Australia’s Best Best Micro and Light Cars in 2016

Moving Well | RACV | Posted on 21 February 2017

Australia’s best cars 2016: Best Micro Car

Winner: Kia Picanto Si

Kia Picanto epitomises what this class is all about. It is small, affordable, very easy to drive and has five-star safety. It gets the jump on its competitors in the value-for-money stakes with an attractive drive-away price of $14,990, low insurance costs, a class-leading list of standard features and an industry-leading seven-year-warranty.

The Kia’s 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine and a conventional four-speed automatic deliver a pleasing mix of relatively nippy performance and fuel economy well suited to this type of city-centric car. And it’s competent enough on the open road. You can see a few signs that this smart-looking European design and Korean-built car has been manufactured to a price, but generally speaking, it is solidly constructed.

Picanto is tiny but interior space is used efficiently. The front seats provide better than expected comfort and support, while all the controls are conveniently placed and simple to use. In the rear, there is more legroom than you’d imagine and the headroom is also quite good. Boot space is modest, but the split/fold rear seats add a little extra versatility. It was disappointing, although not surprising, to find that Picanto carries only a tiny space-saver spare wheel.

Micro cars

Micro cars

WEIGHTING

Kia Picanto S

Kia Picanto S

You can’t expect much from cars of this size and price, but Kia Picanto does enough to satisfy most budget buyers.
Mitsubishi Mirage ES

Mitsubishi Mirage ES

Affordable, economical and safe: Mitsubishi Mirage gets the basics right.
Holden Spark LS

Holden Spark LS

Spark has shrugged off its Barina background to be a really enjoyable car to drive.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Pricing

Critical

6

5

3

Cost of depreciation ($)

Medium

3

7

4

Running and repair costs

High

9

9

8

Fuel consumption

Critical

9

9

9

Warranty and dealer access

High

9

8

4

Insurance

Low

7

6

2

Standard features

High

8

6

6

DESIGN AND FUNCTION
Safety

Critical

6

7

6

Environment

Critical

7

7

7

Seating comfort

Medium

7

6

7

Space

Low

6

7

6

Practicality

Medium

4

4

4

Ergonomics

High

7

6

7

Build and finish quality

Medium

6

5

7

ON THE ROAD
Performance

Medium

6

5

7

Ride

Medium

6

5

6

Handling

Medium

6

4

7

Braking

Medium

5

5

5

Smoothness and quietness

Low

6

5

7

OVERALL AVERAGE

754

712

668

Australia’s best cars 2016: Best Light Car

Winner: Suzuki Baleno GL

Even at $17,990 drive-away, Baleno is far cheaper than most of its rivals. It backs this up with economical fuel consumption and affordable servicing/repair costs.

Baleno has one of the roomiest cabins in the class, while judiciously chosen standard equipment adds to the driving ease. The interior layout is simple and functional with a number of driver assistance features unexpected in entry-level models at this price point, such as a reversing camera, satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay. While the trim materials reflect the price, the fit, finish and general build quality look good.

Baleno is almost as roomy as some models in the next class up. The front seats have a good range of adjustments and provide a respectable level of comfort. There’s a surprising amount of rear leg room, plenty of head room and a massive boot.

The performance and on-road ability of the GL model is solid rather than spectacular, with power and torque figures around average for the class. As such, it is not an exciting drive, but around town it’s well mannered. However, the steering is a little vague just off centre, and when pushed along a bit harder it isn’t as composed as some of its sportier-feeling competitors.

Light cars

Light cars

WEIGHTING

Suzuki Baleno GL

Suzuki Baleno GL

Suzuki Baleno keeps the budget buyer happy by doing most things without fuss.
Kia Rio S

Kia Rio S

Driving ease is the big attraction with the roomy, value-for-money Rio.
Mazda2 Neo

Mazda2 Neo

Its technical sophistication makes Mazda2 a real driving experience.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Pricing

Critical

8

8

6

Cost of depreciation ($)

Medium

6

6

6

Running and repair costs

High

8

8

7

Fuel consumption

Critical

9

7

9

Warranty and dealer access

High

3

9

3

Insurance

Low

3

6

7

Standard features

High

6

4

6

DESIGN AND FUNCTION
Safety

Critical

7

6

7

Environment

Critical

7

6

7

Seating comfort

Medium

6

7

7

Space

Low

8

7

5

Practicality

Medium

5

6

4

Ergonomics

High

8

7

6

Build and finish quality

Medium

5

5

6

ON THE ROAD
Performance

Medium

6

5

7

Ride

Medium

7

6

7

Handling

Medium

5

6

7

Braking

Medium

6

6

6

Smoothness and quietness

Low

5

5

6

OVERALL AVERAGE

726

718

702