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by Nadine Armstrong

2009 Holden Cruze CDX v 2009 Kia Cerato SLi v 2009 Honda City VTi-L

Small cars, big market…

By – Nadine Armstrong Pics – Paul Maric

Big cars are getting smaller, small cars are getting bigger, SUVs are multiplying like an alien life form and sexy hatches bring considerable street cred.

In an industry made up of more than 50 manufacturers, each offering a line-up of models, engine and transmission variants, and where customisation is king, it’s no surprise that buyers can experience an overwhelming sense of confused excitement.

The car industry is blurring the lines and pushing boundaries like never before.

However, not everyone takes to the task of buying a new car with the spec for spec rigour of a motoring journalist, analysing industry segments, gear ratios and wheelbase measurements.

Sometimes it’s as simple as determining needs, likes and dislikes and the all-important budget.

Here we look at three relative newcomers to Australia, all of which are stalking buyers from a similar market and all sit within a tight price bracket.

We also draw on the opinion and expertise of four motoring writers who represent a diverse consumer base and largely different personal preferences. With that in mind, our aim is to give you the best advice and insight on these vehicles as they compete for your attention, rather than announcing a definitive winner.

Honda City VTi-L
1.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol, five-speed auto
Holden Cruze CDX
1.8-litre, four-cylinder, petrol, six-speed auto
Kia Cerato SLi
2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol, five-speed manual

3 x tracking shots

$25,290* $25,990* $ 22,990*
*recommended price before statutory and delivery charges
88kW at 6600 rpm 104kW at 6200 rpm 115kW at 6200
145Nm at 4800 rpm 176Nm at 3800 rpm 194Nm at 4300
6.6 L/per 100km – manufacturer claim
5.6 L/per 100km – achieved on test route
7.5 L/per 100km – manufacturer claim
9.3 L/per 100km – achieved on test route
7.8 L/per 100km – manufacturer claim
6.2 L/per 100km – achieved on test route
16” alloys 17” alloys 17” alloys
3yr/100,000km warranty 3yr/100,000km warranty 5yr/unlimited km warranty
+: fuel efficient, nimble
-: poor sound insulation, sparse interior
+: premium spec, 5-star safety
-: auto transmission, hard seats
+: comfort, handling
-: gear ratios mismatched, lacks polish

The Honda City’s name speaks for its credentials. Around town, it excels as a petite and competent package of style plus form.

Its angular lines stay true to other Honda family models such as the Civic and Accord, but in more delicate proportions. Its 1.5-litre engine is well suited to short trip city driving and returns great fuel economy.

The City is incredibly nimble and simple to manouvre and I can see why this could be a great choice for city drivers who need more space than a smaller car or hatch has to offer.

Lure the City out of its natural habitat however, onto the open roads and more demanding country landscapes, and it suffers from performance anxiety.

While cruising at 100km/h is manageable, the high winds and steep hills pose a challenge for the City. The auto transmission is in indecisive and strains in the range between 90-110km/h. Freeway wind and road noise is also quite intrusive.

The City’s price point is a sticking point for all. David’s valid observation is that the City wouldn’t be in the comparison if it were priced correctly.

img_0863 copy

The Kia Cerato, currently a long-term test car at CarAdvice, continues to impress even the harshest of critics. Paul describes it as a wolf in sheep’s clothing – and for good reason.

In our line-up, the Cerato is probably the most conservative of all three cars to look at, and yet it boasts the biggest engine and most power.

The Cerato performed above our expectations in this comparison, with only a few low points, primarily to do with the gear ratios; it’s near impossible to achieve a smooth transition through the gears.

The chorus-like cry for a six-speed set the tone for the day in the Cerato, coupled with the fact that there wasn’t much else to complain about. The Cerato emerged relatively unscathed by its critics on the day.

The Cerato’s 2.0-litre engine is currently mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, which does it few favours. While power is good and the engine is responsive, the gear ratios seem mismatched and this results in a slightly unsatisfying result. Freeway cruising was no chore for the Cerato and it tackled high winds and steep hills with ease.

3 x interiors

In the flesh, the Holden Cruze looks like it belongs in an entirely different class. Its styling, inside and out, makes the Cerato and City look like frigid wall-flowers. The Cruze exudes a confident sense of masculinity and pomp that neither of its rivals comes close to matching.

The overall aesthetic value of the Cruze adds great appeal. You feel like you’re getting so much more for your money, and you possibly are. Whether or not this makes up for a lack-lustre performance from the auto transmission is a matter of personal preference.

The engine also lacks refinement and regularly let out painful, thrashing howls, which rudely intrude upon the plush cabin, despite its good insulation.

Travelling identical drive routes that covered a variety of road conditions, fuel economy results delivered a mixed bag. The 1.8-litre Cruze came in at 9.3L/100km, the 2.0-litre Cerato returned an impressive 6.2L/100km, and the Honda City’s 1.5-litre engine drank only 5.6L/100km.

Rear end shot all three copy

When all four of us poured into one car at a time, styling preferences, comfort and power challenges became obvious.

Starting with the City, surprise can best describe the overall opinion when it came to space – head, leg and shoulder – is quite good. With the exception of one product-assisted hairstyle, clearance is good and all passengers can be comfortably seated. Even pushing three adult passengers into the second row is doable. Just like its voluminous boot, which at 506 litres makes it the biggest of all three, the City’s interior is deceptively spacious.

