The dilemma

Tania and her husband are the first to admit they are DINKIES (double income, no kids) with a three-car garage that needs a new third car.

"My husband and I have our 'dream cars', me a 1997 Porsche 911 (993) C4S, and him a 2009 HSV Clubsport R8," says Tania.

She is ready to replace car three, the workhorse 2003 Toyota Altezza Gita wagon but can't decide between a Subaru Legacy, VW Passat, Skoda Octavia and Mazda6. It cannot be an SUV and must be a manual.


While you prefer not to buy an SUV, Tania, this market segment has grown rapidly in recent years and the current SUV offerings do have a same-but-different design theme. You are also in the minority on transmission choice with automatic systems such as Constant Variable Transmission (CVT) or Direct Shift Transmission (DSG) units the norm.

The budget:

The Shortlist
Subaru XV
Fits your price bracket (from $38,990 new), is available with six-speed manual transmission (plus CVT auto) and stands outside the square for design and looks. It has high ground clearance, 17-inch alloy wheels and body kit. Other standard features include engine automatic stop/start, reverse camera and seven airbags. Claimed fuel consumption is 7l/100kms and it can run on the cheaper 91 octane fuel.

VW Passat Alltrack
This ticks a lot of boxes on size and driver comforts. However, with your budget you are looking in the secondhand market, no manual option (DSG only) and a diesel power unit. I'm not sure you are doing enough mileage to justify the diesel engine even with lower claimed fuel consumption (5.8l/100km).

Add in higher registration and servicing costs plus Road User Charges and it becomes marginal at best.

Skoda Yeti
Safe, spacious and solid with looks that make it stand out from the crowd. Small turbo-boosted engine producing 77kW combines with a 7-speed DSG transmission for a claimed fuel consumption of 6.4l/100km. Prices start at $37,500 new. It may not spin your wheels performance-wise.

Driven recommends

The Subaru XV, even the Porsche and HSV may experience a little envy.