The Best Small Cars Money Can Buy in Australia 2023

Are you in the market for a small car? If so, you're in luck! At Driva, we are not only small car enthusiasts but we write about them too! 

As the small car market expands, so does this blog. We keep on top of the latest generation of excellent small car innovation - and now, we're thrilled to bring you an exciting new dimension to our coverage. Introducing our video showcase: "Best Small Cars Australia 2023".

You can be sure that if any awesome small car starts making waves in the car industry, it’ll be featured in our video embedded below for your viewing pleasure. We understand that making an informed decision is crucial, so we take into account not only the innovative features but also on-road costs and fuel efficiency.

Join us for a complete run-through of the world of compact cars, exploring their performance, style, and cutting-edge technology. Watch the video to find the perfect small car that matches your needs and preferences. Whether you're navigating city streets or cruising down the highways, we've got you covered.

The Best Small Cars Money Can Buy in Australia

Kia Seltos

Price: $31,690

While the Seltos is considered an SUV, we can still consider it a ‘small car.’ For families, this is a great small car to consider, thanks to its roomy interior and space for a small family comfortably. You’ll get plenty of head and leg room and a ton of boot space too!

The Seltos features some comprehensive improvements over predecessor models in aspects like the transmission, engine, interior noise levels, and connectivity. With a new eight-speed auto, this car drives like a dream and handles even better.

Volkswagen Polo

Price: $39,250

The new and improved Volkswagen Polo is one compact car everyone wants, and that’s likely because of the zippy EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine. It’s perhaps the four cylinders and turbo power that make it such a catch, but there’s so much more this car offers. The starting price is reasonable for a Polo that features a charming driving experience and is dripping in quality.

This is, of course, a mid-level Polo, but it’s got a lot of equipment coming with it right off the bat. If you’re someone who focuses on fuel consumption, this might be the car for you to save a bit of money. Finally, if the price tag is too high, you can always make it slightly cheaper by forgoing some of the aspects of this car and changing them, like standard key-entry instead of keyless. As far as compact cars go, the Polo has always been a fan favourite.

Audi A3

Price: $50,200

When it comes to luxury, Audi knows how to deliver and knows they’re bringing you a luxury small car, the A3. You might think it’s not really a small car, but it’s still a relatively compact car and small for an SUV. This sedan styled luxury car is an efficient model with a somewhat mild hybrid power setup, meaning you’re getting good fuel economy thanks to the combined efforts.

The design of the car is stunning, with a luxurious interior and updated infotainment system. Audi’s also included excellent safety features like rear parking sensors, park assist, blind spot monitoring, and more. For $50,200 before on-road costs, this is a great car to enjoy on the road.

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    Skoda Scala

    Price: $32,990

    Skoda might not be a brand you’re as familiar with as others on this list, but the Skoda Scala 2023 has been getting heaps of praise and attention for good reasons. This sedan styled vehicle features a great cabin and ergonomics which make it a comfortable driving experience. Speaking of the experience on the road, that’s amazing too. But the biggest factor making this car so amazing is the excellent value for money you get. It’s not the cheapest vehicle on this list, but it’s decently priced and well worth it!

    With Skoda, you’re getting a new car that’s able to effortlessly blend fun driving and value-packed features. Not to mention it looks amazing inside and out!

    Kia Cerato

    Price: $25,990

    One of the cheapest cars on offer in this list, the Cerato is another amazing Kia option to consider for your next car. This small but strong vehicle is a comfortable car that’s easy on the roads, easy to park and overall just a great experience. The cabin is spacious, with a sleek design and a decent infotainment system.

    Unfortunately, this car isn’t perfect. It’s got some high servicing costs compared to other small cars. Of course, it does have a longer warranty than most, which is a benefit. Overall, the Kia Cerato is a great vehicle despite its faults. It’s got a decent engine, some stellar safety features, and is relatively reliable. That’s the kind of thing you want from a new car, and Kia delivers.

    Skoda Fabia

    Enter, the Skoda Fabia. This small car is perfect for city dwellers or those who are looking for their first car. It's nimble and easy to park and comes with plenty of features as standard. 

    With a greater focus on premium features, as well as increased size, Australian consumers can expect to pay around the $30k mark for the scaled-up Fabia.

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    Mazda 3

    The all-new Mazda 3 is a small car that is both stylish and fun to drive. Plus, with fuel efficiency coming in at 6.2L/100km, it's also very economical.

    The all-new Mazda three will set you back $27,890 for the entry-level model. This is a small price to pay for a car that is packed with features like lane keeping assist and intelligent cruise control. Roomy to drive and with a surprising amount of luggage space, this is a great value small car.

    Kia Picanto

    The Kia Picanto is a small car that punches above its weight. It's well-equipped, with a long list of standard features that include autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist.

    The Kia Picanto starts at $17,590 for the base model. This makes it one of the most affordable small cars on the market. If you're looking for a small car that is packed with features and great value for money, then the Kia Picanto should be at the top of your list.

