Smallish, new automatic recommendation - Manatee

I saw a friend and his wife a couple of days ago. They 70ish, active etc. but not really 'car people'

They have a Golf V5 auto, year 1999 or 2000 they have owned from new but it is becoming troublesome and they want to change it.

They don't need a big car, and I think are inclined to go for another VW, probably a Polo. I'd leave well alone but the remark "VW do good small automatics don't they" made me wonder.

I suggested looking at a Mazda 2 - a right sized engine, no turbo, and a torque converter auto I think. If my MX-5 with the Skyactive-G engine is anything to go by, it will also get a lot nearer to its claimed mpg figures than a TSI engine. Our 1.2TSI Roomster DSG struggles to do 40mpg (I'm aware that the current 1.2TSI in the Polo is a different engine).

Should I keep my neb out? Any thoughts on the Polo, or other suggestions?

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - RobJP

All VAG group small-engine automatics are DSG.

VW did do good autos. Many years ago.

I would not buy a current / recent one, however, unless I knew the car would not be owned for the long-term. And I assume, as they've had their current car for 17 years they want something for the long term.

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - badbusdriver

Warn them away from the polo, and indeed any other VAG group small automatics. As Rob says, they are all dual clutch automated manuals. And the dry clutch versions fitted to smaller engined cars are the worst.

The mazda2 is a cracking small auto, but you could also point them in the direction of the hyundai i20 and Kia rio, both of which, at the moment, still use torque converter auto's. In addition, I would also recommend the Honda jazz (my wife and I have a jazz cvt and think it brilliant) and the toyota yaris (which again is a cvt). If a smaller car is a possibility then get them to look at a hyundai i10 automatic. This has a torque converter auto, and the top of the range version comes with stuff like heated seats/steering wheel, and an electric glass sunroof!.

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - chewer1

I can vouch for the Hyundai i10 auto. This is worth a test drive and bears no resemblance to small cars a decade ago. It is good for town/ urban use but also comfortable and quiet on a long journey. All a matter of choice/perception of course but why buy something bigger than you really need ?

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - Engineer Andy

Odd sort of choice of their current car if they are not 'car people' - a standard Golf, perhaps, but a V5? Anyway, I would assume they want this next car to last them until they stop driving? If so, a DSG type auto box from any make (not just VAG) would be out, as would the automated manuals.

That (as per another recent thread) leaves the standard torque converter units in the Mazda2 and the Suzuki Swift, and existing smaller KIAs and Hyundais (note both are changing their larger cars to dual clutch, so this may spread to the remainder of the range as time goes on; no changes on that score on the way for Mazda & Suzuki though), plus the CVTs in many of the other Japanese makes, the most reliable being in Hondas and Toyotas. IMO the lastest Nissan Micra is too new to really ascertain long-term reliabilty (too different from the outgoing model to make a reasonable inference) and the Renault/Nissan tie-up still gives too many relaibility woes/less good customer service for my liking.

I would say, given their age (I'm also presuming they won't be doing over 20k miles a year and mostly shorter journeys to the shops with an occasional longer one thrown in), then ease of use (including all-round visibility), reliability and comfort (other than safety, a given) is of a high priority - performance and handling presumably need to be 'competent' as a minimum.

As such, my initial thoughts are to choose from (new cars only, T=turbocharged):

Mazda2 1.5

Suzuki Swift 1.0T (probably fine using a turbo)

Hyundai i20/KIA Rio (i10/Picanto may be fine) 1.2

Honda Jazz 1.3

Toyota Yaris 1.5

The best two for performance and handling are the Mazda and Suzuki by some way (the others aren't exactly quick), reliability (not that much in it as they are all petrol-driven non-twin clutch types) probably the Jazz and Yaris, value probably the KIA/Hyundais. I suspect the ease-of-use crown goes to the Jazz.

I would also say that a decent length test drive for them is a must (for both of them) and to thoroughly check out the loading requirements (ease of and space) as well as in car ergonomics. It should be noted that there are less Suzuki dealerships around than the other makes listed, which can be a problem if a potential owner doesn't like having to drive 30+ miles to the nearest one for servicing.

