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Used showroom city cars

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    2011 Honda Jazz GLI GE.

The choice for commuter and learner driver alike.

IT wasn't too long ago that the cheapest class of new car was something of a driveaway then chuckaway choice.

Hyundai's Excel was a game-changing device that appealed not so much for its compact, urban-friendly size, but because here was a functional new car for $13,990 with five years' warranty coverage. If it was a rudimentary device, it was also less than half the price of a new Commodore or Falcon -- the default choices in those days. Great numbers of these were used, abused (many a bonnet was never so much as opened, let alone routine maintenance performed) and, yes, chucked away for whatever trade-in or private buy could be eked. Much has changed.

While still driven by price -- a new Suzuki Alto has an $11,790 starting price -- the city car segment is no more driven by that than any. These are proper cars, stuffed with the technical, safety and feature comfort equipment of anything bigger and more expensive -- think the full outfit of airbags, the latest engines and Bluetooth streaming.

At least the most recent are, which is why those you see on this page are no more than five years old. Competition is feverish for the 130,000-odd annual sales in this segment.

As the weekday traffic conditions of Melbourne and Sydney have increasingly come to resemble those of Rome or London, it's started to dawn on us that small of size (less than 4m long) and frugal of thirst (under 6L/100km) is just what's required for a commute that's typically less than 15km.

They're also sound family second cars, useful for a dash down the shops, and ideal for the leaner driver in your clan. Being small and not over imbued with power, a city car is a great starting point for the L-Plater to acquire the basics.


Manuals almost always work better with small engines.
Cheap cars aren't always maintained so buy from a dealer.
Ensure your selection has the latest safety upgrades -- they used to be optional on city cars.


2011 Honda Jazz GLI GE

Engine: 1.3-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Thirst: 6.6L/100km

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The spacious and practical Jazz is a favourite for its use of interior space. The 2011 safety upgrades bring it up to class standard.

2007 Toyota Yaris

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Thirst: 5.8L/100km

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There's been a new generation Yaris since but it retains much of this car's hardware. Indeed, some argue the interior fit and finish is superior on the older car. If this automatic sedan is about to see 100,000km, we know owners who are happily north of 150,000 with nothing to complain of.

2008 Mazda 2 Genki

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Thirst: 6.8L/100km

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The first of Mazda's jellybean 2s still sells on looks alone five years after it replaced the staid, boxy first generation model. The 100K on the clock is generally no big deal. Against the high klicks is the kit of the top spec Genki, which came with the full complement of safety kit airbags which were originally optional on the lesser variances.

Comments on this story

Displaying 1 of 1 comments

  • Cannot wait for Honda to bring out a Jazz Type R now they are back rallying

    Harps of 6330 Posted on 09 May 2013 10:06pm

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