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Doing what we do, CarAdvice writers are regularly asked by friends and family members as well as through online enquiries – what car is best for me?

Most people can usually identify the top three non-negotiable factors that will guide their purchase decision. In this new series, we look at these cases and single out three cars that fit the brief. If there are more than three, we’ll highlight the three models that have scored well in past CarAdvice reviews.


Charlie called the CarAdvice.com Talking Lifestyle radio show on 2UE recently. He wanted a Mazda 3 but the fact it didn’t have a full-size spare wheel was a deal-breaker.

He drives long distances and knows from experience what it’s like to get a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere, it happened to him somewhere near the SA/WA border while he was driving from Sydney to Perth. Australia is a big country with a lot of empty space, and though Charlie didn’t mind taking the long way in a small car, he expressed his frustration at the lack of full-size spare tyres.

Temporary and space saver tyres have speed-limits and aren’t designed to last for hundreds of kilometres; they won’t hold up well on rocky, rough surfaces. Not to mention the fact that no-one wants to be doing 80km/hr on a rural highway when there’s every chance a road-train could appear .

Puncture repair kits and run-flats also have limitations so for many who drive long distances between pockets of civilisation, full-size spares are the only sensible option.

Here are Charlie’s three must-have’s:

  1. Small car
  2. Full-size spare
  3. Five-star ANCAP safety rating

Given that he was wanting a Mazda 3, we’ve ruled out luxury options on his behalf. Interestingly there are very few small passenger cars that come standard with a full-size spare. There are many reasons for this, including the boot space eaten-up by larger wheels and the fact that wide open spaces and isolated highways with hundreds of kilometres between towns aren’t issues for manufacturers of cars designed overseas in Europe or Asia for example.

Consistently, the top-three sellers in the segment are the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30, while other options including the Mitsubishi Lancer, Kia Cerato, Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Subaru Impreza and Ford Focus also enjoyed relatively strong sales in January of this year.

Of the 29 models listed in the latest VFACTS small cars under $40,000 category only five meet the full-size spare criteria, all of which have a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Three of those are sedans – Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Cerato – but given that the hatch body style is the most popular we’re going to go with three of those that fit the brief. Obviously, the Elantra does not come in a hatch while the Corolla, interestingly, features a full-size spare in the sedan but not in its hatch variant. That left us with just three small cars which matched Charlie’s specific needs.

So here is our shortlist for Charlie (in alphabetical order):


Citroen C4

2016 Citroen C4_08

The Citroen C4 is an oft-overlooked option for those in the market for a small car. It may be nearing the end of its life-cycle but it has a great little 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 96kW and 230Nm. Available in just two trim-levels – Seduction ($29,990 before on-road costs) and Exclusive ($33,990) – both are only offered with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The small turbocharged engine is economical, with claimed combined fuel consumption figures of 4.9 and 5.1-litres per 100km respectively for the Seduction and Exclusive variants. For travellers, as well as a full-size spare and a five-star ANCAP safety rating, both C4 variants come equipped with a 7.0-inch touchscreen and satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, auto headlights and wipers, and rear parking sensors.

(Exclusive model pictured)


Hyundai i30

Hyundai-i30-Series-II- SR_011

With the new-generation 2017 Hyundai i30 due to land here later this year, the current model i30 is in run-out with prices starting at $19,990 drive away. The model line-up consists of five trim-levels with three engine choices, a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and a 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel engine. The petrol engines are available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission while the diesel is paired with either the six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

The diesel engine is the most economical with a claimed combined figure of 4.9-litres per 100 kilometres for the automatic transmission. The petrol engines are higher at 7.3 and 7.7L/100km for the automatic 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre respectively. While we don’t yet know if the new i30 will retain the full-size spare, the current model has one in every variant. All have a five-star ANCAP rating and have a 7.0-inch touchscreen, rear-view camera and rear parking sensors.

(SR model pictured)


Kia Cerato

2017-kia-cerato-si-lifestyle-17

Last but not least the Kia Cerato hatch is available in four trim-levels, the S, S Premium, Si and SLi with prices ranging from $19,990 drive away to $32,490. There is just one petrol engine across the range, a 2.0-litre four cylinder that produces 112kW and 192 Nm. The S is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission while the rest of the line-up is auto-only.

All have front and rear parking sensors but if you want a rear-view camera or a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on the base-model you’ll need to option the AV pack. Of course it fits the brief when it comes to spare wheels and safety ratings, and combined claimed fuel consumption is 7.2-litres per 100 kilometres across the range.

(Si model pictured)


Looking for your next car? Send us three criteria and let us help narrow down your options.

MORE: The Shortlist – Best medium SUVs under $30,000 with rear-view camera and parking sensors
MORE: Citroen C4 news and reviews
MORE: Hyundai i30 news and reviews
MORE: Kia Cerato news and reviews
MORE: Hyundai i30 vs Kia Cerato comparison






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