The City’s interior design is sparse and doesn’t hang together cohesively. Although, this less traditional style may well appeal to a fresh, young market who loathe sweeping interiors that reek of wood grain potential.

Early in the day Matt voiced a concern shared by all, the lack of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) on the City, even as an option.

3 x second rows

The Cerato came through as the most comfortable of all three cars, with good room all round and comfortable contoured seats. With three in the second row the Cerato remains comfortable. While the interior styling of the Cerato is not the most inspired, it covers all the basics and is far from offensive. It’s a very comfortable cabin and seating position and cabin ergonomics are good.

Jumping into the Cruze, the premium spec, which includes leather finish and heated front seats, makes the other two cars pale by comparison. However it fails to compete with the comfort and space of the Cerato.

Legroom is not as good and the seats are hard and unsupportive. The actual driving position however, rates as the best of all three. It feels more natural and offers greater adjustability than the Cerato, whereas the Honda City suffers criticism and induced child-like giggles because of its perky seating position.


On our uphill stress test, the City continued to surprise. While the cabin filled with engine noise as it screamed for help and dropped like a stone through the gears, the City’s 1.5-litre engine did it proud.

The Cruze gave off some similar cries of pain as we pushed up hill and, despite its six-ratios, it struggled to find the right gear, but not to the same extent. The Cerato, with a 2.0-litre engine and manual transmission on its side, performed effortlessly.

The steering of each three vehicles was typical for their size and weight. The City has light and direct steering, which is better suited to suburban streets than challenging bends taken at higher speeds.

The Cerato provides greater feedback through the steering wheel and can easily manage high speed cornering. It has a nice, confident turn in and tracks well on long freeway stretches.

The Cruze feels the heaviest of all cars and the steering feedback reflects this. It’s not quite as dynamic to steer as the Cerato but remains tidy and confident in all conditions.

On paper, engines aside, these rivals appear to compete on fairly even ground. All three tick most of the must have boxes, to include: a full suite of airbags; anti-lock braking systems, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist; keyless entry; cruise control; multi-function steering wheels; split fold seats; alloy wheels; iPod/Auxiliary/USB compatibility; tilt and telescopic steering adjust; power windows and mirrors; and full-size spare wheels.

The lack of ESC on the City could be a deal breaker for some. It comes standard on our Cerato SLi, and is optional on the Cerato S, while it is standard across the entire range of Cruze models.

The Cruze is also the only car to score a five-star ANCAP rating – again, this result is consistent across the entire range. The Cerato scores a four-star rating, because the non-ESC Cerato S was tested by ANCAP. The City is yet to be rated by ANCAP, although it shares its platform and mechanicals with the Honda Jazz, which has a four-star rating.


No car slides to home base without its flaws. So, sadly, it’s often a case of small compromises.

If you’re looking purely from a bang-for-your-buck perspective, it’s hard to look past the Cruze. If you want a more lively and competent engine, it’s the Cerato, hands down, but if you’re after a perky, everyday drive with great fuel economy, the City is for you.


Keep in mind that the intent behind this comparison is not to discover the biggest, fastest and coolest, but to assess the overall package within a defined budget.

On an individual basis, this is how we see it:

Matt votes; Cerato, Cruze, City

Cerato is my pick of the bunch. It’s powerful, frugal and well sorted dynamically, while at the same time affording owners exceptional value for money.

Paul votes; Cruze, Cerato, City

I’d have to go with the Cruze. The Cerato just doesn’t feel right on the road, while the City is abysmally gutless! The Cruze is my choice, but is let down by a dreadful engine/gearbox combination. Put a diesel in the Cerato and it could be a different outcome altogether.

Nadine votes; Cruze, Cerato, City

I can’t go past the overall value for money package that the Cruze offers. And the interior style and premium finish kills its rivals in this case. On any normal day, I’d continue to look elsewhere. But with these three cars to choose from, I pick the Cruze.

David votes; Cerato, Cruze, City

Kia Cerato because it is good looking, represents good value for money, has excellent safety specs and most of the little things I like such as iPod connectivity.

Should you wish to dig deeper, CarAdvice has conducted road tests of each of these cars in varying models.

Read more on the Holden Cruze
Read more on the Kia Cerato
Read more on the Honda City

  • Alan

    Personally i think City is a joke at this price, it needs to be a whole lot cheaper to make sense, idealy on par with Jazz in price for the same trim.

    Cruze seems like the right idea but not done properly, lacking the ultimate polish and refinement. Cerato is a big step for Kia, i think the interior needs to be better designed/made, and it really needs an extra ratio in the gearbox, 4 speed auto is so outdated.

    Truth is, i wouldn’t choose any of the three. I would sacrifice some equipment and get a Mazda 3 or Civic.

  • Alan

    Actually i would rephrase my comment, Civic is ridiculously expensive nowadays, i think i saw it being advertised for 26k driveway for the base VTi model. So my choice would be Mazda 3, but sacrifice some equipment.

  • Myke

    All Hondas lately seem overpriced due to the GFC. I think Honda are glad they no longer have to show the price of their vehicles on their website.

    I’d also go for the Mazda 3.

