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Car Advice

Small SUVs Under $40k

Subaru XV
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  • Spacious back seats; Soft-roading credibility; Comfortable ride, sharp handling; Improved running costs

  • Shallow and small boot; Engine never better than average; All manner of chimes and beeps

Toyota C-HR
  • Beautiful, compliant ride; Fun to drive; Enjoyable manual gearbox; Striking exterior design with customisation options; Slick cabin presentation; Servicing only $195 per year (or 15,000km)

  • Shallow boot; Claustrophobic rear seat; Rear vision limitations; Modest performance

Honda HR-V
  • Versatile interior configurations; Comfy ride with positive handling upgrades; Feels right at home in the city; RS treatment looks really good

  • CVT auto dulls driving; Infotainment feels out of date; Pedestrian performance

Hyundai Kona
  • Excellent dynamic ability; Plenty of power and torque; Stylish exterior and interior design; First-rate active safety systems; Faster than it claims

  • Harsh plastic use in-cabin; Dual-clutch transmission not ideal for low-speed driving; High fuel usage for the turbo; 2.0-litre engine seems to make more sense for city dwellers

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
  • Distinct styling untouched; Tailored towards urban life; More affordable than before

  • Not a dynamic stand out; Price could still be a grand or two sharper; Polarising, particularly from the rear

Small SUVs Over $40k

Volvo XC40
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  • Roomy interior with excellent visibility; All models packed with standard equipment; Dynamic engine and excellent to drive

  • Ride is quite firm and may be too firm for some on 20-inch wheels; Servicing costs almost four times more than the equivalent BMW

MINI Countryman
  • Usable plug-in hybrid with reasonable range; great for city commuting and short distant drives; rides well; steers and drives like a mini; quick recharge from standard plug; great interior and not too much space compromise

  • Not suited for long distance driving; weight penalty; Mini wallbox not standard; interim technology; not ideal for non-suburban use

Audi Q2
  • Quick without being manically so; Adroit handling; Edgy styling; Seamless seven-speed S tronic transmission; Excellent off-road dynamics

  • Plenty of road and wind noise; Some cheap elements in the cabin; Pretty cramped second row; Boot space well short of class leaders

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BMW X1

BMW X1
  • Long list of standard equipment at long last; the driver’s choice as the 2.0-litre petrol is a fun little unit; smart looks and practical interior just what buyers want

  • Front-drive platform and cheaper-feeling components make the price-parity X3 seem like a better value proposition; need to roll in the M-Sport pack to score dynamic suspension – it’s a start

Mercedes-Benz GLA
  • Sprightly turbocharged engine; Plenty of traction on offer; Has the latest Smartphone connectivity; Good standard safety equipment; New LED headlights are really good

  • Still a bit expensive compared with rivals; Not as practical as most competitors; Cramped back seat; Suspension can be upset by sharp edges; Some low-speed quibbles