Who’s the boss?
It’s very difficult to pick a winner here because all four cars are pretty equally matched in all departments. That said the Ford Fiesta is the oldest vehicle here by some margin and I’m afraid the Clio, Corsa and Mazda blew it away in terms of visual appeal both inside and out. Apart from its impressive 1.0-litre turbo engine and realigned R199 000 price point the Fiesta doesn’t offer the buyer as much value and is ultimately undone by its age.
The Renault Clio GT-Line is the most versatile hatch of the lot offering not only a splendid mix of visual pyrotechnics but the handling and steering characteristics of a hot hatch. It’s so much fun to drive. If it wasn’t for the underwhelming engine and R224 900 asking price the Clio would have walked this comparison.
The same can be said for the Opel Corsa. It’s got such a phenomenal powerplant that runs the Fiesta close in terms of power and economy but in real-world driving it fails to deliver the performance you’d expect. The interior is a massive step up over its predecessor and the list of standard equipment is very high but at R236 300 it’s by far the most expensive hatch in this quartet. Which means that after 330-kilometres of evaluation and careful deliberation among the team the Mazda2 takes the win. It was a unanimous decision in the end but the Mazda showed its class and resilience in this company. It came into this comparison as the dark horse but on reflection it’s easy to see why it won.
Yes the R222 800 sticker price means it offers superb value for money but it’s the broad spread of exceptional attributes that won us over. It’s got one of the best interiors in its class – beautifully crafted with fine details that put it on par with the sort of quality and style you’d expect to find in a premium supermini. Furthermore it handles like a kart and the outlandish styling cues separate it from the European mould we’ve become accustomed to over the years. While none of the four hatches are perfect the Mazda gets closest.