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Administrator, Resident Tater Salad
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The Civic would be last for me because it's ugly and I can't stand to look at them.

The Cruze would be 3rd, the Mazda 3 2nd, and the Golf first.

If I were to buy a hatchback, it would because I wanted a car that was somewhat fun to drive and toss around, yet still practical in DD duty. The Mazda 3 and Golf are just much more fun to drive than a Cruze.

I would actually love to own a Golf, but I've heard all of the VW reliability horror stories from friends...and I don't want that.

Now, in terms of small sedans, the Cruze is within the top 2-3 out there...not because it's fun to drive (it isn't, really), but for all the features and refinement it offers.
 

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Administrator, Resident Tater Salad
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My hatch is fun to drive, just a little under the curve power wise in stock trim.
Yours has what the hatchback should have stock - a more "fun" engine option/more aggressive tune. Honda does different levels of tune between certain models of their 1.5T; Chevrolet is even doing it with theirs (Malibu/Equinox). Give the hatch something more exciting like a 1.4 HO or a 1.6T and it would justify it more to the market I think they're aiming for.

Having not driven a hatchback, is the suspension tuning any different from the sedan? The LT sedan suspension/tire setup is VERY comfort oriented. Which isn't a bad selling point, but it could also be tweaked to be more "fun" as a selling point too. It's a good handling little chassis, especially with the weight being < 3000 now.
 
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