Wagons’ role



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.

David, email

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.




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