It’s the latest round in the lightweight division
A FULL-SCALE small car pricing war is raging with buyers the only winners.
Nissan has fired the latest salvo with a record low $18,990 sticker on its Pulsar hatch. In showrooms next month, the five-door is $1000 under not only the sedan but its counterpart of 20 years ago.
The razor-sharp price is a response to Holden’s $19,490 entry to its revised Cruze range, the lowest price of any Australian-made car since the late 1980s.
Most main players in the small car segment, which is expected to tally some 250,000 sales this year, now have have sub-$20,000 starting point, though this is inevitably for the low-volume manual variant.
The auto option adds up to $3000, then there are on-road charges. Even so, most contenders are otherwise fully equipped. Mitsubishi has sharpened its Lancer pricing with $19,990 drive-away on its Special Action Model edition. Based on the entry 2.0-litre ES, it comes with metallic paint in a choice of four colours, 16-inch five-spoke alloys, Ralliart front bumper and grille, VRX highrise boot spoiler and extra bling.
Mitsubishi says its ‘‘ compact sedan’’ concept will become the next Lancer but it could be three years away. That’s bad news for the Japanese maker as almost every other player has brought in, or is on the verge of, new models.
The reintroduction of an old name has boosted Nissan toward the promised it once enjoyed in the small car market. It has not looked back since ditching the derided Tiida name for the old faithful Pulsar earlier this year.
The Pulsar hatch range kicks off at less than $19K for the ST but for not much extra the STL looks to be the better package. The meat of the range, however begins, with the $24,990 ST-S which runs the same 1.6-turbo four as the longawaited SSS ($29,240).
Opel has not bothered the statisticians to any great extent but its Astra range (excluding the hot GTC and OPC) gets free on-road costs, dealer delivery and three years’ scheduled servicing if you buy before the end of June.
Its smaller Corsa sibling is $16,990 and the medium Insignia is $39,990, both driveaway and with free on-roads and dealer delivery but not the servicing offer.
Suzuki has added the capped price service program and a five-year warranty to its arsenal. The guarantee is for fixed service prices from $199 for the Alto and Swift, although Queensland and northern NSW have different arrangements due to a separate distribution deal. Even Volkswagen has introduced capped-price service on its passenger and commercial vehicles.
The Germans brought the program in on the Up late last year. It covers six years or 90,000km on allVWpassenger vehicles sold from January 1, 2013. For the Up, maintenance starts from $280, the Polo service prices kick off from $347 and the new Golf 7 service costs start from $272, down from the previous-gen Golf that starts from $357.
The small-car sector is virtually static in sales, up 0.9 per cent year-to-date, but the buyer demand for compact, fuelefficient cars means there are no signs of the sector weakening.
It remains the largest individual segment in terms of volume— more than 22 per cent of the total market with 62,034 sales so far this year, almost twice that of light cars, 4WD utes and large and medium SUVs, the next biggest segments.
Seconds out, drive-away: Mitsubishi Lancer starts at $20K and (bottom) Opel Astra is priced from $23K