Which small cars under $30K offer the best value? That's the question we answered when we picked out seven of the best small cars currently on sale. Discover the options that provide great driving performance, plenty of extras and a surprising amount of space, all for under $30K.
1. Mazda 3
The 3 is now in its fourth generation. Its winning combination of power, performance, comfort and good looks continues to be a winner with many motorists. What's more, it's possible to buy a 2022 Mazda 3 Pure (manual or auto) or the Evolve for less than $30K. The 3 is available in both hatch and sedan variants. For under $30K the only engine choice is a 2.0l 4-cylinder in-line, 16 valve, DOHC S-VT petrol engine that delivers 114kW and 200Nm of torque. Reviewers are quick to praise the 3's performance, although a turbo option would be a nice touch, particularly for the hatchback.
The Pure benefits from keyless entry, climate control, and a wide-ranging suite of autonomous and static safety features. It has an 8.8" infotainment screen that's Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatible. If you opt for an Evolve, extra features include an upgraded Bose sound system and dual-zone climate control.
First introduced back in 1966, the Corolla has been offering reliable, high-value motoring to Australians for more than half a century. Drivers love the reliability of the brand, as well as the blend of practicality, comfort and safety that make the Corolla a perfect family car. What's more, 2022 prices start at $25,395 for a base-spec Ascent Sport, coming in well below our $30K limit.
If you want to buy one of the lower-spec variants, it will be powered by a 2.0l, 4-cylinder, VVT-i petrol engine that provides 125Kw and 200Nm of torque. A hybrid version is available but will set you back more than $30K. Features in the base-spec Ascent include an 8" infotainment screen and a 4.2" multi-information display. Toyota's Safety Sense system offers a good range of safety features. The Corolla has a 5-star ANCAP rating, but no blind spot monitor or rear cross-traffic alert.
3. Suzuki Swift
An '80s classic that keeps getting better as the years go on, the Swift is a perennial favourite. Reviewers (and many current drivers) love this little car's nippy, responsive handling. It also has a wide range of features and an attractive appearance. Whilst it may not be the fastest small car on the open road, it can certainly hold its own in urban driving situations. There are two engine choices available. One is the 1.2l 4-cylinder petrol engine (66Kw and 120Nm). The other is the sportier 3-cylinder 1.0l BOOSTERJET petrol engine that offers a punchy 82kW and 160Nm of torque.
Prices start at just $23,490. Even the top-spec Sport Turbo can be had for less than $30K in most of its variants. Packed with tech and little extras, the Swift also has a solid 5-star ANCAP rating.
For budget-savvy motorists, the unlimited mileage 7-year warranty is a good reason to choose a Cerato. In addition, most of the variants can be had for less than $30K. Reviewers are overwhelmingly positive about the Cerato, praising its fuel economy, good selection of tech and chic, stylish appearance.
Like most other cars in the sub-30K range, the Cerato is available in sedan or hatchback variations. There are also 3 different options - the S, the S with an added safety pack and the Sport. The S benefits from a 2.0l, 4-cylinder petrol engine (112kW/192Nm). The Sport is powered by a 1.6l T-GDi petrol engine that delivers 150Kw/265Nm.
It's a small point, but be aware that rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot detection and blind spot collision avoidance assist aren't available in the base-spec S, unless you purchase the safety pack.
Another economical option, i30 pricing starts at a meagre $23,720. Although the top specs are in excess of the $30K budget, it's possible to buy an Active version, as well as the base spec in manual or auto variants. Within budget, the engine will be a 2.0l, 4-cylinder petrol option that delivers 120kW/203Nm.
Features are broadly similar to what you'll find in other cars in this class. The base spec highlights include an 8" infotainment screen (that's Apple Carplay and Android Auto compliant), a leather-clad steering wheel and gear lever, the Hyundai SmartSense autonomous safety kit, a 7" digital display and one-touch windows and a suspension that's tuned to meet the needs of Australian road users.
The i30 has an unfussy, solid simplicity to it that appeals to many families looking for a practical, economical driving choice.
Designed for urban driving, the Yaris is smaller than the Corolla but offers many of the same features and benefits. It's styled for fun, aiming for a funky, city vibe that's always appealing.
The 88kW/145Nm. 1.5l, 3-cylinder in-line VVT-iW petrol engine uses just 4.9l of fuel/100km, which makes it an attractive proposition if you're eager to keep running costs low. Although the Yaris has a smaller passenger cabin than the Corolla, it does have more boot space. Owners benefit from Toyota's reliability and safety (the Yaris is fitted with Toyota's Safety Sense autonomous safety package) for less than the cost of a Corolla - if you've got a smaller family, or tend to drive solo quite a bit of the time, the Yaris is ideal.
Prices start at $23,470 in 2022.
Kia has made smaller cars one of their specialities, which is why the Picanto also makes the grade as one of the best small cars you'll pick up for less than $30K. The 7-year warranty is obviously an attraction, but reviewers also love the excellent performance and handling, as well as the amount of space available and the level of tech Kia includes.
Prices for a 2022 Picanto start at just $15,990. Even the top-spec GT turbo Picanto only costs $20,490. The standard 1.0l, 3-cylinder petrol engine (62kW/122Nm) may not be the fastest thing you'll find under a bonnet, but the turbo version, found in the GT manual, delivers a respectable 74kW/172Nm.