Bruce is in the market for a petrol automatic vehicle to replace his much-loved Citroen C5. Let's see what we can do...
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Doing what we do, CarAdvice writers are often asked by friends and family, and through our contact page: which car is best for me?

Most buyers can identify the top three non-negotiable factors that will guide their purchase decision. But… where to from there?

In this 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.

Bruce is ready to replace his Citroen with something new, with a budget up to $50,000 to play with. So. Many. Options.

That is, until we confine those choices based on Bruce’s specific requirements. Here are his three criteria:

  • Fully automatic transmission – not continuously variable transmission (CVT) or dual-clutch (DCT)
  • Full-size (matching) spare wheel that matches road wheels – no run flats or space savers
  • Petrol, and definitely not diesel

Bruce says he and his wife want an SUV or hatchback, and it’s his wife that will be the main driver of the car. There’s no need for something as big as the C5 anymore, so downsizing from the mid-sized model is a must, ruling out some of the traditional options, like a Commodore.

This will be a second car, a runaround, and therefore Bruce doesn’t have as much need for rear seat space, as the couple’s other ride has that covered.

We get the feeling Bruce might have a soft spot for French cars - and cars in general, since he’s 75 and is a “member of several car clubs”, and he’s said that he’s keen to see how the new Peugeot 3008 stacks up. Well, it won’t meet his requirement for a full-size spare that matches the other four – instead, it comes with an 18-inch space-saver.

The requirement for a full-size spare wheel whittles down what would be an otherwise chunky number of options, as does the need for a non-CVT/DCT automatic. If we started with a tree, we’re left with something like a toothpick.

For instance, a Honda CR-V would be one we’d suggest, but it has a CVT, and the same goes for a Subaru XV and Renault Koleos. Then there’s the Peugeot 2008 and 3008, both with the right drivetrain, but with space-saver spare wheels. In fact, pretty much anything European has a space-saver or has run-flat tyres, which eliminates heaps of options.

There are some vehicles that hit the spot for what Bruce is after, like the Ford EcoSport (with its 1.5-litre petrol with six-speed automatic and tailgate-mount spare wheel) or the Suzuki Grand Vitara (2.4-litre petrol, four-speed auto, tailgate-mount spare)… but the not-very-good EcoSport is soon to be updated, and the on-sale-since-2006 Grand Vitara is destined to be replaced imminently. A Suzuki Jimny is another, but it’s in the process of being phased out ahead of replacement too.

A Hyundai Sonata or i40 sedan would fit the bill, not to mention a Kia Optima – but the aim of the game was to downsize, so let’s forget those.

Another Hyundai that misses our cut is the Accent Sport. Compact though it may be, we suspect it won’t hit the highs that may be expected of a buyer with up to $50,000 to spend. We’re also suggesting another Hyundai miss the cut – the Elantra, in Active or Elite specification, which is an otherwise quite impressive compact sedan, but Bruce is more interested in a hatch or SUV.

There’s one really good hatchback that isn’t going to make our final cut, either – the Kia Cerato. No matter which version you buy it comes with a full-size spare, be it riding on steelies or alloys, and while we think it’s a great option, it just misses the cut due to a more modern offering from a sibling brand.

And a couple of other final omissions: the Subaru BRZ, which meets the criteria but is too low to get into and out of; and the Volvo V40, which has cramped headroom (Bruce and his wife have driven it and said it was a deal-breaker).

So, finally, here are our three picks for Bruce’s version of The Shortlist.

Hyundai i30 Active

There’s only one spec of Hyundai i30 that meets all the criteria for Bruce, and it happens to be the entry-level Active base model.

For a measly $23,250 plus on-road costs the Hyundai i30 Active offers plenty to like. It only just missed out on being our pick of the pack in our Hyundai i30 range review, bettered by the i30 SR model which has two no-nos based on the criteria (DCT and space-saver).

Anyway, more on what the Active has: 16-inch alloys with that full-size spare, an 8.0-inch media unit with a rear-view camera and satellite navigation (with 10 years of free map updates), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, driver’s one-touch auto down for front and rear windows, height-adjustable driver’s seat, and tilt/reach steering adjustment.

Safety features standard with the Active include seven airbags, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, hill-start assist, automatic headlights, LED daytime lights and rear park assist.

The Active does not have autonomous emergency braking (AEB) available, although an option pack – including AEB – will be offered toward the end of 2017.

The engine is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 120kW of power and 203Nm of torque. The six-speed automatic model uses 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres, according to Hyundai.

Hyundai Tucson Active or ActiveX

Yet another Hyundai entry-grade model is represented in the form of the Tucson Active. Again, there are higher-spec petrol models that don’t meet the criteria due to transmission differences.

The Active, though, is a good starting point. In fact, it’s a great starting point, with the 2018 model year version getting a more powerful 2.0-litre engine – the same one found in the new i30 (with the same power outputs, but fuel use of just a little more – 7.9L/100km).

The version with the six-speed automatic and front-wheel-drive starts at $31,590 plus on-road costs, and because of its equipment, it doesn’t feel like an entry-level car.

There’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen media unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, AUX/USB audio inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, six speakers, and rear sensors and a rear-view camera with steering guidelines that move as you turn the wheel. It, like the i30, has six airbags.

The Active model also has LED daytime running lights with auto-on/off projector beam headlights, not to mention 17-inch alloy wheels (with a full-size spare!) and roof rails.

If that’s not enough, the ActiveX (pictured) may appeal even more: it costs an extra $2060, but adds nice bits like leather-trimmed seats, a nicer steering wheel and gear-knob, bigger 18-inch alloy wheels (still with full-size spare), electric/heated side mirrors and a light in the glovebox. If Bruce wants to spend a little more, there’s an optional panoramic glass sunroof for just $2000 – totally worth it.

Kia Sportage

The best option for Bruce could well be the Kia Sportage, which has four different models available with petrol-auto drivetrains, including a top-spec petrol GT-Line with all-wheel-drive.

The entry-level front-wheel-drive versions – the Si (from $28,990), Si Premium ($30,990) and SLi (pictured, $34,690) – are all well equipped, but for Bruce the GT-Line may well appeal to his car-loving character.

For $43,490 plus on-road costs, the GT-Line’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine pumps out 135kW and 237Nm, meaning it has the grunt advantage over the Hyundais (and the lower-output 2.0-litre Sportage, which has 114kW/192Nm), and doesn’t pay too high a price in terms of fuel consumption, with a claim of 8.5L/100km.

Plus it is generously equipped, with climate control air-conditioning, auto high-beam headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels with full-size spare, automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights and auto high-beam, keyless entry and push-button start.

Its trump card is extra safety kit. It has autonomous emergency braking (which neither of the others have), lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, semi-automated parking assistance, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and blind-spot monitoring.

Want more of The Shortlist? Catch the growing series here.

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