Best Small Cars in 2015

hyundai active i30 active driivng on road surrounded by trees


Posted February 25, 2016

Australia’s best cars 2015: Small Car under $35,000

Winner: Hyundai i30 Active

The i30 started the ABC race with a head start for price and then built on this with cheap running and repair costs. Warranty and dealer coverage round out the deal.

But it isn’t just the dollar equation that makes sense with modern Hyundais. The i30 cabin is spacious enough and the dash is relatively uncluttered. The five-inch touch screen controls the information and entertainment systems, eliminating the need for some switches. A rear-view camera is standard across the range.

The 1.8L direct-injection petrol engine is a flexible unit with reasonable mid-range pulling power while still achieving good environmental performance. However, it was not as quiet as the other two finalists. And plenty of others equal or better its fuel consumption.

No matter what sort of road surface, the i30’s ride remained compliant and confident. It also has Hyundai’s three push-button steering-tune settings, although most drivers will be happy with the Normal mode.

Although the i30 did not have the handling and performance of the two runners-up Mazda3 and Ford Focus, it matched them for space.

red bmw 118i sport line on road in apollo bay victoria

BMW 118i Sport Line.


Australia’s best cars 2015: Small Car over $35,000

Winner: BMW 118i Sport Line

The 118i has edged ahead of the pack with a mid-cycle upgrade that restructured the 1 Series line-up, smartened presentation and improved standard features. Along with subtle interior refinements, features such as a rear-view camera, BMW’s savvy ConnectedDrive with real-time traffic information and rain-sensing wipers are now standard across the range. And of course there are also plenty of extra-cost options.

There is a touch of sporting elegance and refinement about how the 118i looks and drives. BMW uses high-quality materials and there’s attention to detail in the trim and fittings. The cockpit-style cabin layout is cosy rather than cramped, and appropriately contoured seats provide good comfort and support.

The 118i is a superb everyday drive. Sharp, nimble handling, good steering feel and excellent cornering grip are backed by a firm, well-controlled ride.

A sweet 1.6L, 4cyl turbo-charged petrol delivers ample performance for a relaxed driving experience. And although BMW is phasing in a 1.5L engine for the 118i, it will retain the same power and torque figures but provide even better fuel consumption. Both versions are well matched to an excellent 8spd automatic transmission.