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


      • +3

        Haha, depends if you’re a p plater or not :P

    • +2

      I was actually going to say Golf GTD, diesel version of GTI if you're gonna do that many kms.

  • WFH?

  • +1

    if you can wait till next year in the latter half, the next toyobaru 86/brz will be released in oz . It is likely to be a great handling fun car, with jap reliability and fair service costs. It is non turbo and will likely have reasonable economy, insurance etc.

    • +1

      I owned a BRZ. I dont know how people daily drive that car or have it as their only car.

      Its uncomfortable and has a very slow unsatisfying engine. I sold it within a few months and bourght a second ND MX5. I know the benefits are there and the car has reliability, storage space, RWD and a decent gearbox.

      But its in an odd space for me, its not good enough to be your only car. And if its your second car, there are better alternatives. Hopefully the next gen is better.

      • Nothing a flexi E85 Tune can't fix haha , they are rather punchy after that with basic bolt on's

  • +4

    Small diesel.

    Have a hunt around.

    i30 diesel highly recommended, regularly get 5 per 100, sometimes below 5 and sometimes just above.

    You can pick them up for a reasonable price, they're bulletproof.

    • +1

      This is the way

  • +2

    Man 15+ hours stuck in your car each week, make sure cars got bluetooth and all the mod cons.
    Conservatively that's almost $500 in wages a week you're sacrificing by being in traffic.
    I'd move or find a job closer to home if possible for less wage.

  • 3 hours per day… 10k will last possibly last 2 months, and 20k possibly 5 months.

  • +4

    If you are OK driving a manual car (versus automatic) very few option can beat a brand new Volkswagen Polo.

    For about under $20,000 you'll get a brand new vehicle, manual, 5 years warranty and packed with all features you might need.
    Fuel consumption will be well under 5L/100km reaching an unbelievable 4.1L/100Km for a steady and methodic (boring?) long distance 80kmh driving.

    For longish distance driving, being the only one in the car you'll find it has all required power.
    Specially with all speed limits and cameras and radars that mushroom everywhere.

    I'll suggest to have a test drive and then decide (if you drive manual!! … DSG is another story).

    • +1

      Great sales pitch!

      • It is call advice.
        And that is what the OP requested: advice.

    • What about the corrosion in the roof?

      • What about what?

        You have 5 years to claim warranty … if anything ever pops up.

        Are you confusing a Polo with an Alfa?
        A Jeep perhaps?

    • Yeah and you’ll also be able to ditch the gym membership because your legs will be like tree trunks from pushing that clutch in, in the stop start traffic! Perfect!

      • If having that problem then manual is not for you.

        I wouldn't know how bicycle riders (the Lycra crowd!!) seem to have thin but very muscly legs and are extremely healthy overall.
        Must be the genes!!!!

      • Manual man here, but based on OPs initial posts, he simply needs a reasonably swift basic auto.

    • Better still, get a two year old Polo GTI manual and still be under $20k.

      • Pretty hard to drive two GTIs at the same time … two regos … two insurances …
        Nah …

    • If you are OK driving a manual car

      Stop start traffic, probably end up with left leg bigger than right leg after a year.

  • Turbo diesel Golf or Passat etc. Cheap to run and fun enough off the line.

  • I do a 3 hour commute each day.
    I drive a 2015 VW Polo in Manual.
    Has a 1.2l Turbo, and I'm averaging about 4.8l/100.

    • That's a great mileage, isn't it? how many km's has it got if you don't mind me asking?

      • +1

        Currently 85xxx Kms.

        I'm pretty happy with the consumption.

        I drive Wollongong<>Sydney each day, and if it wasn't for Mt.Ousley Road, and it's steep incline, I reckon the Consumption would be mid 4's.

        • i got my Golf GTi down to 6.7L/100 on a Sydney to Kioloa return trip last week with (4 ppl and boot full)…. bit cheeky and cruise in neutral more than i should though.

          • +1

            @chriskq: Pretty sure that's how you destroy a gearbox.

            See, when you take either your manual or automatic out of gear and into Neutral when driving down a hill you end up using, at the minimum, the same amount of fuel and perhaps more because the engine is still working and the fuel is still flowing. So the argument that you’ll save fuel doesn’t work, because you won’t. See, many modern vehicles will, when the system detects the vehicle is coasting (no load being applied via the throttle), shut off fuel supply or in those with the technology deactivate cylinders to reduce the amount of fuel being consumed. Thus, coasting in gear will in 99.9% of cases use less fuel than when you slot Neutral and try and rely on momentum.

