Fast (Ish) /Fuel Efficient Car between $10k- $20k for 3 Hour Commuting Every Day

Hoping some OzB's can point me in the direction of some cars that might help me get through the gruelling commute I'll be doing every day with my new job :D


  • Highway or local streets? %'s

  • probably about 70km of highway, 10km of local streets (one way)

  • My Prius C falls under the category fast(ish) upto 40km/h.
    Didn't see your post of highway/city driving. It must have appeared while I was typing

  • would like to get opinions on a motorbike (currently no license and minimal experience)

    • +57 votes

      Yeah, don't. It won't work out cheaper than driving a car. Also you will get hot on hot days and get cold on cold days and get wet on wet days… So forth and so on.

      The problem with a motorcycle, other than outlined above is that with freeway running, it will go through tyres. The outside edge of the tyres will be new, the centres will be worn out. Bike tyres are notoriously expensive compared to car tyres and only last about 5~10,000km when you're just freeway commuting.

      Initial motorcycle purchase price is a bonus and lower registration costs can also be a benefit, but insurance costs can kill those savings, as will all the gear you need to buy and keep somewhere when you get to work.

      The other thing is, you want "fast" but go on to mention "no licence/experience." With that, you will be restricted to the size bike you can buy and to the speeds you can do on the freeway. Doing 90km/h on your L's on a freeway that's 110km/h zone is no fun for anyone.

      If you lived 10~20km from work, get a bike. 80km with 90% freeway, buy a small, efficient commuter car like a Corolla, i30 or Cerato.

      • Great Advice! thanks for helping me rule that out :D

      • I got 25,000 km out of my previous tyres and agree that they are expensive compared to car tyres. Not uncommon to pay $400 - $500 for 2 tyres.

      • I agree on the broader point of not using a bike for the commute OP wants to do. I've done this exact ride before and it's really not that fun.

        Even in a car sometimes I feel like I'm going to die in a fiery crash on some stretches between Brisbane and GC. On the bike it was even more heightened. As an inexperienced rider, the M1 is not a place to make mistakes, people seem to get a lobotomy as they enter that highway.

        Specifically though, in QLD L and P platers aren't speed restricted. Their speed limit is the signposted limit so there's no risk of them being forced to do 20-30kph under.

        Further, plenty of LAMS bikes will comfortably keep up in 110km/h zones with overhead to give it some if one was so inclined.

      • The outside edge of the tyres will be new, the centres will be worn out.

        This will cause you a lot of shame too, thankfully it's easily resolved with sandpaper.

      • +2 votes

        I don't really have anything important to add to above but just wanted to say that these were my findings too. Sold my last bike about 3 years ago.

        Sure, bikes are cheap, rego is the same, insurance can go either way. Big bikes can consume as much fuel as a car, taking your gear on and off takes time, getting changed at work takes time, weather can make or break whether you have a great ride or a shit ride.

        Unless you're in absolute grid lock or maybe live really inner city where lanesplitting is advantageous for a large portion of your commute you're probably not actually going to save any time or money.

        My bikes ended up being purely recreational vehicles, I find commuting on them just sucks for lack of a better term.

      • but with motobike, you can cheat and get to the front of the line by weaving through all the stuck traffic cars……or even just slide pass them on the road. Can't do that with a car - oh well maybe if you are really good driver and manage to squeeze in the space between the lanes without scratching either sides of the car anywhere…

    • Edit: Nvm, prev comment covered it pretty well.

      • Have a read of this first and understand that motorcyclists are road users as well.

        Then read this to learn how to share the road with motorcyclists.

        Once you’ve read those, go out and become a better and safer driver around motorcyclists so we don’t end up as bonut ornaments because your Facebook post was more important than their life.

        Then, after you’ve done all that, instead of being a facetious arse clown, stop to thank a motorcyclist. They help in lowering congestion on the roads, are better for the environment, take up much less parking space and are generally happier, nicer people than your average car driving (fropanity) hole.

  • What do you class as fast(ish) OP ?
    0-100 in




    • honestly dont even know what these numbers mean, just something with a bit of power to get me in front of the slow drivers on the road

    • I get negged for asking for a specific number?

