Explained: the VW Group's MQB platform
It's highly complex, incredibly clever and previews future car production. Time to swot up with Paul Horrell
Posted: 21 Mar 2014
You don’t need it for the Octavia. The ride is emphatically more turbulent over bumps and there’s a harsh grittiness to the way it goes over coarse surfaces. Are they using cheap dampers? It has the same multi-link back axle design as the others (all other Octavias, as well as most Leons, a few low-power Golfs but no A3s have a lighter, simpler, cheaper torsion beam suspension). The steering is heavier than the others, but offers no more feel. The handling is more inert at normal speeds, and if you really push on, it gets untidy where the others stay serene. There’s more noise generally – small wonder maybe, when you’ve got that huge echo chamber of a boot.
We all share an assumption about the VW group price ladder, don’t we? But we’re all wrong. The cheapest here isn’t the Skoda but, by a useful amount, the Seat. And right now, the Seat comes with the navigation and LED headlights package. And the Skoda emits 119g/km CO2 versus 109 by the Seat, meaning you pay another 2 per cent BIK if it’s a company car. Given that the Seat drives with so much more sophistication, this is a ridiculously easy choice unless you carry mountains of stuff with you, or you feel the need to wear Skoda’s austere and chaste image.
The VW is, at base price, more expensive than the Audi. That said, if we’d had the Audi as an S line, it would have had a body kit, bigger wheels and xenons as standard, putting it just above the Golf. But even an A3 S line really only gets interesting when you prostrate your finances before its biblically lengthy options list and add the lovely baubles and technological gadgetry. For most of us, the Golf is the best-thought package here.
Small wonder it’s the one that sells so many. You can’t help feeling that although MQB is a group project, the others all had to shuffle out the way of VW’s position as the senior partner.