The best daily driver: Fiesta, Jazz or Yaris?

by Botchi Santos | May 27, 2011

Hi, Botchi!

Hope all is well with you, sir. This is my first time to write to you guys so I really hope you can help me.

I'm planning to get a new car soon and like most people who email you in your column, I don’t know what car to get.

I'm a single guy who needs a vehicle for the daily work commute from Caloocan City to Makati City and the weekend trips to Cavite to visit the girlfriend. As you can see, I do a lot of driving so fuel economy’s a must for me. I also need ample space for: myself (I'm a bigger-than-average person), my passengers (for the weekend drive with my girlfriend, mom and siblings), and my stuff (gym bag, shoes and camera gear). But I don't plan to carry them all at the same time (hopefully!).

I have a budget of around P800,000. I'm currently considering the following vehicles:
- Ford Fiesta
- Honda Jazz
- Toyota Altis
- Honda Civic


Whenever I browse websites on or read the brochures of the cars I've mentioned, I get even more confused on what to get. They all look great and they all have good features. This will be my first time to buy my own car so I really need your help to get it right.

Thanks, man!


Hi, Boj!

I feel you buddy! I'm also bigger than average (LOL), and I want the best performance and fuel efficiency out of my daily driver as I cover about 400 kilometers in a single week! And despite my quest for efficiency, I also want a fun-driving, exciting car. Who says being cost-conscious means driving a boring car right?

Well, if you've read my past columns, you'll know that the Honda Jazz is my top-pick for overall space, performance, versatility and functionality. It's hard to beat, and it is almost perfect for the everyday man with modest means. About the only thing I dislike is that the Jazz, in top-trim 1.5 automatic, is expensive! Thankfully the face-lifted Jazz has added some small neat features to justify the rise in price such as standard fog lamps, and USB/auxiliary-channel connectivity for your MP3 device. The asking price is pushing P850,000 nowadays for the face-lifted Jazz, but honestly, it is well worth the added cost!

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The Ford Fiesta is my second choice, eclipsed only by the Jazz's larger boot. It's actually sportier and sharper than the Jazz, and it is equally roomy. Getting in via the rear doors, however, is quite tight especially compared to the Jazz because the Fiesta has a swoopier rear profile--the shape of the rear door is dictated more by style than function. Also, Ford's designers intentionally stayed away from the mini-multipurpose vehicle design favored by Toyota and Honda so that cabin doesn’t feel as roomy as the Jazz. It’s sporty, fun, but just not as roomy. Luggage space is decent, but again won't hold a candle to the Jazz's cavernous boot. On the upside, the Fiesta has a bigger 1.6 engine and a true dual-clutch transmission, which makes it a more exciting performance car on a budget. This baby is just over P800,000 but worth it.

I also recommend you look at the Toyota Yaris because it's almost as good as both the Honda Jazz and the Ford Fiesta, but the boot is absolutely tiny and the engine is rather underpowered compared to the two other cars. But on its own, it's more than enough. Also, it is usefully smaller, making it easier to handle through traffic and parking in tight slots. But the most compelling reason is that you're more than likely to snag a great deal from a Toyota dealership because the Yaris just doesn't sell as well as the other Toyotas. It is eclipsed by the Vios, which I personally do not like because it doesn't feel as solid as the Yaris. The Yaris is made in Thailand, whereas the Vios is made in the Philippines. The Thailand factory uses more robots to assemble cars basically, which is why I guess the cars there are better made than here, where more human intervention is required in assembling a car, and thus, there’s more room for human error. You can get a Yaris well under P800,000--possibly P750,000 if you haggled hard enough.


I personally do not like recommending the bigger sedans like the Civic and the Altis because the smaller cars offer so much more value, utility, enjoyment and far better fuel efficiency compared to the bigger cars, which feel like a lazy sloth in comparison due to their added weight and heft. If you can make do with the smaller B-segment cars, stick with it!

In closing, all three cars make excellent highway cruisers. I've driven the Jazz to Pangasinan and back on a single day with four adults on board, netting 12 kilometers per liter and averaging about 110kph. I've driven a Yaris to Clark, enjoyed it on the Clark International Speedway and came back with a single tank of gas, averaging 17 kilometers per liter on the highway section, and did a surprisingly decent 7.5 kilometers per liter on the long track of Clark. The Fiesta, with its long wheelbase, sharp handling and six forward gears, should be even better than both out on the highway. Since it is stylishly lower, it will be less affected by crosswinds--scary on Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway when you're doing 120kph!


Hope this helps! Good luck, take care driving and God bless!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

Lost in a sea of cars and not quite sure which one to get? Click here to email your car query so Botchi can help you pick the right vehicle!

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