A reader asks: Which hatchback is better suited as a 2nd family car?

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by Botchi Santos | Jan 11, 2014


Hello, Botchi. I hope you can help me out. We\'re in the market for a second car for our family of four. Our current ride is a 2012 Honda Civic EX, and we are thinking of getting a second car.

On my short list are two hatchbacks: the Ford Focus Sport and the Honda Jazz 1.5V. Apart from the obvious price difference, based on your expert opinion, what could be the better buy in terms of handling, overall drivability, interior space, cost of owning, and eventual resale value? We will also be using this particular car as \"lagare,\" going to and from different places within the metro every day.

Benn Sythay


Benn, thank you for your e-mail. We really appreciate hearing from you guys out there!

It\'s interesting to see the cars you\'ve picked, and I have to say that in terms of driving fun and enjoyment, both cars are very good choices! However, since you aptly used the term \"lagare\" (to and from your place of work, home and school), the choice is obvious.

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It has to be the Honda Jazz 1.5V.

Why? Primarily because it uses a smaller displacement engine that is highly efficient, punchy and matched to a well-spaced five-speed automatic transmission that is very intuitive when it comes to changing gears by itself. The Jazz also has a quasi-MPV shape and dimensions (tall roof, tall yet narrow doors, ample room for five adults, and airy interior), which makes getting in and out of the car a real breeze, something most people don\'t realize until they do need to make successive short trips.

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The Ford Focus Sport has an amazing engine, but its waterloo is still its dual-clutch six-speed transmission. It looks good on paper, but in execution, it lacks a bit of thought: It doesn\'t have a properly intuitive manual override interface (it has two buttons on the shift knob, which isn\'t very natural or easy to use), and the automatic mode tends to get confused a lot.

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Despite having a 2.0-liter direct-injection gasoline engine, the Focus Sport is still quite thirsty and only lives up to its potential direct-injection benefits when you\'re really hammering the car on the open highway. Add the fact that the Focus is indeed very sporty, so you have a slightly lower roofline, lower and longer doors, and a surprisingly tighter rear-seat space compared to the Jazz, thus making short consecutive trips in the Focus quite laborious. The Focus feels very sporty and drives very sporty (so long as you don\'t need to constantly change gears), but a sporty ride demands a sporty stance and profile--not easy on the knees, hips and legs (tell me about it!).

Were it not for your specific need of making \"lagare,\" the choice would have been more difficult, but in this case, the Jazz is the very obvious winner. That the Jazz is also cheaper, will be noticeably cheaper to service (it\'s an older model car) and will be cheaper to run in terms of fuel costs (an easy 10-12km/L in the city, and as much as 17km/L on the highway versus the Focus\'s 8-9km/L in the city and 13-14km/L on the highway), the Honda wins on sheer numbers alone.

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I hope this helps you out, Benn! Take care, God bless and happy motoring!

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor


Artwork by Lloyd de Guzman

Do you want Botchi to help you pick the right car? Send your inquiry to topgear@summitmedia.com.ph.


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