Three budget-friendly hatchbacks offering tempting discounts

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On the last three Fridays of every month, Graeme Fletcher combines manufacturers’ incentives from Unhaggle.com with resale value, dependability and overall ratings to find you the best deal for your money in new cars. This week, we look at compact hatchbacks. The hot deals are on the Ford Focus Titanium, Toyota Corolla iM and Volkswagen Golf Comfortline.

Ford Focus

2018 Ford Focus Handout / Ford

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price: $27,008
Ford Canada Incentive*:
 $2,156
Delivery Allowance: $1,000
Total Savings:
 $3,156
Mandatory Fees (Freight, Govt. Fees)
: $1,890
Total Before Tax:
$25,742 – click here for exclusive local pricing

The Ford Focus entered 2018 with little change. The Titanium trim, featured here, includes dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and power-adjustable leather-trimmed seats, a power moonroof and a heated steering wheel, along with a 10-speaker Sony sound system and Ford’s Sync3 infotainment, complete with an eight-inch touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. That’s a list expected of something from a higher price bracket, but that said, the layout is beginning to show its age.

Move rearward and the back seat is tight, as taller riders will find tight leg- and headroom, especially with a leggy driver. No complaints with cargo space, though — the Focus handles 660 litres space with the seats up and 1,243 litres folded flat.

A back-up camera with reverse sensing and MyKey — which can prevent key safety systems from being deactivated, among other things — is standard. Blind-spot monitoring with rear coss-traffic alert, lane-departure warning with keep assist, and automatic high beams requires the $750 Titanium Technology package, but it’s money well-invested.

The Titanium arrives with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that pushes 160 horsepower and 146 lb.-ft. of torque to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Early complaints about the transmission’s herky-jerky nature have been mostly resolved, although it is still tuned towards fuel economy, so it requires a heavy boot to get the best out of the powertrain. The combination brings a run from zero to to 100 km/h in 8.7 seconds, and a posted average fuel economy of 7.7 L/100 kilometres.

The Focus hatch does roll through a corner and the steering is on the light side, but it still manages to hold its own when pushed. The brake-based torque vectoring and the Titanium’s P215/50R17 tires give it the required lateral grip and a quick turn-in response.

The Focus arrives with a combined Unhaggle discount of $3,156 and a pre-tax sticker of $25,742.

Toyota Corolla iM

2018 Toyota Corolla iM2018 Toyota Corolla iM Handout / Toyota

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price: $23,585
Toyota Canada Incentive*:
 $1,327
Unhaggle Savings: $500
Total Savings:
 $1,827
Mandatory Fees (Freight, Govt. Fees)
: $1,785
Total Before Tax:
$23,543 – click here for exclusive local pricing

The 2018 Toyota Corolla iM stands pat this year, as it’s being replaced by an all-new model for 2019. The iM’s cabin is marked by its comfortable seating, material quality and an intuitive infotainment system, but the downside is a lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The equipment list includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a driver information display, a height-adjustable driver seat and a leather-wrapped, tilt and telescopic steering to go along with LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler and heated power mirrors. The back half of the iM has a usable rear seat, but tight cargo capacity — it measures 589 litres seats-up, and Toyota doesn’t list a seats-down figure.

The Corolla iM arrives with the Toyota Safety Sense-C package, which includes a laser-based forward collision mitigation system, a lane-departure warning system and automatic high-beams. This is less equipment than the 2018 Corolla sedan, which earns the TSS-P package and its radar-based systems, and the 2019 Corolla Hatch with its TSS 2.0 system. Blind-spot monitoring on the iM is conspicuous by its absence, even as an option.

A 1.8-litre four-cylinder powers the iM, making 137 horsepower and 126 lb.-ft. of torque. It powers the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission, but the combination is so-so. While the CVT is proficient and includes simulated upshifts under hard acceleration, the overall performance level is far from being standout — it takes 10.5 seconds to eclipse the 100 km/h mark from a standstill. The posted average fuel economy, however, is rated at a respectable 7.5 L/100 kilometres.

Where the iM does shine is its on-road comportment — it has a comfortable and controlled ride, little in the way of unwanted body roll, and sharp response to steering input. The P225/45R17 tires certainly help the feel and feedback, delivering plenty of lateral grip and minimizing understeer.

The Corolla iM is priced at $23,543 after the combined Unhaggle discount of $1,827 is applied.

Volkswagen Golf

2018 Volkswagen Golf2018 Volkswagen Golf Handout / Volkswagen

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price: $37,049
Hyundai Canada Incentive*:
 $4,000
Unhaggle Savings: $500
Total Savings:
 $5,000
Mandatory Fees (Freight, Govt. Fees)
: $1,935
Total Before Tax:
$35,933 – click here for exclusive local pricing

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf arrived with a minor styling refresh and some additions to the standard equipment list. The cabin is well-crafted with rich materials and lots of content — the Comfortline trim, featured here, includes a power moonroof, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an eight-speaker sound system. The lone nit is the “leatherette” upholstery — is just that, a poor imitation of the real thing. The rear environment has generous back seat space, but the smallest trunk capacity of the trio, at 490 litres. However, fold the seats down and that opens up to 1,520 litres, which ranks the best.

Getting the latest safety equipment mandates the $1,750 Driver Assistance package. It includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, park assist and automatic high-beams.

The Golf arrives with a 1.8-litre turbo-four that pushes 170 horsepower, and more importantly, 185 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic, a refined combination that’s also quick to react. The combination boasts a spirited run from zero to 100 km/h of 8.2 seconds, and a posted average fuel economy of 8.2 L/100 kilometres. It’s one of the more enjoyable hatchbacks that mirrors the GTI, albeit in a slightly milder manner.

The regular Golf takes another page from its GTI sibling with a suspension setup that delivers a smooth, compliant ride without floating over road undulations. Yet when pushed, it hunkers down and scoots through a corner. The steering is crisp and the lateral grip, afforded by the P205/55R16 tires, equates to less understeer. It is helped by VW’s Cross Differential System (XDS) — it brakes the inside wheel, which sends more power to the outer wheel. It’s a fancy name for brake-based torque vectoring.

The Golf arrives with a combined Unhaggle discount of $1,500 and a sticker price of $27,279.

Compare the Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla iM and Volkswagen Golf side-by-side right here

Transport Canada lists two recalls for the Volkswagen Golf. The first, no. 2018371 says on certain vehicles, “the park position switch may malfunction due to a problem with the electrical contacts. This could allow for removal of the ignition key without the shift lever being in the Park position.” Dealers will install an additional park position switch and circuit board.

The second, no. 2018292 states: “On certain vehicles, a problem with the brake system may cause gas bubbles to form in the brake fluid. This could cause a soft brake pedal feel and a reduction in brake performance.” Dealers will bleed the front or rear brakes as necessary. In the interim, owners are advised to stop driving their Golf until the defect has been repaired.

The Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) does not have crash ratings for the Focus, but the Corolla iM has Good ratings for the moderate front offset and side impact tests and a Basic for forward collision prevention. The Golf has Good ratings for the driver side small offset, moderate offset, side impact and roof strength tests along with an Acceptable score for the small passenger side offset test and a Basic for forward collision prevention.

The projected resale value of these compact hatchbacks in 2023, after being driven an average of 20,000 kilometres per year, is $6,200 for the Focus, $6,750 for the Corolla iM and $8,050 for the Golf.

The hot Unhaggle deal this week is the Volkswagen Golf — it seems to enjoy a twisty road almost as much as the driver, it’s comfortable and it has the right flexibility. The plus is it holds its value over time.

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