Buying a new car doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg.
Fierce competition from brands around the world has flooded the market with reliable and economical vehicles.
Prices are lower and base models have all the features and technology that was once reserved for the deluxe variants. In 2022, $20k can get you everything from reversing cameras to lane assist.
With all that in mind, here are Australia’s 7 best new cars under $20k.
2. Suzuki Ignis
3. MG3 Excite
4. Kia Picanto
5. Skoda Fabia
7. Fiat 500
1. Mitsubishi Mirage
The top of the range Hatchback Mirage LS is $20k - $21k dive-away.
The Mirage ESL base model is 2k - 4k cheaper. The main difference between the two is that the LS has a reversing camera.
It’s a sporty hatch that looks great in all colours, but especially good in yellow.
You can’t deny that this hatchback is a little more aggressive looking than your typical city runaround. The Mirage’s nice aesthetic has actually spawned a cult racing culture in Indonesia and Thailand.
Another consideration here is that the Mirages is extremely economical; drinking under 5/L per 100km. A little petrol and a Mirage will take you a long way.
2. Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki claims that the Ignis is Australia’s cheapest SUV.
Well, technically it’s a compact SUV. But don’t let that deter you, this car personifies everything we love about this new class of car.
For $20,990 you can drive a new Ignis base model out of the showroom.
It’s $990 over $20k, but we had to include it. Just look at it! The Ignis has personality, and it’s a pleasure to drive. Suzuki’s compact SUV can fit into the tightest city car park, or haul the family and their kit to the beach with ease. No one feels squished in this car, and It sits tall and proud on the road. It’s also an extremely economical SUV using only 4.9L/100km.
3. MG3 Excite
In 2020, the Excite was Australia's best-selling light hatchback for one simple reason. It is extremely good value for money.
The top of the range Excite variant starts at $19,490.
The entry-level core is an impressive $17,990. It’s a nice looking hatch, inside and out, and has all the modern features you’d expect. There’s also a 7-year manufacturer warranty, and it’s one of the most spacious cabins in the car’s class.
There's an 8-inch colour touch screen, Bluetooth audio, and USB connectivity on all variants. The higher-end models which come with a reversing camera are still within the 20K price range.
4. Kia Picanto
The Kia Picanto is one of the cheapest cars for sale in Australia.
Its base trim is priced at just over $15k but looking at the elegant design and styling of the car, you wouldn’t think it would be so affordable. The Picanto has 14” steel wheels and hubcaps. The boot has a decent 255 litres of space or 1010 litres with the seats down.
The Picanto drives great. It’s only a 1.2L petrol engine, but it's a very small, very light car that will comfortably get you from point A to point B.
Inside it looks fine. It’s stylish and modern. The base trim only has a 3.8" Monochrome Audio display. If you stretch for the more expensive variants you get a large 8" Touchscreen with satellite navigation. All the touchpoints are rather hard and very plastic but that’s how you make a car for this cheap.
5. Skoda Fabia Hatch
Fabia sales made up a tiny 0.085 per cent market share of the 732,828 cars Australians purchased in 2021. What’s surprising about this is that the Fabia is a phenomenal car. It’s hard to believe that you can pick up the base version for only $18,390.
Maybe it’s the luxury car connotations of a European brand, but the Fabia just feels like it should cost more than that.
The exterior features tastefully angles in the panelling that give this car a sophisticated look, and the grille on the front is an intricate design.
Inside it looks just as good as it does on the outside. You’ll find trendy stitching and trim on the console, and the perforated plastic dash is solid and not shiny - like it’s got good build quality.
The entry-level model feels a little dated; the console only has a 6-inch screen, but the higher end variants feature incredible touch screen displays that will rival a Tesla.
In the back of the car, there’s decent legroom and headroom and a small moon roof, or a full panoramic roof on high-end models. There’s 380L of boot space, which is 30L bigger than the VW Polo, and 80L bigger than the Ford Fiesta. It’s also one of the most economical cars on this list. Managing an impressive 4.7L/100km in mixed driving conditions.
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6. Suzuki Baleno
The Suzuki Baleno base model starts at around $15k or you can stretch for the $18,990 GLX variant.
When the Baleno was reintroduced to the Australian market in 2016 it was given a facelift. Suzuki is of course known for its reliable, small cars which are a lot of fun to drive, and like the Swift the Baleno is no exception.
The Baleno has a smooth clutch, it feels solid on the road, and the 1.4-litre engine nips around like it’s a 2L with a turbo.
The 7-inch touch screen infotainment system is mounted high on the dash. It’s intuitive and easy to reach while driving so you can operate the satnav without taking your eyes off the road.
The interior looks flash and modern. The premium build quality exceeds expectations for a car that’s less than 20k and driving at night the blue lights from the speedometer give the cabin a Tron vibe. All in all, it’s a great car that’s well worth the money.
7. Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 has always traded on its looks. That distinct Italian styling isn’t for everyone but we think it’s pretty special.
It’s not feature and technology rich like the Japanese and Korean cars on this list. You won’t find lane assist or blind spot detection on the base model.
The 1.4L engine also only puts out 85 horsepower. It doesn’t sound like much, because it isn’t, but the Fiat 500 is so light weight that this car is still fun to drive and takes corners nicely.
The acceleration won’t push you back into your seat, but many drivers will appreciate that this car is a little more predictable and tame. If you like the style of the Fiat 500, it’s definitely worth considering. Why not take one for a test drive and see if you like how it handles?