Compact There are plenty of makes and models to choose from in the best-value compact category, but one car that stands out for its practicality is the five-door Honda Jazz (HK$159,880). Car of choice for rental companies around the world, the latest Jazz is deceptively spacious thanks to Honda's 'forward shifted' body - where the windscreen has been brought forward and integrated with a panoramic sunroof - which lends the cabin an airy feel and helps to optimise legroom front and rear. The ergonomically designed cabin has a flexible layout, which allows the rear seats to split and fold flat - backwards to create extra luggage space internally or forward for more space at the rear. The Jazz seats five and has decent luggage space for a compact, while proving frugal around town or on long hauls. While its no road monster, the Jazz manages to remain entertaining to drive and prefers gentle acceleration to maximise its fuel efficiency - which makes it perfectly suited to Hong Kong's slow traffic speeds. Sedan When it comes to buying the best-value sedan, you might be wary about forking out a cool half million, but that's still good value for the latest generation Mercedes E-class. While there are very capable sedans that can be had for under HK$300,000, the new range of Es comes with some built-in advantages from the off. Whether you choose a sedan (HK$460,000 for the E250CGI Elegance), coupe (HK$550,000) or estate (HK$536,000), each model carries hi-tech safety features until now seen only in luxury S-Class Mercs. For example, a new adaptive braking system includes a dry-braking function where brief braking impulses skim off the layer of water formed on the brake discs in wet driving conditions, so that if needed the brakes can act with full effect. Adaptive brake lights show following traffic that an emergency stop is taking place if the driver brakes suddenly, while a new E-Class option includes radar and camera technology that 'senses' road conditions ahead and warns the driver. So, the new E-class is safe, nice to look at and good to drive - but Mercedes' Blue Efficiency models also manage to turn out some of the most impressive emissions figures of any sedan around. For example, the 1.8-litre E250CGI Blue Efficiency model meets Euro 5 emissions standards and cuts fuel consumption by over 20 per cent compared with its predecessor - 7.3 litres/100km combined, with CO2 emissions as low as 174g/km. If you're still not convinced this shows value for money, consider this: Mercedes have long been regarded as a sort of automotive currency in Hong Kong, which will help to ensure rock-solid resale value. SUV When it comes to choosing the best-value SUV, there's a surfeit of models and a baffling array of crossovers and specialist 4x4s to take into account. If you're in the market for a genuine off-roader, meaty mud-sliders like the Toyota Landcruiser or Land Rover Range Rover will certainly serve you well, but they're not cheap to buy or run - and hardly practical propositions for the city. The Land Rover Freelander 2 (HK$430,000) currently remains the best SUV around, combining genuine off-road capability with city-friendly proportions - but it's due to be replaced next year by the sharper Land Rover LRX. If you don't have the budget for the Freelander and still want a capable old-guard 4x4 that can get you through the slippy stuff, then the Mitsubishi Outlander is a similarly named, similarly capable SUV, and a snip at HK$265,000. Just don't expect the Freelander's smooth, quiet delivery and high residual values. But our choice for the most flexible SUV suited to Hong Kong driving is Nissan's city-friendly urban crossover, the Qashqai (HK$236,800). Looking something like a scaled-down Cayenne, the Qashqai not only lacks the leviathan dimensions and price tag of Porsche's uber-4x4, but when Nissan Japan teamed up with its European counterparts, Nissan Design Europe, it set about creating the antithesis of the Cayenne - a green SUV for the city. The Qashqai combines some of the most useful features of an SUV - high ground clearance (some 200mm), a raised line of sight and extra headroom - with sedan-like handling and generous equipment levels as standard. The Qashqai is easy to drive and shows surprisingly sprightly performance and cornering around town, and comes with an extensive list of safety features as standard - including ABS, brake assist, and electronic brake-force distribution. It also notched up the highest score for safety in its class, achieving a Euro NCAP five-star safety rating. However you describe the Qashqai - an urban 4x4, a hatchback SUV or a compact crossover - Nissan has created an economical, easy-to-handle SUV that lives up to the hype. Sports car If you're looking for the best-value sports car, there are of course plenty of sharp suitors for your money on the market today. German offerings such as BMW's 135i pocket rocket stand out from the crowd, as does Mercedes' sinisterly overpowered C63 AMG - and there are plenty of Porsche options to consider also. But there's one sports car that stands out from the rest this year, and it is Japanese: the Nissan 370Z roadster (HK$639,000). Based on the latest generation 370Z coupe - with its shorter wheelbase, reduced weight and lusty 3.7-litre engine - the new convertible Z offers the same deft handling and acceleration as the tin-top but with an alfresco interior. With dramatic, flowing lines, the 370Z's long-nose-to-short-cockpit proportions blend linear styling cues from the Nissan GT with fluid curves reminiscent of the Datsun 240Zs from the 1970s. The interior features trimmed hide, large sport dials, aluminium pedals and an eight-speaker Bose sound system. The seats have internal air conditioning, and the convertible's fully automatic soft top takes just 20 seconds to retract. On the road, the roadster is appealing with its urgent - and vocal - V6 propelling you forward with eye-popping acceleration ? la GT-R. The seven-speed automatic transmission, which features a manual shift mode with downshift rev matching and adaptive shift control, is the star of the show, making deft work of channelling the linear thrust from the V6 down to the tarmac. Better still, the system works so seamlessly that you can flick between automatic and manual modes at any speed. The 370Z is technically refined, great to look at, rewarding to drive and surprisingly good value. Whether in coupe or roadster form, the 370Z delivers nearly all the thrill of Nissan's monster GT-R - minus the fear factor - for about half the money. Hot Hatch Our pick for the best-value hot hatch could have been the excellent new VW Golf GTi (HK$318,000), but the Alfa MiTo (HK$189,800 to HK$219,800) is a more charming prospect with its mix of good looks, willing performance and pocket-book price tag. The MiTo is Alfa's most compact three-door, at just four metres long, and comes with three levels of specifications. The entry-level Progression model sports 16-inch alloys and a stylish interior combining a distinctively crafted dashboard, sports seats and quality fabric seats (HK$189,800). An extra HK$10,000 buys you the mid-range Sport version, aluminium pedals and kick plates, bi-xenon headlamps, red brake calipers, 17-inch alloys and a rear spoiler - while the Premium package (HK$219,800) adds a smart leather interior and extras like a fire prevention system and rain sensors. All models boast Alfa Romeo's DNA transmission, which gives the MiTo its characteristic sporty zing. In Normal mode, the MiTo is nimble around town, with the DNA system maintaining the standard vehicle stability setting but sharpening up the power steering to correct oversteer. In Dynamic mode, the engine torque curve changes for a prompter throttle response, pushing more power to the front wheels while the power steering firms up to a heavier weighting, giving a tighter turn-in. The turbocharged, 1.4-litre engine is punchy and - much in the spirit of sporting Alfas - enjoys being revved hard. In Dynamic mode especially, the MiTo is a blast to drive. Its light kerb weight (1,145kg) and turbocharged low- to mid-range pull are bolstered by an impressive chassis. Don't listen to the purists, the MiTo is 100 per cent Alfa Romeo: fast, agile - and now - affordable.