I know I’ve written about this before, but I’d like to amend my previous selections. In said previous writings, I argued that all the car you’ll ever need is either a Golf GTI, Volvo V90 Cross Country or a Range Rover SDV8. Whilst those are still brilliant options, time has forced some necessary changes to that list, with the Range Rover being the first to be altered.
Land Rover is discontinuing its TDV8 engine choice, so now you’ll have to buy either a 6-cylinder diesel or supercharged petrol V8 (which is a bit thirsty). Or, you can go for my latest choice which is the P400e. It has a 2.0L inline turbo 4 and some hybrid mcguffins producing around 300KW and 600-odd torques. Oh, and it does around 5L/100KM in a full-fat Range Rover. Yes, it doesn’t have a particularly nice soundtrack, but then again, you don’t buy a Range Rover if you want a sports car. You buy it because you have money to spend from a trust fund to avoid paying taxes. (Or something like that. I don’t know. I don’t go to country clubs for brunch.) Also, whilst this choice of Range Rover is substantially lighter on fuel, it is also quite a bit more expensive. The P400e is R2.5m. Eish! (Prices were correct at time of writing. Although at time of reading it’s probably doubled…)
Whilst the Volvo V90 Cross Country is still the best pick of the lot, I’d like to add another fast estate to the list – particularly the BMW 330d Touring/BMW M340d Touring/Alpina D3 Touring. Now here in South Africa, we don’t get the Touring version of the 3-Series – or the Alpina at all, which is just a little bit sad. I have always loved the 330d with those straight-6 turbodiesels – lots of power, lots of torque and ridiculously economical for what it is. Then Alpina came along, did their thing and made them even better – more power, more torque, more comfort and brilliant styling.
Finally, we come to the Golf GTI. I’m going to come right out and say it: I don’t like the new one. Actually, it’s mostly the iffy front-end styling bothering me. It looks like a dead fish. Also, it doesn’t look like the new Golf 8, but rather a botched facelift of the Golf 7 – which looked brilliant! There is a blue Golf 7 R living not too far from me and I love looking at it. The angular styling just works in the same way that the new one’s doesn’t.
So I have to amend my Golf GTI pick. But what to choose? Certainly not the new BMW M135i which is one of the worst-looking things on the road. Not a Honda Civic Type-R, because they are way too expensive. Nothing from Toyota, because everything they make are as bland as bricks (apart from the new GR Yaris – and the Supra doesn’t count, due to obvious German reasons).
I actually cannot think of a single other small-ish, practical, comfortable and fast hot-hatch better than a Golf GTI. The Focus RS is too macho (and expensive), the A45S has too much power (and is expensive), the previously mentioned M135i is too ugly (and expensive), the RS3 is just meh (and expensive), the Megane RS’s styling looks too much like a race car (and is expensive) and the Civic Type-R seems like it would rather be flown than be driven with its assortment of spoilers and fins. In that case, why not buy a Golf GTI that isn’t a Golf GTI, but that still is a Golf GTI? Why not a Skoda Octavia vRS? Or a SEAT Leon Cupra? They are both VW products, specifically Golf GTIs, but they are cheaper and more practical. Plus the Octavia has optional all-wheel-drive and you can even get it as a diesel!
There we have it. If you want a fast, practical, comfortable car that doesn’t let you pay an exorbitant amount of money at the pumps, buy a Skoda Octavia vRS.
For those countries that don’t have access to non-VW VW products (like us here in SA), your choices are a Volvo V90 Cross Country, Range Rover P400e or BMW 330d.
Personally, I’d have the 330d. Then again, I am massively bias…
Help stop the hate – adopt a V8!
©2021 Michael De Kock
Michael de Kock is a Psychology graduate, busy doing a National Certificate in Motor Mechanics to get more skilled, because he struggles to get a job in this day and age. Can you believe that? He can’t…