Small car, big choice

Herald Sun - Motoring - - WHICH CAR? - CRAIG DUFF KICKS THE TYRES FOR A READER

THE QUES­TION

I haven’t bought a car for over 13 years. At present I am driv­ing a 2003 Toy­ota Echo man­ual hatch. I am try­ing to de­cide whether to buy a 2016 Toy­ota Yaris SX hatch or a 2016 Mazda 2 Maxx hatch. Which would you rec­om­mend for me? Should I wait for the new mod­els to be re­leased? I would re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate your ad­vice. Chris­tine Vick­ery

You don’t spec­ify whether you want to re­place your man­ual or go down the au­to­matic path pre­ferred by most pri­vate buy­ers in this seg­ment. Both cars can ac­com­mo­date you, though the Yaris shows its age with a five-speed man­ual and four-speed auto against a sixspeed man­ual and six-speed auto in the Mazda2.

CHOICES

Toy­ota Yaris SX, from $17,330

There’s noth­ing spe­cial about the Yaris, beyond it be­ing a Toy­ota. The en­gine and trans­mis­sion choices aren’t close to class-lead­ing and the price puts it into that level of com­pe­ti­tion. Stan­dard gear runs to a 6.1-inch touch­screen with re­vers­ing cam­era, rear pri­vacy glass, 15-inch steel wheels and front fog lights. It edges ahead on shop­ping runs with a 286-litre boot to the Mazda’s 250 litres. Fuel use ranges from 5.8L/100km for the man­ual to 6.4L/100km with the auto. Ser­vice in­ter­vals are 6 months/10,000km and capped price ser­vic­ing is good value at $840 for the first six trips. Mazda2 Maxx, from $19,690 drive­away

The base Maxx is fit­ted with a light, pre­cise six-speed man­ual; the au­to­matic adds $2000. It also uses less fuel than the Toy­ota at a claimed 4.9L/100km for the auto and 5.2L for the man­ual. Stan­dard gear in­cludes key­less start, a seven-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen and 15inch al­loy wheels. City-speed au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing is a $400 op­tion. The Mazda 2 re­quires ser­vic­ing every 12 months or 10,000km and in the case of the Maxx those costs amount to $1192 for the first four vis­its; $1476 for five. Off­set­ting the higher ser­vic­ing costs is — at least tem­po­rar­ily — a drive­away price of $19,690 for a 2016-plated Maxx.

WILDCARD

Suzuki Swift GL Nav­i­ga­tor, from $16,990 drive­away

Start­ing to show its age, as ev­i­denced by the five-speed man­ual/four-speed auto combo. Beyond that, the GL Nav­i­ga­tor picks up sat­nav, cruise con­trol and al­loy wheels. The Swift is a bet­ter drive than the Yaris but the in­te­rior doesn’t look nearly as modern. Fuel use is 5.5L/100km for the man­ual and 6.4L/100km with the auto. Ser­vic­ing is sched­uled every six months/10,000km and the first six trips will cost $1284.

VER­DICT

If you en­joy driv­ing then the Mazda2 is the right car at the right price, with the smartest in­te­rior. If a cheap, re­li­able car is your cri­te­ria then have a long look at the Suzuki. If the Echo has left a last­ing im­pres­sion, the Yaris won’t dis­ap­point but hag­gle hard with the dealer.

MAZDA2 MAXX

TOY­OTA YARIS SUZUKI SWIFT

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