Today, the market offers a huge range of makes and models for the small car buyer segment. Never before the buyer had so many options to choose from when purchasing a small car for effortless city ride. There exists a tough competition between various car makers targeting buyers of the small car segment that falls under $15000 range.
We bring to you the real scenario that exists for the ideal small car purchase that’s researched by drive.com.au. This bit of information will help you to choose the ideal small car that’s perfect for your daily use.
First of all, we will take a peep over the all new Micra that come straight from the stable of Nissan.
The Micra range has gone through a redesign and now all its versions are equipped with 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine. In the test, the base model of Micra was tested, which sells around $12,000 for the manual. All versions of Micra arrives with a 3 year or 100,000km warranty (whichever occurs earlier) and capped-price servicing for 6 years. The average servicing cost is comparable at $292, but the intervals are more recurrent at the completion of every 10,000km or 6 months.
The Micra’s engine is convincingly fine, delivering 56kW of power and 100Nm of torque, but it’s somewhat noisy, especially when integrated with 4-speed automatic transmission (which is optional comes at $1500 extra). Yet, the power delivery is pretty quick and agile regardless of its inclination to rev out. Buyers who prefer fuel economy need to double think as a Nissan Micra claims fuel intake of 5.9 litres per 100km for the manual transmission and 6.5 litres per 100km for the auto transmission, which is rather high when compared to other makes in its segment.
Compared to the Mirage and Up, Micra does not steer up to the expectation with slow reactions at elevated speeds; however, it gives a nice turning circle for inside city maneuvers. The suspension can shake up on sharp bumps; however, it does a good job with bigger bumps. Nonetheless, the intensity of road noise hindrance is annoying.
Interior of Micra is having decent space in the front and rear seats and both front and rear seats are quite comfortable; however, it’s little jamming in the rear when three persons sit together. It has a decent boot space with 251 litres. The front-seat occupants get decent door pockets and cup-holders but for the rear seat occupants, the storage facility is not adequate and the plastics are strong but scratchy.
The one annoying thing was the Bluetooth phone connection controls are located towards the driver’s right knee. The other thing is that it doesn’t have a USB input (auxiliary only) and Bluetooth audio streaming facility.
The next small car in the range is Suzuki’s Alto. Let’s have a quick review of its test details to understand if Suzuki’s small car is ideal for the city ride.
Compared to all other models tested here by drive.com.au, Suzuki’s Alto looks incredibly compact and small and it certainly has a pretty competitive price tag to offer. It can be obtained around $11000 drive-away for the 2012 models, and an extra $1500 for the 4-speed.
The ownership price tag looks quite tempting; however, Suzuki doesn’t provide capped-price servicing. The servicing intervals occur yearly or after every 15,000kms. Drive reached out various potential dealers across Australia to get a suggestive average cost per service and it is pretty high compared to other makes in its rage at $414 yearly spread across a period of 6 years. Undoubtedly, Alto is the compact car having the smallest exteriors, which also converts into the interiors; the back seat can only accommodate two occupants and has lesser head and leg space.
Alto offers little storage facility inside the cabin space with modest door pockets and tiny cup-holders, and the boot space is just 115 litres, which is very less when compared to all its competitors in the same category.
Suzuki Alto is equipped with 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder engine that renders 50kW of power and 90Nm of torque. Nevertheless, it offers a stunning fuel economy of around 4.5 litres per 100 km for the manual mode and 5.2 litres per 100 km for the auto mode, but it demands premium fuel.
The lower torque that it delivers makes the extra weight felt while climbing hills and its 5-speed manual shift action is smooth and graceful. At elevated speed levels, it can jump over bumps, yet it offers effortless drivability inside the city, which is commendable. Compared to other cars in the same segment, it has a bulky steering wheel; however, it provides a pleasant direct action and feels good in driver’s hands.
The next small car in the line is Volkswagen’s Up. Let us examine the test details obtained for Up to find out if it could be the perfect small car for the city ride.
If you want to take pleasure in your driving than mere driving the car, then certainly Volkswagen Up is perfect for you. The Up has the perfect steering that is direct and swift, it maintains a flat line through corners, and the ride is balanced and steady.
