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Beat the bowser: five of the most economical new cars under $20,000

If you’re looking for a new car that won’t break the bank, these five city hatchbacks are worth a look.
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The price of petrol might be hitting 20-year lows but as night follows day the cost will go up.

As many motorists look to save money amid the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve compiled a list of five of the most economical new cars under $20,000.

There’s not a hybrid among them because petrol-electric technology is still relatively expensive, but the good news is all of these cars can run on regular 91 unleaded; they don’t require expensive premium unleaded.

Here’s a rundown of what’s available, in order of fuel efficiency.

Mitsubishi Mirage

The Mitsubishi Mirage is powered by a super frugal 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine and is priced from $16,990 drive-away with auto. A manual is also available, although a drive-away price is not offered.

With an official fuel consumption average of 4.7L/100km (not far off Toyota Prius territory),and based on a price of $1.50 per litre for regular unleaded, the Mitsubishi Mirage automatic would cost $1058 to cover the national average distance of 15,000km per year.

Suzuki Swift

The base model Suzuki Swift is powered by a thrifty 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine (dearer models have turbo power and require premium unleaded) and is priced from $17,690 drive-away when equipped with a five-speed manual, and $18,690 drive-away with automatic transmission.

Both models are among the most miserly of their peers: 4.6L/100km is the official rating label figure for the manual, while the auto sips a claimed average of 4.8L/100km.

As a guide, at $1.50 per litre for regular unleaded, the Suzuki Swift automatic would cost $1080 to cover the national average distance of 15,000km per year.

Kia Picanto

The Kia Picanto is similar in size to the Mitsubishi Mirage but smaller than the others here such as the Suzuki Swift, Kia Rio and Toyota Yaris.

The advantage is that it can fit into tight parking spaces and is ideal for congested city streets.

The Kia Picanto is powered by a 1.25-litre four-cylinder engine paired to either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto.

The base model manual starts from just $15,990 drive-away while the auto is $16,990 drive-away. As with all Kias, the Picanto comes with a seven-year warranty while the other cars listed here have five-year coverage.

According to the official fuel rating label, the Kia Picanto five-speed manual uses an average of 5.0L/100km while the four-speed auto’s average is 5.8L/100km.

As a guide, at $1.50 per litre for regular unleaded, the Kia Picanto automatic would cost $1305 to cover the national average distance of 15,000km per year.

Kia Rio

Kia gets two mentions in this list because it is the only brand with two cars that are both frugal, run on regular unleaded, and priced below $20,000.

The Kia Rio – the bigger brother to the Kia Picanto – is powered by a 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine and comes with a choice of a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic.

The base model Kia Rio manual is priced from $17,790 drive-away while the auto is currently listed at $18,790 drive-away.

According to the official fuel rating label, the Kia Rio six-speed manual uses an average of 5.6L/100km while the four-speed auto’s average is 6.2L/100km.

As a guide, at $1.50 per litre for regular unleaded, the Kia Rio automatic would cost $1395 to cover the national average distance of 15,000km per year.

Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris is nearing the end of the road to make way for an all-new model, which is why the prices are so sharp: $15,990 drive-away for a five-speed manual or $17,490 drive-away for a four-speed auto.

The base model Toyota Yaris is powered by a 1.3-litre four-cylinder and, according to the fuel rating label figures, the manual consumes a claimed average of 5.8L/100km while the auto is rated at 6.4L/100km.

As a guide, at $1.50 per litre for regular unleaded, the Toyota Yaris automatic would cost $1440 to cover the national average distance of 15,000km per year.