The Suzuki Alto may no longer be Australia’s cheapest car to buy — that title belongs to the Proton S16 — but it remains the cheapest to run, according to the latest study from the RAA, RACQ, RACV and RACT state-specific automobile clubs for South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania respectively.
The latest iteration of the auto clubs’ annual Cost of Vehicle Ownership survey found the Suzuki Alto to cost between $106.65 and $113.33 per week to own and run, depending on different regulatory costs between states.
At the other extreme end of the spectrum, Nissan’s hulking Y62 Patrol ST-L V8 petrol (pictured below) was deemed the most expensive to run, at between $406.42 and $414.31 per week (up to $1.76 per kilometre).
Factors in the test, based on an annual distance covered of 12,000km over five years, include interest repayments, standing costs (namely depreciation, interest and taxes), and running costs (fuel and maintenance).
In an interesting breakdown, the RACT figures found that depreciation accounted for the biggest cost at 39 per cent, ahead of on-road costs (stamp duty, registration and insurance) at 20 per cent, interest and fuel (both 14 per cent) and servicing (10 per cent).
Overall, a reduction in average insurance costs and lower average interest rates on car loans have offset higher fuel prices to make the average cost of running a vehicle marginally cheaper than this time last year, according to the figures.
The Indian-made Alto, which retails for $11,790 plus on-road costs but is on track to be replaced by a new Thai-made model called the Celerio in January next year, marginally defeated the Holden Barina Spark, which costs between $111.34 and $114.74 per week under the same metrics. The worst-performed micro car was the Nissan Micra (between $123.19 and $127.76).
Reflecting the high barriers to entry in Australia on green cars such as hybrids — think a steep asking price and few incentive programs — Toyota’s Prius C was deemed the most expensive to own and run at between $160.27 and $164.22 per week.
The small segment, Australia’s biggest selling by some margin, was won by the Australian-made Holden Cruze Equipe 1.8, which costs between $150.16 and $154.09 per week. The two biggest sellers on the market, the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, were between $3 and $5 more expensive to run than the Cruze (the order varies depending on state) and separated by a hair’s breadth.
Volkswagen took out honours in the medium segment with its Jetta 118TSI (between $179.07 and $180.72), about $15-20 ahead of the larger Kia Optima. At the premium end, the BMW 320i ($279.79 to 291.79) ousted the Audi A4 1.8 TFSI ($303.81 to $304.23) and Mercedes-Benz C200 ($316.72 to $319.42).
Interestingly, the large Australian-made, V6-powered Holden Commodore Evoke ($227.85 to $230) was judged as cheaper to run than a four-cylinder Mazda6 Touring at between $232.30 and $234.42. Toyota Aurion and Ford Falcon were between $10 and $20 more expensive again.
The medium SUV category has seen the Mitsubishi Outlander ES (between $197.35 and $204.48), with the top-selling Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport the most expensive at about $20 more per week than the Outlander. Interestingly, the super-frugal Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid was found to cost about $50 per week more to run overall than the regular Outlander petrol – it does attract a premium due to its technological underpinnings, though.
Top of the pops for the large SUV market was the cut-price Holden Captiva 7 LT (between $216 and $218) taking out the large SUV category ahead of the Hyundai Santa Fe. The aforementioned Patrol Y62 rounded out the list.
At a tick under $250 per week, the top-selling Toyota HiLux edged aside the Volkswagen Amarok and Nissan Navara in the 4×4 ute segment, while the Holden Colorado was about $40 more and adjudged the most expensive.
A full breakdown of figures can be found on any of the mentioned auto clubs’ websites.
RAA figures breakdown of the top three in each segment: