A match for a cute hatch
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.
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.
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.
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