For peace of mind

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - WHICH CAR? -

THE QUES­TION

I am look­ing at re­plac­ing my 2004 Holden Com­modore VY Ber­lina. My bud­get is $20,000. I love the VF Com­modore, a cou­ple years old, but I am also keen on a Mazda3, Toy­ota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra or Holden Cruz — ideally sedans. I am also look­ing at the ser­vic­ing that goes with them. What is your pref­er­ence?

Nita Chahine Ah yes, the good old VY. Did the plas­tic in­sert in the rear bumper fall out? So many have.

The new VF is a very dif­fer­ent beast to the other pos­si­bil­i­ties you men­tion, be­ing a much large car and that means higher fuel con­sump­tion. They look good though.

You’re bet­ter off with a smaller car but un­for­tu­nately all of those you men­tion will set you back more than $20K on the road — and an auto will be an­other $2000.

Rather than go­ing sec­ond­hand, we’d rec­om­mend try­ing to scrape a lit­tle ex­tra to­gether to buy the peace of mind that goes with a new car, with a long-term war­ranty and fixed-price ser­vic­ing. All of th­ese get five stars for safety.

Mazda3 Neo, from $20,490 Mazda3 is de­servedly the big­gest sell­ing pri­vately bought car in Aus­tralia. It looks like a mil­lion bucks, goes ex­tremely well and is thrifty on fuel. It comes with al­loy wheels and cruise con­trol. There’s no rear cam­era but it has rear park­ing sen­sors. Claimed fuel use is 5.7L/100km. Most ex­pen­sive to ser­vice at $2037 in to­tal for three years or 60,00km.

Toy­ota Corolla As­cent, from $19,790 The Corolla needs no in­tro­duc­tion but it’s got plenty of com­pe­ti­tion th­ese days. Edgy styling is at­trac­tive. The least pow­er­ful of this group, the As­cent still comes with steel wheels but has cruise con­trol and rear-view cam­era. Ride and han­dling are quite agree­able and thirst is a claimed 6.6L/100km. It’s the cheap­est to ser­vice at $840 in to­tal for three years or 60,000km.

Holden Cruze Equipe, $19,890 Cruze looks the goods but doesn’t seem to age well. From what we hear it will take a hid­ing on re­sale. The 1.8-litre en­gine is a bet­ter fit with the auto. There are al­loys, cruise con­trol and rear park­ing sen­sors but no cam­era. Claimed thirst is 7.4L/100km and ser­vic­ing costs $956 in to­tal for three years or 60,00km.

THE WILD­CARD

Hyundai Elantra Ac­tive, from $21,490 Nice look­ing car but it doesn’t sell as many as its i30 hatch coun­ter­part. A new model has been in­tro­duced and now comes with a larger 2.0-litre en­gine. It gets al­loys, cruise con­trol, rear cam­era and rear park­ing sen­sors. Thirst is 7.2L/100km. Ser­vic­ing costs $1096 in to­tal for three years or 60,000km.

THE VER­DICT

I’d steer clear of the VF and chase a deal on one of the smaller cars. The Mazda3 is the most pow­er­ful and uses the least fuel. But you might find some runout Elantras within your bud­get. Try for the best deal rather than be­ing emo­tion­ally in­vested in a par­tic­u­lar model.

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