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Drive Life : September 24th 2010
1HERSA1 F011 DriveLIFE what car should I buy? The Sydney Morning Herald Friday, September 24, 2010 11 Great to drive Willing 1.5-litre engine Not particularly quiet Optional safety packs in some models Drive recommends If you're not fussed about the finer points of cabin packaging, driving nous or style, the Getz will do the job and be cheaper year-on-year to buy than a Jazz or 2. Throw in its cheap running costs and stellar dependability and it's going to be hard to ignore for anyone on a tight budget. If, however, you like the idea of a little more space, presentation and driving flair, then the Honda and Mazda more than justify their higher prices. Ultimately, you could make a strong case for either one but if outright space and versatility are everything, then the super- versatile Jazz has the edge. For a sweeter drive and only slightly less core practicality, go for the 2. The dilemma Jane is looking to replace her 1992 Mazda 121. She wants another small car that's easy to drive, cheap to run and reliable, as well having some space and the four-door practicality she enjoys. She's deciding between used examples of the Honda Jazz, Hyundai Getz, Mazda2 and Toyota Echo, as well as VW's Golf but doesn't know which one best suits her needs and budget of no more than $7500. The shortlist The Honda and Mazda immediately stand out with their tall, boxy bodies, which deliver space and versatility beyond most light cars. Combine that with their all-round flair, quality and dependability and it's hard to see why you'd bother with the worthy but unremarkable Echo. The Getz, too, isn't exactly amazing but its sharp value puts newer examples at hand. At this price point, that's a decisive asset. The Golf? It's a class above the others but used ones for this money will also be getting on. Reliability niggles are more common than in your average Japanese car, so it might pay to steer clear or save a bit more to get a newer, lower-kilometre example. 2002-08 Honda Jazz The big attraction of the first-generation Jazz is its roomy, clever cabin, which has a back seat that can fold entirely flat or have just the base raised, giving it unrivalled versatility. It's no one-trick pony, either, with its funky looks, great build quality and age- competitive safety. The 1.3-litre four fitted to base GLi models is a sweetie, too, though you might want the 1.5-litre VTi and VTi-S if you have open-road duties in mind. The Jazz, however, is more good than great as far as its ride and handling go. 2002-present Hyundai Getz The Hyundai balances its lack of badge appeal with supreme value. Jane could either get a newer example compared with the others or save some cash; either way, it's a path to affordable, zero-hassle motoring. You've got to pick the right one, though. All Getzes look much the same but post-2005 update models get bigger 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre engines and wider availability of safety features such as anti-lock brakes. If you can afford it, they're the ones to go for. What the Getz won't be is as roomy, versatile or as good to drive as a Jazz or 2 but it's competent enough in most of the areas that count. Its bargain-basement positioning, however, can lead to owners skimping on maintenance, so be wary of poorly maintained examples. 2002-07 Mazda2 The 2 delivers a level of real estate and practicality similar to the Jazz. The back seat doesn't have the same breadth of possibilities but it's roomier and more comfortable and versatile than most light cars. The Mazda, too, was great to drive and every model got a flexible, willing 1.5-litre engine that matched surprisingly well to the optional auto. Post-2003 models could be had with an optional safety pack that included curtain airbags. Less endearing was the base Neo's lack of anti-lock brakes and (initially) power windows. It was never particularly quiet, either, and the wild colour palette could scare off shrinking violets. Cameron McGavin For more reviews of light cars, see drive.com.au/what-car.
September 17th 2010
October 1st 2010