  • Shak

    If you were going to pay 25 grand for that City you might as well go one up and buy the Civic. It has better resale and it just looks better from most angles. I would vote for the Cruze in these times as value for money is what most people are looking as they want to spend their own money on safe, economical, and well equipped transport. Cruze all the way.

  • Shak

    But still from a drivers point of view the 3 would be the right choice.

  • Tom

    I’d go a Mazda 3 or Focus before any of these cars. If I had to go one of these cars though, I’d take the Cruze.

  • DesignEng©™

    “Small cars, big market…”

    Plenty of better choices than these three tested here!

    • vince

      Thats just a silly silly statement. No-one said..’these are the only 3 you can choose from’ They simply chose 3 cars & did a comparrison. What are you ??? 14 ?

  • PaulS

    I really don’t think the City is $25,290, is it? That can’t be right.

  • mad max

    Yes Paul S, $25’290 is right.
    I had a good long drive of the Cruze on the weekend. If I was in this market, I would buy one. Well put together, loads of gear and a nice quiet comfortable car. The local dealer has delivered 32 cars in 5 trading days and said they have had a similar result at another of their sites. The CDX is now on a waiting list for most colours. If Holden can keep up supply they might have a hit on ther hands.

  • Shak

    Thats right Mad Max, i was scheduled to go and see a Cruze tomorrow but the dealer ran out of even the demo models so they said i should wait until next week when new stock came in. I cant beleive that Holden are selling out of these, but im Happy for Australia’s car makers’ success.

  • Myke

    ^Well I’m glad the Cruze is going well for Holden, especially when everyone was so negative about it before it was even launched.

  • Tony M

    The Cerato seems to be the pick. Doesn’t do anything great but does do everything right.

    I believe all these cars are over priced. Currently you can buy a Ford Focus for the same price at mid $25K. Based on experience I would service the Focus at a VACC accredited service centre.

  • Josh

    I think we need to highlight the fact that the impressively low fuel consumption on the Cerato is contributed by the manual gearbox whereas the other two have auto

  • FrugalOne


    The BEST car at that price [and should have been included in your review] is the one thats on my radar.

    Stand up and be counted the mighty Mitsubish MADE-IN-JAPAN Lancer SEDAN, currently on sale for [m/t $20,888 driveaway!]



  • FrugalOne

    “The City…….. I can see why this could be a great choice for city drivers who need more space than a smaller car or hatch has to offer.”

    Best you rewrite that

    Eeerrr the cheaper haonda jizz has MORE space and has MORE to offer for less.

    The city is a joke,period.



  • FrugalOne

    All have goose-neck hinges that slam into your load in the boot.




  • Jake02

    One of the reasons the City lost is because it was up against bigger/ the wrong rivals. It should’ve been Yaris sedan vs Barina sedan vs City and I don’t think the Honda wouldve won in this case either (good, it’s too expensive for not enough equipment). Cruze and Cerato are in the class above (despite being priced in the same range – Honda’s fault) so maybe the Civic should’ve been compared? Or the Hyundai Elantra, making it a Korean battle.

    I have to say I don’t like any of them very much. The Cerato looks quite good, is great value etc but upon sitting in it, I was so disappointed at the interior as it’s all scratchy plastics and what not. The Cruze also looks fine and is even better value than the Cerato but the lack of a CDX model with the diesel engine is a huge drawback for me, and there isn’t enough in technology on all three of them for the cost price. The City is really expensive, and considering it’s Thai-made it should be cheaper. No ESP (it bothers me because that engine has been around for honks and it’s taken them this long to discover ESP but it isn working yet?) as well as other equipment deficiencies (why is the Accord so much more well equipped for only 7k more?). I do like how the tailights face inwards as such, that’s a good piece of design.

  • Limited Slip

    Cruze fuel economy is abysmal for a small car. Whats the point of a small car when you can get better overall fuel consumption in a Falcon and get a great car not a Daewoo? Load the Cruze with 4 people and luggage and the thing wouldnt get up a hill……

    Focus or its brother the Mazda3 are streets ahead of any of these in the comparison.

  • Goodfa

    The fuel economy for the Cruze is a bit of a worry.Wheels magazine tested the Cruze as well and obtained poor fuel economy as well.If you look at the claimed fuel economy the Cruze should be more frugal than the Kia but it did not even come close in the real world.
    Surely something is not quite right here.

  • Shak

    As always fuel economy gets better with more k’s on the clock. The cruze has just arrived whereas the Cerato has been on the test fleet with thousands of k’s on it. The city is tiny and should not have been compared with these big small cars.

  • Alan

    Like mentioned above, it is important to keep in mind that the Cerato tested is a manual, not an auto. I’m sure an auto Cerato with only press car mileage wouldn’t do as well for fuel economy.

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Paul Maric


    So you’re the guy who keeps breaking into our test fleet to check the kilometres each of our vehicles have covered!

    I’m going to nudge you out of the expert armchair you’re sitting in, just for one moment.

    The Cruze we had on test had 4,029km on the clock when it was returned, our Cerato on the other hand has done just under 3,000km.

    So there goes that theory!

  • Bavarian Missile®™

    Quote Matt said “Cerato is my pick of the bunch. It’s powerful, frugal and well sorted dynamically, while at the same time affording owners exceptional value for money.”

    Have to agree with Matts choice and for the same reasons plus better warrenty .

    Anyone buying in this price range isnt going to expect it to be perfect but if its bought as the second car /run around…………she’ll do the job nicely I think!

