Which Small Hatch Should I Buy: Hyundai i30, Mazda3, Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla?

2014 Hyundai i30 SR - awesome car at an excellent price

QUESTION

Hi John. I'm in the market for a new hatch. What's your opinion please on the new Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, and Honda Civic. Thank you, Bill

ANSWER

Frankly a lot of this choice is down to personal preference - it's not as if there's a real dog among your four choices. Personal preference (specific features and relevance to you, plus comfort and versatility in the context of your lifestyle) are very important - at least as important as kilowatts, etc.

Take a good look at the following vehicles at the dealership, and make sure you drive each. Try and get hands on with models as close to your desired price-point as possible. When you know which one you want, let me know via the contact form here and I will get the broker to search for one at the lowest possible price. More on how this works.

If you're in the market for finance it's vital to get both the finance and also the form of vehicle ownership exactly right. Read my guide to car finance, and also my guide to beating car dealers.

Mazda3

New Mazda3 - attractive, refined and capable

New Mazda3 - attractive, refined and capable

Available in Sedan and hatch bodies

Available in Sedan and hatch bodies

The new Mazda3 is an excellent car. One of the most popular in the country, for good reason. if you want strong performance, steer clear of the 2.0-litre base models and go for the 2.5-litre. It's much stronger on the performance front and comes with a substantial equipment upgrade as well. Some people have criticised the road noise, but I don't agree: having spent two weeks in both the base model and the SP25 GT, it's quite civilised.

MORE MAZDA3 STORIES

Toyota Corolla

Latest Toyota Corolla is a substantial upgrade on its predecessor - sharper looking and better to drive

Latest Toyota Corolla is a substantial upgrade on its predecessor - sharper looking and better to drive

2014 Toyota Corolla two shot.jpg

The Toyota Corolla is a great car - best Corolla ever. It's hard to imagine you're going wrong buying one. Buy I'd certainly check its fundamental value proposition against the i30 (and Kia Cerato, which isn't on your list but should be). I'd also check what it offers against your personal preferences.

Hyundai i30

Hyundai i30 is Hyundai's best car yet - especially in tuned-for-Oz 'SR' trim level

Hyundai i30 is Hyundai's best car yet - especially in tuned-for-Oz 'SR' trim level

Don't know who copied who from the rear: Toyota or Hyundai

Don't know who copied who from the rear: Toyota or Hyundai

The Hyundai i30 is another great car - long five-year warranty with unlimited kilometres, too. This is important if you plan on driving the car a lot in the first five years, or owning it for a long time. It's really well packaged, drives great and comes in a variety of drivetrains. (The Kia Cerato is built on i30 fundamentals - seeing as Hyundai and Kia are sister companies. You should check it out too.)

Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence of a problem with Hyundai's glass 'panorama' roofs seems to be emerging - haven't heard anything negative on the i30 yet, but since this kind of roof is available in the fully loaded model I'd be factoring it into my decision. Read more on the Hyundai sunroof spontaneous shattering problem here and decide for yourself. At this stage it seems to be a low probability/high consequence event, and i30 hasn't been involved to the best of my knowledge.

MORE HYUNDAI i30 STORIES

Kia Cerato

Kia Cerato shares Hyundai i30 fundamentals and looks great too - especially from the front

Kia Cerato shares Hyundai i30 fundamentals and looks great too - especially from the front

2014 Kia Cerato rear.jpg

See i30 above - Cerato is essentially an i30 with different hair and makeup. Hyundai and Kia share key components to amortize R&D costs. Even though the brands compete fiercely here in Australia they are essentially flipsides of the same company. Interestingly, Kia often comes out (just) in front on value...


Honda Civic Hatch

New Civic's got the look - but has Honda really got its mojo back?

New Civic's got the look - but has Honda really got its mojo back?

2014 Honda Civic Rear.jpg

Honda Civic: you'd really have to convince me on this. Honda's sales have tanked over the past five years, as a result of them dropping the ball on their product range following the GFC and tsunami. They really have not recovered adequately and today I think the product is well behind Mazda's. Honda might be showing signs of recovery with this new Civic, but I'm not sure. And, seeing as I am sure about the others, that would be enough for me to scratch it. There's no way you could convince me the Civic is a front runner here in this group of four. It's not a dog, like the Holden Cruze (woof woof ... see why here) but it's not a photo finish with the others in your list.

Get the Best Price

The way to save money when you buy the car you select, ultimately, is laid out here in my guide to buying a new car here. This is a good place to start learning the ropes, because there are a great many rip-offs embedded in the process if you aren't both aware and careful. This section, which includes a video on the way to represent yourself to maximum effect, allows you to cut through the crap in the process and advocate effectively in your own self-interest.

Please get back to me when you get close - BEFORE YOU PUT DOWN A DEPOSIT - because I will put you in touch with an excellent car broker who will more than likely beat any price you can negotiate independently with your dealer. Find out how much a broker can save you here >> 

This process costs you nothing and has saved many visitors to the website thousands of dollars. The car gets delivered to your door with a full tank of fuel - and you don't get ripped off by a dealer. (You do actually buy the car from a dealer - the broker just does the heavy lifting, and his services are built into the price you pay for the car - nothing up anyone's sleeve. It's a real smart way to buy a new car.)

Let me know when you get close, and I hope this information helps.

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