Its getting harder and harder as the years roll on to find a new car for around $15,000. It is possible but something that I generally don’t want to buy in that price range given as a personal view I prefer to get something with a little more on offer by purchasing a secondhand vehicle with more specs or recommending to my friend they pay the extra and get a higher quality model than a base unit. After all, give it 6 months to a year and all that depreciation off the high standard spec cars will be competing with your base 15,000 model vehicle and you have an issue with buyers weighing up choices should you wish to sell the vehicle. An example might be the Kia Rio which at around $15,000 you get a 1.4-litre engine and four-speed automatic engine, hardly a good buy compared with the higher spec Rio with a 1.6 and six speed auto and some add ons which makes it a whole lot better package in my books albeit for greater difference in price. What I am saying is some of these new cars around or under 15000 mark may be barking and the word is – Don’t buy. Some readers might like the idea of new car warranties, peace of mind motoring, new car smell and more.
This weeks article looks at the best lightweight new cars under 15,000. Are these vehicles a “good buy”? It’s hard to say depending on what you are wanting. A lot of people won’t mind the basic specs that go with vehicles in this price bracket. Some of the vehicles I saw offered some reasonable features such as Anti-lock Braking ABS, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) as standard on these models.
The purpose of this article is to put a short list together for those people who want to buy a lightweight new car under 15000. You can check the pricing and specs further including new car warranties with your local dealership as these might vary slightly depending on where you live in Australia and delivery costs of that vehicle to you as well as on road pricing.
I decided in the Bayside area of Melbourne to do a bit of running around looking for lightweight new cars under 15000 or close to it at a driveaway dealership price. As mentioned above, personally I don’t jump out of my seat to be dealing with new car dealers at the best of times and oh my oh my thinking of all that depreciation coming off that new car price should I drive the car off the showroom floor leaving the car sales representative smiling with cheque in hand.
The new car list I have put under emphasises just that, a list but I haven’t gone into performance so much and kept the specifications list minimal. It’s hard to please everyone here as some may want safety specifications over engine performance or manual transmission over automatic etc. There are five-door offerings, and there are three door offerings, smaller motors and gutsier motors. These are the things on the shortlist that you will have to decide yourself, but hopefully, this short list of new cars under or around the $15,000 mark should serve as an excellent guide.
These vehicles are born for the urban driving environment in mind. They are light, cheap and extremely economical to run. Registration by comparison is reasonable. These light cars cop on the freeways as well as come to their form parking and whizzing through inner city traffic. A lot of the brands all offer similar styling and features. There are long standing brands like the Mazda 2, Mitsubishi Mirage and Toyota Yaris that are well known on the market. The Mazda range for example was born in 2007. Certain people however may feel uncomfortable in these vehicles whether it be the size of them and thinking how would they cope in the event of an accident or frontal collision. The small lightweight cars have improved and many now have standard safety features as mentioned in our opening paragraph, I’m not so sure structural safety though is a significant issue such as Volvo’s design characteristics of side impact protection, whip lash protective seats etc that have been around for years even on the older models of Volvos. For safety check out the Mazda 2 vehicle. There’s quite a few features of the Mazda 2 which stood out from a safety aspect for a vehicle albeit above our price bracket of 15k.
Not Happy With Some Dealership Websites and Customer Service
I did a bit of digging around first online and to be honest I left a little annoyed at how dealers dealt with my enquries online. A lot of the time the after hours services had live chat. Yes, a real human being. What annoyed me was not long after closing I was talking to someone online. We began an interaction and it appeared that I was talking to one of the sales staff. Eg. The responses were “the models vary in prices from makes and models” and went onto talk more from there. Then the person asked me for my details. After handing over the details the person said can I get someone from our sales team to ring you tomorrow. After wasting my time talking to this person that appeared to be a sales enquiry line, it turned out to be just a contact gathering person who couldn’t tell me anything specific about the vehicles at all.
The information is current at the time of writing the article on 22 May 2015 and I looked at vehicles around the Bayside suburbs of Melbourne where I am currently staying.
Lets look at what’s on offer for light model new cars under 15,000.
Ford: The cheapest Ford vehicle on offer in Melbourne when I checked is the Ford Fiesta. This breaks the budget though of $15,990 drive away and only available at participating Ford dealers which doesn’t exactly say what the quantity of new Ford Fiesta’s are on available. The prices went up from there with the next driveaway Ford deal going for a Fiesta “Trend” at $17,990. Just as a quick overview the Ford Fiesta Ambientewhich is the $15,990 drive away model has a 1.5 litre petrol motor, manual and cruise control.
Holden Barina spark – this is a compact 5 door vehicle and is priced at $13,990 driveaway, no more to pay. Don’t you just love that word “no more to pay”. The car offers a 1.2 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine with 5 speed manual transmission. Holden actually offered two models around the 15,000 mark including the Barina for $14,990 driveaway. The difference here is that this vehicle has a 5 star ANCAP safety rating and a 1.6 litre 16 valve, 4 cylinder engine. In some ways, paying the extra amount over the spark will get a more punchy vehicle.
Hyundai: I checked out a place close to home, Doncaster Hyundai. As far as Hyundai models around the “fifteen mark” go its a similar situation to Ford above. The 6-speed manual hatchback called the i20 is listed at a manufacturers recommended price of $15,590 driveway. It has three doors meaning driver, passenger and rear doors.