  • Big Oil

    People seem to be surprised that the Cruze drinks so much fuel. It’s a Holden people. You all know what that Lion badge stands for: Meat pies. Korea. Bloody awful fuel consumption. Frankly, I’d be disappointed if Holden didn’t stick to their core values on this one.

  • Shak

    Im actually really surprised by that P.M. But then again as stated it is a Holden, so my Theory is wrong but there are other reasons for that. Thanks for clarifying though.

  • Frontman

    Hmm good written comparo Lady & Gentlemen. None of these cars seemed to excite the senses of the testers which tends to make it harder for motoring people to sound enthused. Sad that you didn’t match the vehicles better, ie the manual is an unfair comparison, sorry. Also why is the Elantra or i30 left out? These are a bit (or a lot in Elantra’s case) older but would have given a known base line for the viewing public.
    As for the Cruze, the fuel consumption is really out there, perhaps they will retune it when it gets here to be back to normal levels and thus claim some of the green car funding (lol joke people). The lack of supply would seem to stem from the large amount able to be seen at your local (no names no court martials but their emblem is red) rental car office. Sad really should have tried to keep this one for the public only.

  • Andrew M

    Agree with most,
    But my bang for your buck would go to the Lancer.

    If you cant afford dropping a couple of features or increasing your budget, the lancer is sure to satisfy.

    When I shopped out a new small car about a month ago, I found it really hard to go past the lancers value for money.
    They were offering the VR with sat nav and bluetooth etc for around 26K in Auto guise drive out!!!!!
    Value for money its sure worth a look.
    I ended up settling on the Mazda 3 in chasing a little bit better quality and resale etc

    IMO the Lancer in VRX form is possibly the best looker in class (bar the XR5).
    Plenty of room in the lancer too.

    Between these 3 I actually find the Cerato the better looker. The front QTR of the Cruze reminds me of the Focus too much (cover the grill in the top pic and see).
    The Cerato is is a little more fresh in design terms and doesnt carry an ugly korean screaming back end.

    Interior wise though, the Cruze wins.

    Over all package, the Cerato wins. Cruze is let down heavily by drivetrain.
    The worst thing on the Ceratos side is that its a Kia. Whether you like to admitt it or not, that is a big detractor.

    If you are worried about the scraping up the extra couple of grand for a 3, buy 2nd hand

  • Bavarian Missile®™

    So which is the heaviest out of the top two ?

  • Andrew M

    Oh, and just to clarify, buying 2nd hand doesnt mean buying a clapped out 300,000k example.
    There are plenty of sub 50,000k examples out there, and if its a mazda, it will still be like new anyway.

    I,d rather buy a real 2nd hand car then a new half baked one

  • Bavarian Missile®™

    Id go the Mazda 3 too Andrew but out of these choices its the Cerato .

  • Andrew M

    Damn you BM,
    I tried to edit the typos in my posts but when I tried to save the changes, it said I couldnt because someone had already posted after me.

    ha ha ha ha

  • crouchy

    I said this before and ill say it again..

    Holden have marketed this car INCREDIBLY well. They have flaunted their apparent reputation to the best of their ability JUST in time before it flew COMPLETELY out of the window.

    This car will be a great success and im really glad that the guys at Elizabeth will hopefully be building it soon :)

  • Bavarian Missile®™

    hahaha…………You need Firefox,it spell checks your mistakes as your typing ……….

  • Andrew M

    I gotta ask,
    whats the quality if the leather like in the Cruze.
    Every photo I have seen, including here, the Cruze leather seems to be saggy. If you look at the pic you can see an ordinary indent left from the left butt cheek, and at only 4,000ks old????

  • Paul

    Hi, can anyone confirm the Cerato would be a 5 star ANCAP car with ESC? I like the Cerato but am converned about those crash test results …

  • Andrew M

    But does it only pick up on spelling???

    In a couple of instances I must have lost my train of thought and typed a word twice etc.

    Oh well, its not like its not legible, if one cant decipher, then they must be even worse ha ha ha ha ha

  • realcars

    Lancer VRX looks a million bucks. Road noise and interior plastics slight dissapointment.

    Smiley front on the Mazda 3 is a huge leap backwards.

    Cerato has classic Korean small car gear ratio/torque mismatch which really detracts from an otherwise good product.Economy suggests very tall gearing.

    Cruze looks the goods and hopefully Holden can take this feedback onboard and improve it with updates.

  • Shak

    Andrew M the quality of the leather is not top of the class but it is very good.

  • Bavarian Missile®™

    Nope Andrew ,its not A.D.D proof…………Would be handy if it was !

    Indent from left butt cheek in leather Andrew ? You sure we’re talking about the Cruze’s seat ? ha ha ha ha

  • Andrew M

    Thanks for that Shak,
    Ill take your word because I havent personally tested the leather, but from all the pics it just seems to be leather for the sake of having leather.

    How would you explain the saggy looks and easily left indents???

  • DesignEng©™

    “How would you explain the saggy looks and easily left indents???”

    Poor quality leather seat facings?
    Actaully it looks like someone knelt on it to get a photo of the dash or something, either way it doesn’t bode well for durability.

  • Andrew M

    I agree that the VRX is the looks winner, but as you mentioned, and its also the reason I went to the Mazda 3, the plastics are a let down (in the lower spec lancers.)

