Main difference is cost and space saving. The torsion beam takes up less cabin space and is cheaper to manufacture and service. Nearly all Euro mini class cars up to Golf GTI use it. Golf GTi is one of the best handling cars? Anyone disagree?
Torsion beam is semi-independent, but you wouldn't notice the difference. Those "journos" who split hairs about "which is best" are missing the point because a good torsion beam design and set up can be much better than a full independent multi link or vice versa. It's not the system it's how it's set up with the rest of the car design that counts.
On the local journos, they are pretty lame when it comes to reviews, I prefer to read UK or OZ reviewers which have cars similar to our spec.
The Golf GTI used torsion beam until the Mk IV, but for the Mk V and the current Mk VI they went the path of multi-link.
Examples of good handling cars running on a torsion beam set up include RS versions of the Megane and Clio. It is not impossible to come up with a torsion beam set up with superior handling characteristics to multi-link.
The Europeans do have a knack of tuning good handling characteristics into cars with torsion beam rear suspension, but thus far I do notice subtle differences between cars that use torsion beam and multi-link suspension.
The differences are admittedly minute, and noticeable only when pushed. The torsion beam setup has higher unsprung weight, and tends to give cars a livelier tail compared to multi-link.