Motion versus emotion
Could you help me decide which car to buy? I do about 20,000km a year and am considering updating my seven-year-old car. The cars I’m considering are Mazda6 GT, Toyota Camry Atara S Hybrid and Kia Optima GT.
They’re all good choices. The Kia is most powerful while the Camry Hybrid is not surprisingly the most economical. However, buying a car never comes down to these things alone. Most buyers in this segment are looking for an all-rounder, something that’s comfortable, with decent performance and economy. Take each for a drive and compare them for value but at the end of the day you’ll probably take home the one you’re attracted to.
CHOICES Mazda6 GT, from $42,690
A classy contender by any measure. There’s even a diesel if you’re looking for super economy, not that the four drinks heavily. The stylish 6 sports a Euro look and feel, with the security blanket of a Japanese build. Its 2.5-litre four (138kW/250Nm), paired with a six-speed auto, claims 6.6L/ 100km. Warranty is three years/ 100,000km and service interval is 12 months/10,000km. Capped servicing costs $1415 for three years/40,000km.
Toyota Camry Atara SL Hybrid, from $40,440
Cheap to run and service. This car has really come of age, with a more substantial feel and quieter, more upmarket cabin. The only downside is that is that when you put your foot down it sounds like a vacuum cleaner with something stuck in the nozzle. The 2.5-litre four and electric motor (151kW combined) and CVT claim 5.2L/100km. Warranty is three years/100,000 and service interval is nine months/15,000km. Capped servicing is $560 for three years/45,000km.
Kia Optima GT, from $43,990
Drop-dead good looks with performance to match. Gets up and boogies thanks to 2.0-litre turbo 180kW/350Nm) turning a six-speed auto but it’s pricey. Servicing every six months/ 7500km can be a pain. Power comes with thirst and it uses 8.5L/100km. Warranty is seven years/unlimited km but capped price servicing is expensive at $1734 for three years/45,000km.
WILDCARD VW Passat 132TSI, from $39,990
A 2015 Car of the Year finalist, the Passat is stylish, roomy and deserves more recognition. The 1.8 turbo (132kW/250Nm), paired with a seven-speed twin clutch auto, delivers punchy performance and excellent economy — 6.0L/ 100km. Warranty is three years/ unlimited km and service interval is 12 months/15,000km. Capped servicing ins’t cheap at $1721 for three years/45,000km.
It’s not on your list but the Passat gets our vote. You could describe it as Europe’s answer to the Camry, which is no criticism. It shines the brightest in a field of stars.