Can you recommend a car as good as our ancient 2002 Corolla Ascent auto wagon? It has done 400,000km and is still going strong. We live close to the freeway and do lots of highway kilometres. There are few wagons out there and I’m not interested in VWs or hatches. May have to buy second-hand, for better choices, and may have to settle for a sedan.
You’re right about the lack of small wagons. Once, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Hyundai all had quality contenders in this segment. But if you don’t want a VW, the only new-car choice out there is the Peugeot 308 wagon, unless you are able to step up a class to a mid-size wagon such as the Mondeo or Mazda6. A late-model used car could be a wise choice.
Hyundai i30 wagon, about $30,000 drive-away
The Hyundai wagon has been discontinued but there are 2015 demonstrators around with very low kilometres for a reasonable price. You can even get a diesel version, which would prove economical for those highway drives. It has all the mod-cons, including a USB socket and Bluetooth, as well as a five-star crash rating and seven airbags. The auto is a dual-clutch seven-speed and the 1.6-litre diesel is impressive, with almost twice the torque of your Corolla. It also uses about a third less fuel, claiming 4.8L/100km. Servicing is good value at $867 for three years.
Peugeot 308 Touring, from $34,689
If your heart’s set on a brandspanker and you want to stay with a small wagon, the Peugeot’s the only real choice. It’s a good thing — the cabin is a triumph of simplicity, with easy to use controls and a dashboard uncluttered by buttons. The turbo is a sweet-revving unit but again you might want to spend the extra $1800 for the diesel, which has more grunt and uses less fuel, at 4.2L/100km. The Peugeot has the edge on the Hyundai if you’re a keen driver but be warned it may not prove as bulletproof as your Corolla. Nab a 2015 model, though, and you get an eight-year, unlimited km warranty (until December 31). Servicing isn’t cheap either, at $2005 for the first three years.
Hyundai i40 Tourer, from $33,090
Classified as a mid-sized wagon, it’s cheaper than the 308 and also has diesel and petrol options. Between small and medium, it’s a good looking wagon and has plenty of creature comforts including front and rear parking sensors, rear aircon vents, USB and 12V sockets and reversing camera. The petrol engine is a 2.0 litre four that puts out a reasonable 125kW/203Nm and the 1.7-litre diesel puts out 104kW/370Nm. It has a five-star safety rating and nine airbags. Servicing is dearer than the i30 wagon at $1017 over three years.
WILDCARD Mazda6 wagon, from $33,790
If the reliability of your Corolla impresses you, why not stay with a Japanese brand? The Mazda6 wagon is a stylish option and similar money to the others here. Engine options are 2.5-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel but the cheapest diesel is $41,440. The good news is the petrol is pretty frugal, claiming just 6.6L/100km. It’s pretty well equipped as well. The cheapest model gets dual-zone aircon with rear vents, a handy 12V plug in the cargo area, digital radio and satnav. Safety is fivestar and crash avoidance tech includes automatic emergency braking. Servicing is $1399 for three years.
The i30 is the cheapest and the closest thing to your beloved Corolla, so look for a near-new demo. With its standard fiveyear warranty, you’ll be covered for longer than most new cars.
MAZDA6 WAGON PEUGEOT 308