30th November 2008

Best Performance Car Under $60K: why the Golf beat the Falcon

posted in Car News Articles |

Seats: “WOW!, Drive, you better hide! BONES will throw a piston when he reads this!

Why? It simply confirms what the Wheels Handling Olympics had already discovered. Drive chose to ignore the SS Ute in this class, even though it is cheaper than a GTI, so it again points to the narrowness of their judging in the first place. The conclusion of the category article is somewhat baffling and ensures that any remaining scraps of credibility this award might have are thrown out the window – “Driving enthusiasts on a budget will be hoping the famous VW [2009 GTI] doesn’t lose its magic.” On a budget! Its not as fast around a track as an SV6, let alone a similarly priced SS Ute. Its the pricey alternative by a long way.

The Rat Patrol: “We are talking about ROAD going motor vehicles and speed limited roads here…
… This obssession with handling and braking is the NEUTERED MALE’S excuse for not buying a car with KW/NM.

???? Which is it? if we’re talking about “speed-limited roads”, then why would kW and Nm matter? I think it is precisely because we are living in the real world of speed limted roads that handling is far more important. The most fun you can legally have is punting it hard through a twisty bit or tarmac. The tighter the corners, the more fun you can have with putting your license in danger. I think, given their limited choices, the judges definitely chose the best car. Its the people who chose the contenders who got it wrong.

Do people really think they are somehow better off as they trundle down Mt Dandenong road at 60 KPH in a GTI instead of an XR6? I know which Id rather have to get past a row of trucks.

You buy a performance car so you can overtake trucks!?! And you reckon these guys have been gelded!?! Spare me days!
I will give you your point on balance – no FWD performance car can possibly compete on balance with a RWD car. Commodore’s 50/50 weight distribution is something any FWD/AWD Euro hatch can only dream about. Mind you, mostly that just makes the Holden engineer’s job much easier than the VW guy’s but, for reasons known only to themselves, Drive chose to ignore the SS in this category. So all we got to see was a Flacon we already knew had its foibles.

To address Richard T’s remarks – If people think its appropriate to tax a car’s brakes to the brink of exhaustion on a public road – on the basis of some ridiculous critique – then no wonder our road toll is where it is.

How is that any different from flooring the accelerator? Both are equally legitimate. How well do you think any race car with ordinary brakes would go, even in a sprint race? You really have no argument here at all.

XU1: “By the way I’m a little miffed the Clio 197 didn’t get a look in.

I hadn’t thought about it but yeah, the Clio would wipe the floor with a GTI and keep a few grand in your pocket. Also absent was the Lancer Ralliart, which I reckon would out-perform the GTI in most respects, whilst addressing the judges concerns over the Evo’s harsh ride. Pretty ordinary choices made here.

Lion Tamer: “Nobody is ever goiing to walk into either a VW or Ford dealership and say “Hi Im comparing the Golf GTi with an XR6 Turbo can I please take an XR for a test drive” even the Sales Consultant would be at a loss and try and swing you towards an XR5.

I definitely would. Here’s the list of cars I will be looking at to replace my Astra – SS Ute, SV6 sedan [long shot], Fiat Ritmo T-Jet Sport, ClioSport 197 and the new Mazda3 SP25. All very different yet appealing in their own way. V8. V6, turbo and n/a four. My practical considerations only rule out cars like the MX5, which makes it easy to look at almost anything else that excites me. Yes, my initial selection is largely based on style but substance is what will determine a winner. I realise that I am probably in a minority but I think its enough to validate these kinds of comparisons.
I wouldn’t be interested in an XR5 simply because it puts too much power through the front wheels. I reckon once you start getting up to around 150kW, FWD becomes too compromised, so you start looking for a good RWD car at that point. GTI certainly seem to be the exception but its still only good “for a FWD car”, as opposed to just plain good, which makes me wonder if that wasn’t in the judges’ minds as they drove each.

RichardT: “If you buy a performance car at some time you are going to test its limits, legally or not.

When did a Golf GTI become a “Performance car” anyway? Its slower than an SV6, probably slower even than a Falcon XT, which makes it “sporty”, at best. It will feel quicker because its a little car but the reality is that its not really that fast at all.

Overall, another flawed and inscrutable effort which only goes to reinforce Wheels’ CoTY as the original and best. I may not always agree with their choices but at least I can fathom the logic of them.

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