Buying your first car – five of the best

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10 Nov 2016 by smartleasing

So you’ve just got your licence and you’re ready to get out there and buy your first car. What should you be looking for in your first set of wheels?
If you’re like most first-time drivers, you’re probably not made of money, so it should be affordable to buy and service, and easy on the fuel. 

Your relative inexperience behind the wheel means you’ll have a better chance of avoiding scrapes in something small, agile and easy to park. And power-to-weight restrictions for young drivers in most Australian states means you can’t drive anything too powerful. Most significantly, perhaps, you’ll want the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating to help calm your parents’ nerves.

All that points to some kind of light or city-sized car being your best bet. Here are some that tick all the boxes.

Holden Spark

This new-generation version of Holden’s city car is a big step up from its predecessor – it’s nicer to look at inside and out, surprisingly roomy and drives like a much bigger car thanks to its willing 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and locally tuned suspension. Young’uns will love its touchscreen infotainment system, which features Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, while parents will love its five-star ANCAP safety rating. Base LS models can be optioned with the rear parking sensors, reversing camera and cruise control that are standard on the topline LT for $550. From $13,990.

Honda Jazz

Think a light-sized car is going to be too small for you? Try this Honda on for size. It’s got more cabin space than some small-sized cars, with back seats that fold and flip in all directions – bikes, surfboards and other bulky items are no problem for this little car. The Jazz has a willing, economical 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, couldn’t be easier to drive or park and its five-star ANCAP safety artillery includes a standard reversing camera. From $14,990.

Kia Picanto

This new city-sized Kia makes things super-easy on the showroom floor – there’s just one model and one easy-to-digest driveaway price. The Picanto looks good, squeezes plenty of space into its diminutive body and has a five-star ANCAP safety rating. It mixes easy driving and parking with a decent dollop of open-road flair, while its thrifty 1.25-litre four-cylinder petrol engine comes with a standard automatic, something that typically adds $2000-odd to the base price of most cars. Kia also has a seven-year warranty/fixed-price servicing combo. From $14,990 driveaway.

Mazda 2

Inexpensive cars don’t always tickle the heartstrings but this light-sized Mazda serves up svelte presentation and impressive quality, and drives with the poise and flair of much more expensive machinery. Its perky 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engines are some of the thriftiest in the light-car class and it offers an uncommon choice of hatch or sedan body styles. Unlike many cars in its price range, its standard five-star ANCAP safety package can be bolstered with optional driver aids like autonomous emergency braking. From $14,990.

Mitsubishi Mirage

This city-sized Mitsubishi has been updated for 2016 with sharpened styling and a classier cabin, plus steering and suspension changes that make it more agile and comfortable to drive. It’s still the cheapest five-star ANCAP rated car on the Australian market, its 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine remains super-efficient and it still comes with the peace of mind of a five-year factory warranty. Service costs – already distinctly affordable – have been reduced by $270 over the full term of Mitsubishi’s four-year fixed-price servicing program. Like the Mazda 2, you can choose from hatch or sedan body styles. From $12,250.

Related articles: What you need to know about leasing a car for your teenager