THE MOTOR REPORT is pleased to announce its 2009 ‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Passenger Car Awards.
This is the second year of an annual Award from The Motor Report, Australia's fastest growing independent automotive news, analysis and car reviews site.
The TMR 'Best Drive, Best Value' awards are conferred each New Year’s Eve and granted to the car that, in the view of our road testers and writers, wins on a ‘best drive, best value’ comparison in its market segment.
This year, the Award features four passenger car categories:
- Best Drive Best Value Light Car
- Best Drive Best Value Small Car
- Best Drive Best Value Medium Car
- Best Drive Best Value Large Car
In each category, we announce both a winner and runner-up; there is also an overall winner – the car adjudged as being the standout model release of the year.
To be in contention for The Motor Report ‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Award 2009, a car must:
- Be enjoyable at the wheel
- Have ample power and offer sharp driving dynamics
- Be comfortable and well-finished inside and out
- Offer a high level of capability in the driving environment for which it was designed
- Offer genuine value
- Be a ‘best buy’ in its category for the totality of the package
- Have been released in the preceding calendar year
So, if a car is not good value, if it does not make you feel good when you slide behind the wheel, if it does not perform or meet the expectations of buyers for the category in which it competes, then it will not get a look-in to the TMR Best Drive, Best Value Award.
The winners and runners-up in each category are:
- Winner: ‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Small Car: Holden Cruze CD (diesel)
- Runner up: Volkswagen Golf 118TSI
- Winner: ‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Medium Car: Skoda Octavia RS 2.0 TSI
- Runner up: MB Mondeo Zetec TDCi
- Winner: ‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Large Car: Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI
- Runner up: Holden Commodore Omega 3.0 SIDI
Winner: ‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Light Car: Ford Fiesta ECOnetic
Ford's Fiesta ECOnetic is the standout car release of 2009. It offers the fuel efficiency and planet-friendly emissions of a hybrid vehicle but at a hybrid-crushing price. It also comes with stylish lines, a smart interior and involving driver dynamics.
At the wheel, few in the light car sector can get near to matching its balance, ride quality and overall competence.
The Fiesta ECOnetic is, quite simply, the way of the future. Its low-stressed, strong and astonishingly efficient diesel engine is the ace in the ECOnetic's deck.
Currently available in manual only, at $24,990 drive-away, it is priced within reach of the average buyer. Ford's agile and sporty Fiesta ECOnetic shows no-one need pay a premium for hybrid-style 'green motoring'.
The Fiesta ECOnetic is the most significant new model release of the year and a worthy winner of The Motor Report’s ‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Light Car Award for 2009.
Runner up: Suzuki Alto
Runner up in the light car segment is the appealingly packaged and surprisingly zesty Suzuki Alto. The Alto proves that “less can be more” - less impact on the planet and more fun to drive.
While offering just three cylinders and 1.0 litre capacity, the Alto is both good value, good fun, nifty and inexpensive to own and run
Winner: ‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Small Car: Holden Cruze CD (diesel)
The appealingly-styled and very sharply-priced Cruze is the surprise package in this year's TMR 'Best Drive, Best Value' Awards.
While very hard to better on value (starting at $20,990 plus on road costs for the base model, and just $23,990 plus on roads for the CD diesel), it offers much more than just a sharp price and handsome lines.
Laden with safety features, a strong diesel engine and unexpected luxuries like the heated leather seats of the CDX, the Cruze is an excellent package for anyone downsizing from a larger car but not wanting to come up short on features and equipment.
Coupled with a rewarding driving experience, good road manners and willing acceleration (with 320Nm of torque available in the diesel), Holden’s newest small car offers a lot for a little.
It might not have changed the category forever, but the Cruze has certainly advanced it.
The TMR team was pleasantly surprised by the Cruze. Its price, value and on-road manners make a convincing argument in its favour for buyers. As an overall package, it is, in our view, a clear winner in the category.
Runner up: Volkswagen Golf 118TSI
Also an excellent car, offering arguably the sharpest driving dynamics, the $32,990 (plus on road costs) Golf 118TSI is edged out for overall value by the nicely composed and competent Cruze.
