Car Buyers' Guide: Time for a swift change
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Chris ponders alternatives to what would be his third Suzuki Swift
Up to $30,000
Chris is on to his second Suzuki Swift, doesn’t want to wait for a new model to come to market, and so is thinking about other replacement options.
“On the shopping list are the Mazda2 and the Kia Soul, while the Toyota Prius hybrid is another possible option,” he says.
That’s a diverse range of vehicles to choose from. The Mazda2 is the most conventional of the three, and the Soul and the Prius are total opposites in terms of points of difference.
The Soul is a funky looking vehicle with a “here for a good time” look about it, while the Prius has a little more of a “don’t judge me on looks alone” persona. The all-new Prius has gone a long way to addressing those past bland exterior looks but sadly, in your price range you’ll have to look at the previous generation.
Mazda2 Limited ($28,845)
One of the Mazda2’s biggest competitors would, I imagine, have to come from the same stable. The CX-3 has that popular SUV presence about it which could easily encourage showroom traffic to have a rethink if they were considering the 5-door hatch option.
Consider, yes, by all means, but don’t lose sight of the overall package that the 1.5L (81kW) Mazda2 Limited offers.
One of the many highlights is the i-Activ safety package which includes blind-spot monitoring, high-beam control, smart city brake support, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning. It’s a lot of motor vehicle for the price tag.
Like the Swift, rear seat passengers may find space a little squeezed while rear cargo space is not overly generous.
Kia Soul (SRRP from $26,990)
Kia has started the year strongly sales-wise with sharp and competitive pricing to match a good all-round product range. The Soul is no exception. It’s apparently in hot demand and short supply.
The 1.6L SX model has a special recommended retail price of $29,990 (normally $33,490) and the base model Urban variant has also been discounted to $26,990 (down from $32,490).
Both share the same engine (91kW) and 6-speed transmission along with 18-inch alloy wheels, reverse camera, heated mirrors, fog lights and roof rails.
The SX upgrades include composite leather trim, electric driver’s seat with 8-way adjustment, climate air-conditioning and folding mirrors. Built for its quirky looks rather than high performance, it appeals to those who like to be a little different and not go unnoticed.
The Toyota Prius C.
The hybrid concept is brilliant but it has not been turned into large retail sales for the Prius. Sales have been strongest from either large corporates wanting to wave the environmental flag or taxi drivers who do most of their driving in the busy main city centres and see value in the money saved at the pump more than anything else.
With a claimed combined fuel consumption of just 3.9L/100km the Prius looks good on paper but those figures will not be realised if there is a mixture of open road and inner city driving.
Being a popular cab, the Prius doesn’t lack for interior space while servicing costs should be similar to a conventional petrol-powered vehicle.
You could maybe look at the smaller Prius c GX which you could purchase new. It’s a much sportier looking vehicle but struggles to match the Mazda or Kia in terms of overall specification levels. You are buying into the hybrid technology rather than additional features and benefits.
Take your time and consider resale values if you turn your vehicles over on a regular basis.