There are two quality small cars for buyers to consider.
A mini that isn’t and a Mazda that looks like its big brothers are quality new small cars that offer plenty of grown-up features.
The Mini is available as a five-door for the first time, making ownership possible for those who like the brand’s style but can’t live without two extra doors. It’s also much cheaper.
The Mazda2 acquires the striking, style of the Mazda3 and Mazda6.
Its high-tech catalogue includes city-emergency auto braking, “head-up” information projected on the windscreen and a mouse-controlled infotainment system that allows social media use.
The five-seat, five-door Mini is the second body style available in the third-generation introduced in April. But counting remaining examples of the superseded range, there are an extraordinary nine different Mini body choices.
The five-door offers three engines and is priced from $27,750 – $3900 less than the old three-door with an equivalent engine. Increaed leg, head and luggage room mean buyers get more for less.
Radar cruise control, key-less ignition and auto wipers and headlights are standard.
The Mazda2 matches the Mini for tech toys, depending on price. Neo, Maxx and Genki grades return, but with two new 1.5 litre petrol engines.
The engines are stronger yet thriftier, the premium version with auto transmission sipping 4.9litres per 100kms.
Prices range from $14,990 to $21,990. Emergency city braking is a $400 option and Mazda’s unique Soul Red paint colour is available on the Mazda2 for the first time, priced at $200.
TESTING: Nissan Juke
$22,090-$32,490 plus on-roads | Small SUV
1.6 litre turbo petrol | 86kW/188Nm or 140kW/240Nm
A new limited edition called Midnight is reason to revisit the smallest and funkiest member of Nissan’s impressive line-up of five SUVs. There are three standard Jukes, ST, ST-S and Ti-S, and the black-accented Midnight is available on the two lower grades from $24,990 driveaway with $3300 worth of extra value.
With headlights that bulge like insect eyes and pronounced wheel arches, the Juke is certainly cute. The ST and ST-S are front-drive and, while the Ti-S has all-wheel drive, this SUV clearly is designed to be an urban runabout.
And zippy, too. The ST-S and Ti-S share the 140kW motor from the sporty Pulsar SSS. They also get sat-nav, keyless ignition, reversing camera and other goodies.
FOR: Attention-grabbing looks, fun to drive.
AGAINST: Small-ish cargo capacity.
VERDICT: Funky, fun city runabout.