A match for a cute hatch

Herald Sun - Motoring - - WHICH CAR? - PETER BARN­WELL KICKS THE TYRES FOR A READER WANT AD­VICE ON BUY­ING A CAR? WRITE TO CARS­GUIDE AT PO BOX 2808, GPO SYD­NEY, NSW, 2001 OR EMAIL PAUL.GOVER@NEWS.COM.AU

THE QUES­TION

I’m quite in­ter­ested in the Volkswagen Polo. I’ve al­ways loved the VW badge (su­per­fi­cial, I know — I love the retro bug New Bee­tle but not the ugly Porsche-look­ing re­place­ment). I re­ally like the com­pact­ness and zip­pi­ness of the Polo. I have a cute Suzuki Swift and don’t like the shape of many smaller cars. Su­san Beard­s­ley, email Not lik­ing the looks of most of the small cars on the mar­ket sig­nif­i­cantly nar­rows your op­tions. Your as­ser­tion that the lat­est Bee­tle is ugly is fairly sub­jec­tive as plenty of peo­ple, in­clud­ing me, think it’s a huge im­prove­ment on the first ver­sion in ev­ery way. If you’re look­ing at a re­place­ment for your cute Swift, there are a few mod­els avail­able, in­clud­ing Polo vari­ants. Look­ing at Swift equiv­a­lents, we’ll go with the en­try level Polo.

CHOICES

VW Polo 66TSI Trend­line, from $16,990 For the base model, the 66TSI is good to drive. There’s plenty of go from the 1.2-litre turbo (66kW/160Nm), which is also su­per eco­nom­i­cal at 4.8L/100km. The Polo looks like a mini-Golf at first glance yet is quite ca­pa­cious in­side, with seats for five. It scores some de­sir­able driver as­sist fea­tures, rear view cam­era and de­cent in­fo­tain­ment setup. The prefer­able sev­en­speed auto adds $2500. Re­nault Clio Authen­tique, $15,490 drive-away Don’t let the 66kW/135Nm 900cc three-cylin­der put you

off as the Clio goes well and sips lightly (4.5L/100km). Like Polo, Clio is quite a large car with dis­tinc­tive styling and some safety kit earn­ing a top crash rat­ing. The drive feel is good, in­te­rior room is gen­er­ous and some re­ally funky colours are avail­able. Sharp price too but it’s a re­ally ba­sic model de­signed to force you to the next level. Peu­geot 208 1.2 Ac­cess, from $15,490 Once again, the three-cylin­der base model (60kW/118Nm). Not as sporty as the VW and Re­nault but still re­turns 4.5L/100km. Gets a smat­ter­ing of driver as­sist fea­tures and is a good city drive. Slightly bul­bous frontal styling. Safe, tidy but five-speed man­ual only.

WILD­CARD

Mazda2 Neo, from $14,990 This car has been out only for a year and it has Mazda’s clever Sky­Ac­tiv tech­nol­ogy that op­ti­mises en­gine per­for­mance. Per­for­mance from the 1.5-litre four-cylin­der (79kW/139Nm) is ac­cept­able. Drive feel is sat­is­fac­tory, too, with a sporty flavour to go with the funky styling — it looks good even in un­adorned base model Neo form. Fuel econ­omy is 5.4L/100km. Spend the ex­tra $400 on smart city brak­ing.

VER­DICT

If it didn’t ab­so­lutely have to be Euro­pean, go for the Mazda2 It’s bet­ter look­ing, costs less, is to­tally new and ben­e­fits from Mazda’s ex­cel­lent Sky­Ac­tiv tech. Re­sale value is also good.

MAZDA2 VOLKSWAGEN POLO

RE­NAULT CLIO PEU­GEOT 208

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