    I will however point out that the VRX does get different plastics (carbon fibre look-a-like), and subsequently has a much higher feel of quality about it

  • binladen

    The Honda civic vti is around $24000 driveaway last year. That should be compared pricewise. It has more room in the back seat than Mazda 3 and cheaper too. The civic is a clear winner here.

  • Tony

    to be fair Honda are just plain outsized here

    a jazz with a boot that’s around 1,000kg and with a 500c deficit will never win

    when Kia move to a diesel and/or a 6 spd manual/auto we’ll really see something special

    while it is german designed they probably need it to hand to german suspension engineers as well

    but for a 1st go, the cerato is a surprising

    the cruze is not surprising at all

    according to press the cerato is 1,300kg

    the cruze petrol is 1,400kg

  • DesignEng©™

    I understand that this test was based on the availability of certain cars, and it’s still a valid comparo, but I somehow get the feeling that this is a test of the “B” graders. Certainly there’s nothing here that would tempt any dollars out of my wallet (crowbar?), and none of these would be a good proposition 2nd hand in a few years time.

    The “allergic one” would’ve had a field day on this one. It would appear that personal vendettas, like the campaign he was running don’t pay off in the end.

  • crouchy

    Although it isnt the best, I am really glad that Holden is starting to get some consistency across the range.

    Mazda does it really well as do the Europeans (ofcourse) and now Ford have started to get it right. I wouldnt be suprised if the VF Commodore comes out with those headlamps… Just not sure that its a good thing :/

    As for the other two – The Honda is a complete joke and surely only there to rip off old people and the Kia is a real surprise packet which is only let down by its terrible looking interior.

    Like everyone else mentioned though.. This test is really the best of the rest in this category…

  • Wheelnut®™

    Crouchy – I think that given that the designers want to make the Commodore look more aerodynamic the VFs headlights are going to be slightly more “tapered” than those on the VE.. However; I don’t think that the it will look anything like those on the Cruze – which look like the car has had its eyelids pulled back.

  • http://www.littlepixiegifts.com.au Gift-Ed

    Good review guys. I think the Cruze will come into its own when the 1.4 turbo arrives. I’d definitely be looking closely at Cerato if buying in this class.

  • crouchy

    Yeah im not so sure wheelnut.. I think it started with the (pink) torana. It seemed to have its eyes pulled back but in a much more attractive way.

    I think the VF will follow its path. Given theres not much chance the torana will become reality, they could do a lot worse than follow its ideas…

  • Andrew M

    I’d put a dollar on that headlight design for VF Crouchy.

    I wouldnt be surprised at all.

  • Wheelnut®™

    Yeah I really liked the look of the TT-36 Torana.. Not only thaat but a number of design cues & features from the TT-36 Torana which made their way into the VE; so I suspect VF will just be a further “evolution” of those ideas.

    I wonder if the LED Mood-lighting will be in the VF?

  • crouchy

    Yes it certainly seemed to be a pre-cursor didnt it… My only worry is that we havent seen a concept from the Holden camp in recent time.. Hopefully they are working on something in there!!!

    Mood lighting LOL. Maybe a TT6 will rear its head~ haha.. if only.

  • crouchy

    ^^ Forgot to mention the coupe60!!! Maybe thats coming!!! :/

  • Wheelnut®™

    The Coupe 60 is coming Crouchy – Classic Carlectables are releasing a 1:18 scale model in the next couple of months –
    I’ve already ordered mine.. not sure about the TT-36 though

  • Absi

    based on just the looks … i like the cerato … Saw cruze and it needs a little getting used to. City, looks odd from some angles ….
    if i had to choose i would go for the Kia … better warranty and cheaper than the gutless honda.

    As for Cruze i read they are planning to launch a 1.4l Turbo, in 2010 … anyone else hear the same??

  • Al Juraj

    City – needs full styling makeover
    Cruze – needs Japanese engine and gearbox
    Cerato – needs better interior materials

  • Yanzo

    i choose cerato. lol at cruze with the fuel consumption. the honda looks like the hunch back of notadam and the cruza looks like a gangster wannabe with all the chrome.

  • tekkyy

    Is that a typo?
    Cerato missed 5-star not because ANCAP tested a non-ESC mode. The score barely made 4-star.

    Its amazing how a 2009 Cerato and Barina achieves 26.63 and 24.89…when the older 2005 Yaris and 2006 Mazda 3 gets 34.95 and 32.49.

    If I had to choose I would take the Cruze. Not the tested CDX model though. I rather a $30k medium/large car than a $25k small car.

  • Brendon

    I choose the Cerato > Cruze > City

    Great looking car, strong engine, competitively priced,

    Bland Interior (cheap plastic look)
    CDX Variant looks quite nice in the metal, 5 Star ANCAP Safety Rating, Stunning Interior

    Thirsty, Smallish Engine (for weight)
    Fuel Economy

    Cost, No Market (Have not seen one on the road since the launch)

    That’s just my 2 cents.

  • Frenchie

    I’m interested on how you arrived at you fuel consumption for the test CA. I think another person may have been driving (the Cruze) when compared to the other two cars.
    If the fuel consumption came back as you suggest, then Holden is reporting a misleading figure and is breaking the law.

