Six right

N ure one of a strikingly large number of positive comments on the new peugeot 208: "it looks casual". Even statements like "the clio has never been so smart" hardly surprising. And the new opel corsa has also exchanged its conventional look for a visually snazzy body. Small cars are no longer only for two people or only for short distances to use. Hardly any model today has an exterior length of less than four meters. even families with one child can manage with the space of a small car in the meantime. Especially in intensively parked urban areas, small cars represent the sensible option. And increasingly comfortable suspensions take the fear out of longer journeys such as the one from vienna to salzburg.

We took six of the latest small cars to the oAMTC fahrtechnik zentrum in teesdorf for a comparative test. These include the two brand-new PSA Group models opel corsa and peugeot 208, the also fresh renault clio as well as the hyundai i20 and the two bestsellers škoda fabia and VW polo. All six small cars have modern three-cylinder gasoline engines with one or 1.2 liters of displacement under the hood, four of which have 100 hp, while the fabia and polo each have five hp less.

Sixth: hyundai i20

The korean is convincing in terms of handling and space, but weakens in braking.

6 plenty of space, easy to use, great gears, weak brakes. Visually, the hyundai, which was developed in germany, is fairly inconspicuous, but it can score points with its interior values. the space is decent, the workmanship is of a high standard. For those who prefer classic instruments, the i20 with its large speedometer and tachometer is the perfect choice. The simple and logical operation deserves top marks, as does the gearshift: precise and smooth – gear changes should be just like in the hyundai. Another positive feature: android auto and apple carplay are standard on board. In addition, it offers the longest warranty among the comparison test candidates: five yearswithout mileage limit. The 100 hp three-cylinder engine is also powerful enough on the highway, but is anything but quiet when it comes to noise, especially at higher engine speeds. The hyundai’s chassis makes it difficult to drive comfortably: it understeers heavily and passes on bad roads to its occupants quite unfiltered. The standard equipment is good, but cannot be upgraded with individual options, only with the next higher equipment level. If you want automatic air conditioning or emergency brake assist, for example, you have to choose more expensive equipment – but that’s only available with more powerful or weaker engines.

Video: hyundai i20

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Fifth: opel corsa

The sixth generation is the first with French genes under the sheet metal.

5 independence, fine engine, many safety assistants, expensive. The first corsa rolled off the production line back in 1982. After decades under the GM umbrella, opel now belongs to the French PSA group. It’s only logical that the new corsa is the technical brother of the peugeot 208. Nevertheless, it retains its visual uniqueness, both inside and out. The rear end is reminiscent of the astra, but opel fans don’t have to relearn anything in the cockpit. Both radio volume and temperature are set via rotary controls, the instruments are visible through the steering wheel (and not over it like in the peugeot). However, the quality of the materials and their workmanship is somewhat behind that of the peugeot. Space: the interior is noticeably narrower than the most spacious of the field, the polo, by a full ten centimeters. the opel is fun to drive: the smooth-running three-cylinder engine delivers good performance, while the shorter six-speed transmission also benefits the car’s pulling power. Praise is due to the good equipment with safety assistants: emergency braking assistant, traffic sign and drowsiness detection, active lane departure warning, front camera with pedestrian detection – all already included in the basic equipment. In terms of price, the corsa is at the upper end of the comparison candidates. But it shines in the "elegance" trim level already with LED headlights.

Video: opel corsa

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Third (ex aequo): renault clio

The french car has improved greatly in quality and is generously equipped. And it’s smart, too.

3 standard equipment, fine materials, quiet but ponderous engine. It is the brand’s undisputed top seller, the clio. No fewer than 15 million of the first four model generations have been sold since 1990. It is therefore all the more important that the new model also meets customers’ tastes. And to come straight to the point: it looks good, because the small french car has never been of such high quality. The body shape is largely based on the predecessor, but the current brand-typical headlights and larger taillights make the clio look more grown-up. Although it even shrank minimally in dimensions. The interior of the clio has made a real leap forward. The former plastic landscape of the cockpit has fortunately given way to high-quality materials. Operation is easier and more logical than ever, thanks to easy-to-grip buttons and a large, clearly arranged touchscreen. Downside: the interior width in both rows of seats is up to eleven centimeters narrower than in some of the other test candidates. The clio deserves praise for its comfortable chassis and the smooth-running three-cylinder petrol engine. But it shows little temperament, especially in its elasticity. Flawless: four-year warranty.

Video: renault clio

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Third (ex aequo): škoda fabia

The little Czech is a sensible car through and through – and does (almost) everything right.

3 affordable, easy to use, crisp gearshift, short warranty. The fabia is not an emotional type. Its sharp-edged sheet-metal body isn’t as sleek and eye-catching as those from other manufacturers, but the czech still looks anything but boring. The interior is also relatively sober. But the fabia convinces like no other test candidate with its enormous user-friendliness. ­everything is where you’d expect it to be, every handle is in place, all buttons and knobs are large and well labeled. Only a few larger storage compartments would be nice. The space available for the occupants is solid, although the fabia is around five centimeters shorter than the other test candidates. The front seats are comfortable and long-distance friendly, in the second row the too short leg rest is a nuisance. Practical: the low loading edge of the impeccably spacious luggage compartment. Like the other five small cars, the fabia is powered by a three-cylinder gasoline engine. The engine is especially growly at higher revs and, like the clio powerplant, dispassionate. Road damage penetrates more deeply into the vehicle interior than in the other five small cars. Good: the braking performance. The fabia is also convincing with the lowest price, the lowest monthly costs and a solid standard equipment.

video: škoda fabia

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Second: VW polo

The wolfsburg is not the top seller among small cars for nothing. Still it does not win.

2 largest space, very economical, leanly equipped, short warranty. No question, the VW polo is the benchmark among small cars. For decades, the wolfsburg car has consistently remained among the top 5 best-selling cars in austria. its look is as simple and unagitated as ever. Many call the VW design boring, others sustainable. but the fact is that the polo has a lot of strengths. Especially inside. None of the six test candidates offers its passengers more space in the two rows of seats. The generously dimensioned and comfortable seats also convey the feeling of a higher class of vehicle. Even the trunk is a little roomier than in all the candidates. flawless, typical of the group: well thought-out and absolutely simple operation. incomprehensible: only in the polo does the smartphone connection for android auto or apple carplay have to be paid for an extra 202 euros. The 95 hp, one-liter three-cylinder engine is impeccably damped, delivers solid performance, and is gratifyingly one thing above all: with 5.5 l/100 km on the auto touring fuel consumption lap, it is the most economical gasoline engine in the comparative test. Downer: the relatively long braking distance. really good for it: the crisp and exact gearshift. Price wise only the škoda fabia is cheaper, but the equipment of the polo is meagre. And the warranty only lasts two years.

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