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News & Reviews
Last 7 Days

Small Cars Under $40k

Mazda 3
1
  • Stylish interior and infotainment systems; external styling is classy and well-packaged; ride and handling balance is exceptional

  • 2.0-litre engine gets the job done but is thirsty and needs to work hard; cabin insulation still doesn't match class leaders; Sport mode seems redundant in this spec level

Volkswagen Golf
  • Easy, solid, and comfortable long-distance cruiser; top-notch seats and up-front comfort; engine and gearbox both positive and fuss-free over more than 870km of highway driving

  • Space and practicality for more than two passengers a potential weak point; choppy, poorer-quality and coarse-chip roads can challenge ride and cabin ambience; $1500 Driver Assistance Package is optional and doesn’t include lane-departure warning or lane-keep assist (which would be great)

Ford Focus
  • Dynamically very impressive, blending involvement and enjoyment but not at the expense of comfort; lively turbocharged petrol engine; new media system is an improvement; decent equipment

  • No AEB as standard, and it probably should be considering the price premium Ford charges; lacking some storage smarts; boot on the small side

Honda Civic
  • Good pricing and equipment; great interior space and thoughtful storage in the cabin, including a big boot; quick and accurate steering; decent drivetrain; the latest connectivity is standard

  • A few cheap plastics in the cabin bring down the ambience; some cost-saving measures evident; CVT can be a bit lurchy at low speeds

Skoda Octavia
  • Excellent throttle response and drivability at speed; steering accurate and responsive, with plenty of grip; thoughtful cabin with lots of space; big boot; affordable

  • Options list can be lengthy; ride a tad firm around town; some struggles off the line in terms of grip

Small Cars Over $40k

BMW 1 Series
1
  • Engine note and character is spot on; handling and steering are a highlight; cabin is premium, insulated and comfortable

  • Options pricing can get expensive; wireless Apple CarPlay is a $500 option; conservative styling might not be to everyone's taste

Audi A3
  • High quality and premium feeling interior; Big 425 litre boot with folding seats offers practicality; Miserly 4.9L/100km fuel consumption; Options pricing quite reasonable

  • Low speed driveability not great due to dual-clutch gearbox; Fuel use much higher than advertised claim; Can be sluggish with full complement of passengers on board

Mercedes-Benz A250
  • All-wheel-drive system adds assuredness through corners at speed; adaptive dampers transform the ride; drive mode select system changes character of the car; more equipment; revvy engine

  • Some low-speed gremlins from drivetrain; ride still a little terse; rear-seat and boot not massive by class standards

Citroen C4 Picasso
  • Interior is comfortable and flexible; incredible seating position and visibility; luggage space; second row seating is flexible; economy with enough performance for day-to-day running

  • Second row seats can be a little short on headroom for taller passengers; no diesel engine option; styling may polarise; price pits it against premium Euro product

5

BMW i3

BMW i3
  • Quirky-cool styling and a properly cool cabin; bigger battery pack a handy mind-at-ease upgrade; super quick acceleration; that excellent BMW iDrive infotainment system

  • Rear-hinged rear doors can be a challenge to work with; steering wheel adjustment tricky to use without losing view of the instrument display; inverted gear-shift order can take some getting used to