Ur­ban grinders

City liv­ing is gett­ting no cheaper. City cars help cut costs

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

LIGHT cars used to be the sec­ond car, the one that’d be­grudg­ingly be taken to the su­per­mar­ket when the real car was out. Not any­more.

Light cars now make sense as the sole ve­hi­cle for city dwellers with­out kids— they’re easy to park, will carry four adults in vary­ing de­grees of com­fort and don’t cost a for­tune to fuel up.

The rush to down­size means more than one in 10 cars sold to­day is from the light cat­e­gory. Car­mak­ers have re­sponded to that grow­ing mar­ket with more stan­dard gear at lower prices.

They also un­der­stand a pos­i­tive first ex­pe­ri­ence could get you back to the deal­er­ship for your next ve­hi­cle, so you won’t be ig­nored for look­ing at the

‘‘ cheap’’ cars. They will try to up­sell you into a higher model, though, so be­ware of al­loy wheels and dual-zone air­con if steel rims and a power win­dow is all you need.

The aver­age cost of the light cars in this field— en­try level au­tos— is just north of $17,000. The Volk­swa­gen is the dear­est at $19,490 and is the only car here to de­mand pre­mium un­leaded petrol. It also feels to be the best built, but all of th­ese cars are sturdy, re­li­able trans­port.

Bud­get buy­ers should con­sider the Mit­subishi Mi­rage if out­right per­for­mance isn’t an is­sue. It costs $15,290, is the cheap­est to re­fuel and an­nual ser­vic­ing costs are just $250.

The Mazda2 proves this seg­ment isn’t en­tirely price-driven. The lit­tle hatch leads the sales field this year, fol­lowed by the Toy­ota Yaris and Hyundai i20. They’re not the cheap­est cars to buy or run but they have a rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity and value that— at least in the case of the Mazda2— has it cam­paign­ing strongly de­spite its age.

Honda’s Jazz has the best re­sale of this bunch, re­flect­ing the brand’s (slowly wan­ing) rep­u­ta­tion for pro­duc­ing bet­ter-built ve­hi­cles. The Ba­rina is the thirsti­est, need­ing 7.3 litres to travel 100km. That’s half a litre more than the Mazda2.

Cars­guide has used the national aver­age of $1.49.4 for un­leaded petrol and added 8¢ for the 95RON fuel needed to keep theVWon the street. We have each car trav­el­ling 15,000km a year for three years.

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