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!


  • +2

    Not sure I would want to visit an Irrational Nonconformist Doctor…lol

    • +6

      Haha - I promise all my treatment decisions conform to evidence based medicine!

    • +7

      Believe the technical terms are naturopaths and chiropractors ;)

      • +1

        Who insist on being called doctors

  • driving over speed bumps at 60kph

    Only 60? Don't you have to go at least 80?

    • +9

      Please - there's only so much chronic traumatic encephalopathy my dad can handle.

      • I bet you just googled that ;)

  • +1

    Golf GTi

  • +9

    Suzuki Jimny but you'll need to get on the long waitlist!

  • +2

    Alfa Romeo Giulietta.


    Kia Cerato?

  • A bit out of your price range. Definitely different and will stand out. Plenty of get up and go.

  • VW Jetta is bland, I have been in many brand new ones and still think they are blanddddd.

    If you don't want the "common cars" that have been driven and tested by the population, and still want that "cheap to service" or "reliability", you're better off buying a new car with a decent manufacturing warranty to save you the headache down the track.

    • Wouldn't say they're bland. They have much higher and varying engine power on models and torque is impressive for what it is with the turbo attached. Sounds like you didn't drive the higher spec ones. Not a beast but can hold its own. Much better than your "common cars". Could do with some extra features inside but that's not the issue. Issue is reliability. Electronics, gearbox and a couple other issues aren't the best for longevity.

  • +2

    2016 WRX (preferably one senior owner).

    • +1

      A senior driving a WRX?!

      • I resemble that remark…

  • +4

    As an aside, you'll be an intern next year. If you can wait until you actually start working, you can consider other options via salary sacrifice or novated leases if that's your thing. Can help stretch your budget out a bit more that way. AMA/hospitals also have deals with a few car manufacturers (e.g. BMW, mercedes, VW, audi, off the top of my head) for new cars as well. Might be worthwhile to sit tight for now and re-assess when your term starts.

  • Put a new engine in a classic bugs body.

  • Daihatsu?

    When I was looking for a car, the contenders was Impreza, liberty, accord, civic, corolla, mazda6. What I actually purchased was a corolla 2016 sedan. It’s grown on me and it’s actually a really nice car to drive.

  • +7

    Skoda - non comformist and tough as nails.

    • +1

      Love my Skoda Rapid.

      Had a 2008 Lancer that I drove till the engine broke in multiple ways at 490,000kms then bought a Skoda.
      Servicing is a bit expensive(ish) but it drives like a dream and has everything he's asking for.

  • +1

    Suzuki ignis. Not usual, reliable and looks like a helmet on wheels. Cheap and cheap to maintain

  • +3

    2nd hand 370z manual

  • Audi A1 or A3 (A1 cheaper, but spend a little more for the A3). Fuel economy is amazing, drive is comfortable. The price on a second hand should be ~$30k for a 1-2 yr old one that has driven 10-20,000km. $25k for maybe 30,000km. I love mine - but the service will be expensive if you don't get the 4th one for free/the 4th hasn't been done - so watch out for that.

    Given the new 2020-2021 design refresh is coming out soon, dealers would be keen on getting rid of excess stock/2016-2017 models are due for an upgrade.

    • Which engine size?

      • 1.4 is adequate

  • +1

    Get a Saab, but the Subaru version.
    Definitely win the non-conformist.

    • 9-2x Never sold in AU, Think it was a NA/Canada only deal.

  • +1

    Volvo c30

    • Very cool cars. Rare and a nice choice.

  • I second Saab it's the ultimate architect car.

    • That’s gonna take a bit more study for the OP.

  • +1

    I just went through this for a second car with similar budget and needing CarPlay

    VW polo or golf or Audi A3 would work in near new

    I can help you safely and tastefully modify it to make it look right and it would be amazing.

    • +2

      If he's a doctor I wouldn't think a golf would be nonconformist. That's practically standard issue equipment for a junior doctor. Unless he paints it some outrageous colour.

  • Depending on the klms you will do, what about a classic?

  • look up manheims on the net and visit them. buy fixed price rather than auction.
    they have reports and buy those with full service history

    • They don’t allow test drive for vehicles.

  • Non conformist?
    Buy a tradies van, and fit it out with campervan luxuries.

