The Road Ahead : February March 2015
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 62 THE ROAD AHEAD FEB/MAR 2015 MOTORING | CAR COMPARISON Like the Genki and VTi-L, it is comprehensively equipped though basic air-conditioning is standard, and not climate-control. All three score a five-star ANCAP safety rating, as good as it gets. They also live up to their environmental responsibilities, with the Federal Government's Green Vehicle Guide awarding the Mazda and VW five (out of five) stars and the Honda 4.5. Largely because of having a full-size (steel) spare wheel and adjustable-height boot floor, Polo tops our practicality score, a point ahead of the Jazz and two up on the Mazda2, both of which come with a spacesaver spare. One discrepancy is that none has airconditioning vents for the rear passengers. All are fitted with three child restraints and ISOFIX lower anchorage points, but there's more room in the Jazz to centre mount a baby capsule or seat. It also offers rear seat passengers a better deal by way of noticeably longer leg room and, overall, the interior seems more airy and open. By our measurements, it also has the biggest boot. As alluded to, all want for very little by way of standard features, including comprehensive connectivity: bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB, touch screen, aux-in, etc. Hop into any of these cars and you will find steering reach and tilt adjustment, cruise and connectivity controls on the wheel, switch gear that falls conveniently to hand, good head and leg room and manual seat height adjustment. But the VW is the only one with height adjustment on both front seats and its remote open/close function for all windows is a feature not usually seen in the Light Car segment. The Polo and Mazda2 do an equally good job of providing their driver with a compliant seat cushion and lateral support that endures. Not so the Jazz: its cushion feels flat and unsupportive from the start. Honda, Mazda and Volkswagen are among the best for build and finish and, while these Light cars are some of the cheapest they make, the quality doesn't disappoint. However, the Polo's interior, lacks the style and flair of the other two, particularly the Mazda2. ON THE ROAD Each of the test line-up is admirably suited to its main role in life -- that of city car. Take them outside home base, though, onto the highways and byways and differences emerge. The Polo's 1.2-litre turbo engine -- a match for power with Mazda2 -- might trail the Jazz by 7kW, but it has much more torque. What's more, both peak power and torque are delivered earlier and across a much broader spread of the rev range. The result is enhanced driveability and flexibility -- and best-on-test acceleration from 0-60, 80, 100km/h and over the standing 400m by some margin. That said, the Mazda2 proved more responsive in our roll-on acceleration tests, from 50-80 and 60-100km/h, by 0.3 seconds. Overall, it's a nice drive with performance that would more than meet the expectations of buyers in this segment. The Jazz, despite a paddle-gearshift and body kit suggesting some degree of sportiness, doesn't like its SOHC engine being stressed in search of peak power, which doesn't arrive until 6600rpm. It delivers its best -- in terms of performance and smoothness of operation -- with light and gradual throttle applications. In ride quality, the VW and Mazda are well ahead. The former felt the most supple and comfortable over a variety of roads, though larger undulations suggest it is a bit under- damped. The Mazda, the firmest of the three, is also more compliant and composed. Handling-wise, it's a similar story with the Polo and Mazda dynamic by class standards and clearly superior to the Jazz. Both show good grip levels, an ability to turn in nicely and a willingness to change direction. The Honda's steering is quite light, which is not an issue at low speeds, but lacks road feel and, overall, the Jazz is not as lithe or responsive. We expected more from the VW by way of its front and rear disc brakes (as opposed to the others' disc/drum combination), but it pulled up from 80km/h 0.7m longer than IMAGES: (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) MAZDA2, POLO, JAZZ, POLO, MAZDA2, MAZDA2 INTERIOR.
April 1st 2015