Car Buyers' Guide: Five city cars for $15k
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The Kia Picanto has been a stand-out compact car since it launched – and the latest models are the best yet.
The well-made and equipped five-door city hatchback is only three generations old but the nameplate has already received a lot of praise over its lifetime, winning numerous awards for design and affordability. Top Gear magazine also named the second-generation model “Bargain Car of the Year” in 2011.
The 960kg four-door hatch is powered by a 64kW 1248cc engine equipped with Kia’s start-stop system and a four-speed automatic gearbox. Available in two trim levels – entry level LX and top spec EX – both models come equipped with Bluetooth, a multi-function steering wheel and digital gauges.
The Picanto is five-star ANCAP safety rated for adult and child occupants with six airbags, electronic stability control and ISOFIX (the international standard for attachment points for child safety seats).
For $15,000, expect to find on Driven a second-generation, near-new example with low kilometres and the remainder of Kia’s five year/100,00km new car warranty.
From $15,230 + on road costs new, the Suzuki Celerio is one of the cheapest new cars in the market.
Available with a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission and a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, the Celerio is perfect for city driving – using less than five litres of fuel per 100km.
The Celerio is fitted with Bluetooth with steering wheel controls, air conditioning and remote entry and start. With six airbags and electronic stability control the Celerio scored a four star ANCAP safety rating in 2015. A high driving position and good all-round visibility come in handy while driving through cities and into parking spaces.
On Driven, expect to pay around $10,000 for a near-new, low-kilometre example.
The Fiat 500 is the quintessential European city car with a lineage stretching back half a century.
Fiat watched the success of the Smart Fortwo in Europe in the early 2000s and began developing plans to regain its small-car crown. The result was the return of the famous 500 nameplate in 2007. Two years later Fiat released the 500c (cabrio), Abarth (sport model), and 500e (electric vehicle).
The New Zealand version of the two-door hatch is powered by a 57kW 1.2-litre inline four engine with a choice of automatic or manual transmissions.
The 500 cabin is the most vibrant in class with colour-coded trim pieces, dashboard and vintage style gauges to match the exterior styling.
The 500 was also awarded a five star EuroNCAP safety rating, the shortest wheel-base car to achieve the top safety accolade.
A near-new, low mileage Fiat 500 can often be found for under $15,000 on Driven.
After four generations, the Mirage nameplate was replaced by the Colt between 2002 and 2011 but in 2012 the Mirage nameplate returned in the form of the sixth-generation hatchback.
The Mirage was designed with affordability and fuel economy in mind. The use of high-tensile steel in the body resulted in in a lighter, stronger chassis, and with the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine the Mirage was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 12 greenest cars of 2014. The Mirage is also one of the most aerodynamic vehicles in the city car segment.
As standard, the Mirage comes fitted with hill start assist, Bluetooth hands-free phone and steering wheel controls. Front and rear parking sensors were offered as an option.
The sixth-generation Micra achieved a five star ANCAP safety rating in, a top result for a hatchback offering front and side impact protection.
With a list price of $19,990 expect to find a near-new condition Mirage on Driven for under $15,000. Look for one serviced by a certified dealer to ensure you receive the remainder of Mitsubishi’s five year/130,000km new car warranty and 10 year/160,000km powertrain warranty.
The smallest Holden in the range made its debut in New Zealand in 2010. Its body featured sharp styling on the exterior with sculpted fenders, teardrop headlamps and hidden rear door handles.
Inside the Spark’s cabin is a mix of fun and functionality. Driving information is presented via a motorcycle-styled instrument cluster mounted on the steering column, with colour-coded trim pieces flowing from the instrument panel.
It is available in two trim levels – CD and CDX; both come standard with sports body kit, fog lamps and tailgate spoiler, as well as standard safety equipment including electronic stability control and six airbags.
Both models are powered by a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine with a choice of automatic or manual transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 5.6 litres per 100 km.
First-generation Holden Sparks are available on Driven from $10,000 - $12,000 in a range of colours and transmissions.