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"The Golf is the star car here. Its smooth ride, secure handling and excellent refinement make it a cracking car to drive, while low running costs, strong resale values and lavish standard equipment means it's superb value for money, too. It's classy, spacious cabin and sublime build quality more than compensate for any lack of prestige badge.
The BMW 118d falls well short of the Golf and only just edges past its rivals into second place. It's cheap to lease or buy, even before you factor in hefty discounts, and its powerful engine, balanced handling and sharp steering make it an engaging car to drive. That said, so-so cabin quality and poor rear cabin access are major detractions, as is an overly firm ride.
Third place goes to the Audi A3. Its upmarket image and quality help it hold its value better than any car in this class, but that can't disguise the fact that it's a merely competent performer.
There's much to admire about the Lexus CT200h, not least the quality and wow appeal of its cabin and that its low CO2 emissions minimise company car tax and exempt it from the London Congestion Charge. Sadly, a harsh low-speed ride, strained power delivery and high price severely compromise its cause."
Whatcar? May 2011.