Used Car Recommendations for an Irrational Nonconformist

EDIT: Thank you guys so much for all your recommendations! I'm stoked to have a few more options to look at, although I will hold onto the Lancer at least until my next rego in late 2021.

Hey guys - would love to get some OzB opinions on what used car to get. Apologies in advanced if anything I say is incorrect or a bit dumb - cars are definitely not my area of expertise and I’ve been trying to quickly learn over the last few days of research.

I’ve been driving the ol’ family Mitsubishi Lancer - 2006 auto 2.4L - for 5 years. It’s survived a gnarly car accident, my dad driving over speed bumps at 60kph and has gone through its fair share of repairs. It’ll be due for a timing belt replacement in another 10000km but the cost of replacement isn’t really worth it at this point. There’s no urgency for another car at the moment, but I’ll be starting work as a doctor next year (yay!) so it’ll be nice to be able to get a new ride without completely draining my savings or borrowing from my parents.

Also, this sounds really stupid, but I don’t want a car that everyone else has (e.g. Corolla, i30, Mazda 3) despite their great value / quality. Yes, I realise this is an irrational desire.

Some more background:

  • I’m in my mid-20s

  • Will be commuting through city-adjacent suburbs for work, and also travelling interstate to visit family

  • Something fairly reliable or cheap to service/repair in Australia would be ideal

Budget: ideally <$20k, but could be pushed to $25k
Body: small-to-medium sedan, but could settle for a wide hatchback
Transmission: Auto
Year: 2015 onwards
Km: <80 000
Fuel efficiency: ideally <8L/100km
Engine: something with decent acceleration especially up hills. Hybrid would also be nice but probably too pricey
Inclusions: Apple CarPlay or other touchscreen interface
Safety: reverse camera and parking sensors would be nice but not 100% necessary as I’ve been fine so far

I’ve been looking on Carsguide and it’s been a bit overwhelming, but some that pop out at me are the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Stinger, Volkswagen Jetta (although I hear Volkswagen maintenance costs really add up). I’ve been suggested Lexus but can’t really find any that suit.

Please let me know your experiences / recommendations / if my expectations are way off!


  • +21

    HaVe YoU cOnSiDeReD a PeUgEoT?

    • +23

      Or my other favourite…

      "hAvE yOu ThOuGhT aBoUt BuYiNg A tEsLa?? It'Z OnLy $5o,0o0 mOrE… yOu'LL MaKe ThAt BaCk iN 12 MoNtHz oF nO fUeL aNd No SeRviCiNg!!! "

    • +6

      I know you're joking but please don't even mention Peugeot. Worst car I have had the displeasure of owning. Put me off french cars for life.

      • +3

        Peugeot 504 is simply amazing. I miss mine

        • I had nothing but great experiences with peugeots, had the 307 and 407 and several of my friends have them too. I'm talking 2011+ models and think they are a great suggestion.

          Because they are very common in Europe with a massive market there is a wealth of info on www wrt problems if you have any problems, and parts were cheap to buy and easy to fit with YouTube videos and little to no tools/experience. Dont ask peugeot dealers as they always quote $1k+!!

          I love the Peugeot. But I drive a Ford Mondeo Titanium now because as a centrelink pensioner I felt like a young doctor driving around in a flashy car, and the Mondeo gives me European luxuries without the image. I also do some fundraising and driving a luxury car on a pension whilst fund-raising also doesn't look good!! But i do love Peugeot.

          • +5

            @Waltervp: Since when was Peugeot classified as a luxury car?

            • @brendanm: Yes exactly! In Tasmania it is regarded as a luxury car it seems. Even on the mainland my rural friends think it's a luxury brand because it is non Asian!!! The truth is it is a mainstream vehicle in the rest of the world, and extremely easy and common to find parts and advice!! I always had the fancy leather seat and sunroof editions so that added wow factor for people coming in my car..

              Now driving the Ford Titanium which is equal in luxury options but a vanilla brand according to local opinion and people don't give me a hard time for being a pensioner in a fancy car…

              But yes, I concur, since when is it a luxury vehicle? It's not :)

              • @Waltervp: Its not, but the styling and the fact you don't see too many modern ones on the road makes them stand out. I get plenty of looks and the occasional person comes up to ask a few questions about my car. Peugeots have some beautiful pearl/metallic paint options also. When they sit in it, they are amazed at the interior quality for a car priced at the same level as Korean and Japanese cars. If you value comfort and/or drive long distance, get a Peugeot.

