It may be a small field, but finding a new car under the 20-grand mark isn't impossible.
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There's an old saying that you should spend three months' salary on an engagement ring. According to consumer advice site finder.com.au, a similar rule applies when buying new cars.

Ideally, it suggests, you shouldn't spend more than 15 per cent of your annual income on the purchase price of a car.

That would mean someone on a salary of $100,000 (far more than the average Australian income) should be aiming for a car around $15,000 – not exactly achievable.

Still, it's true that the majority of new-car buyers have budget front of mind, meaning models hovering at or below the $20,000 mark are incredibly appealing options.

While this price point pretty much rules out SUVs or even automatic versions of most small cars, there's still a pool of automatic entry-level models available for sale in Australia that fit the brief.

Below, several new cars which have current model-year pricing starting under $20,000 (excluding on-road costs). We hope you're in the market for a compact hatchback!

NB: While these are list prices and advertised offers, individual deals may vary. We've included drive-away deals where available, though these may be subject to change and don't include options like metallic paint or accessories.


Honda City

Price: From $17,990 plus ORCs for the 2020 Honda City VTi auto sedan (current offer from 17,990 drive-away).

Safety rating: Five-star ANCAP, tested 2014.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 7.0 – From 2018: "If you're in the market for a light sedan and plan on carting passengers around regularly, go for the base VTi, which misses out on alloys, navigation and leather though is a far more sensible price." Full review here.

Honda Jazz

Price: From $16,990 plus ORCs for the 2020 Honda Jazz VTi auto hatch.

Safety rating: Five-star ANCAP, tested 2014.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 6.9 – From 2019: "In the ever-evolving world that is the automotive industry, the Honda Jazz stays true to what's made it so popular, but is starting to fall behind the pack in terms of infotainment and driver assistance." Full review here.

Kia Picanto

Price: From $15,790 plus ORCs for the 2020 Kia Picanto S auto (current offer from $16,990 drive-away).

Safety rating: Four-star ANCAP, tested 2017.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 8.1 – From 2020: "The ride and handling combination wraps up what is a smart and rational package. For the past two years, over 10,000 examples have found their way into homes. Affordable to buy, run and care for, it’s clear why it has been successful." Full review here.

Kia Rio

Price: From $19,590 plus ORCs for the 2020 Kia Rio S auto (current offer from $18,990 drive-away).

Safety rating: Five-star ANCAP, tested 2017.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 7.0 – From 2018: "Though it may not set pulses racing or imaginations alight, the mix of user-friendliness and promise of long-term reliability (with a warranty to match) should help keep interest in the Rio ticking over steadily." Full review here.

MG 3

Price: From $16,490 plus ORCs for the 2019 MG 3 Core auto (current offer from $15,990 drive-away).

Safety rating: Three-star European NCAP, untested by ANCAP.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 7.4 – From 2019: "The MG 3 remains a solid choice for those looking for a reliable, well-backed small city runabout that will serve its purpose diligently. If safety remains a concern, then there are plenty of alternatives, but considering its popularity, plenty of buyers seem to think otherwise." Full review here.

Mitsubishi Mirage

Price: From $15,490 plus ORCs for the 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage ES LA auto, with a current offer of $16,990 driveaway (a restyled range, shown below, is due in April with Australian pricing still TBC).

Safety rating: Five-star ANCAP, tested 2013.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 6.5 – From 2016: "With strong competition in the form of the Kia Picanto ... the Mirage remains an also-ran in the budget city car segment. It's better than before, but still not as good as the rest of the cars in the class." Full review here.

Renault Clio

Price: From $18,990 plus ORCs for the 2019 Renault Clio Life auto (although a 2020 model is coming and prices have not yet been revealed).

Safety rating: Five-star ANCAP, tested 2013.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 7.5 – From 2017: "Whether you’re interested in its European style or because of its equipment level, it’s worth a look as long as you understand that it's intended to fill a niche rather than a one-size fits all offering." Full review here.

Suzuki Baleno

Price: From $16,990 plus ORCs for the 2020 Suzuki Baleno GL auto (current offer from $15,990 for the 2019 GL manual).

Safety rating: Untested by ANCAP.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 7.1 – From 2019: "The base Baleno continues to offer acres of space and decent levels of equipment, though the lack of safety tech puts it behind the class leaders." Full review here.

Suzuki Ignis

Price: From $17,690 plus ORCs for the 2020 Suzuki Ignis GL auto.

Safety rating: Three-star European NCAP, untested by ANCAP.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 7.5 – From 2017: "A car with character beyond its price tag and top-line outputs. For a modern, clever take on the simple city car, it’s a friendly option which, while being simple and cheap in places, still manages to elicit a smile." Full review here.

Suzuki Swift

Price: From $18,690 plus ORCs for the 2020 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator auto (current offer from $17,690 for the 2019 GL Navigator manual).

Safety rating: Five-star ANCAP, tested 2017.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 7.4 – From 2019: "If you value the driving experience and aren't fussed with any pretence of luxury, the Swift makes a lot of sense. But its cheap cabin goes a long way to undermining the value equation." Full review here.

Toyota Yaris

Price: From $16,920 plus ORCs for the 2019 Toyota Yaris Ascent auto (although a new, possibly pricier 2020 range is coming).

Safety rating: Five-star ANCAP, tested 2017.

Most recent CarAdvice rating: 7.3 – From 2020: "The Yaris is showing its age in its cabin quality, powertrain, and technology. However, it is a charming little runabout if you rarely hit 80km/h. With the all-new MY20 on its way soon, you might be able to snap up a good deal with the current model at your local Toyota dealership." Full review here.