Up­side to up­scal­ing

The Advertiser - Motoring - - WHICH CAR? -

THE QUES­TION

My wife has been very happy driv­ing her Volk­swa­gen Golf TSI but feels she needs to change to a car she steps up into, rather than drop­ping down on to the seat. I have a BMW X3 but she finds it too large to drive. We saw the new Toy­ota SUV and were won­der­ing what other mod­els you would rec­om­mend. We are con­sid­er­ing Mazda, Hyundai and Toy­ota and want re­li­able, no-fuss driv­ing, as she only uses it for shop­ping. Ge­off Briggs The bad news is no baby SUVs drive quite like the Golf. With their higher cen­tre of grav­ity, smaller pro­por­tions and less pow­er­ful en­gines, they aren’t go­ing to feel as sporty. Nor are they go­ing to pro­vide her with any more lug­gage space — for Golf money, you will get an SUV based on smaller un­der­pin­nings. The good news is the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of Ja­panese and Korean miniSUVs suit city driv­ing and will de­liver re­li­able, fuss-free driv­ing. Save money and stick with front-wheel drive ver­sions. Kia and Hyundai don’t have an en­trant in the baby class yet but we’ve in­cluded Hyundai’s Tuc­son as a wild­card as there are some at­trac­tive drive-away deals.

CHOICES

Toy­ota C-HR, from about $30,500 drive-away The funky-look­ing Toy­ota isn’t cheap — and an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion adds $2000 — but it is well equipped. Stan­dard gear in­cludes au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing, radar cruise con­trol, lane keep­ing tech­nol­ogy and blind spot mon­i­tor­ing. The cabin looks up-mar­ket and it’s roomier than most. The en­gine won’t feel any­where near as lively as your Golf but it gets the job done, though on pre­mium un­leaded. Ser­vic­ing costs are among the low­est avail­able, at $600 over three years. Mazda CX-3, from about $23,200 drive- away The most ob­vi­ous ad­van­tage over the C-HR is the price. The cheap­est Neo vari­ant of the CX-3 starts at roughly $7000 less than the Toy­ota (auto costs $2000). A bit of a bare-bones prospect, it has none of the safety gear avail­able on the Toy­ota, not even get­ing a re­vers­ing cam­era. It’s also no­tice­ably smaller and not as re­fined on the road, although the en­gine has more grunt than the C-HR. A new model is due soon and it would be well worth wait­ing if the CX-3 suits your taste. Ser­vic­ing is ex­pen­sive at $1398 over three years. Honda HR-V, from $26,990 drive-away Be­fore you get too ex­cited about the price, which is for the auto, the cur­rent deal on HR-V is for 2016-build mod­els while stocks last. They must be de­liv­ered be­fore the end of this month as well. The deal in­cludes an ex­tended five-year/140,000km war­ranty, five years’ road­side as­sis­tance and a $500 voucher. The HR-V cabin is clev­erly laid out and well fin­ished, with mod­ern look­ing di­als and plenty of room in the rear seats, which fold to lib­er­ate a generous load space. It drives well, too, although ser­vic­ing is ex­pen­sive.

WILD­CARD

Hyundai Tuc­son, from $27,990 drive-away If you’re look­ing for the most metal for the money, the Tuc­son is hard to pass up. It’s a whole size larger than the oth­ers here and that means more cabin space, more grunt and more com­fort. The Tuc­son will feel the clos­est to your VW in the way it drives, too; it feels planted and as­sured through the cor­ners. There’s Ap­ple CarPlay (no An­droid Auto, though), a re­vers­ing cam­era but none of the Toy­ota’s driver as­sist tech.

VER­DICT

The Mazda and Honda are clos­est to the Golf on price but miss out on equip­ment avail­able on the Toy­ota, mak­ing the C-HR the pick of the tid­dlers. For sheer value, though, the Tuc­son is the pick.

HYUNDAI TUC­SON

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