      • What year model did you have ? The 508 rocks.

        • Had a 2006 308 so many issues. Maybe the newer ones are better

          • +2

            @Dingus: Of course they are, I own a 2015 model 308, it's faultless. Anyone advising others to avoid Peugeot based on one bad experience need to pull their head in and realise that times change and there are lemon models to avoid just as with all brands!! Current models share engines and transmissions with other Japanese makes and are very reliable, first place in the UK last year.. but of course you have idiots on Ozbargain with no first hand experience who keep talking rubbish. Peugeot are on top of their game right now, you are doing yourself a disservice to not even consider one of the more recent models, you will be very surprised how good they are..

            • -1

              @nubzy: You shouldn't include people who have actually worked on them as not having "first hand experience".

    • +2

      This peugeot is nice. Diesel Peugeots are known to be more reliable than petrol. And look at that 4.2 L/100km combined spec

      • +1

        They are beautiful, practical, economical, reliable and VERY well equipped (at Allure +) cars for their age and the price you pay. The diesel engines are very strong. People have reservations about small capacity turbo petrols but treat it well and you'll be right. They are becoming mainstream anyway, loads of small cars are equipped with small turbos nowdays.

    • +1


      I thought I read pigeon, damn you.

      • +1

        it is PeUGe0, not PeUgEoT. Incorrect emphasis, must be an OzFranco thing.

      • Was intrigued, read till the very end. It's now $699 for the full set or $499 for the ring (the one that needs to be replaced)

        • Yeah I see, that last post was 3 days ago, after I read the thread. Still, you have to be in the know as that's the first and only aftermarket alternative, dealer price is still $4400, plus if you read their facebook post, they only have 5 pairs available!

      • I'm far from a Peugeot fan, but that it just blatantly false.

        • Perhaps, but the bloke in that thread reckons he went to several places and got similar prices. Apparently they are very bespoke, only one mob makes them for Peugeot and they’ve got an exclusive supply deal.

    • +2

      Just the mention of Peugeot reminded me of the 406 coupe, yes it's 20 years old but it still look great today!

      • +3

        Pininfarina FTW

    • +2

      I got a 406 2.5 years ago for like 2 grand, I've done about 80000ks and the 2l TDI has been bullet proof, I've spent about 1.5k on servicing/repairs total since then

    • But OP want's a sedan. The french only great hot hatches (and rebadge a great sports car).

      OP would be better looking to Italy. If OP can extend their budget by just $90,000, OP can purchase a Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio with 30,000 to 40,000 on the clock. The best part is OP can wisely spend their $20k on transfers!!!!

      I know this isn't a high yield investment, but OP is a doctor, not a banker. If only their were five available on carsales at that price OP could Broden them.

  • +24

    Stick with the Lancer.

    Don't worry about replacing timing belt.

    Drive it 'til she dies.

    Or just buy a Renault megane trophy rs blah blah blah

    • +1

      The car market is cucked right now due to many factors, both new and used (lower new imports causing strain on used market). Ride that jelopy all you can, keep saving and you will be able to get a hybrid/ elec probs. However the Korean mentions are reasonable enough.
      Or just buy a Gas Falcondoor or camry/ rolla :)

      • At the moment WA is finally returning to pre covid car prices thank god, although i understand over east may still be in the covid peak so yeah second hand cars aren't exactly cheap at the moment.

        Just get the good ol Ozbargain camry if you don't want anything that'll stand out.

        Else Lexuses are amazing. An RC350/200t is my dream car.

    • +37

      +1. Sticking with the lancer until it dies is what a true nonconformist would do. Most people would upgrade.

      • +9

        Dang, you're right.

        • +4

          But take a bit of the money you would have used to buy the upgrade and upgrade the car how you want (e.g. new apple play compatible head unit) and fix any mechanical issues that make driving it sh*t.

          Spend a weekend detailing it (or pay someone if you really aren't that way inclined).

