Time to peddle the metal
UP is down in 2012. Black is white. Peugeot releases a car with Mazda2 pricing that’s smile-inducing to drive in the way Pugs once were. The cheapest new Volkswagen since the Beetle lobs, replete with Euro kit and style.
Hyundai’s new Santa Fe gets a better reversing camera (as opposed to none, actually) than comes standard in a prestige car of twice the price. Its i40 diesel has the most aurally refined small-capacity oiler of any we’ve driven. Little brother Kia presents the most stylish range of cars at any money.
A car with a Toyota badge is the best new sports car in decades, to say nothing of the cheapest. It’s surpassed — and then only barely — by the Subaru on which it’s based.
Ford versus Holden now comes down to two utes and two excellent small cars. BMW and Mercedes launch hatches priced at less than $40K. Far from being prostitutions of two great badges, as were their predecessors, these are pound for pound among the best cars from those brands. And so on.
Not all the old habits have died, of course. Audi remains synonymous with outstanding cabin quality and feel-free steering. Great Wall revived the cliche of cheap Chinese imports having something less than first-world quality. You can’t go five minutes in a major city without seeing a Mazda3.
But it’s the exceptions that are changing the rules in this madly competitive, massively over-populated new car market. All of which is good news for people with money to spend on metal. Tim Blair is on leave