Volkswagen Golf v Mazda 3 v Toyota Corolla v Holden Cruze v Ford Focus v Hyundai i30 v Opel Astra v Honda Civic
By Daniel DeGasperi | May 24th, 2013
Before the fireworks are blown at year’s end more than a quarter of a million Australians will sign for a small hatchback or sedan, of which about 75 per cent will pick one of the eight nameplates featured in this test.
This is the biggest, most relevant test of the year. The catalyst for this mega-comparison is the arrival of the new Volkswagen Golf. It joins the Ford Focus, Holden Cruze, Honda Civic Hatch, Hyundai i30, Mazda 3, Opel Astra and Toyota Corolla in the battle for small car supremacy.
Mid-spec, petrol-engined, automatic-equipped hatchbacks were chosen (but Focus and Corolla were only available in higher grades), with prices ranging from $23,000-$30,500 on test. Another two models could have been added, though the five-door hatchback versions of the Kia Cerato and Nissan Pulsar hadn’t quite landed in time for this test.
Some models gained an early lead for price and equipment. Interiors were then measured, with each model ranked for space and practicality. A pothole- and speedhump-ridden urban drive loop was conducted to find the most comfortable contender. A longer country road drive then established each car’s level of drivetrain punch, seat comfort, refinement, and steering and handling prowess.
Back at home base, after 500km of driving, calculators were tapped to find real-world running costs over four years/60,000km.
Let the sport begin…