If I were them, whatever model they choose, either pick one that has at least 55 profile tyres, or if they're going for the top spec model, if money isn't a problem, get it specified with the higher profile (55-65) wheels and tyres from a mid-range model to make the ride more comfortable. I can attest to this - my (similarly aged) parents have a 08MY Fiesta with 15in 50 profile tyres, as opposed to 13 or 14in 65-70 on their previous one, and ride is MUCH firmer, so much so that they now drive a different (longer) route to the shops to avoid roads with speed bumps.

I won't make any specific recommendations given no details about the ride, handling or performance have been given. I'm sure many other BRers can add to the above.

Edited by Engineer Andy on 12/10/2017 at 13:28

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - Manatee

I don't think they want a tiny car such as i10 o Picanto, just a smallish one. They do some longish runs, having grandchildren about 60 miles away, and some holidays in the UK.

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - SLO76
As longterm ownership is likely I'd also point them away from a Polo and towards either a torque converter Mazda 2 or a CVT Honda Jazz. But having seen the ludicrous price of one in the showroom while my CRV was in for a service I'd be advising them to buy nearly new unless there's a scrappage deal on offer to drag that daft screen price down dramatically. Both will be utterly reliable with regular dealer maintenance so there's nothing to fear from used.
Smallish, new automatic recommendation - Ethan Edwards

Want reliability? Toyota.

Yaris HSD or Auris.

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - gordonbennet

I agree with Ethan, plus Toyota have moved away from the hell that was MMT (possibly apart from Aygo) and as far as i know all their standard cars now have CVT autos, which appears to be a good one, my vote would be either a hybrid or auto Toyota.

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - Manatee

Thanks all, rather confirms my initial thoughts and some useful additions.

I gather there is a new Polo due in November too. It looks as if it is all about 3 cylinder 1 litre turbos, unless you want a 1.5TSI with 150bhp, which seems a bit mad.

I've just bought a Mk4 MX-5 and it has really made me think. It's a 1.5, naturally aspirated engine with 130bhp (at 7,000rpm!). It drives beautifully at 2000-3000rpm - by comparison with the ecoboosty-type stuff, even our 1.2TSI Roomster, it feels tame at the bottom of the rev range but it is very economical, currently doing 45mpg overall vs. an official figure of about 47. That includes some spirited driving.

I am coming to the view that the little turbos are not delivering - in general they get nowhere near the claimed economy. Part of that is probably the torque and therefore power available and often used unnecessarily to accelerate at low rpm. The official tests use very gentle acceleration.

The Mazda Skyactiv-G is a very interesting engine. Compression is 13:1 in the MX-5, and 14:1 in the Mazda 2. This is made possible without detonation by cavity pistons, a long-branched 4-2-1 exhaust that gets the exhaust and heat away quickly, multihole direct injection, and other clever stuff. (the compression ratio in the MX-5 is lower because there wasn't room for the ideal length of exhaust branching).

The result is an engine that is very flexible and seemingly very efficient. The 1.5 engine in the Mazda 2 is a lower revving, 90bhp version of the MX-5's. I'd like to try it myself.

Som technical guff here for those who are interested -

www.roadster.blog/2015/02/mx-5-skyactiv-g-engines....l

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - Engineer Andy

The 90hp one is the best all rounder of the three offered on the Mazda2 - the 75hp version runs out of puff a bit on the motorway/up steeper hills (I had one for a day as a courtesy car) but is fine otherwise, and the 115hp version in the Sport Nav 115 is, I'm sure, a hoot, but comes with the low profile tyres and the 90hp version is more than quick enough, and is the only one available in an auto.

I would say that, whilst I really like the Mazda2 (I'm biased as a Mazda3 owner of long standing), the Honda Jazz is much more practical and has a bigger and more accessible boot. This might sway things for them, alongside Honda's well known high reliability and customer care (though they'll pay for it with higher prices for the car and running costs).

