QUESTION – CAROLINE (question asked on 3/3/2017):
I’m looking at the Honda HR-V base model because I really like the boot size and practicality. Other options include the Mazda3 or Subaru Impreza, both as hatchbacks and base models, or Toyota Corolla sedan.
The main use of the car will be to drive from home to work on Sydney roads, and the occasional long trips to the beach. We will never need to take it off-road. Fuel economy is another focus and as I’m a slow driver and it’ll only be me driving, fun in driving is not necessary. I occasionally drive friends, so leg space in the back seats is kind of important but it’s not a must, and in the future I may have kids which is why I’m considering a car the size of the HR-V. Also, can I trust cars that are made in Thailand?
ANSWER – SAMANTHA STEVENS:
Let’s go through your list. For $24,990 the Honda HR-V VTi is equipped with an economical 1.8-litre petrol engine and CVT auto, where most other base models have a manual, and at 437L the boot is one of the largest in this class. Honda’s are typically super-reliable, and the HR-V has excellent safety features as standard, but we like the higher-end models which add blind-spot monitoring and City-Brake, which automatically applies the brakes if there is a risk of collision (at low speeds).
The top-shelf VTi-L at for $34,340 has a lovely interior with heated front seats and a sunroof, sat-nav, dual-zone air-con, front and rear parking sensors, among other goodies – if used vehicles are in your sphere, you may want to explore this spec. At 437L, the boot is one of the largest in this class, and has a wide opening to get everything in.
Remember, SUVs carry a little more financial commitment; you may pay more for registration, insurance, tyres, and running costs in general. If you don’t want or need the SUV advantages of a higher ride height, soft-road ability, and load carrying, you may be better off with a hatch.
The Mazda3 Neo base spec is $22,490 for the automatic, though we would recommend the mid-spec Maxx specification at $24,390 for sedan or hatch, which adds decent features such as sat-nav. The Mazda3 rates highly in the areas of safety, fuel economy, and handling dynamics. The model is far quieter than it used to be, and we find it a pleasant place to spend many hours in the front row. The second row is a bit underdone, but roomy enough. On the downside, Mazda’s servicing intervals are shorter at 10,000km, and may be something to consider if you do high kilometres.
The same applies to the Corolla – the base model is a bit bare-bones, if you can step up to the Corolla SX at $25,240, which is our pick of the range, it’s a fabulous all-rounder with great build quality, reliability, affordable servicing, and resale value.
Subaru’s Impreza hatch is also a great all-rounder. Its AWD system means it offers more traction in trying weather conditions; however its fuel consumption is a little higher. Its cabin is greatly improved over the previous generation, and second row passengers are catered for particularly well, plus the hatch is more practical in its use of boot space – though if its cargo space you want, the boot in the sedan is huge.
The Impreza starts with an auto base model at $22,600, but yet again the step from base model 2.0i to 2.0L is well worth the spend, with lots of convenient features, better trimmings, and some extra safety features such as lane departure warning and emergency braking thrown in for just $24,690.
I’m sorry if we haven’t helped you decide, as you’ve picked four very good vehicles here. It may come down to a bit of leg work to test drive them and see which is literally and metaphorically the best fit for you.
There should be no concerns over Thai-built vehicles from mainstream manufacturers. We now see more vehicles from Thailand than we do Japan! Quality is governed by strict controls that apply in all global manufacturing facilities.