Top five new cars

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Training Wheels -

IF NOTH­ING less than a new first car will do, you’re in luck be­cause, as with used cars, new car prices have fallen in real terms and are more af­ford­able than at any time.

A new car gives you the lat­est safety en­gi­neer­ing, much of which you can’t see be­cause it’s buried deep be­neath the body pan­els, in the struc­ture of the car. Most new cars now have sta­bil­ity con­trol, the most ef­fec­tive piece of crash pre­ven­tion technology since ABS brakes. Don’t buy a car with­out it.

You also get a three-to-five-year war­ranty, so if there are any dra­mas, they’ll be fixed for free. The real beauty of a new car, though, is that you’re not in­her­it­ing some­one’s mis­ery. If you treat your new car ten­derly, it won’t give you any headaches.

A new car will also have the lat­est au­dio/ com­mu­ni­ca­tions technology, like a USB port for hook­ing up your iPod and ac­cess­ing its func­tions on the main head unit or steer­ing wheel but­tons, and/or Blue­tooth for hands-free phone and au­dio stream­ing.

The ma­jor dis­in­cen­tive to buy­ing new is de­pre­ci­a­tion. Over three years, ex­pect to lose 30-50 per cent of your money. Keep your car in good nick, and ser­viced by the book, and you’ll get a much bet­ter price for it when it’s time to say good­bye and move on.

Here’s five new cars we think are great first­timers:

Nis­san Mi­cra

SIX airbags, sta­bil­ity con­trol, Blue­tooth, air­con­di­tion­ing, five star Green Ve­hi­cle Guide rat­ing and 5.9-litres per 100km from a 1.2-litre three cylin­der en­gine. I haven’t driven this yet, but the men from Wheels se­ri­ously con­sid­ered it for their Car of the Year, so it has to be a good thing. At $12,990, it’s also a bar­gain.

Mazda 2

IT’S a toss-up be­tween the Mazda and its Ford Fi­esta twin, but the Mazda has stronger re­sale val­ues. The base 1.5-litre Neo hatch is listed at $16,500; you’ll of­ten find it ad­ver­tised for $16,490 drive away, with six airbags and sta­bil­ity con­trol. There’s no USB or Blue­tooth, though. The lat­ter is stan­dard on the Ford.

VWPolo

THE 2010 World Car of the Year, Wheels Car of the Year and Cars­guide Car of the Year. What more can we say? It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for, which is state-of-the-art technology from bumper to bumper. The 1.2-litre 77TSi Com­fort­line is $19,850.

Kia Cer­ato hatch

KIAs were once odi­ous lit­tle buzz-boxes, but they’re real cars now. Cer­ato hatch, or its Hyundai i30 twin, are both great value start­ing at about $21,000 drive away. You get a five-year war­ranty, all the safety gear, Blue­tooth, low run­ning costs and bul­let­proof re­li­a­bil­ity.

Mazda 3

A BLUE-CHIP Ja­panese brand hatch­back for $21,990 drive away is a killer deal. That’s the re­cently ad­ver­tised price on the Mazda 3 Neo, with cruise con­trol, metal­lic paint, six airbags and sta­bil­ity con­trol. Hag­gle and you’ll get a sim­i­lar re­sult.

Good to drive: Stephanie Young says her 1999 Holden Ba­rina looks good in black with the mag wheels.

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