Looking to save dosh on your next new car? ufcnancy saves you some legwork to bring you the 10 best bargain buys of 2018.
1. Mitsubishi Mirage ES Manual - $12,250
A starting list price of $12,250 has helped sustain the Mirage in the Micro-car market that’s getting as small as the cars themselves. As well as the thrifty price tag, the Mirage delivers a frugal fuel economy figure of 4.6L/100km through its 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine. It’s equipped with six airbags, stability control, ABS, hill start assist, Bluetooth, air conditioning and more. If manual cars aren’t your thing you can pick up a Mirage ES with CVT auto from $14,250.
2. MG MG3 Core manual - $13,990
The iconic British brand lives with two Chinese-made city cars both priced under $16,000. The MG3 Core is the entry model of the three-tier line-up with a 78kW 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The mid-level Soul MG3 costs $14,990 with the addition of remote central locking, Bluetooth and steering wheel audio controls. All MGs come with a six-year, unlimited-km warranty.
Read next: Small cars to look forward to in 2018
3. Kia Picanto S manual - $14,190
The Picanto dominates the micro car market with its eye-catching looks, comfortable ride and great steering. It comes standard with cruise control, reversing camera and a big touchscreen that mirrors your smartphone functions via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
It’s powered by a zippy 62kW 1.2-litre engine, which is mated with a likeable five-speed manual gearbox. If you prefer not to use a clutch pedal, you can upgrade to a four-speed automatic transmission for $15,690 drive-away. The Picanto is covered by Kia’s seven-year, unlimited-km warranty.
4. Holden Barina manual - $14,990
The Barina is now Holden’s cheapest model now that the Spark, which was the second-cheapest car on the market, has been removed from sale. The Barina’s sub-$15,000 starting price brings some decent kit including reversing camera, a 7.0-inch MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED daytime-running lights, six airbags, automatic headlights, rear parking sensors, fog lights, cruise control and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The five-speed manual version is powered by an 85kW 1.6-litre four cylinder petrol engine that drinks 6.8L/100km. The Barina is also available with a six-speed auto for $17,190
5. Honda Jazz VTi manual - $14,990
The Jazz is a step up in exterior and interior size over many other cars in its price bracket. It’s also one of the most powerful, with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that burns 6.3L/100km.
On the inside you’ll find a touch-screen display with a rear-view camera as standard, as well as clever double-folding rear seats and a low boot floor that allows for a heap of extra luggage-carrying versatility. The CVT auto version costs an extra $2000, though the manual is more fun to drive.
6. Mazda 2 Neo manual - $14,990
The six-speed manual version of the Mazda 2 hatch and sedan is a great driver’s car. With a precise shift action being joined by a responsive engine and engaging steering, Mazda's smallest car is one of the most enjoyable city runabouts on the market. It’s also one of the safest, with autonomous emergency braking standard across the range.
The Mazda 2 has a stylish exterior design and is easy on fuel, with its 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine consuming just 4.9L/100km on the combined cycle. Want an auto? Factor in an extra $2000 on top of the manual's retail sticker. Spending $17,690 on a Mazda 2 Maxx manual brings you an infotainment screen and reversing camera.
7. Toyota Yaris Ascent manual - $15,290
The diminutive Toyota Yaris hatch is easy to drive and park in an urban environment. It holds its value well, and has an enviable reputation for reliability. Standard equipment includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen with reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, steering wheel reach adjustment and seven airbags.
The Yaris Ascent is powered by an economical 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that drinks 5.7L/100km with the five-speed manual gearbox. The four-speed automatic costs an additional $1200 and ups fuel consumption to 6.3L/100km.
8. Hyundai Accent Sport manual - $15,490
The baby Hyundai hatch and sedan top the light-car segment despite only being available as a single Sport variant. It has a 1.6-litre engine that consumes a claimed 6.3L/100km and produces plenty of power for urban cruising.
Luggage space is generous for a car of its size. The $15,490 price tag is for six-speed manual hatch and sedan variants, with the CVT auto costing $17,490.
9. Proton Preve GX manual - $15,490
Proton's small sedan is one of the bigger cars on this list, providing a budget alternative to the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Cerato and Toyota Corolla sedan. It is powered by an 80kW 1.6-litre engine, which is significantly less powerful than similarly-sized competitors.
The above price includes a five-speed manual gearbox, with the CVT auto costing a $2500 premium. Built in Malaysia, the Proton boasts a five-year/150,000km warranty which gives it an edge in long-term cost of ownership.
10. Ford Fiesta Ambiente - $15,825
The Fiesta is a fun car to drive, thanks to its tight wheelbase and sharp steering. It handles highways with ease, and its ride comfort rivals bigger cars. The Ambiente is powered by an 82kW 1.5-litre engine and comes standard with a five-speed manual gearbox. Upgrading to the six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission will add $2000 to the price.
An all-new Fiesta model has been introduced overseas, but we’ll only be getting the sporty, and almost doubly expensive, ST version. The current model is still being produced in Thailand, but we don’t expect it to be on sale for much longer here, which makes it ripe for run-out sales.