Prices to pique the bud­gets

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING ED­I­TOR

BUY­ERS on a bud­get will soon be spoiled for choice.

Less than a month af­ter Holden gave its small-car lineup a big boost with the new gen­er­a­tion Spark, start­ing at $14,990 drive-away, an­other sharply priced hatch­back is around the cor­ner.

The Kia Pi­canto due in show­rooms next week with a sin­gle model — also start­ing at $14,990 drive-away — comes stan­dard with an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

On the Spark, auto adds $1700 (to $16,690 drive-away).

The Kia has other aces up its sleeve: a seven-year war­ranty com­pared with three years’ cov­er­age for the Holden, and a more fru­gal en­gine that makes it cheaper to run.

Mean­while Hyundai is re­spond­ing to the new tiny-tot chal­lengers with its larger Ac­cent hatch­back.

Now that the Hyundai i20 has been dis­con­tin­ued, the maker has slashed a whop­ping $4500 off the price of the Ac­cent, which has lim­boed to $14,990 drive-away ($15,990 drive-away with au­to­matic).

Adding pres­sure to the jus­tre­leased Spark, the Ac­cent still comes with fac­tory-backed five-year/un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre war­ranty cov­er­age and capped­price ser­vic­ing — even though it is the cheap­est model in the range.

Sales of “city cars” have dropped by one-third so far this year but the re­cent ar­rivals as well as heavy dis­count­ing by es­tab­lished play­ers are tipped to pro­vide a much needed jump start to the seg­ment.

A re­freshed Mit­subishi Mi­rage is also on the way. The man­ual trans­mis­sion ver­sion can be had for $13,990 drive­away but the price for an au­to­matic has risen to $15,990 drive-away.

Car mak­ers like to ad­ver­tise the price of man­ual mod­els be­cause it gives them a cheaper start­ing point, even though au­to­mat­ics ac­count for the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of sales in the seg­ment.

Nis­san, hav­ing teased buy­ers with “free on roads” or low in­ter­est rate fi­nance of­fers, has fi­nally re­vived trans­par­ent “drive-away” pric­ing which works most ef­fec­tively in the bud­get end of the new-car mar­ket, where ev­ery dol­lar counts.

The Nis­san Mi­cra ST au­to­matic is $14,790 drive-away and the man­ual $12,990 drive­away.

This is the cheap­est the up­dated Mi­cra Se­ries II has been since it was re­leased in April last year.

To date, how­ever, no one has man­aged to limbo to the su­per-sharp price of the Suzuki Cele­rio, which has been $11,990 drive­away for a man­ual ($13,990 drive-away for au­to­matic) since it was launched in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

Even though they are the cheap­est cars on sale in Aus­tralia, all come with at least six airbags and a four-star safety rat­ing.

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