The 118TSI offers willing performance (its 1.4 litre petrol engine is a micro-powerhouse), excellent on-road balance and high levels of refinement; as such it is a deserving runner-up in the small car category.
Winner:‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Medium Car: Skoda Octavia 2.0 TSI
With the backing of the powerful Volkswagen Group, the Czech Skoda brand now offers a level of quality that seriously challenges the parent company's products, with pricing that places it at the pointy end of Euro offerings.
The versatile Octavia is nicely styled, offers family-friendly space inside, refined on-road balance and – for the totality of the package – very appealing value. For its on-road dynamism and value, the sporting RS is the pick of the range and, in TSI trim, winner by a short half-head in the medium car sector.
Pricing starts at $37,990 for the manual TSI hatch. The TDI (diesel) adds $2000 and the DSG gearbox a further $2300 – for the wagon, add another $2000.
The manual TSI hatch is a genuine sporting drive and sure to appeal to anyone who values the experience at the wheel.
Petrol or diesel, manual or DSG, hatch or wagon; the Octavia RS is beautifully built and a bucket-load of fun to pilot. There are no wrong choices to be made here.
In the RS diesel, the 2.0 litre TDI turbo-diesel engine produces 125kW at 4200 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from 1750 to 2500 rpm. The 2.0 TSI turbocharged petrol motor produces 147kW of power between 5100 and 6000 rpm, with torque of 280Nm between 1800 and 5000rpm.
For its Euro-style performance feel, value and refinement, the Octavia RS TSI is a 'Best Drive, Best Value' buy in the medium car category.
Runner up:Ford Mondeo Zetec TDCi
Edged out by the excellent Octavia TSI, Ford's supremely capable and nicely – if conservatively – styled Mondeo Zetec TDCi is a close runner up in the medium car segment.
While pricing for the Mondeo range begins at $31,990 plus on-roads for the LX hatch, the Zetec TDCi at $39,990 plus on-roads is a very appealing and well-featured drive. With an effortlessly strong diesel engine and a robust, unfussed larger-car on-road feel, it is a fine car and worthy runner-up.
Winner:‘Best Drive, Best Value’ Large Car: Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI
So, two Skodas in TMR's 'Best Drive, Best Value' Awards for 2009? While that may create some discussion, the 2009 Superb 2.0 TDI is a worthy contender and worthy winner in the large car category.
It is large, well kitted, impeccably finished, and offers sumptuous luxury appointments. It is also sharply priced and with enough clever ideas to set it apart in the larger passenger car segment.
Its pricing certainly strengthens the case. The Superb range starts at $42,990 plus on-road costs for the TSI, the TDI is priced at $45,990 plus on-roads, while the V6 FSI 4WD is $56,990 (plus).
The TDI Superb offers a lot of car for – comparatively - not a lot of dollars. Plus, with 350Nm on tap, and a willingness to rev freely, it provides more than ample urge with a miserly thirst.
With wind, mechanical and road noise very low, and premium appointments, the Superb has a limo-like interior ambience.
The styling may divide opinion, but for all-round competence, good on-road dynamics, a very pleasing interior and robust feel, the Superb TDI is a real value-for-money offering with few noticeable compromises against the considerably more expensive $56,990 V6 FSI. It is the best buy of the moment in the sector.
Runner up: Holden VE Commodore Omega 3.0 SIDI
Just edged out by the Superb is Holden's compelling VE Commodore Omega 3.0 SIDI. Australia's large cars stand tall in any international field for their on-road dynamics, robust build quality, 'big six' performance and sheer value-for-money.
Holden's new SIDI 3.0 litre and 3.6 litre direct-injection V6 engines are significant advances over the old, not only in technology and fuel consumption, but also in refinement. As a competent and value-filled package, the VE Commodore Omega 3.0 SIDI is a worthy runner up.
So, these are the TMR 'Best Drive, Best Value' Awards for 2009.
This leaves only the announcement for the standout model release of the year.
That car is Ford's Fiesta ECOnetic. It stands apart as a significant advance in 'green motoring', while also providing class-leading dynamics and performance.
It is a car that every manufacturer would wish it had in its stable. And soon, all will be following its lead.
For the remarkable Fiesta ECOnetic, the accolades are well-deserved. All credit to Ford.