      Harsh crowd

      • Seriously, he is right, and not giving you a hard time.
        I think the i30 or corolla would be a great fast car for you that would well fit the purpose.

        You may like to think outside the square and have a look at the Peugeot 308. I love their little wagons best as they are very spacious despite being quite small. Very impressive cars in general. The diesel variety is very powerful for your needs and very economical. The petrol ones they sell aren't always that powerful as they have some 3 Cylinders in their range. Have a test drive of this one for example, you will love it and the dealer will give you a fantastic deal (discount) because Peugeot don't sell that well.

  • For a three hour commute I'd look into catching a train and catching up on more sleep on the way to work. You could even have a few drinks before you left and you'd be sober by the time you get to work.

    • lol I dont think i could sleep on a train, but your right though it is an option but i still want to be able to commute by car some days.

    • Highly recommend the train. Speaking form experience I did Wollongong to Parramatta - equivalent distance. Even though the train was a little longer, gave me the chance to unwind and be distracted without the risk.

      All of the above and below as positives. But especially your wellbeing, even if you can't sleep you can rest your eyes/brain and if you're so inclined you can watch videos on your devices or read (ofcourse all the audio options too - but sticking to things you can't do if you are driving).

  • Wow, 3 hours?

    What about a Train or Ride Share?

    Do you need a Car?

    How much is Parking?

  • Does a 2014 Mazda 3 SP25 do it for you?

  • +26 votes


    • +16 votes

      100%. What's up with Australians wanting to waste hours and hours of their lives every week?

    • +1 vote

      Agree. I did that commute for 6 months or so, lucky a work supplied car.

      Some days it would be a smooth drive others 2 hours. Leave work at 430pm get home at 630pm every day tires you out really quickly.

      OPs 3 hour commute would be on a good day.

    • ^ ^ ^ This. I am under 10 mins from work and love it. The GC is great but its not worth the traffic / commute. It's nice to visit or if you have a job where you can telecommute / WFH most of the time. Every time I get silly ideas about moving down there and start looking around areas I like then luckily get caught in another M1 traffic jamb which reminds me what life will be like and I think - yeah no… its not that much better.

      If you spend 3 hours a day on that commute vs 30 mins living near your work in the city, the extra 2.5 hours x 5 days x call it 46 weeks (52 minus 4 weeks leave minus 10ish public holidays) = 575 hours per year. (The total commute is 690 hours)

      Full time work is considered 38 hours / week in this time = 1748 hours at work. 575/1748 = 32.8% extra and 690/1748 = 39.5% total - i.e. that extra commute is approximately 1/3 of full time work!!??!! If you get paid $100K it should be worth approx ~$33,000 to you compared to people who live locally!!
      Not to mention the extra $s on fuel, wear and tear on your vehicle (and environmental impact of this). You have to work even more to pay for that. ATO rate this year is 72 cents per km for 2020–21 x 150km per day (personally I think this is a bit excessive so I will reduce it to 50 cents to be conservative) = $75 x 46 x 5 = $17,250.

      No wonder OP is on OzBargain!! This commute is valued at $50,250 per year so far in time and money!!! A bonus $966 per week would rent one nice house / apartment in Brisbane near the river if you want, especially considering that's on top of GC living expenses!

      You've got to value your time - its the most valuable and limited commodity you have

      • I am not a mathematician but….

        7.5 hrs a day / 3 hrs commute would have given you the same results to prove the commute is approximately 1/3 of full time work!!
        just saying.

        • True, however MrFrugal also put the work in to explain how poor OPs investment decision in a car is across both time and money.

          Frugal people are notorious for not being able to correctly value their time when making money moves (i.e. spending 30 mins and $3 of fuel to return $2 worth of goods at Coles). MrFrugal really got to the heart of the issue and for that he/she got my upvote.

          just saying.

  • +2 votes

    Bora 4motion V6

  • mazda mx5

  • Where's the Camry Hybrid suggestion…?!

    Ok, I'll go - Camry Hybrid

  • What car do you have at the moment?

