Small car hopefuls

18:07, Oct 22 2012
Apart from the engine rattle and road-user cards, this badge is all the Suzuki has to denote it has a diesel engine.
Apart from the engine rattle and road-user cards, this badge is all the Suzuki has to denote it has a diesel engine.
The Suzuki Swift's diesel unit is a turbo-charged Fiat designed engine.
The Suzuki Swift's diesel unit is a turbo-charged Fiat designed engine.
The Suzuki Swift diesel is European-made which means a smart interior trim, but ''wrong-way'' indicators and wipers.
The Suzuki Swift diesel is European-made which means a smart interior trim, but ''wrong-way'' indicators and wipers.
Suzuki's diesel Swift gives oily rags a run for their money.
Suzuki's diesel Swift gives oily rags a run for their money.

Only three introductions were genuinely new in the small car category for the AMI NZ Autocar of the Year: Peugeot's 208, and Toyota's Yaris and Prius C.

Other variants added include the Kia Rio diesel, one of the least expensive diesels available here, and cheap to fill up, too.

The Sport version of the Suzuki's popular Swift launched midyear – it's a variant of the model that took out last year's category win – as did a five-speed manual diesel variant. The Swift Sport is only a bit more expensive than the diesel and while not as economical, it smashes it for performance and dynamics.

The other newcomers? A sedan version of the Barina joined Holden's small-car line-up, and a sexy new Peugeot 208 entered the market with its not-so-sexy four-speed automatic transmission, though its interior packaging and features impressed.

Toyota's wee Prius c showcased hybrid technology in a shrunken, more affordable package. It's also capable of astounding fuel economy and is priced not too far above the like-sized Yaris.

Speaking of which, the Yaris took part in a five way small-car comparison, where it performed well, but it's pricey in its category.

* Autocar and Stuff motoring readers also have a chance to choose their best vehicle and win a $500 Z card at the same time. Simply Click here to enter and you could win enough fuel to keep you motoring through summer.

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Peugeot's popular 208
Peugeot's popular 208
Peugeot's popular 208
Peugeot's popular 208.
Peugeot's popular 208
Peugeot's popular 208.
Suzuki's diesel Swift.
SWIFT: Suzuki's diesel Swift.

NZ Autocar