News & ReviewsLast 7 days
CarAdvice

Small Cars Under $40k

Volkswagen Golf
1
  • Turbo engine’s grunt, refinement and flexibility; Fun, adjustable handling; Tyre grip in wet; Excellent brakes; Superb digital instrument display and infotainment system; Good space in rear seat and boot;

  • GTI now a circa-$50K proposition with on-road costs; Engine could sound more entertaining; Stiffer ride than before; Low-quality heating-ventilation dials;

Hyundai i30
  • Good looks - inside and out; plenty of kit; stylish cabin; excellent ride; decent handling; boot space with full-size spare; above average audio system; easy-to-use infotainment system

  • Entry-level engine a little lacklustre compared to higher-spec options; No AEB, and Traction control can be quite intrusive during spirited driving or harder acceleration; No rear air-vents or USB port

Toyota Corolla
  • Real-world fuel economy; Increases the appeal of hybrid tech; Impressive handling; Confident design direction

  • Minimal back seat space; No spare tyre (not even a space saver); Small boot for the class; Falls a touch short on premium aspirations

Honda Civic
  • Still a frenetic revver, yet this time with greater driveability; Highly satisfying gearshift and clutch operation; Great steering, handling, brakes; Relative ride comfort; Spot-on driving position and seat support; Looks like a five-door Touring Car

  • Relatively expensive for a front-drive hot hatch; More low-down torque would still be welcome; Styling won’t be to everyone’s tastes; Some buzzes and rattles in our test car; Tyre roar on coarsest surfaces

Mazda 3
  • Sharp looks; Quality cabin fit and finish; Filled to the brim with features; Smooth engine and transmission; Excellent ride despite 18s

  • Premium price tag; Road noise still noticeable; No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto; Tight second row; No rear air vents; Lacks low-down urge of turbo rivals

Small Cars Over $40k

Mercedes-Benz A200
1
  • Enjoyable handling with adaptive dampers (in Sport); Smooth steering; Outstanding cabin presentation; Superb high-tech, hi-res displays; Tight turning circle

  • Ineffective damping, especially base suspension; Dual-clutch auto prone to low-speed hesitancy; Tyre noise can be intrusive; Average rear leg room; “Hey Mercedes” not quite Google Home for the car yet; A250 looks better value

Audi A3
  • Audi build quality; Interior fit and finish; Engine and transmission combination; Sophisticated exterior and interior design; Usable backseats for short drives

  • Noticeable scuttle shake; Super firm ride; Drivetrain can be laggy; Infotainment buggy with Apple's iOS 10

BMW 1 Series
  • The iDrive 6 infotainment is excellent, likewise the dials; Engine and gearbox make a great combo; Cabin ambience feels more premium than the price

  • Slight hesitation in the driveline at low speed; Cabin isn't as clever as it could be in terms of storage

Volvo V40
  • Polestar Performance pack boosts grunt usability and adds those stunning 19-inch wheels; interior quality and fit-out is excellent; love those Thor's Hammer LED headlights

  • Not up to the task in terms of dynamics; engine can be gruff at idle; expensive when equipped with all the stuff you'd want

5

BMW i3

BMW i3
  • It's got more grunt, so it's quicker, and handling is much improved; Range is decent for a pure EV; More kit; Interior uses eco materials and looks cool; Price has barely increased; Good space

  • Drive it hard and its range drops fast; Quirky looks won't impress everyone; Boot space isn't great