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CarAdvice

Small Cars Under $40k

Volkswagen Golf
1
  • Awesome power delivery once on the move; Grippy tyres and taut handling; Sharp exhaust crackle; Premium interior presentation, practical cabin and boot

  • Not far off VW Golf R money; Significant amount of tyre roar on coarse-chip roads; Suspension can be a touch firm even in comfort mode on severe bumps; Getting all those stickers off

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
  • Improved rear seat and boot space; Long list of safety and driver assist tech; Quite enjoyable to drive around town

  • Missing some ZR hatch features; Big wheels dial back open-road comfort; Noise and vibration from transmission during spirited starts

Honda Civic
  • Steering and chassis are exceptional on any road surface; Interior design and storage space are the envy of the class; Changes to the revised model add to the equation

  • Engine and gearbox don't match the promise and quality of the chassis; Safety tech that is standard higher up in the range should be standard here; No rear air vents a minor issue

Mazda 3
  • However you cut it, it's still better for the environment; Fantastic integration of smart combustion tech is imperceptible in operation; Performance feels equal to a regular 2.5-litre model

  • Second row of seating lacks space and light; Calling it a hybrid is a bit unfair towards oneself; Your pockets are unlikely to benefit from owning one

Small Cars Over $40k

Mercedes-Benz A200
1
  • Handsome exterior design; Brilliant widescreen dash display; Bigger boot than the hatch;

  • Price is expensive; Suspension is firm, noisy tyres; Limited rear seat space;

Audi A3
  • Strong mid-range performance, alluring exhaust note; Quick, response steering; Agile handling, superb all-weather traction; Improved ride; Clarity of digital instruments, infotainment functions;

  • Gruff low-end properties (on early prototype); Occassional jarring of gear shifts on loaded throttle (on early prototype); Excellent adaptive damping function a (likely) costly option;

BMW 1 Series
  • More interior room than its predecessor; Handy parking and reversing technology; Good looks, especially on the inside

  • Idle-stop and transmission are jolty; Sporty suspension makes for a rough ride; Sat-nav display is difficult to read; No Android Auto available yet

Mercedes-Benz B180
  • Spacious cabin; Excellent MBUX infotainment; Sharp exterior design; (Mostly) comfortable ride

  • 1.33-litre engine is breathless; Dual-clutch transmission has its quirks; Some cheap materials inside

5

BMW i3

BMW i3
  • Improved real-world range; Studio-like interior accommodation; Dramatic styling left unchanged; Entertaining dynamics

  • High price against growing list of competitors; Infotainment and safety systems showing their age; Ride quality doesn't match urban aspirations