    I also don’t like how the “salesman like pitch” of combined fuel consumption is given in these comparisons.
    The Urban figure is a better representation of real driving. Cruze 11.1l/100km, Kia 10.6l/100km, and Honda City 8.6l/100km.

  • Sam, the original

    Ok, I will stand up for the poor shunned Honda City. I saw one only tonight on the road Brendon, a blue one. It looked very smart. It should definitely be available with stability control, that is unforgivable. However, I think people buy Hondas because they perceive the vehicle to have built in value and quality. This is how they justify paying the extra $5K to themselves when they decide against the Cerato. If a purchaser was planning to keep their new car for a long time, I would forgive them for choosing the City if only for the reason that after 10 years of motoring, not only is it likely the car will still be in terrific condition, the engine should still have plenty of life left in it. Basically, what Im saying is that a 10 year old Honda is still a nice car, where as a 10 year old Kia or Holden is past its ‘best before’ and should be handled with care.

    • jbkim1078

      Hey Sam the Original,

      Just to put some balance into your comments about 10 year old Hondas:

      I have a 9 year old Honda (almost 10 years old). It is a CRV Sports Classic. It has only done 80,000 kms and it is the biggest POS I have ever had. I wanted to get rid of it years ago, but can’t afford to. It has done low kms for a 9yo car, because I hate driving this piece of crap, and I try to drive my wife’s car when I can.

      It was a gutless noisy car from day one (I swear my hearing must be damaged by the loud tinny noise it makes constantly). It barely can make it up hills. The cargo cover never worked from the beginning as it never fitted into the slots. After 30,000kms it made this horrific squealing noise when you turn…found it was a standard problem for this model and required the diff oil to be changed….the problem is recurring and at 60,000kms it happened again (can’t wait to hit 90,000kms !). I regret having ever bought this car…and this was when they were made in Japan…now they are made in Thailand.

      My wife refused to ever have anything to do with Hondas soon after we bought this car in 2001. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have waited a short while and got the Nissan Xtrail instead.

      So, I am stuck with this POS until it falls apart (which will probably be pretty soon at the rate it is going despite only having done 80,000kms), while my wife got herself a nice replacement car 3 years ago (and it wasn’t a Honda), and it’s heaps quieter than the CRV even though she has a diesel AWD. My 7 year old son, refuses to get into my 9yo Honda CRV because he says it looks like it is going to fall apart, and it’s really noisy.

  • Alan

    Sam, i agree about the assessment of buying a Honda for longevity, but at this price, i think it’s better buying a base model Civic than the City. Civic is a better car with better engine, chassis, interior quality.

  • LancerFan

    Of them, my choice is Cruze –> It’s a crappy car but it has nailed at correct spot: safety. 5 star –> offset crash score 15.06/16.

    No, Cerato would still be 4 star with ESC. Frontal offset crash score 9/16. That’s fatal for any crash. Except safety aspect –> cerato is the best of them.

    City is just a costly clown here. City is much cheaper in country like India – but I don’t know why it is so expensive here.

    My real choice would be Lancer – value, safety, quality, warranty.


    food 4 thought guys,

    at the minute cruze is a winning thing 4 holden.the cdx looks like the big seller(at least so far),but i honestly can see the cd with a equipe pack in the not to distant future.try alloy wheels(holden now want $450 each for cd 16″,spare me)maybe fog lamps,rear sensors,leather wrap steering wheel and gear knob,for say $22-24k drive away…

  • Motorhead

    The Cruze was always going to come up with the worst fuel economy compared to a manual & a much smaller car but it’s still a fairly poor result for an all new model.
    The diesel manual really is the pick of the Cruze range, I wouldn’t say the petrol is terribly but it’s definitely a bit lacking.
    I’d like to see the Cruze & Cerato (aren’t they two of the poxiest names) compared against some of the more established cars in the classs.


    If its true that you can buy a Japanese Lancer for LESS than these Koran/Thailand made you would be made.

    I think a test of the Lance or compare it to these above is in order.


    Loaded with MORE gear, better warranty, roadside assist, longer service interval, safety pack included, cvt auto, better built and better backed as per the advert.

    Would have lapped this lot


  • PaulS

    Hmm… pardon all for my earlier ignorance when I couldn’t believe Honda City is $25,290. I guess that says it all… What an overpriced piece of mediocrity, misplaced in the current economy…

  • XR6-For Life

    Hey Peeps,

    I’ve been a Ford man all my life and would never consider downsizing to a 4 banger.

    Though that was seriously put to the test when I took my Mrs car shopping a few days back.

    As per the above review, they were right in not including the lancer in the line up as I would seriously have it up against the Mazda 6 and Honda Accord.

    We took the Lancer Aspire
    ( I think it is the model above the VRX ) out for a test drive and was amazed at how it performed. The 2.4 litre was slow off the mark but throw it into sports mode and you zoom away.

    For what was offered I would not hesitate parting my cash for it.

  • Rick

    Well if the only blight on the Cruze is performance and fuel economy get the diesel – no contest then.

    Modern interior and all the safety equipment giving 5 stars makes for a very solid package.

  • John

    So the City did 5.6 l/100k – was that what the trip computer said or was that the REAL figure as calculated by distance travelled/fuel used? The trip computer on the new Jazz/City is hopelessly optimistic, being (on my experience, with closely monitored fills and mileage) up to 11% inaccurate, and over 7% inaccurate on average, with the inaccuracy flattering the car.