  • I'm in a similar situation in sydney - but only about 45 min each way. I wonder if salary packaging a car might work out better since running costs will be high.

  • I'll go Kia Cerato as no one else has nominated it yet.

  • Rush hour traffic, you don't need fast.

    If it is exclusively for the commute maybe look at second hand Nissan Leaf. If you can charge it at work and there is under cover parking. Battery is air cooled so people (not necessarily owners) have opinions about hot / cold weather impact on the batteries.

  • Seat Ibiza GTI.

  • You can often save 10 to 20 minutes by picking the better lanes and the better route. Speed is not normally a factor, the cars in front of you are.

    For example, if you notice one lane seems to move faster than you, try to count the cars that pass in it until traffic clears up. See if it is a regular pattern and try that lane after a few days of watching. Count how many cars you pass and subtract the ones that pass you.

    Stuff like this can be boring, but so is a morning commute. And it can save you time without spending money.

    • Do not forget to watch the other lanes because patterns change.. seriously though I’d kill myself after a month if that is what i did everyday. Just take the train if you don’t need your car at work! Save money and spend your time being more productive!

    • 10 minutes over 3 hours isn’t much. You’d be lucky to get that much. Not to mention all the chopping and changing just adds to traffic.

      Side street routes sure you can make up more. But on the freeway just pick a lane and stick with it. I always see those ‘zippy here I go super efficient’ lane changers approximately 5 cars ahead at the end of the freeway.

      The only way to really go faster is to be the cockhead flying up the emergency lane.

      • Sorry,

        Pick the best lane for a several km stretch up to a major intersection. After the major intersection, if traffic clears up, pick the new best lane.

        For example I would use the left lane on a 5km stretch because for the last km I would save ~5 minutes. Cutters could make the saving by switching at the right time, but that last km was bumper to bumper stop start traffic with both lanes usually moving at different times.

        Yes, cutting can save time too for many queued turns, but if you are doing it every day eventually other cars will recognise you and stop letting you in.

  • +2 votes

    camry hybrids seem cheap

  • 80km each way x 2 x 5 days a week x 48 weeks a year (assuming you take holidays)… depreciation/maintenance is going to be the biggest killer.

    I'd be looking for a ~10-12k auto hatch of some kind (Jazz, Corolla, Yaris, Cerato, Rio etc…), negotiate hard on a low-ish km example and turn them over before mileage gets too high.

    I've lived this life myself, 95km each way. When i first started the job, had a Hyundai Excel (to be fair, this was the early 00s) and it cost me next to nothing to own. Thought i was a hot unit and bought a WRX to replace it and proceeded to spend 1/3 my wage on fuel/depreciation/maintenance etc.. a year

  • Pretty much any modem hatchback will be fast enough n the highway to keep up/overtake other cars.

    • I’m all for EV’s but the $7000+ p.a depreciation cost over the first few years kills the deal for most

      • +1 vote

        I had a good look at this the other day and got similar numbers, with tax writeoff on repayments, free charging and estimated exit price of 42k after 4 years the loss was 5k pa not including insurance or rego which brings it upto 7k pa. Sigh, I wouldnt mind one. But 7k is a bitter pill to swallow every year.

  • Suzuki Swift Sport.

  • If you want a bigger car than a hatch, have a look at the Volkswagen CC turbo diesel. Plenty of get up and go with the twin turbo, driver’s seat is highly adjustable with great lumbar support, plenty of lux features - but be choosy and wait for the right one with more features - you may need to source interstate, although I think there’s some in Qldat the moment.

    2011 model gets 5.2L/100km around town and 4.1L/100km on country roads. I used to do 90km each way to work and it was great.

    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.

    The Golf or some of the other small hatchbacks others have mentioned would be a good option too

    • Plenty of get up and go with the twin turbo

      It's single turbo. Biturbo came out years later as 140tdi.

  • Move closer to work instead of wasting 15h/week commuting.

  • I recommend a hatch from Japan and Korea as they are reliable.
    Look at Carsales. There is plenty at that price range and it is cheap to run and maintain 💪🏾

  • Get a Golf Gti. Pretty quick car that’s very fuel efficient and practical.