Time to ped­dle the metal

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - PAUL POT­TINGER paul.pot­tinger@cars­guide.com.au

UP is down in 2012. Black is white. Peu­geot re­leases a car with Mazda2 pric­ing that’s smile-in­duc­ing to drive in the way Pugs once were. The cheap­est new Volk­swa­gen since the Bee­tle lobs, re­plete with Euro kit and style.

Hyundai’s new Santa Fe gets a bet­ter re­vers­ing cam­era (as op­posed to none, ac­tu­ally) than comes stan­dard in a pres­tige car of twice the price. Its i40 diesel has the most au­rally re­fined small-ca­pac­ity oiler of any we’ve driven. Lit­tle brother Kia presents the most stylish range of cars at any money.

A car with a Toy­ota badge is the best new sports car in decades, to say noth­ing of the cheap­est. It’s sur­passed— and then only barely— by the Subaru on which it’s based.

Ford ver­sus Holden now comes down to two utes and two ex­cel­lent small cars. BMW and Mercedes launch hatches priced at less than $40K. Far from be­ing pros­ti­tu­tions of two great badges, as were their pre­de­ces­sors, these are pound for pound among the best cars from those brands. And so on.

Not all the old habits have died, of course. Audi re­mains syn­ony­mous with out­stand­ing cabin qual­ity and feel-free steer­ing. Great Wall re­vived the cliche of cheap Chi­nese im­ports hav­ing some­thing less than first-world qual­ity. You can’t go five min­utes in a ma­jor city with­out see­ing a Mazda3.

But it’s the ex­cep­tions that are chang­ing the rules in this madly com­pet­i­tive, mas­sively over-pop­u­lated new car mar­ket. All of which is good news for peo­ple with money to spend on metal. Tim Blair is on leave

Opel Corsa

OPEL’S Corsa En­joy starts at $18,990. The four-speed auto adds $2000. The tech pack adds $1250. Fixed price ser­vic­ing is $249.

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