Home' Open Road NSW Central Coast and Hunter : OR0718 Contents COMPETITION IN THE LIGHT cars class
is fierce and each year delivers better
quality and value. This time, the proven
formula of the entry-level Mazda2 Maxx
has won out, consisting of solid value in an
easy-to-drive and live with package.
Price in this category is important,
which goes some way to explaining why
Mazda’s volume-selling Maxx model is
one of its cheaper models. While some
others in the class may cost less, the
Maxx offers competitive value for money.
The Mazda2’s interior is functional, the
seats are comfortable, and most drivers
will appreciate the easy-to-use layout of
the instrumentation and controls.
The Maxx has the basic 1.5 -litre
SkyActiv engine. A six-speed automatic
handles power smoothly and efficiently,
and the performance is still better than
most others at this budget-focused end
of the market. While you don’t buy a light
car solely because of its handling
characteristics, the Mazda2 offers one of
the best driving experiences in its class.
Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control (also used in
the Mazda3 and Mazda6) assists in this
handling. Direct steering and a small
turning circle make city driving a breeze.
Its road holding and cornering abilities
are impressive, and the ride, although
firm, is fairly compliant.
Light cars are often noisy because the
chase for lighter design means noise-
deadening material is used sparingly.
Mazda has worked on this problem using
a noise-insulating windscreen, plus new
insulation for the engine and luggage
compartment, and damping material to
make the cabin quieter.
The small size of the cars in this
category means buyers look for a higher
level of safety for peace of mind. Mazda’s
version of autonomous emergency
braking is standard even on the base
Maxx, and this is another example of how
Mazda makes incremental additions to its
range while maintaining its price point.
The Mazda2 offers
one of the best driving
experiences in its class
The Kia Rio seems to always be in
the hunt for an award in this class
as it gets a scoring head-start
with its overall value package and
generous seven-year warranty.
However, the others catch up when
it comes to design elements and
The Rio’s 1.4 -litre engine is a bit
hamstrung in having only a four-speed
auto transmission. Most of its rivals
have moved on to CVTs or an auto with
six speeds or more. But what it lacks in
performance is offset by its road
manners. The Rio’s ride, handling and
steering all benefit from Kia Australia’s
local chassis tuning program.
The combination of value for money,
attractive exterior design and general
liveability has continued to make the
Rio popular, and a close third this year.
The VW Polo came a close second and,
as is often the case in this class, much
of the buyer’s choice will come down to
The sixth-generation Polo is spacious
and it’s now comparable in size to the
earlier Golfs. Luggage space with all
seats occupied has noticeably improved
and is made even greater if the 60/40
split-fold back seats are folded.
Safety features include autonomous
emergency braking, six airbags,
electronic stability control, driver
fatigue monitoring, tyre-pressure
indication and a reversing camera.
Performance is surprising, given its
diminutive engine capacity, but the unit
is prone to some low-speed jerkiness.
It might be one of the Japanese carmaker’s cheaper models
but the Mazda2 Maxx certainly doesn’t feel that way
VW Polo Comfortline
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder
Transmission: seven-speed auto Power:
85kW Torque: 200Nm Fuel economy:
4.9L/100km ANCAP: HHHHH Price:
$25,565 (indicative drive away)
Best Light Car
Kia Rio S
Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder Transmission:
four-speed auto Power: 74kW Torque: 133Nm
Fuel economy: 6.2L/100km ANCAP: HHHHH
Price: $22,245 (indicative drive away)
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder Transmission:
six-speed auto Power: 81kW Torque: 141Nm Fuel
economy: 4.9L/100km ANCAP: HHHHH Price:
$22,884 (indicative drive away)
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