    • Or ladders on top, tools in the back for when you park at the hospital and get out in scrubs.

  • +2

    You can pick the latest model 2019-2020 Ford Focus on that budget.

    At least in Australia they’re relatively rare and will be relatively reliable and cheap to run (capped price servicing).

    • At least in Australia they’re relatively rare

      The Ford Focus is a rare car in Australia? You must be joking.
      Or do you mean 4th-generation Focuses are?

      Even if you're referring to the 4th-gen model… it's still a fcking Focus, they haven't changed that much since 2011 and they sell about 10 of them in Australia every single day (according to last year's sales figures).

      However rare the current generation might be now it certainly won't be in a few months time and no one with a clue about cars has ever considered the Focus a "nonconformist" vehicle; it's one of the most popular small cars/hatchbacks in history with 16 million Focuses sold over three generations, that's more than the:

      • Holden Commodore
      • Toyota Camry
      • Toyota Land Cruiser
      • Mazda 3
      • Mazda 6
      • Mitsubishi Lancer
      • Opel/Holden Astra
      • Suzuki Swift
      • Hyundai Elantra
      • Hyundai Accent
      • Hyundai Sonata
      • Honda Accord
      • BMW 3 Series
      • BMW 5 Series
      • Mercedes Benz C-Class
      • And on par with the Toyota Hilux as well as the Honda Civic.

      It's about as pedestrian and run-of-the-mil as it gets.

  • -1

    Why not get something from the 60s or 70s? For your price range you should be able to get something someone has spent alot of money on.

    • Autos from that era are pretty ordinary, unless you get a big thirsty v8.

    • +3

      Safety. Reliability. Convenience. Economy. Performance.

      Recommending classic cars to everyday people as daily vehicles is a terrible idea.

  • +2

    I personally think the 2015 MD Ford Mondeo Titanium is an unusual car with many surprises. Heated rear seats and all.round airbag seatbelts! A powerpoint for laptops in the back seat oodles of space in the hatchback,… and if you can afford the diesel version its only 5.2? l/100k!!! Maybe start with the slightly earlier MC model which lacks a rear vision camera but has great 4 corner beepers, blind spot alert, autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control (how did we live without it!)…. big surprise. But must be Titanium. Cn also look for Ford Focus Titanium.

    • The mc would give you the fantastic surprise of a faulty transmission.

      • The Mondeo is a fantastic package (apart from the gearbox issues raised above).

    • Yes I love the Mondeo and it offers a lot of bang for buck in Titanium spec, but the transmission issues are a worry unless that was sorted for later models??

  • I would recommend European but your confessions seem to sum it it nicely as to why these vehicles would be way out of your realm. Stick with what you got…. after a few more years of abuse, it will surely be unique.

  • If you are starting to work as an intern next year, then something…

    reliable and dont mind getting neglected…

    that will drive you to and from hospitals at various shift hours should be considered. Once you have done your intern and residency and get admitted to your dream specialty (some specialties may take you several years or never to get in), once qualified then supercars are your limit… but depending on your priorities. E.g. $200k income cant really afford mclaren sienna comfortably but $2.5m income yes.

  • -1


    I had to look up this word to check what it means. Thanks now I added a new word in my dictionary.

    someone who lives and thinks in a way that is different from other people

  • There are a few Renault Zoe EV's still being sold in the mid $30k's. A demo (1300km) one sold near me today for $33k so you might get one for that kind of money. Decent range. Be warned they sold less than 100 of them in Australia so its very 'non conformist'. (but I'd go with a Skoda)

  • +1

    I know it doesn't fit all of your wants but I would have a look at a Passat R36 - can outrun an R32 Golf whilst still fitting in amongst the other cars in the hospital carpark (shouldn't attract the jealousy keying individuals).

    • I had a R32 that could easily outrun a R36 :P….bolted a hair dryer onto the engine and it ran on sorgham/sugar cane byproduct.

  • Hyundai accent sports edition fits your requirements.
    - very uncommon
    - small/mid sedan
    - <$20k
    - 5 years factory warranty, you can calculate remaining based on the model year you buy.
    - reliable, cheap to run and maintain, apple car play, cruise control, alloy wheels, automatic, good acceleration, comfortable and list goes on.
    - no cam or sensors.

