• Top 5 highlights from AJAC Canadian Car of the Year, Day 1

    If the Small Car Category at TestFest is any indication, hatchbacks seem to be continuing the path to mass profits for their manufacturers,
    • Small Car Category
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    While they’ve been slowly popularizing themselves in a big way for the last five years or so, hatchbacks seem to be continuing the path to mass profits for their manufacturers, if the Small Car Category at TestFest is any indication. Of the five cars that make up the group, three are outright hatches while one is a bit of an anomaly, but remains a hatch at heart.

    ALSO READ: AJAC’s Testfest returns for another year

    Small Car Category

    Day 2 Highlights

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    • Small Car Category Cruze
    1

    The 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback’s looks and interior

    The Europeans have had one of these pretty much since the Cruze debuted in 2008. Now that GM, like so many other manufacturers today, is developing new “world cars” – that is to say cars that vary little from market to market – it’s our turn to experience what a Cruze hatch can offer. Which, as it turns out, is quite a lot. All manner of tech – from Apple Carplay to heated seats – is offered as standard, as well as sporty 16’” alloy wheels and turbo power. $24,645, meanwhile, gets you a Premier trim with gorgeous nut brown leather seating and interior trim. It’s styled well, the driver position is right on and the 1.4L turbo four-banger is smooth, smooth, smooth.
    Also Read: Chevrolet hatches a new Cruze model
    • Small Car Category Spark
    2

    The 2017 Chevrolet Spark Hatchback’s zippy handling

    You lose the turbo power with the Cruze’s junior sibling, but the 1.4L four you do get is keen to rev and delivers some surprisingly brisk acceleration. Being a light, short-wheelbase platform, you get a robust handling package as well, albeit one that can get a little bouncy. Tech on offer is similar to that which is seen in the Cruze, and you can even option a Wifi hotspot.
    Also Read: Firing up the Spark for 2016
    • Small Car Category MINI
    3

    The 2017 Mini Cooper Clubman’s…everything

    The hatch that sort of isn’t that we referred to in the intro remains one of our favorite Minis, this side of the John Cooper Works and GP hatches, of course. The Clubman now has five (well, six, if you count the dual rear doors) proper doors, as opposed to four-and-a-half as it once did. So it has the practicality (and the way the dual barn doors swing smoothly and weightily open must be seen to be believed) to go with the outstanding powertrain, that takes the rest of the Small Car category to the cleaners in the handling and performance department. Looks good, too, with its blacked-out wheels and all.
    Also Read: MINI John Cooper Works Clubman bows in Paris
    • Small Car Category Forester
    4

    The 2017 Subaru Forester’s off-road chops

    When it comes to this particular Scooby – and this should come as no surprise – it’s all about its abilities off the beaten track. Part of testing the SUVs at TestFest involves an off-road segment with steep climbs, descents and squishy, muddy terrain. The Forester clawed through all of this with nary a complaint; when heading downhill, activating ”X-Mode” with the push of a button activates hill-descent control— meaning you can focus on steering inputs as you descend. Then, when it comes time to climb, Subaru’s top-tier AWD tech makes it a breeze. It really feels like it can’t be stopped.
    Also Read: Forester still defines the compact CUV
  • The 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid’s EV mode…off road

    It seems hard to believe, but Toyota’s popular, massively-selling crossover only just got hybridized for 2017; with Toyota/Lexus’ penchant for adding hybrid versions to their most popular models – the Camry, Highlander, RX Series, ES Series – you’d think the Rav would be a shoe-in. At any rate, it’s here now and not only does Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive tech remain one of the best in the biz when it comes to efficiency, with the RAV4, you get added practicality as well. We took it on the same off-road course we did the Forester and to our surprise, it handled all but the steepest grade in full-EV mode. That’s no small feat, considering the stress the powertrain’s under in these situations.
    Also Read: Toyota brings a hybrid to the RAV4 lineup

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