Bud­get lux­ury wheels

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - CRUISE CONTROL -

THERE’S no need to spend big or take a hit from the gov­ern­ment to get a pre­mium badge.

The def­i­ni­tion of a lux­ury car has changed dra­mat­i­cally in the past decade.

The gov­ern­ment treats a car as a lux­ury item and slugs the buyer 33 cents in the dol­lar if it costs more than $64,132.

The irony is that just about any­body who buys a Toy­ota Prado, for ex­am­ple, is also pay­ing Lux­ury Car Tax (LCT).

But the good news is that there are plenty of cars with lux­ury badges that limbo well un­der­neath that fig­ure.

If you’re happy for your lux­ury fix to come in a small pack­age, you can get an Audi A1 for $28,600. A lit­tle more gets you an Alfa Romeo Gi­uli­etta, while a BMW or Mercedes-Benz badge can be had from less than $40,000.

It doesn’t stop there. You can get fam­ily sedans and SUVs that are the right side of the lux­ury car tax. And if your choice is a fuel miser, a higher LCT thresh­old of $75,526 ap­plies to cars claim­ing fuel con­sump­tion of 7.0L/100km or less.

Can you af­ford a lux­ury badge and avoid LCT? Sure. As the late, great Kerry Packer said, “Any­body in the coun­try who does not min­imise his tax wants his head read.”

Some of the best ways are the Audi A3 Sportback. The range starts at $35,900 for the 1.0 TFSI.

BMW’s 1 Series starts at $37,990 but the sweet spot in the range is the 125i M Sport, which is good value at $49,000.

The Mercedes-Benz C250 is $69,400 with a 2.0-litre turbo, the C250d with su­perb 2.1-litre turbo diesel is $70,900 and the C350e hy­brid is $75,300.

Jaguar’s XE 20t Pres­tige sneaks un­der the LCT with a price of $60,400 be­fore on­roads.

If you must have an SUV and a pres­tige badge, the lit­tle Audi Q2, (above) starts with a front­drive 1.4-litre turbo for $41,100 plus on-roads.

Audi claims it has five mil­lion colour and trim op­tions, so the Q2 can suit any taste.

BMW’s X1 is the most spa­cious of the com­pact lux­ury SUVs, kick­ing off at $50,600 for the front-wheel drive (sDrive in BMW-speak) 20i, with 2.0-litre turbo.

The Land Rover Dis­cov­ery Sport vari­ants are pow­ered by the com­pany’s su­per-re­fined 2.0-litre turbo diesel that com­fort­ably slides un­der the 7.0L/100km rate.

Prices start at $56,355 for the TD4 150 SE.

Audi’s four-seater convertibles start at $49,000 for the front-drive A3 1.4 TFSI.

It goes well and, for a com­pact con­vert­ible, it’s spa­cious and com­fort­able.

The BMW 230i coupe is $61,900 and the con­vert­ible $71,900. You also get rear-drive, so it han­dles like a real sports car. The con­vert­ible is a fourseater with a fold­ing soft-top.

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