Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Small Stature, Big on Smarts

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Small Stature, Big on Smarts

Article excerpt

City hatchbacks now have advanced technology once exclusive to luxury cars. Priced from $23,000 to $25,000 drive-away these particular examples aren't cheap - that's the starting price of cars the next size up.

But more buyers are opting for the dearer versions of smaller cars now that they have the latest safety aids.

In the past few months the Toyota Yaris has received a facelift, the Mazda2 has had a makeover and a new Suzuki Swift has arrived. Each has chosen a different path when it comes to technology. Here's how they compare.


The Mazda2 Genki is the dearest among this trio at $24,890 drive-away.

However, with the exception of one colour, "soul red", Mazda doesn't charge for metallic paint, which adds $450 to $500 to the others.

Standard equipment includes city-speed automatic emergency braking (AEB), which will slam on the brakes at up to 30km/h if it senses an imminent accident.

Uniquely among this trio the Genki has AEB while reversing, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, blind zone warning and a retractable "heads-up" screen on the top of the dash that shows the car's speed and the speed limit.

Faux carbon-fibre trim, soft-touch dash material and a tablet-style touchscreen help give the Mazda2 an upmarket appearance.

A cluster of buttons and dials in the centre console - to operate the audio and navigation - are intuitive to use with your fingertips, without taking your eyes off the road.

Built-in navigation is standard but Apple Car Play and Android Auto are not available. It has two USB ports and a 12V power socket; the others make do with one of each.

The Genki comes with a sensor key and "push button" start but, oddly, you still need to press the key fob to lock and unlock the car.

On the road the Mazda2 is a gem. The 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine takes regular unleaded and it is one of the zippier city cars.

In our 0 to 100km/h test it was about one second slower than the Swift GLX and about one second faster than the Yaris ZR.

Servicing is more expensive than the Toyota but cheaper than the Suzuki.

Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris isn't going to win a beauty pageant but its appeal goes beyond the new nose and tail. This update brings automatic emergency braking up to 40km/h, forward crash alert, and lane wander warning as a bundled $650 option on cheaper versions. It's standard fare on the flagship model tested.

The Yaris ZR tested normally costs more than $26,000 drive-away, but it's been discounted to a more realistic $23,540 drive-away for two months and the offer is expected to continue.

LED low and high beams - and auto dipping high beams - are new to the ZR.

Our testing found the auto-dipping function works more accurately than earlier systems. It quickly detects oncoming cars and isn't triggered by reflective signs. …

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