-level vehicle is quiet, comfortable, and refined. Steering feel is great, and the petrol 1.4 is smooth and eager; there's simply no way you'd pick it as a turbo.

Volkswagen claims 8.2 seconds for the sprint from 0-100km/h for the base car, whether you're shifting the gears yourself or the tricky dual-clutch is doing it for you.

That's pretty much the Goldilocks performance zone for a car that's likely to do most of its work in the urban jungle, yet needs to  retain the ability to confidently stride out onto the open road when required.

The diesel version is only fractionally slower to licence-loss velocity (8.6sec), and while it doesn't feel as revvy and urgent, it packs a satisfying punch of mid-range torque. It is definitely and noticeably noisier, though.

As usual, the Golf is a model of ergonomic efficiency, with the new multimedia screen enhancing ease of use and connectivity, the seats front and rear are comfortable yet supportive, and you're spoiled for choice between the sweet six-speed manual and rapid-fire DSG (with wheel-mounted paddles on upper variants).

The wagon employs the same strut front, four-link rear suspension arrangement as the hatch, and despite its extra length and interior volume it gives nothing away in terms of noise suppression or general refinement.

Moving up the spec pecking order from 16-, through 17-, to optional 18-inch alloy wheels does nothing to compromise overall composure;, body control is exceptional, and the brakes are agreeably progressive.

Response from the Alltrack's more powerful engines is partially offset by an increase in kerb weight (petrol +165kg / diesel +101kg), with the 1.8-litre petrol and high-output 2.0-litre diesel both recording 7.8sec 0-100km/h. But despite its more macho appearance and SUV-focused rubber, the Alltrack is an equally refined drive.


Toyota Yaris7/10

It’s a tough nut to crack, the Yaris. Largely because the vehicle that appears to make the most sense from behind the wheel, also makes the least sense in a lot of ways, too.

We cycled through petrol-only and hybrid cars, and in my opinion, the electrified vehicles feel the most natural from the driver’s seat - and deliver the most of what you might be expecting from a vehicle touted by Toyota as a revolution in the city-car space.

While the petrol vehicle can feel a little thrashy and loud in the cabin under hard acceleration, the hybrid - which, given its combined power output is actually lower than that of the petrol-only vehicle, must be using a de-tuned version of the 1.5-litre engine - feels a smoother, more complete drive.

The extra weight, too (though only around 65kg or so) seems to help settle the ride, which, when combined with Toyota’s TNGA platform, delivers a car that feels fun and enthusiastic from behind the wheel, with a satisfying ride and steering that’s both easy and predicable.

All of which makes perfect sense. The part that doesn’t, though, is that you need to weigh those facts against the fact that, at either $29,020 or $32,100, you can own a bigger hybrid Corolla for less money. Hell, you can just about buy a hybrid RAV4. And given there’s not a lot of duds in the reborn Toyota’s line-up, that’s a tough financial pill to swallow.

All the things the hybrid models do well are performed a little less impressively in the petrol-powered cars. They remain fun, perky little city cars, but they don’t shift the needle in that segment, at least as far as dynamics go, in the way we perhaps expected them to.

The engine is a little louder and a little courser, and the ride a little more jumpy - the latter of which is a bigger complaint amongst my CarsGuide colleagues than it was for me, but I do like the feeling of being truly connected to the road below me, and am willing to make some comfort sacrifices as a result. 

All in all, it’s a very good offering from Toyota, with only the sky-high weight of our expectations, and its price, weighing against it. 

If you have a love of small, easy vehicles, there’s no doubt the Yaris will scratch that itch. It’s lightyears in front of the car it replaces, is surprisingly spacious and practical, and the tech and safety updates are a very welcome addition, the former of which - led by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - will genuinely transform your ownership experience.

Safety

Volkswagen Golf9/10

Golfs of all descriptions incorporate an impressive array of standard safety tech, including active features like cruise control (with programmable speed limiter), distance warning display, driver fatigue detection, AEB, ABS, EBD, BA, EDL, multi-collision brake, ASR, tyre-pressure indicator, and a rear-view camera.

And when all that isn't enough to avoid a collision, no less than seven airbags are on board (driver and front passenger head and side, driver's knee and front and rear curtain).

There are three child-restraint top tether points across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions.

As well as the previously mentioned auto-parking feature, the optional driver assistance package includes adaptive cruise control, lane assist, blind spot monitor, and rear traffic alert.

Although the 7.5 upgrade hasn't been specifically tested by ANCAP, the current Golf scored a maximum five-star rating when it was assessed at launch in early 2013.


Toyota Yaris9/10

It's got to a high score here, given the Yaris debuts safety systems not seen in cars this size, or this price bracket. 

That story begins with eight airbags - including two front centre airbags, the only car in this segment to get them - and the usual suite of braking and traction aids.

Then the tech steps up, with Toyota's pre-collision safety system, which has AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as active cruise control, intersection turn assistance, lane trace assist with active steering, road-sign recognition and a reversing camera.

That's on all models too, with the top-spec ZR adding a head-up display, blind-spot monitoring and an intelligent parking system.

The new Yaris scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating

Ownership

Volkswagen Golf8/10

Volkswagen Australia's new-vehicle warranty covers three years/unlimited km, with paint covered for the same period, and the main steel body structure is under warranty for no less than 12 years (unlimited km).

Recommended service interval is 12 months/15,000km, with indicative costs for the first five years/75,000km ranging from a low of $318, to a high of $751, for a total of $2276, and an average of $455 per service.


Toyota Yaris8/10

The Yaris is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with the hybrid battery covered for 10 years.

Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000kms, with Toyota capping the price of each service for the first four years.