The Road Ahead : August 1st 2012
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 47 AUG/SEP 2012 THE ROAD AHEAD ROAD TEST MOTORING FOR AROUND $50,000, there's a lot to pick from among the 'sporty' new car market. But halve the price and the list shrinks appreciably. Until recently. The 2012 release of Hyundai's stylish new Veloster and Skoda's Fabia Monte Carlo, at $23,990 and $21,990 respectively, along with the latest generation of Suzuki's Swift Sport ($23,990), has injected a welcome dose of overdue appeal and choice into the lower end of this segment. Veloster fuses the style of a coupe with the functionality of a hatchback, thanks to a third door on the left that allows access to two rear seats. Power is provided by Hyundai's new 103 kW, 166 Nm 1.6-litre GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine mated to either a six-speed manual or, in a first for the Korean maker, a six-speed dual clutch transmission ($2000 extra). The newcomer is available in two trim levels, Veloster and Veloster + at $27,990. Price-wise, the former would have better fitted our comparison, but press vehicle availability determined it was the dearer and better-specified Veloster + that fronted. Monte Carlo, which celebrates 100 years of the iconic rally of the same name, is the sporty-looking variant of Skoda's light car hatch, Fabia. Both variants are powered by the same 1.2-litre, 77 kW 175 Nm TSI engine and five-speed manual transmission (a $2300 seven-speed DSG transmission option was released some weeks after our comparison concluded). Piano-black body trim, mirror covers and grille, smoked headlights, black 16" lightweight alloy wheels and 'Monte Carlo' badging identify the difference between it and the standard Fabia for a premium of $3000. Buyers can choose between all black or red and black sports seats and contrasting roof colour. The new Swift Sport comes with more urge and upgraded equipment inventory, but at the same price as its well- regarded predecessor. Power is up by 8 kW to 100 kW, while an extra 12 Nm of torque takes claimed output to 160 Nm. Weight has been trimmed by 30 kg, despite larger body dimensions. A new manual gearbox now comes with six ratios and a seven- step CVT is a $2000 option, while there are suspension and steering modifications plus bigger (17") wheels and tyres. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are lower. VALUE FOR MONEY Each of our trio is well equipped with standard equipment. For the record, all have front/side/curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, electronic stability and traction control and four-wheel disc brakes. There are adjustable front and rear headrests, lap/sash seatbelts all round, pretensioners and load limiters to the front seatbelts, central locking, cruise control, radio/CD player with MP3 compatibility and aux-in, alloy wheels, front fog lamps and immobiliser. Fabia Monte Carlo also gets alloy sports pedals, sports steering wheel, front sports seats, height-adjustable front armrest with storage, illuminated glovebox, front passenger and driver side storage bins, split-fold parcel shelf and cargo light. Swift Sport buyers receive Bi-xenon headlamps, smart key with push button start, USB port and hill-hold system, driver's knee airbag, leather steering wheel cover, sports seats, alloy pedals, side spoilers/skirts and roof spoiler. But both pale compared with Veloster +, which fairly bristles with gear way too extensive to fully list here, but includes premium sound system (featuring four speakers, two tweeters, centre speaker, sub-woofer and external amplifier), panoramic glass roof, auto climate-control airconditioning, leather/leatherette seats, tyre pressure monitoring system, daytime running lamps, automatic dusk- IMAGES: HYUNDAI VELOSTER All three are petrol misers, with Monte Carlo boasting an ADR combined average of just 5.5 litres/100 km. Veloster and Swift are not far behind.
June July 2012