Are small SUVs a better buy than a small hatch?

28 August 2015
 by 
, CarsGuide

Pocket-sized SUVs may be flavour of the month but there's still a compelling case for owning an old-fashioned hatchback.

They're better to drive and offer more metal for the money, with more space for luggage and better leg room.

For the price of an average small hatchback, you get an SUV that's actually based on a smaller car.

Carsguide ran the tape measure over some of the contenders to see how they stack up.

Mazda CX-3 vs Mazda3

There's only $500 separating the pair but, despite its more compact looks, the Mazda3 gets a bigger boot, bigger engines and more equipment.

Both cars have a five-star crash rating and an optional safety pack that includes blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and auto emergency braking. The CX-3's pack is $1030, the Mazda3's is $1300 and includes an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

The Mazda hatch weighs a little more but gets more powerful engines to compensate. It has a choice of two petrol engines and one diesel. The hatch also gets the nod for rear load space.

WINNER: Mazda3

Mazda CX-3
Price: $19,990-$37,690
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 109kW/192Nm; 1.5-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel 77kW/270Nm; FWD/AWD
Transmission: 6-speed man/auto; FWD/AWD
Thirst: 4.8L-6.7L/100km
Boot: 264L
Dimensions: 4275mm (L), 1765mm (W), 1550mm (H), 2570mm (WB)

Mazda3
Price: $20,490-$39,290
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 114kW/200Nm; 2.5-litre 4-cyl, 138kW/250Nm; 2.2-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 129kW/450Nm
Transmission: 6-speed man/auto; FWD
Thirst: 5.0L-6.5L/100km
Boot: 308L
Dimensions: 4460mm (L), 1795mm (W), 1455mm (H), 2700mm (WB)
 

Honda Civic vs HR-V Honda Civic vs HR-V

Honda Civic vs HR-V

Entry level cars share the same basic features but the HR-V has a newer, smarter infotainment system. The $2840 price rise is a big step up from the small hatch, though all but the base model justify the extra spend by including lane-departure warning and autonomous emergency braking.

The HR-V uses marginally more fuel but doesn't require the more expensive premium juice needed to keep the Civic hatch running, so it earns a tick there. It is also unusual among these vehicles to have a bigger load space. The Civic is still a better looking, sweeter handling vehicle but the absence of advanced safety features marks it down.

WINNER: HR-V

Honda Civic
Price: $22,150-$31,090
Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl, 104kW/174Nm
Transmission: 6-speed man, 5-speed auto; FWD
Thirst: 6.4L-6.6L/100km (95 RON)
Boot: 400L
Dimensions: 4360mm (L), 1795mm (W), 1475mm (H), 2605mm (WB)

Honda HR-V
Price: $24,990-$33,990
Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl, 105kW/172Nm
Transmission: CVT; FWD
Thirst: 6.6L-6.9L/100km (91RON)
Boot: 437L
Dimensions: 4294mm (L), 1775mm (W), 1605mm (H), 2610mm (WB)

 

Renault Megane vs Captur Renault Megane vs Captur

Renault Megane vs Captur

The older Megane is handicapped here against the younger child of the Renault range. Both pick up cruise control but only the Captur has a seven-inch touchscreen and reversing camera fitted to all models. The Megane does have lane-departure warning but you have to spend $31,000 to have it as standard.

The hatch fights back by having the full complement of six airbags, while the newer Captur has only four, with no airbags protecting rear passengers. Progress?

The Megane also gets more powerful engines throughout the range, with the cheapest model getting more grunt than more expensive Capturs. The smaller size and tapering roof on the Captur mean it has marginally less rear seat room compared to its stablemate. Boot space is almost identical.

WINNER: Megane

Renault Megane

Price: $20,990-$39,990
Engine:1.2-litre 4-cyl turbo, 97kW/205Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 162kW/340Nm; 1.5-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 81kW/240Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-speed dual-clutch auto; FWD
Thirst: 4.5L-7.3L/100km
Boot: 372L
Dimensions: 4302mm (L), 1808mm (W), 1471mm (H), 2641mm (WB)

Renault Captur
Price: $22,290-$27,990
Engine: 900cc 3-cyl turbo, 66kW/135Nm; 1.2-litre 4-cyl turbo, 88kW/190Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 6-speed dual-clutch auto; FWD
Thirst: 4.9L-5.4L/100km (95RON)
Boot: 377L
Dimensions: 4122mm (L), 1778mm (W), 1566mm (H) 2606mm (WB)

 

Subaru XV vs Impreza Subaru XV vs Impreza

Subaru XV vs Impreza

The XV is slightly better equipped than its lower-riding rival. For a $3500 premium, it'd want to be, particularly as boot space is smaller and it uses a touch more fuel. Both Subarus are good value as light tow vehicles, given the towball weight is the accepted 10 per cent of the load: 1200kg for the Impreza and 1400kg for the XV.

In the XV's favour is the fact it is genuinely jacked up with a 220mm ride height against 145mm in the hatch — and all models come with a reversing camera, which is handy when front and rear parking sensors are an option on both vehicles.

WINNER: Impreza

Subaru XV
Price: $26,490-$32,490
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 110kW/196Nm
Transmission: 6-speed man, CVT; AWD
Thirst: 7.0L-7.3L/100km
Boot: 310L
Dimensions: 4450mm (L), 1780mm (W), 1615mm (H), 2635mm (WB)

Subaru Impreza
Price: $22,990 (drive-away)-$27,400
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 110kW/196Nm
Transmission: 6-speed man, CVT; AWD
Thirst: 6.8L-7.1L/100km
Boot: 340L
Dimensions: 4420mm (L), 1740mm (W), 1465mm (H), 2645mm (WB)

 

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