The Volkswagen Up is equipped with 1.0-litre 3-pot engine that offers linear power delivery. Certainly, Volkswagen’s Up is the fastest car available here, and the fuel intake is respectable that stands at 4.9 litres per 100 km, but it demands premium unleaded fuel. Volkswagen Up delivers a decent 55kW of power and 95Nm of torque, but it renders lesser power than Mirage in the same segment and while test driving it, rarely had to shift the gears to continue driving. The manual shift action is graceful and smooth and the clutch is light and pleasant.
The negative point it has is you can’t fit an automatic gearbox which you can in other cars in the same small car segment. The Volkswagen Up price range start around $13000 on road for its 2012 models for a 3-door version without bells or whistles.
What’s notable is the 3 year/ unlimited km warranty and capped price servicing at 15,000 km or every 12-month for a period of maximum 6 years or 90,000 km (average cost comes to $312 per each service).
Volkswagen Up disappoints you when it comes to rear-seat protection as it doesn’t contain one as the Up comes only with dual front and front-side airbags. More still, it doesn’t have steering wheel audio controls nor USB input; the driver has electric controls only for their window and has to bend over to access the passenger’s whereas Bluetooth is an option.
In tight positions, the three big doors of the car make it extremely tough to get out, and the centre air vents are missing. The Volkswagen Up also has just 4 seats, but it has adequate boot space at 251 litres. Regardless of the negative points, the Volkswagen Up gives you graceful feel inside and offers excellent storage for both front and rear seat passengers.
Finally, we will review Mitsubishi Mirage and see if it fits in nicely as a small car ideal for the city ride.
The Mitsubishi Mirage starts around $12,990 drive-away price, and it gets a big applause for its standard fitments that consist of 6 airbags (dual front, front side and full-length curtain), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming with voice control, USB and auxiliary inputs, and a leather steering wheel with audio controls.
Among all the other cars tested in the segment, the Mitsubishi Mirage has got the longest warranty period which is 5 years/ 130,000 km and capped-price servicing for 4 years at every 15000 km or yearly intervals, the average servicing cost comes to $250.
The Mitsubishi Mirage is equipped with a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine that delivers stunning 57kW of power and 100Nm of torque. It is to be noted that the power it renders is the greatest than in any other cars in the segment tested, and as the Mirage is the lightest vehicle, it offers you a very lively feel on the road. Moreover, the fuel consumption is economical at 4.6 litres per 100 km for cheaper models.
You get the choice of inserting a 5-speed manual or a CVT automatic gearbox, which comes at an additional $2500. CVT automatic gearbox is an expensive option but works smoothly and on the contrary, the manual is a bit bothersome while shifting the gears.
The ride is soft over smaller bumps though it may not be the sharpest thing to drive. Over sharper edges, it might dash, and you will feel some suspension noise and tyre noise yet it’s pretty tranquil than some other cars in its segment. The steering responds rather slowly at higher speeds, but in the city, its pretty good, with a tiny turning circle that makes it easy to alter direction and park.
The Mirage has adequate front storage space for the driver and the other front occupant; however, there’s no enclosed storage in the centre and also no rear-seat stowage and the uncovered screws are minus points that reduce the spirit. It has comfortable front seats and rear seats are flat which can easily accommodate three persons comfortably compared to other small cars in the segment. The boot space is reasonably spacious at 235 litres, which is little less than some of its competitors.
Mitsubishi Mirage certainly fares well when compared to its competitors in the small car segment. Certainly it’s not the most tempting to drive but it is equipped with vital features and comfort for your convenience and ticks the very crucial boxes that are safety, standard fitments and pricing.
Next comes the Volkswagen’s Up which should be appreciated for making available high-tech safety gear to the city’s small car segment; however, there are no airbags for the rear occupants is frustrating and also it doesn’t have some vital standard features.
The Nissan Micra follows next as it misses some of the creature comforts that makes for a comfortable ride and it is fitted with a hungry engine when compared to other small cars in the segment.
The Suzuki Alto being economically priced is also the smallest car when compared to other small cars in the segment and the fact that its engine struggles when climbing hills makes it as the last preferred choice.
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