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Drive Life : August 13th 2010
1HERSA1 F011 The Sydney Morning Herald August 13, 2010 Drive Life 11 Decent off-road abilities Versatile and spacious boot Four-star NCAP rating Good value Drive Life recommends WHAT CAR SHOULD I BUY? CAMERON McGAVIN Mark and Linda might not be looking at the X-Trail but it's arguably the most rounded of this bunch. The cabin is the best suited to the rough and tumble of adventurous types, its off-road abilities are above average and it's better value than the VW. Of course, if value is your biggest priority then the ix35's price, specification and five-year warranty give it an unbeatable edge. It's surprisingly solid and worthy package in other areas, too, but only if you can live with the least- satisfying drive of this group. The Tiguan? Well, it's the easiest to love, the best to drive and perfectly suited to day-to-day city running. Out in the sticks, though, its small boot and space-saver spare hold it back and that leaves it clutching the bronze. THE DILEMMA Mark and Linda have a 2003 Subaru Forester. It's served them well, carrying them and their mountain bikes to out-of-the-way places, but is now getting on and needs to be replaced. They don't need serious off-road ability, just enough to shrug off forest trails and the like, while still being well-suited to their daily urban commute. They're keen on VW's Tiguan 103 TDI but are tempted by the value of Hyundai's ix35 Elite diesel. Is the VW worth the bigger spend? No budget is provided. THE SHORTLIST Mark and Linda are well on the way to getting what they want with the Tiguan, which offers upmarket flair and driving nous without massively diluting its usefulness as a compact SUV. The upstart Hyundai, too, has much more to recommend it than just value. Still, while these two are most definitely up to the job, there is one other compact SUV that's worth considering. It's not much of a looker, but it might suit Mark and Linda's needs. Hyundai ix35 Elite 2.0R, from $34,990 It's not hard to see why Mark and Linda are tempted by the ix35. The Elite diesel is $4000-plus cheaper than an auto-equipped Tiguan 103 TDI, yet gets more toys, the same five-star NCAP rating and a five-year warranty. The Hyundai's presentation, space, practicality and quality are also well up to scratch, the 135kW 2.0-litre diesel/six-speed auto drivetrain is well above average and you get electronic aids including downhill and hill-start assist. But the ix lacks polish. The ride reacts sternly to surface vagaries and the handling lacks finesse, while some drivers will crave two-way steering adjustment. Nissan X-Trail TS dCi, from $37,740 Next to the swoopy ix35 and oh-so-classy Tiguan, the X-Trail's appearance is a bit of a let-down. It's boxy, agricultural and, even worse, a dead-set ringer for its nearly decade- old predecessor. But that big bum houses a boot custom-made for active folk like Mark and Linda. Not only is it the biggest here and clad in a washable surface, you get a twin- layer floor and drawer for good measure. The Nissan is also reasonable value (though you have to pay extra for an auto transmission), has a competitive diesel drivetrain and is one of the better compact SUVs off the beaten track. But it misses out on steering reach adjustment, rates only four stars in NCAP crash tests and lacks the VW's sporting on-road flair. Volkswagen Tiguan 103 TDI, from $36,690 With its classy looks, undeniably upmarket cabin and beautifully rounded road manners, the Tiguan is the most desirable package of this group, by some margin. There are plenty of attractions, including the most refined diesel engine of this assembly, the best comfort, loads of thoughtful cabin amenities, five-star NCAP safety and an effective all-wheel-drive system. For the off-roading mountain biker, though, the VW's compact boot and space-saver spare are potential headaches. It's not especially well equipped, either, and you'll have to pay more if you want an auto transmission or the full array of electronic off-road aids.
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