Honda Jazz was out of the ball park budget, an excellent car the Jazz Vti was listed at $16,990 and comes in 5 colors being red, blue, black, yellow and a gun metal style colour. These are five door cars offering a 1.5-litre motor, 16 valves. ABS braking and braking assist and remote central locking as standard features.
Nissan Micra – This was the smallest offering from Nissan, the Nissan Micra ST model. With a turning circle of 9 meters, dual front and dual side and dual curtain airbags. There are five doors as standard.
Toyota dealerships were offering a new Yaris with peace of mind servicing costs. There’s a service on offer called Toyota Advantage entitling six standard services for $140 for the first three years or 60,000 kilometers whichever was first. Brighton Toyota on the Neppean Highway at Elsternwick had a 2015 Yaris Ascent 5 door on offer, albeit manual vehicle for $15,990 driveaway.
Fiat 500 – Fiat have a very sexy looking three-door model known as the Fiat 500 series 3 for $16,000 drive away. The Fiat dealership I went too is located in Bentleigh. The car has a 1.2 litre 4-cylinder petrol engine as well as Anti-lock braking system (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). It has a fuel consumption rate of 5.1L/100 kilometers. The car also has dual front air bags, head side airbags, front seat-mounted side bags and driver-side knee air bags fitted as standard on all models of these cars. The car has a 5 star Euro NCAP rating.
Suzuki – Brighton Suzuki on the Nepean Highway at Brighton. These guys were offering two models for sale. A Celerio for $13,990 and a Swift GL for $15,290 drive away. The auto guide on the Swift GL jumped to$16,490. Both cars are five-door models. The Celerio offers 4.7L per 100 kilometers on the economy and a 1.0-litre engine. The Clerio is equipped with ESC. The Suzuki Swift offers a 1.4-litre engine and 5.5 litres per 100 kilometers fuel consumption. Seven airbags and ESC as well as ABS.
VW up – I never got to see this model. I had an interaction on the phone with a representative, but The vehicle offers the driver and front passenger bags, as well as a 1.0 litre 3 cylinder fuel, injected petrol engine and EBD at pricing point to be determined. This vehicle might surprise as well as the pricing point for buyers.
Chinese cars? The feeling on these are are similar to what general punters had years ago when the Korean makes (Kia, Hyundai) first came out. Well, I would take a big swerve on these vehicles for a start and the safety factor ie. The ANCAP ratings from last time I had looked don’t rate well. Makes like Foton are offering only single and dual cab vehicles and not cars. Great Wall Motors were similar and the cheapest offering from GWM was a double cab ute at $18,990 driveaway. Haval is another Chinese motor vehicle entrant into Australia and again offering a SUV and above the 15,000 pricing point. One chap Chinese make currently on the Australian market is the Chery. Chery Motors are offering a J3 for $14,990 drive away and comes within our $15,000 mark. The J3 offers a 1.6L engine, leather trim seats, 6 airbags, climate control air conditioning and cruise control amongst other features. The $14,990 Driveaway price was quoted for those in Melbourne for a manual model J3 but for $16,990 there’s an automatic version. Frustratingly How Safe Is Your Car hadn’t rated the J3 yet at the time of writing so I can’t give any specifications as to the safety of this vehicle.
Tata Motors is an Indian manufacturer and like the Chinese offerings above has an SUV in its range.
Daihatsu is actually owned by Toyota in Australia which was integrated into the Toyota Australia operations in 2000.
Mazda – For Mazda vehicles around our chosen pricing point of 15,000 more or less you are looking at the Mazda 2 series. Mazda 2’s are higher at a pricing point of $16,990 driveaway from Melbourne dealers. This is the Mazda 2 Neo. The vehicle has triple H safety construction with front and rear crumple zones and there are other safety inbuilt features as standard in the vehicle including whiplash minimising front seats, traction control system, smart city braking system, Emergency Brake assist and Emergency stop signal, Airbags and ABS braking. Theres also Electronic brakeforce distribution and Electronic brake assist. There’s quite a lot of safety built into this Mazda 2 and appeared more so than the other vehicles mentioned above. This vehicle was a clear winner of safety features compared with the other vehicles sighted. It might be worth checking out the ANCAP crash testing comparisons as well.
Mitsubishi Mirage the base model of the Mirage is the 4 door hatch called the LA Mirage ES Manual 2WD.. A manual, white with limited options has a price of $13,490 in the Melbourne metro area and that’s driveaway. This included 12 months registration, stamp duty, dealership delivery costs. That quote was for delivery to a Bayside Melbourne dealership. This vehicle was well within our new car budget of 15000 and would allow some upgrading and added options to be paid as extra.
Another small vehicle that exceed the budget was the Smart car. It was reported in March 2015 that the brand was being axed from Australia. The driveaway price was $18,990. The article said the car costs nearly as much as a Toyota Corolla and has 2 seats and half the size. More than 4,400 Smart cars had been sold in Australia since 2003.
The last vehicle that I checked was the Kia. Yep, its been around on the Australian market a while and had some nice cars but well above the 15k budget. ie. A base model of the Certato Sedan was $19,990 driveaway. Kia do have a Kia Rio which has a 7 year unlimited kilometer warranty as a 3 door hatch S, petrol with manual transmission and this was priced at $14,490 driveaway. The automatic version of the Kia Rio is $16,490 drive away.