The Road Ahead : December 2012
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 56 THE ROAD AHEAD DEC 2012/JAN 2013 MOTORING AUSTRALIA'S BEST CARS medium under $50,000 toyota camry hybrid h medium over $50,000 bmw 3 series 320i turbo A HOST OF improvements has seen the new generation 2 Toyota Camry Hybrid H promoted to a medium car winner in 2012. Gone are the numb steering, hard ride and inherent understeer that blighted the first generation, replaced with dynamics and poise. There is 46 mm of extra legroom in the back, while the boot has more space thanks to the relocation of the DC converter to the front and the battery being moved forward 100 mm. The volume-selling H model is also priced sharper than last year's Hybrid 4 (down $2000), and is covered by Toyota's capped price servicing. Performance from the Atkinson118 kW, 213 Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine coupled to an electric motor via Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system, is now brisker (0-100 km/h in eight seconds). Drivers can choose from three driving modes: Normal, Eco and EV. Normal provides full power, Eco softens throttle response and reduces power losses through airconditioning and EV mode enables the car to be driven for a short distance on the silent-running electric motor. Fuel economy has been improved to 5.2 litres/100 km and emissions lowered to 121 g/km, earning the Camry Hybrid five out of five stars in the government's Green Vehicle Guide to match its five star ANCAP safety rating. MLP: $34,990. IN A CATEGORY where brand prestige is a serious buyer consideration, three of the big German brands battled it out for top honours this year with the newly-released BMW 320i taking the winner's laurels. The 3-series has grown, and with that comes more passenger space, particularly in the rear. Inside, the 320i gets the latest installment in BMW's ever- improving iDrive system and comfortable, supportive seats that give a feeling of under-stated luxury. The continuing progress of small capacity, forced- induction engines sees the 3-series benefit significantly from improved performance and reduced fuel consumption which, on the official combined cycle of just 6.0 litres/100 km, rivals the turbo-diesels in this category. BMW has always positioned itself as a car for the driver, and the new 320i doesn't disappoint. In fact, the ride comfort is a significant improvement over the old model. Overall balance through the twisty stuff is outstanding, emphasising that rear-wheel-drive is still the benchmark for handling. An impressive inventory that includes eight airbags, brake assist, cornering brake control, traction and stability control all adds up to top marks for safety. With more space, power, improved ride and better fuel economy, you have all the reasons to put this BMW on your medium-size, prestige car buying list. MLP: $57,600. SCORES SCORES TOTAL: 930. 2nd: Kia Optima Si, 926. 3rd: VW Jetta 118TSI Comfortline, 918. CRITERIA (OUT OF 10): VALUE FOR MONEY: Pricing 7C, Depreciation 6M, Running Costs 10M, Fuel consumption 9C, Warranty 5H, Insurance 7L, Standard features 5H. DESIGN & FUNCTION: Safety 10C, Environment 10C, Comfort 9M, Space 8M, Practicality 8M, Ergonomics 7M, Build & finish 8H. ON THE ROAD: Performance 9M, Ride 9M, Handling 7H, Braking 7H, Smoothness & quietness 9M. TOTAL: 1146. 2nd: VW CC 125 TDI, 1096. 3rd: Mercedes-Benz C Class C250 Avantgarde, 1094. CRITERIA (OUT OF 10): VALUE FOR MONEY: Pricing 9H, Depreciation 10M, Running Costs 8M, Fuel consumption 8H, Warranty 3H, Insurance 7L, Standard features 5H. DESIGN & FUNCTION: Safety 10C, Environment 9C, Comfort 8H, Space 7M, Practicality 9M, Ergonomics 9H, Build & finish 9C. ON THE ROAD: Performance 8H, Ride 8H, Handling 9C, Braking 9C, Smoothness & quietness 9H. LEVEL OF WEIGHTING IMPORTANCE FOR EACH SCORE: L = LOW, M = MEDIUM, H = HIGH, C = CRITICAL.