    Now even if the trip computer was reasonably accurate, it could still have around a 2% margin of error, but 7% is way too high.

  • FrugalOne

    Andrew M^^^^

    “Agree with most,
    But my bang for your buck would go to the Lancer.
    If you cant afford dropping a couple of features or increasing your budget”

    Errr, the Lancer already has MORE equipment and currently being sold for less than the other inferior 3.

    Based on that the Lancer is EASILY the best V/F/M on the market at the low $20’s DRIVEAWAY



  • Andrew M

    CA have tested the diesel Cruze and its summed up as not being the best drive train in diesel guise either.
    From memory economy came in at near 9L too!!!!!

  • Andrew M

    Thats exactlly what I said, Thanks for the echo.

    I was talking in reference to the Mazda 3.
    I said if you cant afford to stretch the budget further or sacrifice a couple of extras, then the Lancer satisfies because it is in the price range of these 3 and has good kit. But in saying that, price points aside, the 3 is easily the class leader

    I will question you though, if you say the Lancer has more kit, does it now come with the extra airbags standard???
    Previously the ES only got 3 bags standard.

  • Andrew M

    I have just re-read and have seen how you must have interpereted what i said.

  • Bavarian Missile®™

    Well I guess the Cruze should have worse fuel efficiency,smaller engine heavier car and from my experience auto cars are thirstier on fuel than manuals,which the Cerato is.

  • FrugalOne


    The Lancer ES has 3 airbags as std. a option for a further 4 [total of 7] is $800 extra.

    It has traction control, stability control, trip computer etc all as std. while the others its optional, and in haondas case, not even available.

    Hope that clears it up.

    Oh, and “Made In Japan” best warranty and back up to boot!



    PS On the Mitsu. website they have them for $20,880 driveaway and then “09 runout model” so a new [improved?] MY10 must be getting released soon?

  • John

    Sorry, a bit off-topic, but: I’d agree with the comments about the Lancer being good value, and with good levels of standard equipment. But, when I test drove one, it was so noisy! The road noise was very bad. I know noise is subjective – do others think the Lancer is noisier than the opposition?

  • FrugalOne


    *Maybe* this alleged issue has been adressed [i think?]

    Sent a email to MMA and just got this reply:

    “We acknowledge receipt of your enquiry regarding the new Mitsubishi Lancer.

    With regard to the upgraded Lancer, which will be released later this year, there will be slight specification changes.”

    They never said what is going to change, maybe C/A can shine some light in this area?



  • Andrew M

    that clears nothing up……. in fact it confuses your point further

    Damn right the extra bags are only 800 bucks extra, but then they arent exactlly standard are they????

    Cruze has the bags and stability control as standard whereas you imply they arent…..

  • Frontman

    John I have to agree with you, the Lancer did not impress me with it’s road manners or vocal sound track either. If money was the Discerning factor and I had to get the most for my dollar I would struggle to go past runnout LT Focus CL, no thrills and WAAAY down on equipment but at under 19K drive away it’s the best driver (manual) or if driving wasn’t the be all, and I was looking a transport and room then but ugly Tiida wins. Of the tested three I probably lean towards the Kia, as it seems the better overall package.

    • vince

      ‘vocal sound track’…what a childish bogan saying.

  • Andrew M

    they were doing the CL with frre alloys, safety pack and a couple of other goodies for that coin not so long ago. not sure if it still comes with that.

    Either way 19K is good value for a car of its calibre.

    Still, I would probably tick 8K worth of boxes on a Focus before buying a Kia badge even though it seems a little fresher.
    I just cant help but feel the Cerato would be a bigger hit with at least a Hyundai badge on it

  • mad max

    I’m not sure how CA came up with the fuel economy for the Cruze. The car I drove had around 2’500K’s on the clock and it was showing a combined average of 7.8L/100. I drove it for 190kms and gave it a good test and took it back with it showing 8.0/100. I spoke to the sales guys and they said that it had been give a bit of a thrash since being put on the demo fleet, all of which was in and around the suburbs bar one drive to Warragul and back where it averaged 6.5/100 after having the trip computer re-set. I would only assume that it would improve with more “k’s” up. I have read plenty of local and overseas reports that show much better economy. The end result of the drive is that a new Cruze will sit in my sisters driveway in 6 weeks time.
    Tried to convince her to wait until later in the year when the new 1.4 turbo engine is released but she liked it so much, she had to have one. Like yesterday!
    Believe me it is a good car. Much better than a Corolla, City or Cerato.

  • Byron

    Interesting Comparison. I’d class City as a light car. But Cerato is certainly good looking. But Holden Cruze tops it. Better than a Corolla thats 4 sure. My friend has a 2009 Corolla sedan & it looks awful. Lines all over the place. Toyota couldn’t give a stuff really.

    Holden Cruze looks really good inside & great outside. Holden always manage 2 take great attractive pics of their cars. It is selling, i know. Out of stock in some areas. Just the petrol engine is the only con. Once its made in Australia & has its facelift & 1.4 Turbo, it will soar. I don’t really care thats its made in Korea. Get over it. I’m sick of ppl not liking it cause its made in Korea. Can’t change it. Just accept it. Its 1 of the best cars to come out of Korea EVER! Go HOLDEN :)

    BTW I’d rather any other small car to lead other than Corolla. F%$KING UGLY.

