Car Buyers' Guide: New compacts offer plenty of safety features
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Marion is looking to update her car but wants to keep things simple and not end up paying more for a vehicle with features she would never use.
"I want to buy new for the reliability factor only, not for all the extra bells and whistles," she says.
Vehicles looked at so far have been the Honda Jazz and the Suzuki Swift but she wonders if there are other options. The budget: $30,000
I understand your thinking Marion, but the truth is you don't actually pay less for fewer frills with motor vehicles these days.
The opposite actually applies in most cases with new or facelifted models fitted out with a host of updated features at little or no extra cost in comparison to previous models (in some cases there is a retail price reduction).
The other big difference with motor vehicles is you don't have to go searching for most of the latest updates or capabilities like you do with the latest phone.
Safety is a good example. The modern vehicle is full of safety features that can include multiple airbags, Electronic Stability Control, reverse cameras and/or parking sensors, lane departure warnings and blind spot monitoring. And the great thing is they are all activated in the blink of an eye and automatically as required.
The Swift is another great example of value for money and continuous improvement. The brand has held centre stage in the small car segment for the past 10 years and just keeps getting better in terms of specification levels at little or no extra cost. It is even currently offering the least expensive 1.4-litre version with a 5 per cent price drop as it marks a decade of "fun".
Standard features on the new $24,990 RSX model include a Garmin satellite navigation system, Bluetooth, climate control air conditioning, keyless start, 16-inch alloy wheels, and LED daytime running lamps.
The Jazz is another good example with the all-new arrival having a much greater specification level than the previous model and all at extremely competitive pricing.
So what else is out there to consider?
The Mazda2 sets a new benchmark in areas like safety (for some specific models), including lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, active driving display (vehicle speed is projected on to the windscreen in front of the driver) plus a very user-friendly MZD centre dash mounted Infotainment system. In your budget is the 1.5L Limited $28,595 (includes a 3 years or 100,000km scheduled service plan). It's a lively performer but loses out to the Jazz 1.5-litre on power (81kW v 97kW) and in overall interior space (rear passenger space is a little on the tight side) but otherwise it's hard to fault, particularly in safety features.
Toyota Yaris Z
The sporty (80kW) version of the Yaris family, the ZR ($29,990) is a good looker and adds additional appeal with 17-inch alloy wheels, a body sports kit, fog lights and tinted glass. As competitors have now launched their own new models, the game has changed and the Yaris is far from a leader in specification and performance levels. But it's still a Toyota and carries the brand name for reliability.
The 1.6-litre automatic Accent ($31,990) is a roomy, comfortable and peppy (91kW) 5-door hatch that sits somewhere between a small and a medium-sized vehicle which may well be its biggest strength and help justify the higher retail price.
It's not a bad looker either when kitted out with a few exterior body accessories. I suspect a very good buy as an ex-demo with low kms and a reduced price tag.
Many of the established new vehicle distributors have a worthy contender in this market segment. It sometimes comes down to who is releasing a new model or facelift at the time of buying as to gaining class leading specification levels or even special pricing.
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