I need help deciding between the Mitsubishi Mirage, Holden Spark and Suzuki Celerio. It will be used simply to drive to and from work (every two to three days, with a 20 minute distance). The main priority would be price, as it is my first car and I’m not looking for luxury, just one that will safely get me from A to B. Any car brands that will be very expensive to service (eg. Alfa, Merc, BMW) are also off the list.
ANSWER - SAMANTHA STEVENS:
Of the three light city cars you are looking at, the Holden Spark is the strongest.
The Holden Spark is a grand plus more expensive, but it offers a higher level of specification with features like sat-nav, infotainment system and streaming personal music as standard feature on even the base $13,990 LS. It also has nice value-add options such as cruise control and front/rear parking sensors, something not often found on budget micros, and is an affordable all-round micro with better than average resale.
The Mirage is a frugal car, with a five year warranty and attractive $12,250 price tag. But you do get what you pay for; its cabin is extremely basic, and its engine in dire need of a bit more grunt for higher speed stuff like overtaking on highways. That said, it is a true city car and its highway kays are likely limited.
The Suzuki at $12,990 is also a good basic car, but its one-litre engine is even more wheezy when it comes to needing some puff. However its cabin dimensions are surprising for its size, and it’s quite a smart little jigger to drive.
Two more to consider are the Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris, which are high quality cars that are easy and affordable to keep, safe, and have great resale.
The Mazda2 range starts at $14,990 for the Neo, though we like the Maxx mid-spec vehicle for its inclusions and value proposition, which starts at $17,690. The Neo is pretty basic, and Mazda’s servicing intervals are shorter at 1yr/10,000km, though this should not worry you with the kilometres you expect to travel. It has great handling and dynamics making it fun to drive, practical, it’s frugal, and easy to squeeze into small spaces.
The Toyota Yaris is a stalwart in this segment, and like most Toyotas it is super-reliable, cheap to own and run, and does everything well, and starts at $15,290. Gain the next step up, the SX from $17,330 is the pick in this range.
Ultimately, it will come down to your finances and your personal preferences. We recommend you test-drive your shortlist to truly feel comfortable with your choice.