Value-packed

TOP CARS UN­DER $20,000

The Advertiser - Motoring - - Front Page -

STU­ART INNES

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.

Some of thes in­dus­try calls ligh with en­try-level m $20,000 mark. $19,390, Hyund $19,990, Kia Cera Nis­san Ti­ida 1 ex­am­ples of not

Look for on-ro price. These inc reg­is­tra­tion, stam surance and so if you want to ke $20,000, start wi that point. This deals are ex­celle of­fered when a s days we found M at $16,990 drive ($15,990) at $14,9 Alto ($12,490) a Suzuki Swift ($

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