Our tame racing driver helps kicks off Evans's CarFest motor show...
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Top Gear’s Top Five Hatchbacks
Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI 105
Specs: 105bhp, 184lb ft, 0-62mph 10.7secs, VMax 119mph, 74.3mpg, CO2 99g/km
The runaway class leader. It just does what it does better than any other car, be it the school run or the motorway haul. To buy it is to love it. And to keep for a long time.
SEAT Leon 1.4 TSI SE
Specs: 138bhp, 184lb ft, 0-62mph 8.2secs, VMax 131mph, 54.3mpg, CO2 119g/km
SEAT has pulled out all the stops with the latest Leon and it’s now a car that pushes the Golf hard. Bit of extra sporting intent, covers all the bases well.
Ford Focus 1.0T 125
Specs: 125bhp, 125lb ft, 0-62mph 11.3secs, VMax 120mph, 56.5mpg, CO2 114g/km
Britain’s best-selling family hatchback and it’s easy to see why. Even so, the Focus isn’t quite as great as it was: a looming facelift should hopefully fix things.
Peugeot 308 1.6E-HDI
Specs: 115bhp, 199lb ft, 0-62mph 10.2secs, VMax 121mph, 76.3mpg, CO2 95g/km
This one caught us a bit by surprise. It’s a Peugeot, and it’s not awful. At all. Rides well, drives nicely, looks good. A return to the Peugeots of old.
Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC
Specs: 120bhp, 221lb ft, 0-62mph 10.5secs, VMax 129mph, 78.5mpg, CO2 94g/km
Yes, it is very cleverly packaged, and yes, you do need a degree in advanced electronic engineering to make head or tail of the dash. Belting new 1.6 diesel.