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Holden Spark vs Toyota Yaris

2016 Holden Spark vs 2016 Toyota Yaris.

They're tiddlers, not titans, and the clash comes down to cash. Joshua Dowling does the tallying.

value

2016 Holden Spark LT

The recommended retail price for the top of the range Spark LT is close to the Yaris Ascent but Holden's website has it as $22,208 drive-away versus the Toyota's long-term $17,990 drive-away deal. The Spark comes with more gear. The Holden gains Apple CarPlay, a sensor key, alloy wheels, front fog lights, bigger engine and better transmission. Running costs are competitive ($916 over three years). But the $4218 premium is astounding in such a price-sensitive class. Metallic paint adds $550.

2016 Toyota Yaris Ascent

At $17,990 drive-away, the Yaris Ascent is one of the best buys in the city-car class. That price takes it about $2000 below its full RRP, although it has been in discount mode for the better part of a year. Standard fare includes cruise control, rear-view camera, audio touchscreen, steering wheel audio controls and auto up driver's power window. Service costs ($840 over three years) are the lowest in the business. Metallic paint adds $450.

design

2016 Holden Spark LT

A good looking car, the Spark is smaller in every dimension than the Yaris. That's because the Spark properly sits in the class size below the Yaris, despite its dearer price. Rear seat space is tighter in the Holden and boot space is smaller, too. There is one advantage: you can squeeze into tighter parking spaces.

2016 Toyota Yaris Ascent

The garish grille may not appeal to everyone but for a small car the Yaris is big inside. There's enough room for four to travel in comfort and reasonable space for luggage or shopping. The rims are the same size as the Holden (15 inches in diameter) but they're steel wheels with plastic covers — they'll be cheaper to replace if you scratch them.

technology

2016 Holden Spark LT

Engine

In such a small car, the 1.4-litre engine has plenty of oomph and is matched well to the constantly variable transmission, which finds the best rev range to optimise performance and economy. It's pretty miserly, at 5.5L/100km, but not much better than the Yaris, considering it weighs less and has a more modern driveline.

2016 Toyota Yaris Ascent

Engine

The 1.3-litre four-cylinder has served the Yaris well. It's fairly economical (5.7L/100km) despite being matched to an outdated four-speed auto. However, the engine and transmission get the job done and work smoothly — if a little more noisily than the latest combinations.

safety

2016 Holden Spark LT

Six airbags and a five-star safety rating. A rear camera is standard on this top end model in the Spark range. Apple CarPlay deserves a safety mention, too, because it reduces the temptation to touch the phone.

2016 Toyota Yaris Ascent

Seven airbags and five-star safety rating. A rear-view camera also takes the guesswork out of reverse parking. The Bluetooth works really well and phone calls can be answered or cancelled at the press of a button on the steering wheel.

driving

2016 Holden Spark LT

For a city runabout, the Spark is fun to drive. It has more straight-line zip than the Yaris but is a little firmer over bumps (compared to both the Spark and Yaris base models) due to the low-profile tyres. The tight turning circle makes it a cinch to manoeuvre in narrow streets.

2016 Toyota Yaris Ascent

The Yaris isn't going to win a Formula One grand prix but it drives better than most people realise. It feels sure-footed on the road — wet or dry — and the steering and brakes are sharp and precise for such a small car. The image may be boring but the car certainly isn't.

Verdict

2016 Holden Spark LT

2016 Toyota Yaris Ascent

Money talks in the cheap end of town and the Yaris aces the Spark in value, comfort and running costs.