          • +1

            @toristo: I'll probably take this on board - at the beginning of the year I DIY installed a $99 Aldi bluetooth head unit which took about 5 trips to Supercheap Auto to finish. I think I'm struggling with a reverse-sunk-cost-fallacy in that I don't want to put even more money into pricey services/repairs/upgrades if the car will conk out soon, but this does seem like the most logical option.

            • +1

              @iamnikon: Nope it's actually sunk cost.

              The sunk cost fallacy is to put more money in from now than you can get out from now, because you put so much money in previously. As long as what you put in is less than what you can still get out, you're good, but it also has to be weighed against opportunity cost: What you put in might have been better put into something else, even though you'll get a return with this one.

    • +3
    • Imma gonna agree with the RS trophy. Heck of niche car but might struggle to find one for under 20k.

  • +20

    I know you said you don't want a car that everyone else has, but consider a 2017-2018 Hyundai i30 SR or N-Line for $20-25k.
    -1.6l turbo goes like a cut snake when you need it to.
    -Runs on 91 unleaded and will be better on fuel than your Lancer. I remember the 2.4L being quite thirsty in that model Lancer.
    -Most of the current safety features (AEB, Radar cruise, auto wipers/lights etc)
    -Has apple car play
    -Still under new car warranty
    -Fun to drive

    Hopefully used car prices will start to come back down a bit in the next 6 months or so which can only be a good thing if you aren't in a rush.

    • +1

      Thanks for the suggestion - I'll take a look! And yep, the Lancer does eat through a lot of petrol.

      • +1

        ‘A lot of petrol’ is all relative. The extra you might save from a newer car is possibly equivalent to the depreciation you currently don’t have.

      • They really don't. Unless you go hybrid or a significantly smaller non turbo motor you would be hard pressed to see any fuel saving. The other problem is many of the smaller motors need 95 or greater, reducing or completely eliminating any cost saving.

        Larger motors like 6's and 8's or turbo 2L's will generally chew more. Diesels depend on other optimisations.

        Hyundai and KIA licenced your motor, using their derivative for over a decade. Your fuel consumption should be similar to the cars recommenced as most engine development has been on directly reducing emissions, not improving efficiency.

        Some of those euro 3 cylinders sip fuel, but only when driving it conservatively.

    • +1

      This, So much this! I have an SR and absolutely love it (after putting some decent rubber on it haha) I've had mine go as low as 6.1l per 100km and as high as cough 11l per 100km cough (don't judge me, it literally has SR in its name haha)

      • curious about which brand/model of tyres you put on it. mine are due soon and I know the factory ones are noisy as hell…

        also to add to a dead thread, +1 to i30 SR. I've got a 2017 Sr premium and love it, my two pains are noisy tyres and a bit of lag… but it's heaps better than any other hatch in the price range.

        • +2

          When i bought it the previous owner had some cheap chinese garbage on it, the rear end would slide out going around round-abouts in the rain haha. I have had Michelin Pilot Sport 4 (got about 30k km out of them) i currently have Bridgestone Potenza RE003, they are both excellent tyres but i think the bridgestones are giving me better corner handling (only 300km into the RE003's at the moment so no other comments as yet on them)

          • @Bobimus Maximus:

            When i bought it the previous owner had some cheap chinese garbage on it, the rear end would slide out going around round-abouts in the rain haha.

            Probably drifting tires….or tires for doing skids and donuts…….or maybe dont go so fast then?

        • I've tried a friends EVC Throttle Controller, it basically hijacks the throttle signal from the pedal and tells the computer that you are pressing the pedal sooner and faster. It worked surprisingly well to reduce that "laggy" feeling but i couldn't justify spending $280 on one.

    • I've got an i30 N-Line and very happy with it. It can run on 91 octane but it's noticeably quicker on 98. I think Hyundai removed the hardware for cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring when they turned the i30 SR into the N-Line, so the latter may be a better buy.

    • Good luck getting an N-line auto for under 25K they are all over 30k. Maybe a manual.

    • What's going to change in the next 6 months?

  • +6

    Budget: ideally <$20k, but could be pushed to $25k

    Sorry but if you want one that's any good, you're probably stuck with a conforming car.

    • +1

      It definitely seems like it - I may keep my Lancer around for a bit longer until I can justify a higher price range!

