Plenty of compact car class action

The new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
The new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
The new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
The new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
Under the bonnet of the new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
Under the bonnet of the new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
Inside the new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
Inside the new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
Inside the new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
Inside the new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
Outside looking into the new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.
Outside looking into the new Subaru Impreza 2.0I-SL.

There was plenty of new-car action in this popular class of the AMI NZ Autocar Car of the Year awards.

Two Hondas figured large: first, the ninth-generation Civic sedan launched, and then the Civic Euro hatch, which uses similar mechanicals but has both a sportier body shape and more up-for-it dynamics. The Civics convince on many fronts.

Also in contention is Subaru's new Impreza, which majors on improved fuel economy, space and refinement, at the expense of sportiness and character.

Hyundai has been busy, introducing the Accent and i30 to complement the Elantra and Veloster. Mazda debuted its SkyActiv-powered 2.0-litre GSE compact, sporting a quick-shifting six-speed auto.

Nissan released another small hatch disguised as a crossover, the quirky-cute Juke, while Citroen added a stylish and sporty DS4.

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Soft wedge: Redesigned hatch has more emphasis on smoothing aerodynamics than the severely lined previous Civic five-door model.
Soft wedge: Redesigned hatch has more emphasis on smoothing aerodynamics than the severely lined previous Civic five-door model.
Split rear screen: Helps with rear visibility which could otherwise be comprmised by the ascending waistline.
Split rear screen: Helps with rear visibility which could otherwise be comprmised by the ascending waistline.
Striking profile: New UK-built Honda Civic is a style-changer in this segment.
Striking profile: New UK-built Honda Civic is a style-changer in this segment.
Interior: Double-level dash works well and quality of materials is good in the new Honda Civic hatch.
Interior: Double-level dash works well and quality of materials is good in the new Honda Civic hatch.
Wedge-shaped hatch: New UK-built Civic five-door marks the return to New Zealand of a popular format from the brand.
Wedge-shaped hatch: New UK-built Civic five-door marks the return to New Zealand of a popular format from the brand.
Nissan Juke: London-designed C-segment crossover has a startling look which means you'd always pick it out of a crowd.
Nissan Juke: London-designed C-segment crossover has a startling look which means you'd always pick it out of a crowd.
Nissan signatures: Look hard and there are hints of Micra and Murano models, but it couldn't be anything but a Juke.
Nissan signatures: Look hard and there are hints of Micra and Murano models, but it couldn't be anything but a Juke.
Splash of colour: Nissan makes sure you stay interested when you get inside the Juke.
Splash of colour: Nissan makes sure you stay interested when you get inside the Juke.
Rear room: More than you'd expect, though headroom may catch taller occupants.
Rear room: More than you'd expect, though headroom may catch taller occupants.
Juke: For some, the jury is still out on the styling.
Juke: For some, the jury is still out on the styling.
Wheels, grille and valances: They're the telltale points on the SR over the less powerful normally aspirated model.
Wheels, grille and valances: They're the telltale points on the SR over the less powerful normally aspirated model.
Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo: Embodies the performance edge the model deserved all a long.
Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo: Embodies the performance edge the model deserved all a long.
Pipes and valance: The rear treatment differs from the standard Veloster's too.
Pipes and valance: The rear treatment differs from the standard Veloster's too.
Twin-scroll turbo: New power unit brings the Veloster's output up to 150kW.
Twin-scroll turbo: New power unit brings the Veloster's output up to 150kW.
Panoramic sunroof: Full-length glass with shade makes for a light and airy cabin atmosphere.
Panoramic sunroof: Full-length glass with shade makes for a light and airy cabin atmosphere.
Driver's side: The Hyundai Veloster looks like a regular coupe from this side.
Driver's side: The Hyundai Veloster looks like a regular coupe from this side.
Two-door side: Allows the disgorging of children onto the sidewalk, without the driver having to exit the car.
Two-door side: Allows the disgorging of children onto the sidewalk, without the driver having to exit the car.
Rear end: Hyundai Veloster hatchback has useful load area.
Rear end: Hyundai Veloster hatchback has useful load area.
Base model: Even the entry-point Hyundai Veloster is smart and tidy inside, the ough you do lose the panoramic glass roof and shade.
Base model: Even the entry-point Hyundai Veloster is smart and tidy inside, the ough you do lose the panoramic glass roof and shade.
COMPACT: The Honda Civic Euro hatch.
COMPACT: The Honda Civic Euro hatch.

NZ Autocar