Small car 2015 or newer 12k budget

Hi Ozbargain,

Just been trying to do a bit of research on possible cars for my wife.

Currently she has an 03 corolla with 250k on the clock, not a terrible car but it’s very worn out cosmetically inside and out and i feel guilty driving a nicer car haha. (Not that nice, Mazda cx9 which is too big for her to drive - her words not mine ;) )
Anyway, i feel like her cars had a good run and she deserves a better run around.

Budget is 12k
Prefer something 2015 or newer preferably new car warranty
Under 100k on the clock
Small ish hatchback
Apple car play would be nice but Bluetooth is good enough
Reverse camera

Doesn’t leave a lot of options. Not all of the above is definitely necessary, more just a preference.

From my looking around it seems like there are only a few options
2017 Kia ceratos with 90k on the clock Or thereabouts
And 2016/17Hyundai accents with 40k on the clock

Don’t know much about them, i guess my question is really are they reliable cars that will last for years?

They are not my first picks for cars but with the budget I’ve set seems to be all thats on offer around those preferences.

Thoughts? Advice? Opinions?



  • +2 votes

    What does your wife use the car for?
    Does she regularly have passengers and/or 'stuff' in the car?

  • +2 votes

    2015 Corolla

  • +11 votes

    Suzuki Swift

    Bulletproof, solid resale, has the reverse camera and Carplay (and built in Nav)

    But depends on passengers/kids, etc etc.

    • +3 votes

      +1 for the Suzuki Swift. It is my wife's old time favourite car! It is surprisingly roomy for such a small car, is affordable and looks good. Also very easy to maneuver in tight spots and busy shopping centre car parks. What more could your wife want?

    • +1 vote

      How are they safety wise? And how do they travel on the freeway? Not struggling at 100?
      (Might pinch her car every now and then for work)

      • +3 votes

        Depends entirely what you're used to.

        Safety wise, very good for the size of the car (all the required crumple zones etc). Power will depend on what you're used to and what you expect out of the car.

        I used to work for Suzuki, and these were like a Corolla yet not everyone knows about the lil Swift. Was always surprised at the resale, and our warranty department had nothing but praise for the brand (over Holden…). Strong brand loyalty among the owners as well, due to their reliability.

        Work for Toyota now but have no hesitation in recommending the Swift for an A-B car

        Reliability like the Corolla, but with the newer tech features that you wouldn't find in a similar price Corolla.

        • +2 votes

          I second this, had my 2018 swift for 2 years now and cannot fault it. Reliable and fuel efficient with decent tech and great safety features.

        • -4 votes

          I’ve been aware of the swift but tended to steer clear of them as I’ve always viewed them as a tiny car for young ladies on P plates and grannies.

          It would be a car for my wife but i would also have to be seen driving it occasionally. I’m ok with boring or little hatch but i feel like a swift is only a step above a smart car. The shame! Haha

          On a more serious note, I guess I’m more concerned they are too small.
          The corolla is a masterpiece in my opinion for small cars.
          Spacious for a small car and can fit way more than you think in the boot when push comes to shove.
          Not too bad on passengers in the back either.

          I would love another corolla for my wife, the tech isn’t really necessary other than Bluetooth (I’d like her to have that as a minimum as her plug in one now is atrocious and i find the integrated ones quite good)

          Just don’t know where to look really.

          I was considering having a lock at John Hughes but the selection in my range falls back to the two cars I’ve mentioned.

          Private would be better but i suck at mechanical things despite been a truck driver haha RAC checks probably a good option?

          Sorry,I’m off on a lot of different tangents… Been a while since I’ve bought a car and my google skills are lacking.

          • +3 votes

            @El cheepo: Sit in 1 and drive it, pure and simple!


              @Spackbace: I’ll have to go try a few of the suggestions out and see how they all go as I’ve driven none of them.

              Got a bit of legwork to do.

              Just curious mate, As your in the game…
              How much negotiation room do you think there is in a car a dealer is asking 12k for when redbook would have me believe they payed 8-10 for it?

              Most of the stuff at a dealer is gonna be around that mark in my range from what I’ve seen so far.

              Obviously all dealers are different, if you prefer not to go into it Thats cool too.


            @El cheepo: I suppose you could have a look at a Honda Jazz? Still a small car, but the interior space is surprisingly big with the magic seats, and head/leg room in the back is pretty decent. Though lack of carplay/6 month servicing intervals may put you off. Suppose it's another option at least.

      • +1 vote

        They do poorly in the Monash used car safety ratings (1 out of 5 stars for 2011-2016 models)

        • +4 votes

          it's people like you who persist with this rubbish which keeps the prices of these vehicles down

          Pretty sure the brand itself is responsible for this. Not some gambling sparky try hard mechanic that can't even open locks.