  • The GT 86 (or BRZ) definitely isn't a sedan or a hatchback. If you will be transporting more than 2 people on a regular basis then forget about that suggestion. However, the 86 does tick all your other boxes and is fun to drive. But I own a GT 86 so… I'm biased. The i30 SR was an excellent suggestion, Hyundai have made great strides in the last 5 years. You mentioned the Elantra, maybe look for an Elantra SR:

  • Nissan Cube or Toyota Ruckus

  • So I had almost the same requirements as you 2 years ago when purchasing my car and landed on the Subaru Impreza, has been a brilliant vehicle and wouldn't compromise on getting all wheel drive for any subsequent cars after.

  • +1

    The Saab would have been the perfect car for any non-conforming professional that wants to show their quirkinesses.

    Apart from the Saab I would probably look at a Volvo (preferably with the Polestar treatment for extra points) or Alfa Romeo.

  • Pug 308

  • +1

    get a zb commodore.

  • Have a look at the Volkswagen CC turbo diesel. There’s 3 on Carsales that fit your criteria. Plenty of get up and go with the twin turbo, not many around, plenty of lux features - but be choosy and wait for the right one with more features - you may need to source interstate. 2011 model gets 5.2L/100km around town and 4.1L/100km on country roads. Bonus is the proper 6 speed gearbox, unlike the CVT gearboxes on some cars which feel like you’re stuck between ‘gears’ sitting on 50 or 60kmph - highly annoying feeling it moving up and down like it can’t decide.

    My mechanic says the 125TDI or its replacement, the 130TDI highline engines are super reliable. Also said don’t touch the petrol version from that era or any Jetta.

    Servicing potentially more expensive than you’d like, at $350 minor and $1100 major service, plus timing belt $1100 at around 80K km.

  • go for value for money. kia and hyundai warranty. john cadogan gives good reviews for the consumer, not the seller.

  • Keeping your old car is hardly nonconformist now is it.

  • how about a horsey and a fancy whip?

    A doc riding in style!

  • Get a 25-30k A8 a roll around like a baller

  • Get a VW passat, I love driving mine, it’s very comfortable, has so many driver assistance (great for long drives) very economical, fast when u want it and you can find a 2016 or even 2017 for $20-25k.

    In terms of maintenance, I am not sure how it compares, I did a timing belt change, cost me $1600 and my general service is about $400.

  • Skoda Octavia

  • Get a VE Clubsport Commodore. V8. You can get a Kenwood stereo for Carplay. LPG it and it will cost the same as a normal 8L/100 econocar.

  • Brown diesel manual wagon. Otherwise, Fiesta ST.

  • If you dont need to carry passengers and your life situation suits it. You should be able to get a good ND MX5 GT 2.0L Automatic for around 20k.
    Amazing cars, puts a smile on my face every time I drive it. (currently on my 4th MX5).

    Edit: Miles better then the BRZ (86) I also own.

    • I too like the MX5 ND..

      But for around $20k, you're not going to get a 2.0L version, let alone a GT.

      Having driven a GT in Summer, I think I'd opt for the non-GT.. seats were just too hot in Summer with the roof down.

      • I bourght my second ND MX5 for 22k (2015 60000kms, Blue, Manual, GT, 2.0L, Tan seats) about a month ago. Cloth seats are good, but the tan seats look the best I reckon.

        There is also a 2016 30000kms ceramic metallic (a great colour) that just popped up on facebook marketplace for 25k negotiable, could be ok. I have attached the link. (Always do a PPSR check prior to buying).

        • Your car was a good buy. Yeah Tan seats look great, but they are hot in Summer!

          Where was yours advertised?

          I've been checking them out for the past 8 or so months on Carsales. I was looking to buy one just before Covid hit.. seems prices have increased since.

          Specifically looking for 2L, Manual… GT/non GT isn't so important to me.

          If I was in Sydney, I'd have a look at the one you linked.


          • +1

            @JimB: This is my second ND MX5, both had same spec, 2015, 2.0L, Manual, GT, Tan seats and Reflex Blue colour.

            The first one I purchased in mid 2017 was from Brisbane and paid $27000 (20000kms). Sold for $24500 a year later with 30000kms on the clock. Perfect condition.

