A reader is after a safe small hatchback for his young daughter, but he isn’t sure what options he should be looking at.
I’m looking to purchase a car for my daughter who’ll soon be obtaining her licence. She has around $15,000 to spend and is looking for a small hatchback, with a Holden Astra or Hyundai i30 being favoured. Your thoughts on these, and anything else you’d recommend?
That’s a good first-car budget, so we can comfortably get your daughter in a late model small hatchback. You could just about afford a brand-new city hatchback instead. Despite being smaller than an Astra or i30, these are worth considering to get a full warranty, new-car smell and no potential used-car nasty surprises. Manual gearboxes are cheaper, and as a dad I’d compel my daughter to learn in one: more concentration on driving, less on the music playlist.
2018 Holden Astra R hatch, approx. $15,000
The Euro-built Astra hatch is an impressive all-rounder: good looks, rewarding drive, solid build quality and generous features. Shop around dealers as there may be ex-demo models available for close to your budget, and with whatever’s left of their five- or even seven-year warranty. If not, haggle hard on any being sold privately. Now that Holden has closed up shop, resale’s not going to be great, but at least Holden’s committed to honouring capped price servicing and warranty claims for years to come. Alloy wheels, cruise control, rear camera, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, lane-keep assist and auto emergency braking add appeal and economy’s good at 5.8L/100km.
2017 Hyundai i30 Active, approx. $15,000
A safe bet, albeit a bit dull. You’ll want the “PD” i30 version, released in April 2017, as it’s a big step over the previous generation. Even so, the Active (the only one in budget) lacks auto emergency braking, something I’d be keen on for my daughter’s first car. Avoid ex-fleet or ex-rental i30s — many will have high kilometres — but positively, Hyundai’s five-year warranty gives insurance. Good bits are style, build and drive quality, plus excellent 8-inch screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, cruise control, rear camera, alloy wheels and satnav. Its 120kW engine lacks punch and is thirsty at 7.3L/100km.
2020 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator, approx. $16,000 drive-away
Smaller than the Hyundai and Holden, but let’s try a brand-new car, or a dealer’s ex-demo with a few thousand on the clock. If your daughter won’t often need the rear seats, a Swift’s big enough. Fun, funky and loaded with goodies including alloys, cruise control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, satnav and rear camera. Perhaps dad could contribute an extra $1000 or so and find one with the optional Safety Pack bringing auto emergency braking, radar cruise control and lane-departure warning. A five-year warranty and the first three services are $897 — you must find a post-October 2019 car or services are every six-months, not 12. Economical at just 4.8L/100km.
2020 Mitsubishi Mirage ES $16,490 drive away
I’d normally suggest a Kia Picanto as a brand-new city car. Do check one out, but also the Mirage. The model’s always been popular with first drivers — especially females — and the new one has a striking bold face and good overall design. It’s a manual at this price — $1500 extra gets a CVT auto — but city cars show much more personality if you swap gears yourself. Its 57kW/100Nm three-cylinder engine will keep your daughter out of trouble, while sipping only 4.7L/100km. There’s a seven-year warranty and servicing for three years is just $597. Auto emergency braking, rear camera and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto through a 7-inch screen are wins, but the boot’s tiny, there are no alloy wheels and you’d want to negotiate free metallic paint.
If your daughter needs a proper hatchback with adult-sized rear seats and decent boot space, target as late and low-kilometre a Holden Astra as you can find. If a city car size suits, the Mirage is cheapest to buy and run, but I’d favour a Swift as the most fun first car all-rounder.