        • +3 votes

          "a few quirks…" "high depreciation…" not things really synonymous with "quality motoring".

          The thing that keeps the price down in French cars is that they are French cars. It's got nothing to do with me. I don't go around making them break down and cost thousands to repair. Renault, Peugeot and Citroen do a pretty good job of doing that themselves…

          And you see, I don't have any "quirks" with my Corolla, and the resale value of it is pretty steady as well, with good demand… But I will use that next time we get a French shit heap in the workshop… "Yeah mate, I know it's not running, but you know, it's just one of those French made quirks…"

            • +3 votes

              @nubzy: You're right, I don't get French cars. I also don't get the people who own them that live in denial… Like the one guy on this forum who had umpteen things go wrong with their French shitbox and ended up giving it to a scrap metal merchant but claimed it was the best car they ever owned because of the "seats" and the "aircon that worked when the engine was off…" but their faultless Corolla was the bad car because of some fuel economy discrepancy…

              And I am not a "French car specialist", because the mere fact that that phrase even exists is a tell tale sign that a brand of car is a nightmare to work on. I avoid French cars like the plague, because they are notorious for being a nightmare to work on and diagnose.

              Then there is the telling the owners of French cars that their car is a heap of shit and needs more money to repair it than what its scrap value is, and Peugeot owners are the worst, because they cant come to terms with there being anything wrong with their precious "pug" or why it's $1,500 instead of $15 to fix (that, and they seem to be the "French vehicle specialists".)

              But to suggest a Peugeot, Citroen or Renault (especially an out of warranty 5+year old one) for someone looking for a cheap, reliable A to B mode of transport, is just downright misleading. They are neither cheap nor reliable and the same amount of tech can be had in a Korean or Japanese models for cheaper, with greater reliability and greater resale.


                @pegaxs: Again, agree to disagree. Also, they are very reasonable to service by a competent independent specialist.

                • +4 votes

                  @nubzy: Can disagree all you like, facts speak volumes. (and your negs don't hide/fix French build quality and reliability issues.)

                  "independent specialist"… Don't need a $200/h "specialist" to work on my Toyota/Hyundai/Kia…

                  • -2 votes

                    @pegaxs: Yeah..again you show how much you know. Indeed facts speak volumes, and the facts show that modern French cars are actually proving to be very reliable. Independent mechanics aren't $200 an hour. And build quality on current models is excellent. The only real French part about them these days is their fantastic design and engineering, the parts come from all around the world including Japan and Germany. Anyway enough commenting, i've said my bit. People who have owned French cars will know how great they can be.


                      @nubzy: I have a 2014 diesel renault and it has been reliable, lower cost than my previous VW to maintain. Few niggles in the electronics but new car warranty 5 years fixed it. I've always had an aversion to french cars due to my perception of reliability and cost of maintenance but buying this renault has changed that. I might not buy them as a priority in the future but at least I won't rule them out completely either.

      • +2 votes

        Bro its fair to disagree with someone's opinion but why are you so worked up? Take a chill pill


    Going back to the OP though.
    Anyone have any experience/ own a Accent or Cerato?

    Are they decent cars? Are they much of a muchness considering kia and Hyundai are in cahoots together?

    If it did come down to these two, i think I’d learn towards the Accent for her unless I'm swung another direction.

    I’ve been looking around online (even found a Hyundai forum - i laughed when i found it - Hyundai must be happy Some people are enthused by them) seems like for a Low base model car it’s got a lot of praise and confidence from it’s owners.
    Not sure about the Aussie market though as the Hyundai forum seemed to be heavily influenced by US/Canadian reviews/chat

    • +1 vote

      Don't know about used ones but went to see new ones, they have the same engine under the hood, but Hyundai is usually 2-3k more expensive (new, at least).


        Cerato and Accent both have the 2ltr in the new models?
        All the my16/17 Accents seem to have either a 1.4 or 1.6ltr
        Cool change though for the new ones.

    • +2 votes

      The 2017 Kia Cerato is of a newer design and is actually equal to the equivalent i30 Hyundai. Bigger 2.0L over the 1.6L and an extra 2 years warranty is a sweetener over the Hyundai.

      • +1 vote

        Watched a whole heap of ex-Government fleet Kia Ceratos go through the auctions over the last week or so, 2017-2018 models with around 40~50,000km, all sold for around $10k mark. Rego and full service history and heaps of manufacturers warranty, I was thinking “holy shit, that’s pretty good value for what they are…”


    Have you considered Mazda 2 or a 3?


      Find a mazda 2 too small

      Mazda 3 would be good but hard to find a more recent model in this price range.
      Although I’ve spoke to my wife and she’s keen for a manual corolla which is a hard find so given I’ll probably bump the budget up, mazda 3s might become a real option as they are easier to find a manual and close enough to a corolla haha

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