This one’s a keeper

Herald Sun - Motoring - - SHORT CUT - CHRIS RI­LEY CUTS TO THE CHASE

VALUE

Feels up­mar­ket with plenty of kit in­clud­ing leather, heated seats and soft-touch ma­te­ri­als where you make con­tact. Tablet­like touch­screen misses out on sat­nav, even though VTi-L is top of the line, and you need an iPhone app be­cause An­droid apps are not sup­ported. War­ranty is noth­ing spe­cial and ser­vice in­ter­val is 12 months/ 10,000km — you may need an ex­tra ser­vice within three years for a to­tal of $1463 plus ex­tras.

COM­FORT

Higher ride height makes ac­cess easy. Cabin is quiet and invit­ing, with plenty of room and a handy boot. Honda de­clut­ters bin­na­cle with sim­ple white ana­log in­stru­ments. Con­trols for most func­tions are on touch­screen and phone hooks up eas­ily. Ride qual­ity is first rate around town but a lit­tle soft for coun­try ex­cur­sions — it tends to bounce around.

SAFETY

Five stars from ANCAP with a score of 36.22/37, for good to ac­cept­able pro­tec­tion in all ar­eas plus a de­gree of pedes­trian pro­tec­tion. Re­vers­ing cam­era and sen­sors front and back are stan­dard. The cam­era also shows traf­fic to your left when merg­ing — but not on the driver’s side. This model also gets auto city brak­ing, de­signed to pre­vent rear-en­ders up to 32km/h.

DRIV­ING

It shares its plat­form with the Jazz hatch but uses a larger 1.8litre en­gine. Con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion is com­pe­tent if unin­spir­ing. Try be­fore you buy be­cause many peo­ple don’t like the zoomy feel of CVTs. Se­lect seven pre­set ra­tios with the pad­dle-shifters but the ef­fect isn’t very sat­is­fy­ing. Eco but­ton de­liv­ers bet­ter econ­omy or watch the dash — which changes colour to in­di­cate when you’re fru­gal. We re­turned 7.4L/100km.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES

Mazda CX-3 Akari, $33,290 Top seller but also smallest of the group so be sure to try it for size. Con­ven­tional auto and 109kW en­gine help with fru­gal 6.7L/100km. Comes with sat­nav. War­ranty is three years/100,000km and ser­vic­ing costs $1376 for three years/ 40,000km. Mitsubishi ASX XLS, $31,490. Long in the tooth but still looks ter­rific and gets sat­nav. CVT and 110kW en­gine claim 7.4L/100km. Long­est war­ranty and cheapest to ser­vice: five years/100,000km and $810 for three years/45,000km. Nis­san Qashqai Ti, $36,990 More money but well equipped. Quiet and comfy with sat­nav and good-sized boot. CVT and 106kW en­gine get 6.9L/100km. War­ranty is three years/ 100,000km and ser­vic­ing costs $1104 for three years/40,000km.

VER­DICT

It’s a keeper — let’s hope this one hangs around longer than the orig­i­nal HR-V. It’s a good size, quiet and smooth with a qual­ity feel.

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