TOP CARS UNDER $20,000
LITTLE cars are big sellers and with good reason. More people have $20,000 to spend on a car than $60,000, little cars are more fuel efficient and easier to park and drive in traffic, and the competition between manufacturers means you get a lot for 20 grand in 2010.
And despite more features going into the under-$20,000 cars, the price has been holding, if not falling, for five or six years.
‘‘The manufacturers’ cost to build and supply the car is a lot better now and that helps keep them affordable,’’ says Andrew Brown, dealer principal of Adrian Brien at St Mary’s, where Hyundai is a big seller.
Mr Brown has strong interest in what’s available in the under-$20,000 market because his Hyundai brand is the biggest seller with its Getz model, rivalled by the Toyota Yaris. Getz, with nearly 12,000 sold so far this year nationally, and Yaris, with more than 11,000, between them have a third of the under-$20,000 market, yet other worthy and funky cars also have a good profile, such as Holden Barina, Suzuki Swift, the Mazda2-Ford Fiesta clones plus Kia Rio and Honda Jazz.
In his 12 years in the auto industry Mr Brown has noted the increasing value going into the little cars as they get more features and safety as standard.
Buyers can expect dual airbags, airconditioning, power windows and iPod connectivity.
The top-selling Hyundai Getz is listed at $13,990 in its lowest-priced form – a Getz S three-door hatchback with 1.4-litre engine and fivespeed manual transmission. It includes all the above equipment plus remote central locking, immobiliser, leather-clad steering wheel, power mirrors and six-speaker CD player. You pay $2000 more for a n a u t o mat i c transmission and $1000 more for a five-door.
Mr Brown says the advent of a reasonably equipped car for under $ 2 0 , 0 0 0 ma t c h e s the young generation’s wants.
‘‘Young people want everything new,’’ he says. ‘‘Years ago they would buy older, used cars. Now many are buying brand new cars.’’
But under-$20,000 buyers cover a wide mix of demographics, he says. They include older drivers who want a reliable car with warranty and low running costs for their limited budget and second cars for middle-aged people in a family.
‘‘The industry has got to the point where the difference between a good second-hand
car and a brand new car is not huge,’’ Mr Brown says.
Some of the popular cars under $20,000 have versions that extend above that price point when luxury versions are considered. And some offer wide choice, including engine size.
Be aware that a 1.5 or 1.6-litre engine is still going to be miserly on fuel use yet it’s good to have that extra touch of performance over the 1.3 or 1.4-litre engines in the entry-level models.
Hatchbacks rule this segment, again with a choice of two or four side doors, but a four-door sedan with boot can look more classy and mature. Makes such as Yaris, Barina and Mazda2 offer a choice of sedan or hatchback.
Price-leaders in advertisements are usually for manual transmissions – if you need an automatic, be prepared to pay $1600 to $2000 and in this category it will be only a four-speed automatic. Nissan Micra is an exception: it comes only as an automatic. In Ford Fiesta, an automatic means a smaller, less powerful engine, too.
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