HEAD­TO­HEAD

An en­try-level small car no longer means a poverty pack. Two top sell­ers are sep­a­rated by PAUL POT­TINGER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

En­try-level small cars no longer mean a poverty pack. We match Toy­ota’s Corolla As­cent and Holden’s Cruze Equipe

VALUE

This looked good last year, but now . . . $2K over the $19,990 en­try man­ual gets a con­tin­u­ously vari­able auto but not a lot of booty be­sides Blue­tooth. You get cruise but have to make do with 16-inch steel wheels. The $1K dearer As­cent Sport gets al­loys and re­vers­ing cam­era. Capped ser­vic­ing but it’s twice yearly.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The car­ry­over but up­dated 1.8-litre four makes 103kW/173Nm with top torque ar­riv­ing lower, where it’s sorely needed. The CVT helps it to 6.6L/100km, bet­ter than the six-speed man­ual no one would buy. It’s one of the bet­ter such trans­mis­sions, a vast im­prove­ment on the old four-speed auto.

DE­SIGN

The cardi­gan car cau­tiously em­braces style with ac­cents from the 86 sports coupe that it oth­er­wise in no way re­sem­bles. ‘‘Wedgy and a bit edgy,’’ Gover calls it. In­side it beats the Cruze for touch and feel but is so far be­hind in terms of kit it hurts. Big, com­fort­able seats front and back.

SAFETY

Life-sav­ing tech­nol­ogy such as sta­bil­ity con­trol was not even op­tional un­til too re­cently but now the car sets the stan­dard. Seven airbags — one more than most — and the driver’s knee pro­tec­tion should be em­u­lated by all. The crash rat­ing is, of course, five stars.

DRIV­ING

No one ex­pects dy­namic ful­fil­ment of the vis­ual prom­ise, so it’s churl­ish to carp. Toy­ota’s lat­est car makes steps, not strides, in this di­rec­tion, an­other area in which the small car game has passed it. Yet it’s un­fussed and un­de­mand­ing, as is its likely buyer.

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