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Liesl ASKED THE GUIDE

What are the top five small cars to buy for around $8000?

What are the best top five small cars to buy for around $8000?

It doesn’t sound like a lot of money to spend on a car, does it? But the good news is that an $8000 budget gets you into the realm of some terrific second-hand small cars. For a start, I’d stick with a hatchback layout, purely because they sold better when new, so there are more of them out there to choose from now. Not to mention that a five-door hatchback is a seriously practical vehicle.

As for makes and models, well, the world really is your oyster. Conventional wisdom, though, says a second-hand Toyota is usually a pretty safe bet, so look at Corollas from around 2009 or 2010 which fall within your budget, and don’t forget the Yaris with a slightly more recent build date for the same money.

Subarus are good buying provided the service history is absolutely spot on and you should be able to find an Impreza in nice condition within your budget. These have held their value really well, so you might find you need to look at slightly older examples form, say, 2007 to 2009. The bonus is an Impreza will have all-wheel-drive, so it’s a good option if you ever use unmade roads and like trips to the snow.

Finally, don’t rule out the South Korean brands. Both Hyundai and Kia have been making great cars lately and they represent good value. Try a 2011 or 2012 Hyundai i30 or a Kia Cerato from the same era. The Kia is also a good choice if you prefer a sedan over a hatch as, for some reason, a higher percentage of these were sold new in sedan form.

You can buy newer cars, but they probably only fit your budget if they’ve covered a lot more kilometres than the average. Other ways to maximise your spend is to buy an even smaller car (Kia Picanto, Hyundai i20 etc) or shop privately rather than at a used-car yard. Just remember that you have less consumer protection when shopping privately.

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