Australia’s cheapest micro, light and small cars for 2019

Moving Well | Sue Hewitt | Posted on 18 July 2019

Driving Your Dollars survey finds the cheapest small, light and micro cars to buy and run.

There’s no arguing about the reason people choose a small car – it’s price, from the dealership showroom to ongoing road costs.

Price-conscious car buyers are embracing small new cars as the cheapest to buy and run, while still getting a comfortable, city-focused ride.

RACV’s 2019 Driving your Dollars survey examined three categories of smaller rides – micro, light and small cars – with on-road prices starting about $17,000 up to almost $27,000.

RACV has done all the hard work investigating 13 best-selling models across these categories to find the real average weekly running costs including the initial purchase price.

Experts factored in depreciation, loan interest, registration, insurance, fuel, tyres and maintenance, as well as the purchase price, to arrive at the weekly running costs.

Front view of blue Mitsubishi Mirage parked in front of lake with city skyline in the background

Mitsubishi Mirage ES is the cheapest car to buy in 2019.

Talk about being economical, micro cars – as the name suggests the smallest on the market – are the cheapest to run, costing an average of $123.55 a week or 42.8 cents a kilometre.

Weekly running costs increase as the size increases, with light cars costing an average of $141.92 a week or 49.2 cents a kilometre and small cars costing $169.24 a week or 58.7 cents a kilometre. 

Of the three micro vehicles examined, the cheapest to buy was the Mitsubishi Mirage ES 1.2 litre five-door hatch at $16,792, which costs $119.05 a week or 41.27 cents a kilometre to run. 

People wanting a fun ride might favour the retro-style Fiat 500 Pop three-door hatch which tops the micro car list in price at $21,591 and costs $133.37 a week to run. 

The Fiat costs more to buy than any of the five light cars surveyed, including a Suzuki Baleno GL five-door hatch costing $16,990 up to the Mazda2 Neo five-door hatch at $21,155.

The most affordable vehicle to run across the three categories, and the entire Driving Your Dollars survey, is not a micro car, but a light car – the Kia Rio S. Owners of the popular Kia five-door hatch spend about $115.95 a week or 40.2 cents a kilometre. The second-most affordable to run is also a light car, the Suzuki Swift GL five-door hatch at $117.77 a week.

Moving up a category to small cars, the purchase prices and weekly running costs increase, with four of the five models surveyed costing between $154.75 and $157.90 a week to run. The Kia Cerato S five-door hatch was the cheapest small car to run at $136.64 a week.

The diesel-fuelled Hyundai i30 Active 1.6-litre five-door hatch topped this category in price at $29,575, but its two-litre petrol variant was the most expensive to run with a weekly cost of $157.90 or 54.74 cents a kilometre.

The survey found that a micro vehicle on average cost owners $32,124.02 over five years, while light cars cost $36,899.13 and small cars $44,001.72.