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Light Cars Under $25k

Volkswagen Polo
1
  • Impressive powertrain; confidence-inspiring dynamics; comfortable interior; modern infotainment system; value of driving comfort package

  • Expensive servicing; sports package affects ride comfort; engine requires premium unleaded petrol

Suzuki Swift
  • Familiar agile dynamics; radar cruise for less than $20k; optional turbo engine has character; good value, with one notable exception

  • No touchscreen on base GL manual; GLX Turbo is auto-only; AEB not on lower grade versions; cabin trims still cheap in places

Mazda 2
  • AEB across the range; standout exterior and interior design; one of the more agile and fun-to-drive little offerings out there; no price increase

  • Not very spacious in the rear, even by class standards; no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto; Neo still lacks rear-view camera

Honda Jazz
  • Most versatile and spacious cabin in class; safety; good value at entry level

  • Outdated media system; too expensive in higher trim; not as enjoyable to drive as class leaders

ŠKODA FABIA
  • Packaging; dynamics; good steering and engine; customisation options; AEB; infotainment

  • Hesitant dual-clutch gearbox; lots of customisation options; small dealer network

Light Cars Over $25k

MINI Cooper
1
  • High-speed stability is better than expected; Eight-speed auto works well with the paddle shifters; Ride comfort is excellent in the softer mode, and not bad in Sport either; 2.0-litre turbo four pulls even in top gear; All the latest tech; Great seats; JCWs look the business

  • Luggage space is always an issue with a three-door Mini; Steering could be sharper and with more feel; Seating feels unusually high for a hot hatch of these credentials

Citroen C3
  • Big boot and roomy interior in a compact footprint; Comfort-biased suspension; Hard-to-miss styling; Plenty of standard equipment

  • Single-spec isn't exactly budget friendly; Rear camera tech and speed sign recognition don't live up to potential; Jittery low-speed driving; Missed cabin storage opportunities

Audi A1
  • Larger dimensions fix back-row problems of old; New design will appeal to a larger spectrum; Willing and earthy drivetrain choices; It's funky

  • Horrible road noise; Back-row passengers miss out on basic comforts; No S1 variant... Boo!

Peugeot 208
  • Big performance; Exclusivity; Beefy looks; Practical boot; Interior add-ons look the goods; Lots of character; Five-year warranty

  • Harsh ride will be too firm for some; i-Cockpit will polarise; Tight back seat; Expensive servicing; There are only 20 of them

Renault Zoe
  • Compact and easy to drive in and around the city; Well-sorted ride on poor-quality roads; Range of charging rates available

  • Feels quite cheap in and around the cabin; High price tag given the package; Lack of basic safety technology; Soon to be outpriced by a number of competitors