Best new cars for first-time drivers under $30,000
ANCAP Rating: 5-star (tested 2017)
Prices start at: $24,990
A perennial favourite for first-time car buyers in Australia since the 1980s, the charming Suzuki Swift brings timeless good looks, reliability, comfort, value retention and a zippy driving experience to the table. Those shopping for the most up-to-date infotainment technology and interior packaging, however, might want to consider some of the Swift’s newer rivals.
ANCAP Rating: 5-star (pre-Jan 2023 build)
Prices start at: $25,296
Despite its age, the Mazda2 still conveys a ‘semi-premium feeling’ that makes it a popular choice for first-time car buyers. Small in stature and easy to park, the Mazda2 backs up its sporty looks with a driving experience that is engaging and suited to busy inner-city roads. Where the Mazda2’s age is most apparent is in its interior packaging and features, with rear legroom, boot capacity (for the hatchback version) and infotainment lagging some of its competitors.
ANCAP Rating: 5-star (tested 2022)
Prices start at: $25,750
With mini-Golf looks and refinement, plus more interior space than segment competitors such as the Toyota Yaris, Mazda2 and Suzuki Swift, it’s no surprise that the Volkswagen Polo tops the shopping list for those looking for a European driving experience with a full suite of safety and infotainment features. First-time car buyers will need to spend a bit more for the privilege though, with prices for the auto Polo nudging $30,000, while aftersales costs are typically higher than average.
ANCAP Rating: 5-star (tested 2018)
Prices start at: $25,990
The Hyundai i30 has an easy-to-drive character and a value-for-money ethos that’s appealing for first-time car buyers, and similar to that of its sister car, the Kia Cerato (albeit with more contemporary, European-inspired exterior and interior styling). The ‘Korean Volkswagen Golf’ also carries a sharper sticker price than some of its small car competitors like the Toyota Corolla, is relatively affordable to service and has developed a reputation for reliable, safe motoring.