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Journeys : Dec2011 Jan2012
Best Light Car Under $20,000 Kia Rio Si $18,990 Driveline: 1.6 litre; 4 cyl; 6 speed manual transmission Fuel economy: 5.6L/100km; ULP Safety Features: ABS, DFSA, ESC, TCS ANCAP: GVG: It’s not easy being small, but in motoring ter ms, Light Car Under $20,000 is a category that goes from strength to strength and seems to pack more value in every year. The combatants for 2011 were no different, w ith the three favour ites going in all deliver ing strongly in terms of safety, inclusions, driveability and value for money. That’s the main point of change for the categor y too. What manufacturers have been able to squeeze into such a small package is seriously impressive. This year, it was going to be a tough fight. This year’s winner, the Kia Rio, is one such example that delivers well beyond its price point and diminutive small car origins. As tested, it sells for $18,990, which is pretty competitive in anyone’s language. For that outlay, buyers get five doors with plenty of interior space, a free rev v ing, w illing and efficient 1.6 -litre petrol engine and a crisp 6-speed manual transmission. All in all, it adds up an extremely fun daily drive that certainly doesn’t break the budget. Central to this new model is an all new design, both inside and out that is visible immediately. Exter ior styling is handsome from any angle and benefits from the placement of an experienced and respected Italian designer in a North American design studio, and there’s none of that fussy detailing sometimes associated with this entry level end of the market, particularly from South Korea. Inside, the cockpit is both functional and comfor table and perhaps more importantly, well executed. Adults can sit comfortably in the back seats and the luggage area (in what is a small hatchback remember) is generous, with or without the rear seats folded down. There is all the connectivity and all the multimedia options you need, controls that feel sturdy and are well placed and a general feeling of quality and tightness throughout the cabin. This feeling of quality fit and finish is evident even over nasty, uneven road surfaces where you would expect a small car to develop any number of rattles and squeaks. There’s none in the Kia. Best Light Car Over $20,000 Volkswagen Polo 66TDI Comfortline $22,350 Driveline : 1.6 litre; 4 cyl; 5 speed; manual transmission Fuel economy: 4.7L/100km; Diesel Safety Features: DFSA, CA, ABS, TCS, ESC ANCAP: GVG: It’s two in a row for the Volkswagen Polo 66TDI Comfor tline. A perennial winner over the years in various classes of Australia’s Best Cars Awards, the Polo makes a name for itself again with back to back wins, a feat that’s proven difficult for many car makers. It’s not surprising really, as the Polo 66TDI punches above its weight in many of the important Australia’s Best Cars criteria, and would give many cars in the next class up, the Small Cars Under $35,000, a serious run for their money. The Volkswagen Polo has redefined the class with the German car maker adding a touch of class and luxury to a sector of the market not traditionally known for above average levels of quality and refinement. Many pundits scratch their heads and wonder how Volkswagen can do it for a vehicle with an asking price of just $22,350. From the moment you hear the reassuring thud when you close the door and sit behind the wheel, the detailed finish on the dash and surrounding surface areas impress, and first impressions are important in such a competitive class. Features like the audio system come from the Golf and Passat range, reinforcing the quality feel. The sense of strength that comes from a solidly constructed small car continues through in areas that you can’t see, like safety and importantly the Polo scores a five-star ANCAP safety rating courtesy of six airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes. Powering the Polo 66TDI Comfortline is a 1.6 litre turbocharged diesel engine with an output of 66kW and more importantly, 230Nm of engine torque produced from low engine revolutions. Accelerate hard up a hill and the 1.6 litre turbo diesel engine spins up sweetly and it’s definitely no slouch – it feels as quick as anything on offer in this class. The Polo has grown in size over the years but the extra bulk hasn’t hurt the Polo in terms of performance. The class winning Polo’s diesel engine is matched to a slick shifting five-speed manual transmission, and for an additional $2,500 there’s an excellent seven-speed automatic DSG available. Australia’s Best Cars 50 December 2011 / January 2012
Oct Nov 2011
Feb March 2012