On the right track

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Roadside Assist - PAULP GOVER GETS ANSWERSA FOR YOU

I saw your story about driv­ing the new Mazda MX-5 in Scot­land and, as I’m look­ing to put an or­der in, which en­gine would you rec­om­mend? The 1.5 or the 2-litre? I cur­rently own a MX5 NA 1.8 Club­man set up for track days/club sprints so I like their driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Craig Lang­ford, email For road use I’d be happy with the 1.5 but, since you’re go­ing to be hit­ting race­tracks, I’d def­i­nitely get the “big banger” 2-litre en­gine as it will be more re­ward­ing to drive in those con­di­tions.

X60’S A GOOD CHOICE

I am about to buy a 20142015 new or demo Volvo XC60. So, two ques­tions: is it a good car and should I get a 2.5-litre diesel or 3litre petrol? I mostly do city driv­ing but do a long trip each month, and my hus­band wants me to men­tion the boat he tows maybe eight times a year. Di, email First, the XC60 is a very good car. Sec­ond, a diesel en­gine only makes eco­nomic sense if you travel more than 30,000km a year, but it would give you bet­ter torque for those boat runs.

ALFA’S SHOOT­ING STARS

I had to smile when Tom sug­gested in last week’s Road­side As­sist that you were prej­u­diced against Al­fas and that per­haps you should take some guid­ance from Clark­son and oth­ers. Now the 4C ap­pears as a great, Fer­rari-like, car and Jeremy Clark­son, in his inim­itable style, ranks it as a six on a five-point scale. But if one was think­ing of buy­ing the car he ranked it as a two. One star for the stereo and one for the econ­omy. This view seems to ac­cord with your thoughts. Hugh Wilkin­son, email I was hop­ing some­one would come to my res­cue on the re­view of the 4C, which was harsh but fair. Thanks.

PRICE HARD TO BEAT

My son al­most has his sights on a new man­ual Toy­ota Yaris, ad­ver­tised at $15,999 drive-away. You have men­tioned in your col­umn about bar­gain­ing with deal­ers and, since this will be a cash sale, can you of­fer some tips about the best way to bar­gain and whether or not be­ing a cash buyer gives you much lever­age? Peter Mitchell, email In this case, Toy­ota has al­ready done the bar­gain­ing with a price that is hard to beat. There’s not much mar­gin in the deal, but you might get some free floor mats.

NO NEWS IS NO NEWS

Do you know when or if a new Toy­ota Yaris sedan might ap­pear, as Toy­ota deal­ers don’t seem to know? Un­for­tu­nately the light sedan is an unloved class these days and the re­place­ment SUVs can’t fit four peo­ple and their lug­gage. I am also sus­pi­cious that their large frontal area will mean a poor drag co­ef­fi­cient and their big wheels a high rolling re­sis­tance lead­ing to poor econ­omy com­pared with a light sedan. I am look­ing for a shrunk ver­sion of the new Corolla, as it is get­ting too big. I have a 2008 Yaris man­ual sedan which I have driven on many long trips and found to be su­per

re­li­able and eco­nom­i­cal but, in the cur­rent world, now ex­tremely dated.

Jeff Vessey, email The Yaris sedan is not likely to get a hatch-style up­date this year, just as the Corolla sedan lagged more than a year be­hind the hatch. Of­fi­cially, Toy­ota spokesman Steve Cough­lan replies: “We have no an­nounce­ment to make. The Yaris sedan is cur­rently avail­able and re­mains avail­able”.

UGLY FISH FACE

I no­tice most cars have adopted the “gasp­ing groper” — of the fish kind — frontal treat­ment. Is this styling fash­ion, fol­low-the­leader, or a gen­uine need for a con­sid­er­able flow of fresh air into the en­gine bay for co­pi­ous cool­ing of the en­gine and gear­box? For the most part, I think it does lit­tle as a fash­ion state­ment and of­ten quite the re­verse.

Jim Collins, Moore­bank NSW It’s all about brands try­ing to cre­ate a cor­po­rate “face” that iden­ti­fies their cars. In fact, smaller open­ings are bet­ter for econ­omy and some com­pa­nies now have ac­tive blank­ing pan­els that close to cut high-speed drag.

WAR­RANTY IS KEY

In re­sponse to a per­son look­ing to spend $10,000 on a re­li­able, safe, energy and cost-ef­fi­cient small­ish sec­ond-hand car you very clearly rec­om­mended a Mazda3 or Suzuki Swift over a VW Golf. Af­ter look­ing online, there are many 2009 Golfs around with less than 100,000km for that money, in­clud­ing even a later 2011. While I agree with your rec­om­men­da­tion, the re­al­ity is that just about ev­ery­thing out there is bet­ter than buy­ing a sec­ond-hand VW with more than about 80,000 on the clock. Just about weekly you say that 2015 prod­ucts from the VW fold — Skoda, Audi and VW — are at least equal best in class. But you don’t say that history shows they will be less re­li­able and cost a lot more to keep on the road than all the Ja­panese and Korean-based makes.

Ian Wal­lace, Bris­bane We regularly re­port the class of Volk­swa­gen cars but also say we’d not own one be­yond the fac­tory war­ranty pe­riod.

NO GOLF IN RE­TIRE­MENT

I am think­ing of buy­ing a new VW Golf Mark 7, a High­line 103TSI Auto. As I am re­tired it will prob­a­bly be my last car and I have con­cerns about the long term-re­li­a­bil­ity with DSG etc. I’m also look­ing at a Mazda3 GT, Audi A3 am­bi­tion 1.8 TFSI, Benz A200 and A250.

Ralph Perta, email The Golf is great but ques­tion­able be­yond the war­ranty, which rules it out for you. The A3 is a Golf un­der the skin, so that makes the Mazda3 the safe choice but you should also crunch the num­bers on an A-Class and test drive to see if it makes you feel more spe­cial than the Mazda for your re­tire­ment.

Maz­zda MX--5:: Bi­ig­gerr iiss

bettt­terr on tthe ttr­raacck

Great value: there’s not much mar­gin in Toy­ota’s $15,990 deal for a man­ual Yaris

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