LAST WORD

Torque (Singapore) - - HYUNDAI KONA 1.6 VS MAZDA CX-3 2.0 VS TOYOTA C-HR -

Given how Toy­ota is bet­ter known for its bland bread-and-but­ter cars, the C-HR is noth­ing short of shock­ing.

Even more shock­ing, how­ever, is the mild per­for­mance that be­lies the C-HR’s wild ex­te­rior and driver-ori­ented cock­pit. The C-HR has the most leisurely ac­cel­er­a­tion and a ride qual­ity that is cushy rather than sporty.

That said, the C-HR’s tur­bocharged 1.2-litre is the most re­fined mo­tor here, while its CVT is the best we’ve tested so far. The C-HR’s only real draw­backs are its low roofline and stiff pric­ing. But if you want some­thing stylish with­out hav­ing to suf­fer (too much) for it, then the sunny C-HR is for you.

If you’re pas­sion­ate about driv­ing, then the Mazda CX-3 is your ride. Its en­gine revs keenly and its gear­box is al­ways ea­ger to drop a cog or two. We also love the CX-3’s head-up dis­play and ex­cel­lent in­fo­tain­ment.

While we love the CX-3’s soul-stir­ring char­ac­ter and can even live with the higher road tax its 2-litre mo­tor at­tracts, it’s hard to look past the nar­row back­seat and small boot, which re­duce the car’s over­all prac­ti­cal­ity.

The most ir­re­sistible cross­over in this story is the dy­namic Hyundai Kona. Toy­ota may have dared to pro­duce some­thing as shock­ing as the C-HR, but Hyundai has gone a step fur­ther, for the Kona’s char­ac­ter ac­tu­ally matches its ex­te­rior hue and de­sign. The Kona’s dy­namism is backed up by its on­de­mand all-wheel-drive and won­der­ful tur­bocharged 1.6-litre mo­tor, which lets it zip about town with ease. The Kona’s other strengths are its com­modi­ous cabin, roomy boot and great on­board con­nec­tiv­ity.

The Kona’s only mis­steps are its pla­s­ticky in­te­rior and slightly firm ride, and the $20,000 VES sur­charge levied on the Hyundai ad­versely af­fects its value-for­money propo­si­tion. But th­ese are small penal­ties to pay for a colour­ful cross­over that out-funks and out­runs the com­pe­ti­tion in this shootout.

(Left to right) CX-3’s lengthy fob fits bet­ter in a bag than in a pocket, Kona’s de­vice looks the classi­est and its but­tons are the nicest to press, while the plain­ness of the C-HR’s key is ironic given the funk­i­ness of the car it un­locks.

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