Lit­tle things that re­ally mat­ter

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

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.

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