Hello, Top Gear Philippines. I follow your Facebook page. I'm not well-versed with cars, that's why I am sending this message. I'm planning to buy a diesel-powered personal car, with automatic transmission. I am looking for a comfortable, affordable and high-quality subcompact hatchback or sedan. The car will be used for traveling from my home to the hospital, which is 15km apart here in Iloilo City.
Back in 2012, I read in your forum a comparison between the Hyundai Accent and the Kia Rio. Now I am undecided. My choices are the Hyundai Accent, the Kia Rio and the Toyota Yaris. Feel free to let me know if you have other suggestions. It will be of great help.
Thank you very much. God bless, Top Gear Philippines!
Hi, JM. Your daily route of 30km back-and-forth travel is a relatively short distance to drive every day, so you're in luck! Almost every vehicle we'll recommend will be fuel-efficient (and not necessarily diesel-powered), and since Iloilo doesn't have heavy traffic (well, based on my previous visits), fuel consumption shouldn't be an issue.
So let's cut to the chase. Two cars stand out for being the best: the all-new, third-generation Honda Jazz (my favorite) and the Hyundai Accent CRDi diesel, which comes in both hatchback and sedan versions.
I normally recommend a hatchback in the B-segment because hatchbacks have far more versatile interiors: Drop down the rear seats and you almost double your cargo-carrying capacity. The perfect example is the Jazz's ULT+R seating: U for utility mode; L for long mode; T for tall mode; and the latest R for refresh mode.
Drop the second-row seats flat to the floor and the Jazz becomes a cavernous load-carrier despite its diminutive size. The Jazz also has 60:40 split-folding rear seats, so drop the smaller side and you can still carry two people at the back with a long object, such as a wakeboard or a small boat. You can also raise the second-row seat bottoms up to carry a small tree inside a pot. And the refresh mode allows the front seats to tilt all the way back so you can comfortably relax or sleep inside the car.
No other hatchback offers as much space and versatility as the Jazz in this sense. If you've read our reviews on the Jazz, you will know that we are huge fans of this car. My family has owned both first- and second-generation Jazz models. Suffice it to say that dynamically, the Jazz is beyond compare.
The only other B-segment hatch that comes close dynamically is the Ford Fiesta, but the Ford--despite having dual-clutch transmission and a highly fuel-efficient 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine--isn't as versatile nor as practical space-wise as the Jazz. But the Fiesta is the faster hatchback.
The Hyundai Accent, on the other hand, is also a compelling choice because of its super powerful (for its class) and super fuel-efficient 1.6-liter CRDi diesel engine. On a twisty road, the Accent will leave bigger but more powerful cars dead in the water. It's not quite as roomy as the Jazz, though. Nor is it easy to get into and out of compared with Honda's hatchback. See how we consider the Jazz as the benchmark in this segment?
The Accent's cargo space with the seats up isn't as good as the Japanese carmaker's hatch. Its suspension, despite having been recently revamped, still isn't as good as the Jazz. But the Korean carmaker's diesel engine in the Accent is a real gem and is a real dealmaker.
If you're after outright power that will leave you grinning from ear to ear every day, the Hyundai is the better pick. But if you like driving precision, unmatched versatility of interior and excellent build quality, the Jazz is the one.
You might be curious as to why I didn't include the Toyota Yaris. I'm also a fan of the Yaris, but I just feel that the goalpost has moved drastically far forward in this segment. The all-new Yaris is also bigger, roomier and has far more progressive throttle response. The old one was so twitchy--I know because I drive one!
But Toyota didn't bother upgrading the engine nor the transmission, which is a shame. The Yaris still has the same 1NZ-FE 1.5-liter 16-valve twin-cam producing 106hp. It's decent, but it's mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The Hyundai has a five-speed automatic gearbox, and the third-generation Jazz has a vastly improved CVT, which gives both cars a far wider and far better spread of power that is easier to access.
So, with these facts down, I hope you go and make a better, well-informed decision. Personally, my money is on the Jazz.
God bless, good luck and be safe!
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