Looking for a car that delivers everything you need for under $40,000?

Budget is almost always a consideration when it comes to purchasing a vehicle - a key challenge for prospective drivers is discovering a car that ticks all the right boxes, without also possessing an extortionate price tag. Here we take a look at seven of the best cars currently on the market in Australia. All are available for less than $40,000 in 2021.

Browse Car Listings Under $40,000

1. Hyundai i30

Used Deals From $5995

Finance From $28.21 per week

South Korean manufacturers are now an excellent alternative to some of the more traditional favourites. The Hyundai i30 is characterised as a "warm" hatch, particularly if you opt for one of the N-line versions. A sporty vibe at the same time as being fuel-efficient and spacious, it's a versatile option that has plenty to offer.


- N-line series provides sporty aesthetics, handling and performance.
- Excellent warranty (five years, unlimited distance).
- Fuel-efficient.


- Problems with reliability.
- Relatively low re-sale value.

Who should buy the i30?

For drivers who want an affordable vehicle that's punchy enough to deserve the title "sporty" but which also functions well as a sensible commuting option, the i30 is a great choice. It's probably less suitable for people looking for a good ROI when reselling.

See Our Complete Review of The 2021 Hyundai i30

2. Toyota Corolla

Used Deals From $4995

Finance From $24.28 per week

Toyota dominates the Australian car market, so it's little surprise that the Corolla ranks number one as Australia's best-selling passenger car. Attractive, great to drive, fuel-efficient and with an excellent resale value, there are plenty of reasons why people can't get enough of this vehicle.


- Excellent handling and a joy to drive.
- Good reliability.
- Good resale value.


- Relatively cramped back seats.
- Much smaller boot than others in its class.

Who Should Drive The Corolla?

The Corolla is a versatile choice that is going to suit the vast majority of people. It's not the cheapest option in its class, but its dependability and all-around value mean it's worth every cent. Due to its relatively small rear space and cramped boot, it's probably not the best for a family with teenage children and/or those who regularly need to carry a large amount of luggage.

Find Out How The Toyota Corolla Compares to The Mazda 3

3. Mazda CX-30

Used Deals From $33,950

Finance From $137.50 per week

With a reputation for creating high-performance, good-looking vehicles, it's little surprise that the CX-30 is an aspirational choice. Whilst there may be others in the class that offer more space or comfort, if you're a driver who enjoys being behind the wheel of a fast, attractive car (and let's face it, who doesn't?) the CX-30 could be for you.


- Fresh SkyActiv-X ignition technology, which creates a mild hybrid.
- Beautifully styled interior and exterior.
- Extremely safe.


- Reviewers mention the seating is uncomfortable on longer trips.
- There are also suggestions that engine noise is an issue.

Who should drive the CX-30?

Anyone who likes to drive will want to be in possession of the Mazda CX-30. It offers an excellent driving experience.

The interior is also a great place to spend time, with an up-market feel that enables the CX-30 to compete successfully with prestige brands such as Audi and Mercedes.

The high-end upholstery and fittings mean considerable interior upkeep is needed, so families with younger children may prefer a car that can cope with sticky fingers and the odd dropped piece of food!

Read Cartopia's Review of The Mazda CX-30

4. Hyundai Kona

Used Deals From $23,990

Finance From $98.56 per week

Great cars at budget prices are a key characteristic of cars from South Korea, which is probably why Hyundai features twice in a "best for less" feature. The Kona is a small SUV that's got plenty under the bonnet.

Hailed by reviewers as a worthy competitor to the CX-30 and the Toyota CH-R, drivers can select from the N-line (aimed at drivers who like plenty of performance and a sporty vibe), or additional features that complement the base-spec model (but which also bring additional weight, which can detract from overall performance).


- Excellent handling and performance.
- Good fuel efficiency.
- Excellent value.


- Cramped rear.
- Some drivers may not like the additional weight add-on features bring.

Who should drive the Hyundai Kona?

If you're on a budget and looking for a high-powered vehicle that looks the part, handles well and comes with all the tech, safety features and add-ons that you'd expect from a premium small SUV, the Kona is a great choice. It's a viable alternative to pricier models, offering excellent value. It probably isn't the best for drivers that need plenty of room in the rear, or those who plan on buying as an investment to resell. For everyone else, it could be a great choice.

See How The Hyundai Kona Compares to The Mazda CX-3

5. Kia Cerato

Used Deals From $11,495

Finance From $49.71 per week

Kia, like Hyundai, is a South Korean manufacturer that's receiving plenty of praise for its offerings. The Cerato has been a popular choice with Australians since way back in 2004 when the model was first introduced into the market. A combination of impeccable handling, the option of a turbo-engine and a strong suite of tech make the Cerato an attractive choice for almost any driver.


- Really good handling and plenty of power, particularly if you opt for the 1.6l turbo.
- Reviewers praise the comfort of the ride.
- Identified as having the lowest running costs of any small hatchback.


- The S and the Sport variants only have a 4-star ANCAP rating (the other variants are all 5-star rated).
- It's not featured in the top ten most reliable manufacturers.

Who should buy the Cerato?

The Cerato is a versatile car that's equally appealing to drivers and passengers. There really isn't that much to fault about it, although obviously drivers with families and those who want the added assurance of 5-star ANCAP safety will want to steer clear of the S or the Sport, or buy the add-on pack that brings the safety up to 5-star standard.

Full Review of The 2021 Kia Cerato

6. Toyota CH-R

Used Deals From $34,990

Finance From $141.56 per week

Achieving a good deal of notoriety (possibly for the wrong reasons) for its restyled exterior, the CH-R is rated highly by reviewers. Commentators rave about its premium driving experience, generous suite of autonomous driving features and funky interior.


- Striking exterior and a relaxed vibe in the interior.
- Reviewers love its handling and performance.


- Cramped rear seats
- "Love it or hate it" styling.

Who Should Drive The CH-R?

Nobody would ever feel ashamed of owning a CH-R - it's a seriously good vehicle. The striking appearance probably means it's not for the faint-hearted. Drivers who regularly carry passengers may want to look elsewhere due to the small rear space.

Read Our Review of The Toyota CH-R

7. Mazda MX-5

The MX-5 is the world's best-selling sports car, so Mazda is doing something right! The MX-5 is a driver's car that's got track-spec handling and performance. What's not to like?


- Great performance and handling.
- Sporty good looks.
- Roomy driver and front passenger area.


- Limited interior storage and a small boot.

Who Should Drive The MX-5?

If you want a performance car that looks the part, you can't beat the MX-5. As a practical, day-to-day car, however, it's probably not the best choice.

Read Our Complete 2021 Review of The Mazda MX-5

Related Reading

7 Best Small Cars in Australia 2021

Australia's Top 7 Small SUV's

For a great deal on financing your new purchase, contact Australia's best reviewed finance broker on 1300 Credit (1300 273 348) today or visit CreditOne.com.au

Jordan Ballard

Jordan Ballard

Automotive Content Editor

Jordan is a car finance and automotive industry specialist at Only Cars. With over 20 years of experience with frontline and management roles in sales, finance and other areas, Jordan has an incredible understanding of the automotive industry. As Automotive Content Editor, Jordan loves sharing his passion for cars with the Only Cars audience.