Whereas naming the Kia Rio four-door the winner of this category came as a result of protracted debate and victory by a narrow majority of votes in last year’s Top 12, the Korean sedan, with its handsome design and respectable degree of practicality, was a straightforward choice this time round. In this segment, good specification levels count for a lot. Even in lower-spec trim, Rio models feature keyless entry, Bluetooth, electrically operated windows and mirrors, air-con and a radio/CD/MP3/USB/iPod-compatible audio system with steering wheel-mounted controls.
The range comprises only 1,2- and 1,4-litre petrol engines, the latter of which is offered in an automatic too, but with a warranty of 5 years or 100 000 km and four-year/60 000 km service plan, the Rio represents great value. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Polo Vivo offers appreciably more luggage room than its hatch sibling, but it’s pitched as a budget-minded product. The Nissan Almera, in turn, has a very spacious cabin and a three-year service plan, but negligible emotional appeal. In the end, the Rio won at a canter.
Offers the broadest range of engine and transmission options, and has a sterling reputation for build quality. The four-door might be a strong-selling car, but its models’ sparse spec lists and lack of standard service plans perplex.
Doesn’t offer much variety in terms of model line-up, but has a plethora of standard features as well as a five-year/90 000 km service plan (better than the Rio’s) on top of a five-year/150 000 km warranty.
- Nissan Almera
- Volkswagen Polo Vivo
- Toyota Etios
LOOK OUT FOR
By mid-year, Volkswagen’s facelifted Polo sedan should reach showrooms, replete with aesthetic and equipment upgrades. Also, the all-new Honda Ballade, as featured in CAR’s Insight section last month, is expected to arrive locally before the middle of the year.
Check out all the winners from our Top 12 Best Buys for 2014 here (click).