News & ReviewsLast 7 days

Small Cars Under $40k

Volkswagen Golf
  • Flexible and economical if not hugely powerful turbocharged 1.5 mild-hybrid powerplant; Improved qualities of dual-clutch automatic gearbox; Heightened handling traits, composed and controlled ride; Practical new Innovision cockpit and digital functions; Excellent build quality;

  • Some noticeable cost-cutting measures; Not all touch control functions are as intuitive as traditional analogue buttons; Long wait until Australian sales begin;

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
  • Hugely improved over the outgoing sedan; Strong standard safety; Relaxed ride with decent handling; Rear seat and boot space over the hatch

  • Jiggly ride and road noise in the ZR; No hybrid for the ZR; Starting price is a touch high

Honda Civic
  • Decent equipment list; Keen dynamics; Supple ride; Spacious cabin and boot

  • Not as good value as lower grades; Doesn't feel particularly high end; Buzzy, uninspiring drivetrain; Road noise

Mazda 3
  • The most upmarket small-car cabin in mainstream class; Astina brimming with driver aids; Excellent infotainment system; Satisfying dynamics

  • Front-end jolted by bigger, sharper bumps; 10,000km servicing intervals; Rear-vision restrictions; Boot size and rear legroom not exactly generous;

Small Cars Over $40k

Mercedes-Benz A200
  • 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
  • Swift, linear performance; All-wheel-drive traction; 1 Series’s step up in cabin quality and technology; Increased rear-seat space

  • Steering short on feel and prone to tugging; Busy ride on typical Australian roads; Lacks old M140i’s six-cylinder soundtrack; Adaptive dampers not standard

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


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