            Another issue with slotting Neutral is that you’ll have no ability to accelerate because you’re not in gear, all you’ll be able to do is slow down via the brakes and this lack of control will mean, potentially, you won’t be able to avoid a hazard.

            One of the biggest issues of all, especially for an automatic transmission, is to shift from Neutral into Drive while travelling at speed. Basically, you’ll be slamming gears and bands together, and while it’s likely you’ll only damage some inexpensive parts inside the transmission it’ll cost a bomb to get to those parts. It’s the same for a manual transmission, only the meshing forces are different because you could slot top gear, whereas the automatic will go straight into first gear from Neutral.

            So, don’t coast down a hill in Neutral in either a manual or automatic transmission, you won’t save fuel and you could break your transmission when you move from Neutral to a Gear

            • +1

              @DisabledUser373341: Haha. Cruising in neutral. Wtf. No go for both manual and auto.

              Then our friend there drives a VW. Might be unique way of driving for VW cars.

  • +1

    I did a 3 hour commute in the UK. Luckily for me it was against the flow, so I was covering a lot more distance but still long AF. I had a Citroen Xantia 1.9L Diesel manual. It was super amazingly comfortable over bumps and got 50mpg for around an 750 mile range. It was a 500 quid "banger" and I clocked up a lot of miles for not much cost.

    My advice is get an automatic first and foremost since you are in traffic, forget about a "fast" car. Also get a diesel for the better mileage/range and fuel cost. Get something comfortable and well equipped with good HVAC.

  • +6

    When I was driving to work I'd take the XR6 turbo and every single day (over 4 years) I would get mad at how I had all this power and not a chance in hell to actually use it.

    If you're only using it to get stuck in traffic everyday, do yourself a favour and buy something small with average power and use the saved cash to install a decent stereo.

    • +2

      Wouldn't recommend an Impreza. They're pretty underpowered and really not that good on fuel.

      Not to knock em as a car. I quite love them personally, but they're not right for OP.

  • +2

    Not sure if you prefer auto or manual. I also don't drive 3 hours commute for work, but I do occasionally travel ~1 hour distances, mostly highway so having a manual didn't matter that much. Sometimes I do get frustrated on peak hour drives but the clutch is quite light as compared to a wrx etc.

    I've been daily driving a Ford Fiesta ST for almost 3 years now and still makes me smile everytime I put my foot down the accelerator. 1.6T - 6.7-6.9s to 100s, very quick on corners and light. For me entering 100 zones I just drop the gear and hit the accelerator hard.

    80% city driving, 20% 100 zones <1 hour each way and I am getting 6.7-6.9l/100km.

    Also, it's a hatchback so you can put more stuff at the back.

  • Golf

    I can easily get 5.3l/100km on a road trip (With the aircon on), and while I wouldn't consider it "fast", it's pretty zippy around traffic. Personally I think it's a pretty good balance between "quick" and efficient

  • Tesla, it's the bomb, even tho I've never had or driven one.

    • +3

      Really good advice. I commute from the GC to bris in a Tesla model 3, it’s great. So many around in OP’s budget too 🤔

    • Under $20000?

      • Nah, $66,000, but they cost nothing to run, are free to fill up (after you buy a house and install solar panels on it) and best of all, when you sell it, you actually get more for it than what you paid for it…

        • So way way over the OPs $15k-20k budget.

          • @PVA: But but but… "pays for itself in 3~5 years"…

            • -2

              @pegaxs: No it doesn’t.

    • Ok, not a Tesla, but if OP has off-street parking then a cheap electric (second hand Leaf) would be ideal. Cost more (between $20-30k) but with that amount of kilometres every single day it would be worth doing the maths at least.

  • +4

    Consider a cheap small new car like the Swift or Picanto.

    Second hand cars have increased drastically in price in the pandemic, making them relatively undesirable if you have the ability to buy new.

  • +3

    I would look for one with adaptive cruise control if you are going to do 3 hours highway driving everyday.

    • Lane keep assist too. Safer for everyone on the road.

  • +1

    Cost to travel 22 days a month=16000(?)(fuel,parkings ,cost to run is an extra..)
    Not sure about the property market is in Brisbane…
    Will it worth to rent or buy an unit or house close to where you work or minimise the travel time vs traveling 3hours a day ?

    Get a small car like mirage ,swift,picanto you to reduce the fuel cost though

  • Gotta be a Ford Mustang Convertable !

    • this but unironically.

      dedicated LPG V6 Holden or Ford Sedan.

      $0.60 / L

      unfortunately they are getting on in years now.

      • FOG. It's the Whirlpool favourite.

      • More like $0.80/L now.

        Still makes sense for me with a FOG wagon but won't for most.

