The small-car segment has plenty of options — the players are frugal yet safe and wellappointed. Here are the best buys under $16K
THE sub-$16,000 segment of the car market is the car industry’s equivalent of the 30c ice-cream cone.
Low starting prices are designed to woo you into the showroom in the hope you’ll buy something bigger and more expensive next time.
In reality, budget priced cars mean all things to all people, from first time car buyers to retirees, and everyone in between. They are second biggest slice of the car market, the most frugal cars to run (other than a hybrid) and, thanks to new technology, they are no longer bare-bones basic.
Most of these budgetmobiles are rated five stars for safety and come with six or seven airbags.
They also have the slimmest profit margins in the business, which is why discounts come and go, and you need to get your timing right to land the best deal.
Here are the best buys below $16,000 ahead of the 2014 clearance season.
As ever, buyers need to be aware the price of metallic paint varies from brand to brand and can add as much as $550 to the cost, even though there may only be one or two nonmetallic colours available.
Capped price servicing and service intervals also vary. We’ve compared the cost over three years as a guide — and, as we discovered, that varies from $717 to $1578 so it pays to check.
HOLDEN BARINA SPARK
The baby of the Holden range is back in discount mode, with the Spark available for $13,990 drive-away. Add $2000 for automatic.
Servicing is among the cheapest ($740 over three years) but watch out for metallic paint: $550. This South Koreanbuilt but US-designed small car comes with six airbags. However it has only a four-star safety rating.
If the budget stretches, and you want to stay in the family, consider the next model up ...
No discounts yet on the brandnew Jazz. It launched last month at $14,990 plus on-road costs for the base model manual. Full retail is nearer $18,000 in the traffic. If you’re patient enough to wait for an order, and happy to drive a white one, ask nicely and see if the dealer will let one go for $16,000 drive-away.
This Japanese-designed but Thailand-made hatch has a roomy interior with six airbags and a five-star safety rating. It is also officially the cheapest car on sale in Australia with a rearview camera.
Auto adds $2000 and metallic paint is $495. What you really need to watch out for, though, is the cost of routine servicing: an astronomical $1578 makes the Jazz the dearest of the cars assembled here and more than double the cheapest (Hyundai).
Kia has a new boss in Australia, having poached the man who helped drive much of Hyundai’s success over the past decade.
So expect big changes,