Australia’s Best Small Cars in 2016

Moving Well | RACV | Posted on 21 February 2017

Australia’s best cars 2016: Best Small Car under $35,000

Winner: Kia Cerato S

There’s an air of quality and attention to detail in Mazda3, along with strong safety credentials.

The drive-away price of the Cerato S had a strong bearing on results this year. At $19,990 for either the manual or automatic, hatchback or sedan, it’s a very attractive proposition, backed by an industry-leading warranty.

Cerato efficiently tackles urban commuting but is flexible enough for longer highway journeys too. Reasonable power is available with 112kW backed up by 192Nm of torque, and for most driving situations Cerato gets around without any fuss. The Korean manufacturer has been producing its own engines and transmissions for some time now with favourable success in regards to durability and efficiency.

Cerato backed up its value numbers with consistent scoring for space, practicality, comfort and equipment. The S model lacks some interaction features such as a touch-screen control centre, which also accounts for the absence of a reversing camera. They’re in a $500 AV upgrade; it’s hard to argue why you wouldn’t at this price.

Yet one thing the S does supply which you don’t find as standard too often in this class is a front parking sensor system as well as for the rear. And it’s great to see a fully compatible and matching spare wheel in the boot.

Small Car Under $35,000

Small Car Under $35,000

WEIGHTING

Kia Cerato S

Kia Cerato S

At under $20,000, this small Kia’s value for money has never looked better.
Ford Focus Trend

Ford Focus Trend

The thrifty but nimble new Focus has shrugged off previous models’ transmission issues.
Mazda3 Maxx Sport

Mazda3 Maxx Sport

There’s an air of quality and attention to detail in Mazda3, along with strong safety credentials.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Pricing

Critical

10

6

5

Cost of depreciation ($)

Medium

9

6

5

Running and repair costs

High

8

8

7

Fuel consumption

Critical

6

8

8

Warranty and dealer access

High

9

4

3

Insurance

Low

7

7

5

Standard features

High

4

6

6

DESIGN AND FUNCTION
Safety

Critical

7

7

8

Environment

Critical

5

7

7

Seating comfort

Medium

6

6

7

Space

Low

6

5

5

Practicality

Medium

7

6

5

Ergonomics

High

6

7

8

Build and finish quality

High

6

8

8

ON THE ROAD
Performance

Medium

6

8

7

Ride

Medium

6

7

7

Handling

Medium

6

7

8

Braking

Medium

5

7

6

Smoothness and quietness

Low

6

7

7

OVERALL AVERAGE

762

754

750

Australia’s best cars 2016: Best Small Car over $35,000

Winner: BMW 125i

An exquisite interior and rewarding drive overcome some shortcomings in the smallest Benz.

The evolution of the BMW 1 Series since its introduction in 2004, which has seen the model continue with its rear-wheel-drive chassis, has helped keep the German maker’s smallest model at the top of the class for driver appeal. BMW has also proven it can make cars with benchmark ergonomics, and the 125i Sport Line is no exception.

When finding the optimal driving position for your size, the 1 Series is king. Anyone can get comfortable, yet cleverly there seems to be no wasted space either.

It’s in these two areas – the seemingly telepathic handling and its brilliant ergonomics – where the 125i really puts its nose ahead of the opposition. Frankly, it really needed to in order to offset the points it gave away due to its premium price.

The 125i also has strong safety credentials, including front and rear parking sensors, a rear camera, lane departure warning and a pedestrian warning feature.

The 125i’s interior, while intimate, still conveys the message that this is a luxury car, albeit downsized into a sporty hatchback. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Minor controls such as heating and ventilation, audio and driving modes are clearly laid out and logical without looking like labelled kitchen containers.

Small Car Over $35,000

Small Car Over $35,000

WEIGHTING

BMW 125i MSport

BMW 125i

The 125i displays great driving dynamics and a certain degree of luxury.
Volvo V40 T4 Inscription

Volvo V40 T4 Inscription

The competitive costs of ownership make a convincing argument for the V40.
Mercedes Benz A 180

Mercedes Benz A 180

An exquisite interior and rewarding drive overcome some shortcomings in the smallest Benz.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Pricing

High

5

6

7

Cost of depreciation ($)

Medium

5

6

7

Running and repair costs

Medium

7

6

5

Fuel consumption

Critical

7

8

7

Warranty and dealer access

Medium

2

2

2

Insurance

Low

3

8

7

Standard features

High

6

7

6

DESIGN AND FUNCTION
Safety

Critical

9

8

9

Environment

Critical

7

7

7

Seating comfort

High

8

7

7

Space

Low

6

6

6

Practicality

Medium

6

5

6

Ergonomics

High

7

6

5

Build and finish quality

Critical

7

7

7

ON THE ROAD
Performance

High

9

8

6

Ride

High

6

7

6

Handling

High

9

8

7

Braking

Medium

7

7

7

Smoothness and quietness

Medium

7

6

6

OVERALL AVERAGE

858

848

810