            The second identical ND I purchased 2 was weeks ago from a local guy nearby in Adelaide. It had 62000kms and paid $22000 (near perfect condition, slight wear and teach where you lift the boot up).

            If COVID didnt happen, I would have expected to pay around 18-20k. But I decided to go ahead and buy it since was local (existing rego and no shipping costs - so should roughly break even after 1 year). ND is an amazing car if you fit in it.

  • +1

    Infiniti q50, q70. Given the current used car prices you'd have to stretch your budget even more. The cars are pretty comfy, and the V6 versions can dish out a good deal of grunt when demanded (I reckon the v6 q50 does a 5 sec 0 to 100 which is mighty impressive at this price).

    The q70 even comes with twin sports exhausts straight off the factory. But if long wheelbase is a worry, then the q50 is great. Both look pretty as well, but that's subjective.

  • Check out the Infinity Q50 (built on the nissan skyline frame I believe) or Volvo S60 (polestar if you can get it)

  • The only real way to nonconform is to buy a cheap servicable bomb. Or just keep your current bomb. The rest is just typical showing off.

  • We have a Jetta. Ours is a 2015 model, with the dreaded 118TSI twin charger engine and 7DSG

    Contrary to online stories - our Jetta has been reliable. We drive it like a manual, use 98ron and stick to 15k, VW LL oil change only; aside from 1x oxygen sensor under warranty, everything else is still original at 80,000km.

    I won't necessarily recommend a secondhand, out of warranty euro due to reliability concerns. You don't know the history of the car. If I were buying a euro again with 25k cash, I'd consider a brand new Golf with 5 years warranty.

    VW dealership service on the other hand, is not worth it and unnecessary. Indies tend to do a better job, and service should cost less than $400 each year.

  • -1

    Have you considered using public transport ?

  • Alfa Giulietta (or Giulia), Abarth 500, Peugeot 308 or 508, Citroen C4 Cactus, Volvo S40 or C30.

  • but I don’t want a car that everyone else has (e.g. Corolla, i30, Mazda 3) despite their great value / quality.

    There's a reason why these cars are popular. They're, like you said, great value for money, esp in terms of cost and reliablility.. So if you insist on the "non-conformist" approach, you likely have to sacrifice one or the other.

  • +1

    Checkout an Infiniti.

    Incredible Japanese build quality. Priced equal to BMW and Mercs in the US and Europe, but the brand never took off here.

    Genuine 'unique looking' prestige car with Nissan pricing for repairs/maint.


    Check out the equipment, inc. Bose stereo, Sunroof + Heated Seats

    This Infiniti Q50 has voice recognition, heated front seats, hill holder and remote central locking. Automatic temperature control featuring both front and rear air conditioning. It has internet connectivity via bluetooth system. It has an electric sunroof. This car has premium sound system, 19" alloy wheels, leather gear knob and iPod connectivity. This car has a GPS navigation system. You will love the DVD player. It has leather seats. Using the multi-function steering wheel, listen to your favourite music and answer calls without taking your hands off the wheel.

  • Wait keeping the car until end of 2021! You're rego gets refunded if you end early?

    We have to wait almost a year to find out what you buy! This cliffhanger sucks :)

  • 2014-15 Honda Accord Euro CU2 for 13k, spend a few k's on tasteful mods, plenty of leftover from 25k..

  • Stinger is not in your price range.

  • +1

    Volvo S60, V40 and V40 Cross Country
    - All models are reasonably powerful (your budget will stretch to an S60 Polestar - 0-100 in less than 5 seconds)
    - Volvo's all tend to have the same engines, transmissions and brakes as they tend to share architecture, thus, parts tend to be much cheaper

    Lexus IS350
    - Again rather fast, the price really does hinge on how new you want the car to be

    Renault Megane 275
    - Very pretty hatchback, held the record for the fastest FWD car round the Nurburgring for a time

    Audi A5 3.2V6 , TTS 2.0T, A6 3.0S, S3
    - The A5 with the V6 is the cheapest of the trio. Although it may not be ask fast the engine is very charismatic and is terribly lovely to rev and thrash. The TTS has the engine from the Audi S3 or Golf R, and like the S3 is technically and Golf underneath. The A6 has the engine from an S4 of the period.

Login or Join to leave a comment