Little things that really matter
IT takes a great car like the new Golf (pictured) to put good cars into perspective.
The Hyundai i30 and Toyota Corolla are very good small cars and so is the Mercedes-BenzAClass.
The Mitsubishi Lancer? Much less good. The Proton Persona? Next question.
There are no real dogs in the small-car class these days but the run-up from good and better to best covers a lot of ground.
It’s easy to dismiss anything with a Chinese badge, the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Soul which need an update, the funky Toyota Rukus with the outdated Corolla mechanical package, even the dullbut-worthy Renault Megane.
The Mazda3 is Australia’s favourite car but it’s noisy and harsh with a dowdy and outdated cabin. The Lancer is roomy but slow and cheap inside. The Opel Astra is all right but too expensive.
Getting serious, the latest Honda Civic is better than the previous model but not as good as it should be thanks to cost and quality cuts. Subaru’s Impreza beats the Civic, with its upscale cabin and quality. So, who are the leaders? For driving enjoyment, it’s the Ford Focus. For value in a four-door body with comfort, it’s the Nissan Pulsar.
Holden’s updated Cruze is emerging as a Carsguide favourite. We really like the understated but classy new Toyota Corolla as well as the fun-to-drive Hyundai i30 with a great bottom line.
So, today, the Carsguide rankings look like this: VW Golf, Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla, Holden Cruze, Nissan Pulsar and Ford Focus.
But things could change with the definitive small-car shootout, using our realworld Carsguide Car of the Year criteria.