The new Polo will be essentially a posh, more expensive version of the latest SEAT Ibiza, which seems to have garnered good reviews but will still come with the DSG auto box (the new 'wet' one has yet to prove itself reliability-wise over the longer term). I wouldn't suggest them changing from a manual to an auto or vice versa at that stage in life - it would be difficult for them to relearn how to use the new type and may be unsafe to do so. If they do need an auto, then that essentially knocks all VAGs on the head, new Polo included.

As regards the claimed (EU Test) mpg vs real world mpg, I don't think there's that much difference in terms of the percentage drop between the two figures from VAG to Mazda on the newer TSi engines, and I think it often depends on the type and style of driving the car does. Many VAG car owners using the 1.4TSi (especially the 140/150 ACT versions) get much nearer the 'claimed' figures than those using other TSi engines in the VAG range. Perhaps the latest 1.0TSi will be similar if paired with smaller cars - I think they struggle a bit when used on Golf and bigger cars. If I recall correctly, the Ecoboost equivalent engines in Fords never seem to get anywhere near the claimed mpg figures, much worse than those in VAG cars.

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - SLO76
"I've just bought a Mk4 MX-5 and it has really made me think. It's a 1.5, naturally aspirated engine with 130bhp (at 7,000rpm!). It drives beautifully at 2000-3000rpm"

A truely brilliant little car, I'd love one but family commitments rule it out for now. Yet to drive a 1.5 new shape but historically it's the smaller MX5's that are the sweet spot in the range, excluding the low output Mk II with 88bhp which was just too weak. I had a Mk II for a few years and loved every trip, it cost me £1475 and I got £1,600 back for it after two years... now that's cheap motoring.
Smallish, new automatic recommendation - badbusdriver
"I've just bought a Mk4 MX-5 and it has really made me think. It's a 1.5, naturally aspirated engine with 130bhp (at 7,000rpm!). It drives beautifully at 2000-3000rpm" A truely brilliant little car, I'd love one but family commitments rule it out for now. Yet to drive a 1.5 new shape but historically it's the smaller MX5's that are the sweet spot in the range, excluding the low output Mk II with 88bhp which was just too weak. I had a Mk II for a few years and loved every trip, it cost me £1475 and I got £1,600 back for it after two years... now that's cheap motoring.

Mazda's own engineer's say the 1.5 is the pick and is exactly what they wanted the MX5 to be. Needless to say, the motoring press slag it off for being too soft and too slow.

Saw a new mazda MX5 RF (hard top) today. Not really convinced by the looks, I'd go for the soft top every time, but i guess i can see the appeal.

Smallish, new automatic recommendation - Manatee

Mazda's own engineer's say the 1.5 is the pick and is exactly what they wanted the MX5 to be. Needless to say, the motoring press slag it off for being too soft and too slow.

Saw a new mazda MX5 RF (hard top) today. Not really convinced by the looks, I'd go for the soft top every time, but i guess i can see the appeal.

I drove the 1.5 convertible and loved it, then wondered if I might regret not going for the 2.0. So I drove them back to back, on my own, for about half an hour each round some country roads. I drove the 2.0 first, half expecting it to dent my enthusiasm for the 1.5 when I drove it immediately afterwards. It didn't.

The 2.0 was a Sport Nav, with LSD, strut brace, sports suspension and dampers. Definitely a bit quicker, but 30bhp whilst it might show in track times doesn't feel a world different on the road. And I actually liked the 1.5 more - the slightly softer suspension is better for comfort and probably grip on a broken surface, of which there are plenty on British roads. It rolls a bit more, but this is only relative - it is still a very sharp drive. What turned it though was the free-revving nature of the 1.5, which is rated to produce peak power and 7000 and revs well past that and feels as if it will go to 8000. I'm sorry to say I clumsily hit the limiter in the 2.0, which makes peak power at 6000.

It's not a fast car in a straight line, but the handling makes up for that. The brakes feel fantastic, because the car is light. As light as the Mk1 in fact, despite much better safety and more kit. The tyres are the same width and profile as those on my old Mk2 1.8.

I love it.

 

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