Suzuki Alto, Nissan Tiida, Mazda3, Audi A3 video reviews

CarAdvice is rolling out a baker’s dozen new video reviews this week, starting with four cars from the booming light and small car segments: the Suzuki Alto, the Nissan Tiida, the Mazda3 and the Audi A3.

What better place to start than with the most inexpensive new car on the market: the Suzuki Alto.

The Alto was launched in Australia in August 2009 and since then it has established itself as the Japanese brand’s second-most popular car, after the Swift.

In its first full year on sale, 4077 Altos were sold, making up 3.0 percent of the light car segment. Officially competing in the same segment as the Swift, the two tiniest Suzukis accounted for an impressive 11.9 percent of the light car segment in Australia in 2010.

Despite its low price, the Alto represents tremendous value, with the entry-level Alto GL offering six airbags, ESC, a combined cycle fuel consumption of 4.7 litres/100km for an $11,990 driveaway price.

Next on the list is the Nissan Tiida, the car that was launched in 2006 as a replacement for the ever-popular Pulsar. In 25 years on sale in Australia, Nissan sold around 370,000 Pulsar vehicles.

After exactly five years in Australia, the Tiida has managed around 46,000 sales. It enjoyed its best year in 2007 when it achieved a Pulsar-like result of 13,756, but by 2010 that figure had dropped to 5491 units as the Tiida aged and the small car competition intensified.

With prices starting at $17,990 for the entry-level Tiida ST hatch and sedan, the little Japanese is one of the most inexpensive ways into the small car segment.

From one Japanese small car to another, next we have the Mazda3: the most popular vehicle among private buyers in Australia.

Last year Mazda sold a whopping 39,003 Mazda3, making up almost half of the marque’s total sales in Australia. It is currently fighting a great battle with the Toyota Corolla to be the most popular small car in the country, and in January 2011 these two cars alone accounted for 35.0 percent of the small car segment.

With a choice of four different engines, six different variants and prices ranging from $21,330 for the Neo sedan and hatch to $41,915 for the MPS Luxury hatch, Mazda has proved there is something for everyone in its smiley-faced range.

Finally today we have the Audi A3: a premium vehicle in the small car segment. With prices starting at $36,400 for the A3 Attraction model (three Altos/two Tiidas plus change) and scaling all the way to $70,900 for the top-spec S3, the A3 has established itself as the most popular car in Australia’s small premium segment.

Last year it controlled 25.4 percent of the segment, narrowly beating the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and the MINI Cooper.

Is it really more than $10,000 better than the Volkswagen Golf? Last year, 1975 people said ‘yes’.

Remember to check back in on Wednesday when we release another four reviews from the medium and large car segments.

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