Despite some signs of recent change, most U.S. buyers still prefer four-door sedans to five-door hatchbacks. That’s why the Volkswagen Golf three- and five-door compact hatchbacks have always played a supporting role to the sales-leading VW Jetta compact sedan, which was completely redesigned for 2011.
The latest Golf was redesigned the previous year, with evolution rather than revolution being the name of the game. It's a simple, uncluttered and attractive shape that shouldn't age as badly as more adventurous rivals. The Golf also has a higher-quality, more Germanic interior than its cheaper four-door brother, the Jetta. It's also more fun to drive, with better ride and handling.
In fact, only the brand-new 2012 Ford Focus offers the same blend of tight cornering and behind-the-wheel precision as the Golf, which stood alone in the compact class for many years.
The hatchback is also more practical than the Jetta, though if you want to carry passengers in the back then we'd...
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