Small Car Pricing

Welcome to the next part of my small car analysis. I really believe that the small car segment will be the next automotive buying trend, once everyone who have been buying much larger SUVs realise what they are missing out on. I’ve researched the following list prices for all the popular small cars on sale in the Australian car  market. There are drive away specials on at the moment so they reflect they represent pricing for May 2017. Note that these are not micro cars or what PR markets as small cars, these are literally small cars…

Toyota Yaris: From $15,900 drive away for the manual base model to the top range $23,540.

Mazda2: From $16,990 excluding on road costs for the base manual to the top range $23,980.

Honda Jazz: From $16,490 drive away for the manual base model to the top range $25,834.

MINI Hatch: From $28,600 excluding on road costs for the base manual to the top range $41,350.

Holden Barina: From $14,990 drive away for the base manual to the top range $20,390.

Ford Fiesta: From $15,990 drive away for the base manual to the top range $27,490.

Suzuki Swift: From $15,990 drive away for the base manual to the top range $26,990.

Volkswagen Polo: $17,190 excluding on road costs for the base manual to the top range $30,190.

Peugeot 208: From $22,490 excluding on road costs for the base manual to the top range $29,990.

Conclusion most are all about the same starting price but there are of course different trim levels and options that raise the price especially if you’re considering a MINI or VW Polo. I also noted that there are genuine hot hatches in the mix, in particular the Fiesta ST, Polo GTi, Swift Sport, 208 GTi and so forth.  Some models clearly trade on perceived image like the MINI and Peugeot both of which do not have the reliability history to back up their starting prices.  You can easily see which models present the lowest price and alternately the best value for performance. I’ll be taking a look at each model over month as I’ve already written my notes on each of the models before I made my purchase.

The small car economics

Continuing on from The small car is a smart choice post here are some cost or financial analysis for you to consider.

A small car that runs on 91 Octane or the base grade unleaded fuel for example only costs $1.00 per litre. The average fuel tank size according to my research for a mall car is about 45 litres. Hence $45 litres to fill up the car from empty. All measurements where typical work day commute with a mix of city stop start, hills and high way travel. Driving style used was typically keeping up with traffic as a result many throttle movements.

Fuel consumption claims by manufacturers are rarely accurate as they are tested scientifically aka consistently so every car, SUV or truck use the same test for fuel consumption, great for science but in real life. Engine condition, fuel quality, traffic, acceleration, temperature, altitude, wind speed and driving style are just some of factors that can’t be taken into account in a test environment. For example my choice of city car claims an average of 6.7 litre per 100 kilometres where as I’m averaging 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres from a 1.5 litre 4 cylinder engine with an automatic transmission. These results from a oldish small car are very good.

The fuel consumption from my big car that requires a minimum of 95 Octane unleaded petrol claims an average of 11.4 litres but I can only get 13.2 litres per hundred consistently. The cost of 95 Octane petrol is about 15 cents extra so $1.15 per litre. Running lessor octane due to the mix of 95 and 91 due to lack of 95 Octane or higher saw a reading of 15.4 litres per hundred. Running on higher 98 Octane saw fuel steady at about 12.5 litres per 100 kilometres which was a surprise to me. Average tank size 80 litres and a 6 Cylinder 4.0 litre engine with a automatic transmission.

Now to introduce the fuel consumption of my friends car that requires a minimum of 95 Octane unleaded petrol claims an average of 7.7 but she can only get 8.9  litres per hundred. (4 Cylinder 1.8 turbo litre engine automatic)

Finally another friend has an SUV that claims 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres with a 2.4 litre petrol automatic transmission running 91 Octane unleaded usually gets a real world fuel consumption of just under 11 litres per 100km.

Ok lots of figures to read so here’s the summary based on $1.00 a litre for 91 Octane unleaded and $1.15 for 95 Octance which is the standard requirement for most new turbo equipped cars:

Cost to fill a small car $45 = 45 litres @ $1 per litre (91 Octane) – Distance travelled: 616Km
Cost to fill a medium engine car $51 = 45 litres @ $1.15 per litre (95 Octane)- Distance travelled: 505Km
Cost to fill a medium sized SUV: $45 = 45 litres @ $1 per litres (91 Octane) – Distance travelled: 409km
Cost to fill a big engine SUV: $51 = 45 litres @ $1.15 per litre (95 Octane) – Distance travelled: 340km

The results are clear, the smaller engine in a smaller car saves money – noticeably since you can go further.

In relation to the price difference – a 45 litre refill – 91 Octane Vs 95 Octane cost is noticeable at $6.00 which equals 6 litres of petrol @ $1 per per litre. In the small car you could get nearly 100km extra with the price difference. Hence it is cost effective to drive a car that is capable of using 91 Octane regardless of size.

In regards to a small car’s performance, I judge things more than just on their 0-100kph times. The bigger engine cars compared here are fast enough which cuts the 0-100kph times by up to 4 seconds but in the real world there is little difference. The small car keeps up with the rest of the cars on the road but you will need to use the accelerator more every so often (assuming you’ve haven’t bought a high performance model) Fortunately they generally don’t use significantly more petrol for that performance   as per my real life example.

In terms of running costs the small car is cheaper to keep on the road. Tyres cost under $100 for a decent handling set or you can choose hard compound eco tyres. Servicing costs are usually less if you choose a reasonable car servicing shop. I’ll go further into small car pricing in a future post.

Finally and a key point is that small cars are comfortable as well. The only real difference I noticed was noise, a small car generates about the same amount of noise as any other car due to standardised noise testing but on the outside, however they do not have the same amount of sound deadening material for the inside. As a result small cars are not quiet or noisy environment on the inside but it is definitely not as bad as you would expect. To keep up with traffic you may need to use the accelerator more, which is where the buzz-box terms comes from! More revs mean more fun in my view! There is noise in the cabin but very few vibes are felt,  since they are designed for this sort of thing they are no worse than a larger car. In the city/suburb environment which is where they are designed for you simply cannot complain about in car noise levels as they are generally as civilised as any other car.