        • my stop on the way from work is 60c minus 4c+4c last night. though it does occasionally get up to 70c.
          but I must admit i'm lucky that particular station is there. one of the best in Melbourne.

  • Posted wrong place sorry

  • Mate, should you not ask your self why not move close to work? where you can get to office in 10-15 minutes or else change job, 3 hours of you life on road every day in traffic, can't imagine.

    Few year old MX5 may be nice, but your time with family or mates is priceless.

  • Make sure it has highway assist / radar cruise control. Honestly will make your life so much better on highway traffic.

  • +1

    You will be fine with anything relatively modern, compact and with about 2.0L, or less if turbo.

    A used Mazda 3 SP25 would be perfect for you if you could source something nice.

    Just make sure it's comfortable and has enough leg room for a bit of a stretch.

  • +1

    Appreciate the people who acutally gave me there 2 cents!

  • My partner purchased a 370z for 15k as her daily. Has 150,000kms on it. Its comfy and fast, but fuel isnt as great.

    A 5 year old hot hatch may suit you if you need space. I had a Clio 4 RS for a bit that was great. I also owned a MK2 Audi TTS, Volvo C30, NC2 MX5 and a Alfa 159 in the last few years. All good sporty/efficient cars and comfy choices that were all under 20k at the time.

    I currently daily a ND MX5. And if you could make a NC/ND MX5 work, I always recommend them. But if you need storage, go for a hot hatch Clio IV, 208/308, Focus ST, Audi TT, GTI, C30.

    • No way. Even if someone can put up with a crammed cabin, the road noise on regular freeway commute is detrimental. RF might be better, but still not well insulated as the car aims to be as light as possible.

  • I have a Golf GTD (Diesel) I get 4.4L/100 when on highways.

    Its got oodles of torque which makes pulling away and highway overtakes very easy.

  • Toyota Yaris would do the trick, just rev it out to 6k RPM if you need to get moving

  • +1

    How fast and how fuel efficient are you talking? Nothing in this price range will be particularly fast stock. The best you'll do is about the same as an FG XR6 or VE SV6 while being slightly more fuel efficient. Obviously we're talking used here and some of these cars aren't super reliable.

    • Golf GTI mk6 or mk7

    • 3rd gen WRX

    • Focus/Mondeo XR5

    • Toyota 86 (not exactly fast in a straight line but will eat corners for breakfast)

    • NC MX5 (same as above)

    • 350z (not fuel efficient at all really but could be worse)

    • BMW 330i e90 or 125i/130i (not exactly fuel efficient, still better than a falcodore though you need premium fuel)

    • Toyota Aurion (slightly faster than a standard falcodore, good efficiency for a v6, boring and handles like a boat but ultra reliable and will out drag 90% of "normal" cars)

    These cars aren't really fuel efficient when stacked up against a newish corolla (except maybe the 86, mx5 and GTI) but these are the minimum I'd consider "fast" and really the best you'll find in this price range.

    Personally in your shoes I'd buy the best example FG Falcon (or Aurion) you can find for $10k and bank the rest in a fuel and maintenance fund. The FG while heavy has loads of torque and can easily overtake "faster" small 4cyl cars on an uphill section of freeway. Also I would not want to drive a small hatch (or roadster) on a freeway everyday. You need to take in consideration cabin noise, seat comfort and stability if you're driving long distances.

    I've driven 2 hours everyday for work before and it gets old real quick if you're in car with a noisy cabin, uncomfortable seats and light enough that it gets blown around by the wind or by passing trucks. Lumbar support is a must otherwise if you also sit down at work, get ready for some back pain. If I were to do it again I'd go for a FG as it's the perfect car for Australian highways/freeways; good performance, maintenance is almost zero beyond tyres/brakes/oil (parts are everywhere and cheap, anyone can work on them), engine is smooth and quiet, seats are comfortable, it's safe. Fuel is more costly but you aren't getting a faster or more comfortable car for cheaper.

  • Surprised no one has mentioned this but Polo GTI is very achievable between $10-15k

  • I30 sr 1.6 turbo. New model

  • Early 2010s Diesel Ford Fiesta.

    Like $40 of diesel will get you 800km, cheap to service, will easily get you 400k km. Lots of torque so good acceleration.

  • +1

    Octavia vRS. Nice cruiser and a little bit of poke. Good on fuel

  • Easy. VW Golf GTI MK7. Perfect for what you described.

  • Fiesta ST (1st gen, 1.6T), hands down the most fun car you can get under 20k. Do a Stage 1 tune (DIY through OBD II, look up Bluefin) and you would be laughing all the way to the redline.

    Have not stopped missing my Molten Orange ST since the day I parted with it….. :-(

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