Jazz vs Yaris vs Polo
I recently test drove these three cars, and I thought I'd briefly share my thoughts, might be useful for someone out there trying to make up their mind. I drove:
2005 Honda Jazz 1.4
2004 Toyota Yaris 1.3 VVT-i
2005 VW Polo 1.2 (65PS - the old shape with the round headlights).
They all set out to do pretty much the same thing - a practical small car that can be had for less than £5000 with reasonable mileage on the clock, and is cheap to run and insure.
Behind the wheel
The Jazz is the clear winner here. Good driving position, good visibility, the dash layout is excellent and all the controls are in the right place and easy to use.
The Polo is pretty good too. I suffered a bit being tall (the steering wheel was virtually on my lap) but most people will be fine. Good visibility again, the wing mirrors were a bit small, all the controls well laid out and easy to reach.
The Yaris. Well, not bad, but I didn't get on with the centre console thing. I don't know, maybe you get used to it, but I think the closer essential dials are to your line of vision the better. I don't like having to hunt for it and it being a distraction from the road. Otherwise all the controls felt good.
I've probably commented on the Jazz before, having had it as a courtesy car a couple of times. Well, it's easy to drive, and that's probably the biggest compliment you can make about it but i think the steering is terrible. It's very hard to have much of a feel what's going on, or execute maneuvers with any degree of speed. I don't like it much and I didn't care for the brakes much either. It's not too bad off the mark in terms of speed, but the engine feels like it runs out of power quickly. Hard ride too. The gearbox is nice and crisp though. Fine for the city, but I don't think this is ever a car you can look forward to driving if you enjoy your driving.
The Yaris is quite nice to drive. It feels plenty nippy (i even managed to inadvertently spin the wheels pulling away!), the brakes work well, handling is pretty decent despite some body roll. Only average marks for the steering though (feels too light) and the gearbox, plus the clutch action is very short and light, I prefer something with a bit more weight. Good, I enjoyed driving it.
The Polo is the clear star here. Despite being slowest of these three on paper (0-60 in 14.4 seconds) you didn't notice it because it drives so nicely! The engine feels like it has power in the right places, the steering is nicely weighted and feel is excellent, the brakes are good, the gearstick has a nice action, it grips well despite some body roll again. The ride quality is excellent. Genuinely fun to drive!
What more can I say about the Jazz's interior layout. Superb! Lots of space for everything up front, loads of room in the back, boot space galore, great folding seats. Very very very practical. Brilliant design!
The Yaris isn't bad either. The dash area has lots of storage space, legroom in the back is a bit tight, as is getting in (I drove a 3-door), boot space is small but the seats do a neat trick sliding forward and so you can get some usable space.
The Polo is a bit weak here. The's a parcel shelf type thing up front but it's a bit impractical and looks like an afterthought. Getting in the back worked ok (also a 3-door) but it's also a bit tight. Boot space is adequate but has none of the flexibility of the other two. That said, it seats four in relative comfort and has enough boot space for the shopping.
While these cars all sold around the same price originally, as used cars there's quite a bit of spread in prices. The Jazz is far and away the most expensive car here - it's residual value has held up very well. Good for new buyers, bad for secondhand. The car I saw was over a grand more than the cheapest (the polo), and this is consistent with Parker's used price guide. The Yaris comes next, about £500 cheaper than the Jazz and £500 more than the Polo.
Another thing in the polo's favour is the long service intervals - 2 years or 20,000miles, as opposed to both the Yaris and Jazz which will need a service every year.
This is significant in the grand scheme of things, because all three cars cost the same to insure and tax, and similar fuel economy means they might burn around £600 of fuel a year doing 6000miles of city/mixed driving. So, total cost of ownership for 6000miles/year works out roughly 33p/mile Polo, 36p/mile Yaris, 38p/mile Jazz (making some assumptions about insurance/servicing cost/depreciation).
All three are good cars, but none is perfect. I think it basically boils down to what you want out of it:
Best to drive: Polo
Best practicality: Jazz
Best all-rounder: Yaris
Image: Polo (both the Jazz and the Yaris are typically driven by pensioners, through no fault of their own! The Polo is a good looking little car)
Reliability: Well, I don't really know, but I'd be very surprised if the Jazz or Yaris had a major problem, I'd be a little less surprised if the Polo had one but I still wouldn't expect it.
Maybe there's a better compromise out there?!