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Car of The Year - 
Part 3 - more cars

Broadcast dates : 30th January 2005
3rd February 2005

Audi A6 3.0 TDi Quattro Tiptronic

The Audi A6 is a very expensive car and for this reason it’s an outsider for the Car of the Year title.

And yet, it’s so competent in just about all areas that as the test weekend unfolded, it started to appear on many people’s lists as a major player. But it has a few shortcomings. 

It’s very sensitive to both throttle and brake pedal inputs…

It’s easy to accelerate more than you intended when pulling away…

And the brakes are too sharp, until you get used to them

At high-speed the steering is lacking in feel. 

But we are really nitpicking here. Overall, this is one of the most competent cars on the planet.

BMW 120i Manual

A driver’s car. BMW is one of the most recognized symbols alongside Coca Cola and Levis. So, does the car match the badge?

For some people, most definitely. Rear-wheel-drive makes it more fun, more communicative, or at least that’s the theory.

The racetrack proved that for feedback and balance, the BMW 120i was the pick of the bunch. But with a middle-of-the-road four-cylinder motor, the 120i doesn’t have the power to exploit its chassis.

And being priced close to the Golf and the Volvo, one has to ask the question whether cramped rear space and rather odd looks justify a dash of steering feel and seat-of-the-pants feedback.

Most people wouldn’t realize it was a rear-wheel-drive car. The badge would be enough. As the weekend went on, the Opel came to light. It lacks low down torque in a city situation and the steering feels a bit wooden about town. But out in the country, on the freeway, it comes alive.

The Opel is solid in all ways, and its engine is a free spirit that likes to rev. The car has a strong personality too, in terms of looks and the way it behaves.

It was let down by a gear shift that refused to be hussled. Slow gear changes with an Opel, that’s the thing.

VW Golf 5 2.0 TDi Sportline 

The Golf is a car that humbles itself to deceive. As we had more and more seat time in this product from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, we began to appreciate just how good it is in all areas.

You may criticise the grey-suit styling, but that grows on you too. You may feel the interior doesn’t have the punch of a Renault. Or an Opel for that matter. But everything is there, including six airbags and an overall feel of premium level quality.

And the power train – the engine, gearbox and suspension – is quite simply superb. This is a car that puts its power on the line. And the steering is so accurate, you get to choose that line with pin-point accuracy.

Part 1 - How it works
Part 2 - the cars
Part 3 - more cars
Part 4 - and finally

The contenders
Volvo S40 2.4i
Audi A6 3.0 Quattro Tiptronic
Volkswagen Golf 5 2.0 TDi Sportline
Peugeot 407 2.2 ST Sport
BMW 120i Manual
Opel Astra 1.8i Sport

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