  • zahmad

    I’m with you Byron!

  • FrugalOne

    Life has just got a LOT more difficult for this trio, you can currently buy private buyer market-leader Corolla [most of the time] BigT[tm.F-0] in auto driveaway for $24k!

    Koreans are DREAMING, this lot needs to be loaded [ie up spec.model] auto/driveaway for UNDER $20k, only a fool would buy one of these over a Japanese legend such as the Corolla at the price they are offering it.

    Once again a bit of a nod for the Lancer due to its MY09 run out status.




    hang on frugal one,

    24k corolla(with how many bags,no esp,no cruise,no auto lights,smaller boot,no rear powerdows etc)vrs 26k cruze(and lets face in,cruze is nicer inside than corolla).be fair now(and yes,i believe holden are making good coin on every one)…

  • Frontman

    F-O why would you chose the darling of the four cylinder fleet world with Equal road dynamics to the three tested here with ludicrously small boot area and poor equipment levels (comparatively) over these three vehicles?? Don’t give me the resale resale resale argument because the amount of ex renter and Govco Fleet Corolla’s comming back onto the market is driving them down in exactly the same way it did to th 6’s.
    The Kia has more room better performance and more equipment and when driving the two back to back the KIA drives better.

  • FrugalOne


    Noted your comments and seem spot on.

    The Corolla will sell because its a BigT[tm.F-0] Corolla and is great vehicle for what your paying.

    But yeah, no class leader, and almost pov.pack in what you get.

    Once again, Made In Japan Mitsubishi Lancer ES [sedan/hatch] $20,880 DRIVEAWAY for a fully loaded quality vehcicle is the star buy ATM, better than any of this Korean/Thailand 3, and CHEAPER to boot!

    NO idea what they are like or drive like, ask me after this Saturday a/noon!

    Be great to know about the MY10 coming out in August, any news C/A?



  • Andrew M

    The Lancer is a great drive. Some on here have complained of poor road noise, but I never noticed it to be bad let alone worth noticing.

    The only performance cross it gets is for the CVT auto box.
    It just feels sluggish, but in saying that its 0-100 time is what you expect from the class anyway. On the upside it returns great economy in comparison to others

    The only one with any feel of get up and go in Auto is the Mazda 3. It was already quite punchy in the old gen, and since they have upgraded the inlet and a couple of other things, its notably punchier again.

    Lancer is good value, I agree 100% with you on that


    had a brief look at this months wheels mag giant small car comparison(11 cars).tiida last,lancer and corolla down low,cruze forth(everyone thinks its quiet but sluggy)focus third(but noisy,mismatched auto)mazda second(noisy)golf 1st(but big money)

    now given mazda and corolla are the buy car leaders,its a safe bet that cruze will sell in good numbers to the holden faithfull.i have a BIG question mark over its fuel consumption.1.8lts,1500kg tare,7.5ltrs average(auto)i think not…

  • http://skyline The Salesman.

    It doesn’t seem to matter how many cogs are in the box when it comes to economy or hill climbing so why the fuss about the Cerato’s four forward gears? IMO more gears mean more shifting around, I don’t like how a six speed is always hunting around for a gear, don’t forget the driver has the ability to hold a gear for as long as they like if need be.

  • vikaram

    I bought this car A STAR VXI one month back. It gives me good mileage, comfort, easiness in driving. It is an ideal vehicle for middle class families. EPS, integrated audio system, power windows on all 4 doors, remote fuel lid opener, boot opener, effective A/C ample power, contemporary style and FE makes this vehicle ideal.

  • david

    The sooner you people get rid of your childish badge snobbery over koreon made cars the better ther is nothing wrong with hyundai and kia vehicles they have worked hard to get acceptance in this country and i say well done to them I own a kia and i will be buying another one so stick that in your pipe and smoke it””

  • Shak

    Why is the city in this comparison. Its a jazz sized offering and does not compete in the small car class. Its a light car. Fair enough its priced almost the same as the others but no where near competitive with the others.

  • Raize

    I cannot understand why the Honda City is being compared to the Cruze and the Cerato. The Cruze is the obvious standout here as the other two are in another class.
    Now, what would happen if we compared apples with apples?
    Say, the Holden Cruze with the Mazda 3, the Honda Civic Sport and the Mitsubishi Lancer??
    For mine, the Civic Sport in front of the Mazda 3, then a mile back the Lancer and the Cruze… all things considered, including resale value.

  • Damien

    Would love to see a test of the Holden Cruze SRI-V, The mitsubishi Lancer Aspire, toyota Corolla Ultima, Mazda 3 in Automatic. All seem to have the same fit out, all seem to be around the same price, but they have never been tested agains’t each other and if i was in the market, they would be the sort of vehicles i would be looking at and im sure many others.

  • http://DAMI333 DEMIENS


  • Abdul Samad

    what a car mannnnnnnnnn cerato is best then oher car

  • Abdul Samad

    cerato is nice car

  • Murad Hussain

    i test both Cerato and Cruze, in my opinion the Cerato is light in weight and have less grip than the Cruze, the Cruze is wide with very nice design of both interior and exterior, but it has poor power. Cruze should have at least 2.0L to so on, in case of Cerato…it has very nice exterior design but the interior design should be improved, it has nice power according to its body weight, Over All Both are my Favorite.