  • +7

    get a motorbike

  • +3

    Get a conforming car, paint it whacky. You could get a mural for the side of it.

  • +9

    Simple, get a Hearse.
    Perfect for house calls as a GP!

    Otherwise, if you want to be a conformist, a Toyota 86 or Subaru BRZ

    • +1

      I'll be working at a hospital so I might see if they'll let me nick one of the ambos!

    • Is the 86 actually confirmist? I thought the sales were quiet low especially over the last few years. Not many people want tiny sporty cars with no boot or back seat space.

      • +1

        For a sports car, yes.

      • +1

        Compared to a Hearse, it's conformist.

  • +3

    Toyota Mark X

  • +2

    There are better, cheaper ways to express yourself. Buying a car is one of those times where it's acceptable to pick the basic, mainstream option. Sure, pick the whacky Citroen or GMC, but don't be surprised if it croaks, and it'll cost you a fortune to maintain and repair due to parts availability.

  • +12

    Suzuki mighty boy

  • +11

    Kia Stinger,

    Where are you seeing a Kia Stinger for <$25k?

    I'd be on that even if it was just the 2.0T or the weird looking purple [Edit: ok its called Deep Chroma Blue but I reckon it looks purple] & yellow Rafa edition.

  • +1

    A Renault Kangoo painted like the van in the A-Team

  • +1

    2018 build, 2019MY Toyota Corolla. Because nothing says "non-conformist" like a white goods on wheels… :D

  • -2

    "but I don’t want a car that everyone else has (e.g. Corolla, i30, Mazda 3) despite their great value / quality"
    "Something fairly reliable or cheap to service/repair in Australia would be ideal"

    The reason common cars are "common" is because they usually are the most economical to own and maintain.

    Cars are just a piece of coloured tin that haul your ass from one place to another. Some do that, and some do it with a degree of doubt.. LOL.

    " Apple CarPlay or other touchscreen interface"
    Why is it these days people place this as a must have but dont care about the integrity or the cost of ownership of the tin box it is fitted to?
    Even if a car does not have this essential?… you can add it for a few $'s.

    Get a Camry and get a graffiti vandal to uncomform it for you.

    • +11

      I do recognise that wanting a ~unique car~ is irrational; in fact I reference it multiple times in my post. I'm happy to be told that this desire is unrealistic and I'll have to cop it, but please don't treat me like I don't understand why these cars are common.

      I also do care about the integrity and cost of ownership of a car, as also outlined in my post to the extent that I am able to understand, but I can't speak for all "people these days". I spent half a day DIY-installing a bluetooth head unit into my Lancer so I thought I'd save myself the time as it seems many newer cars come standard with this.

      • if you really want something non-conformist and cheap to run, buy an LPG Commodore.
        billions of dollars of R&D and they sold so few it bankrupted the company.

  • Tough set of conditions for your choice. For pure value in that range get the Kia Cerrato. Has great tech and brand new but won't meet your non conformist condition.

    Alternative is a Lexus Hybrid Luxury second hand. E300h

    Nice sedan with good room inside and cheap to run as hybrid. Lexus are great too. Fit your image as a Dr and even though you would be looking at a 2014-2015 model they are lovely to drive. *Won't have your Apple car play stuff though unless you could get the dealer to upgrade the head unit some how.

    • Thanks - I'll definitely check those out!

  • +2

    2018 Commodore (Opel Insignia)

    Don't see many on road, didn't see well (obviously otherwise GM wouldn't have shut Holden down)

    For extra non-conformance, go for a wagon

  • +7

    Nissan Juke
    Toyota Rukus

    A bit left field, but built on the base of otherwise pretty reliable vehicles.

    • Owned a Rukus many years ago and it was a great vehicle. Like a much better version of the Nissan Cube or the Kia Soul. 11/10, would recommend the Rukus.

      • Is there anything you haven’t owned?

        • +1

          Yeah… anything French and anything Tesla…

          • @pegaxs: Porsche?

            • +1

              @MS Paint: On the “to buy” list. Came close a few months ago when I found a cheap Cayenne…

    • +5

      The Nissan Juke is one of the UGLIEST cars I've ever seen.

      • But it certainly is unconventional

      • Oh my, I'm in love with that car, haha.
        Currently driving a 2008 Peugeot 308