What I meant to say was the lowest spec 2.5; the true base model in NZ is the 2.0.
I can see you on the ‘subjective’, but not the irrational. Some people don’t give a shit what their products feel like to use, but for others it does impact product satisfaction. Personally I am very irritated by rattles, given our common coarse chip roads cause a lot of vibrations which bring them out in your typical Japanese car. I feel like I am willing to sacrifice some reliability and feature set for an improved user experience in other regards.
Sticker prices for the aforementioned compacts are (keeping in mind some brands are more amenable to discounts than others):
- Toyota Corolla: $27,990 (I think this is a temporary sale price)
- Mazda3 2.5: $38,395
- Holden Astra hatch: R $30,990; RS $33,990; RS-V $36,990
- Astra sedan: $29,490
- VW Golf: $33,990
The Astra RS is by far the biggest bang for your buck in terms of engine power (147 kW; 200 PS) and feature set, if you can set aside concerns about Opel/GM (which is admittedly difficult), especially since the local dealer already quoted me a price of $32,440 before any haggling.
FTR Polos have a $20,990 sticker price at the moment, with only the base Suzuki Swift having a lower price among subcompact/superminis with a manual trans ($19,990). I believe the normal price when the new Polo comes in will be a couple grand more, which places it squarely in line with the Kia Rio (spec comparison is unknown, of course, although base Rio has pretty modest spec so I’d be surprised if the Polo goes under it).
Also, an aside for people unfamiliar with the NZ car market: we don’t get true poverty spec new cars here like Europe because used Japanese imports are a far better financial proposition for a cheap reliable car. We also subsequently don’t get many factory options, they just chuck a bunch in for ‘free’ at each spec level, so our base models are roughly equivalent to a mid-spec in Europe.