Car buyers' guide: Downsizers faced with a big decision

By Jack Biddle

Ford Fiesta. Photo / Supplied
Ford Fiesta. Photo / Supplied

The dilemma
Now that David has retired, he's decided it is time to retire the family station wagon - a 2-litre Mazda6 - and instead buy a smaller car. The problem is the huge choice.

"My wife is retired now, too, and we do not travel the distances we used to," says David.

"We would like to downsize to a smaller car but with the number of makes and models available on the market the problem is doing my head in!"

David is after a four-door sedan or a hatchback, with a 1.6-litre engine, a couple of years old, and the standard safety equipment - airbags, ABS etc. But no SUVs, he says.

I can understand your dilemma David; you are spoilt for choice on the used market but have you also thought about treating yourselves to a brand new vehicle or a low mileage ex-demonstrator?

Sure there is depreciation on any new vehicle, but if you plan on keeping the car indefinitely then there are some good deals to be had and room for negotiating with sales staff.

You also get that extra piece of mind of having new vehicle warranty moving forward. A couple of years is also a relatively long time in the industry with on-going improvements in areas such as safety and occupant comfort levels on the latest models.

The budget:
$20-23K

The shortlist:

Suzuki Swift Ltd
The Swift has been one of NZ's most popular vehicles for many years. The all-new version of the Swift was released last year with improvements across the board. The 1.4-litre engine (and four-speed auto) may be a negative, as may be the limited overall interior space. However, if you want a safe, affordable, well-appointed vehicle then it's worth a test drive.

Ford Fiesta
In my opinion the Fiesta is one of the best-looking small cars on the market. It comes with the bigger 1.6-litre engine and 6-speed auto and is loaded with all the safety features you are looking for. You may even consider a low mileage and larger Focus as an alternative to the Fiesta.

Kia Rio
The new kid on the market, the all-new Rio is poles apart from the previous model with styling, performance and safety equal to its market rivals. Don't let the 1.4-litre engine put you off either, as power wise it sits above the Swift and just below the Fiesta (80kW & 137Nm). Claimed combined fuel consumption is 6.4l/100km.

Driven recommends:
The Fiesta based on the bigger engine and more refined transmission and with no increase in claimed fuel consumption.

For car advice, email driven@apn.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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