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Light car running costs

City living is getting no cheaper. City cars help cut costs.

Light cars used to be the second car, the one that'd begrudgingly be taken to the supermarket when the real car was out. Not anymore. Light cars now make sense as the sole vehicle for city dwellers without kids - they're easy to park, will carry four adults in varying degrees of comfort and don't cost a fortune to fuel up.

The rush to downsize means more than one in 10 cars sold today is from the light category. Carmakers have responded to that growing market with more standard gear at lower prices. They also understand a positive first experience could get you back to the dealership for your next vehicle, so you won't be ignored for looking at the “cheap” cars.

They will try to upsell you into a higher model, though, so beware of alloy wheels and dual-zone aircon if steel rims and a power window is all you need. The average cost of the light cars in this field - entry level autos - is just north of $17,000. The Volkswagen is the dearest at $19,490 and is the only car here to demand premium unleaded petrol. It also feels to be the best built, but all of these cars are sturdy, reliable transport. 

Budget buyers should consider the Mitsubishi Mirage if outright performance isn't an issue. It costs $15,290, is the cheapest to refuel and annual servicing costs are just $250. The Mazda2 proves this segment isn't entirely price-driven. The little hatch leads the sales field this year, followed by the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai i20.

They're not the cheapest cars to buy or run but they have a reputation for reliability and value that - at least in the case of the Mazda2 - has it campaigning strongly despite its age. Honda's Jazz has the best resale of this bunch, reflecting the brand's (slowly waning) reputation for producing better-built vehicles. The Barina is the thirstiest, needing 7.3 litres to travel 100km. That's half a litre more than the Mazda2.

Carsguide has used the national average of $1.49.4 for unleaded petrol and added 8 for the 95RON fuel needed to keep the VW on the street. We have each car travelling 15,000km a year for three years.

 

Toyota-Yaris

Price: from $17,290
Residual value: 48 per cent $8299.20
Servicing: $780 ($260 first year)
Thirst: 6.3L/100km $4235.49

 

 

 

Ford Fiesta

Price: from $17,490
Residual value: 46 per cent $8045.40
Servicing: $840 ($280 first year)
Thirst: 6.1L/100km $4090.05

 

 

 

Holden Barina

Price: from $17,990
Residual value: 46 per cent $8275.40
Servicing: $740 ($246.67 first year)
Thirst: 7.3L/100km $4907.79

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mitsubishi Mirage

Price: from $15,240
Residual value: 45 per cent $6858
Servicing: $750 ($250 first year)
Thirst: 4.6L/100km $3092.58

 

 

 

Suzuki Swift

Price: from 17,690
Residual value: 48 per cent $8491.20
Servicing: $1284 ($398 first year)
Thirst: 6.2L/100km $4168.26

 

 

 

Mazda2

Price: from $17,440 (Neo)
Residual value: 48 per cent $8371.20
Servicing: $1949 ($599 first year)
Thirst: 6.8L/100km $4571.64

 

 

 

Honda Jazz

Price: from $17,990
Residual value: 55 per cent $9894.50
Servicing: $1711.58 ($537.42 first year)
Thirst: 6.6L/100km $4437.18

 

 

 

VW-Polo

Price: from $19,490
Residual value: 50 per cent $9745
Servicing: $1085 ($347 first year)
Thirst: 6.0L/100km $4249.80

 

 

 

Hyundai i20

Price: from $18,590
Residual value: 50 per cent $9475
Servicing: $567 ($189 first year)
Thirst: 5.9L/100km $3966.57

 

 

 

Kia Rio

Price: from $18,290
Residual value: 42 per cent $7681.80
Servicing: $841 ($239 first year)
Thirst: 6.3L/100km $4235.49

 

 

Pricing Guides

$9,996
Based on 121 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$5,900
Highest Price
$13,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
YR 1.3L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $6,450 – 11,410 2013 Toyota Yaris 2013 YR Pricing and Specs
YRS 1.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $5,900 – 8,988 2013 Toyota Yaris 2013 YRS Pricing and Specs
YRX 1.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $8,800 – 9,990 2013 Toyota Yaris 2013 YRX Pricing and Specs
ZR 1.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $7,700 – 10,780 2013 Toyota Yaris 2013 ZR Pricing and Specs