    Toyota Corolla

    The Toyota Corolla has long been a favourite amongst small car buyers. It's reliable, efficient and comes with a long list of safety features. 

    The all-new Toyota Corolla is available from $25,395. This puts it on the pricier end of the small car spectrum. However, for your money you get a lot of features, such as Android Auto and a pre-collision system. If you're looking for a small car that is packed with features and comes from a trusted brand, then the Toyota Corolla should be on your list.

    MG ZS EV

    The MG ZS EV is a small electric car that is perfect for city dwellers. This has nothing to do with its range, which comes in at very respectable 430-odd kilometres. It's because the ZS EV is so small and nimble, making it easy to park and zip around town.

    On-road costs for the MG ZS EV start at $46,990. This makes it one of the most expensive small cars in our top 10. However, you do get a lot of car for your money. With a spacious interior and a swag of safety features like autonomous emergency braking, the MG ZS EV is a small car that ticks all the boxes.

    Hyundai i30

    A perennial favourite amongst small car buyers, the Hyundai i30 is a great all-rounder. It's well equipped, with plenty of safety features as standard. Plus, it's also very affordable.

    The Hyundai i30 starts at $25,220 for the base model. This puts it in the middle of the pack when it comes to pricing. However, where it leads the field is in value for money. With a long list of standard features and a spacious interior, the Hyundai i30 is a small car that delivers big.

    Honda Civic

    The 2022 Honda Civic is the 11th iteration of this wildly popular small car. And it's easy to see why so many Australian drivers are keen to take one for a test drive. With a punchy 1.5L turbo engine and sophisticated stylings, it's hard to pass up. However, its sticker price of $47,000 may be off-putting for some. Yet, you do get a heap of great features for that amount of money. LED headlights, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and a wireless charging pad are just some of the goodies on offer.

    Volkswagen Golf

    The all-new VW Golf is a joy to drive, and with its updated stylings, a sight to behold. But, it's not just a pretty face. This small car is packed with features, including adaptive cruise control, a tyre pressure monitoring system as well as an impressive infotainment unit.

    The all-new VW Golf starts at $34,690 for the base model. For this amount of money, you get a lot of small cars. 5.8L/100km fuel efficiency, plenty of space and an interior that exudes quality combine to make the VW Golf a small car that is hard to beat.

    Volvo XC40

    A favourite among small car enthusiasts is the Swedish manufacturer's small car offering. The Volvo XC40 is a small SUV that is big on features and comfort. The Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle model is priced at $52,990 and comes with a range of safety features the brand is famous for, such as LED daytime running lights, autonomous emergency braking, and a lane departure warning system. It's also one of the most stylish small cars on the market, with its angular design and sleek lines.

    Mercedes-Benz A-Class

    Price: $66,900

    Looking for a hybrid that’s still a luxury car? Well, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class might just be for you! This plug-in hybrid features both a 15.6kW battery and a 1.3-litre petrol engine providing great range with two engines coming together. Beyond performance, this car has a lot of space for you and your passengers to get comfortable with a luxury interior that’s climate controlled and connected. 

    Mercedes has added even more safety tech to help make your driving experience even better. From active brake assist to a 360-degree parking camera, this car has it all! You’ll feel comfortable on the road knowing this car is there to ensure you are driving safely. When it comes to getting a new car from the small car segment, you can’t go wrong with an A-Class Mercedes. With even performance and dual-engine, it’s got everything you need to dominate the roads.

    Ready to get behind the wheel of your favourite small car?

    So, there you have it. Our pick of the best small cars on the Australian market. Whether you're looking for a small car that's big on value or one that comes packed with features, there's sure to be something on this list to suit your needs.

    So, now that we have done the legwork for you, all you have to do is get your car finance sorted and then it’s off to the dealerships. At Driva, we can help you with the finance side of things so that you can focus on finding your perfect small car. We have a range of small car loan options to suit all budgets and we can even pre-approve you for finance before you start shopping around.

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    What is the best small car on the road today?

    The title goes to the Mazda 3. It’s still a truly reliable vehicle with numerous reasons to bestow this title to it. The Mazda 3 is not only a stylish vehicle that’s fun to drive but it’s also extremely well-priced in comparison to some of the other vehicles out there.

    What is the most reliable small automatic car?

    For this honour, we’re going to give it to Audi with their A3 model. Many cars can take this prize, but we’re going to stick with the A3, which is a modern luxury vehicle with dual engines making it the perfect hybrid. It’s safe to drive, smooth on the roads, and handles extremely well. It’s also just very reliable making it a great car to own.

    What is the best small electric car?

    The Volvo XC40 is the best small electric car in Australia. Considering it’s Volvo’s first all-electric vehicle, it’s quite an achievement. This car has a range of 418 km thanks to its 78kWh battery. It’s also an exceptionally good looking vehicle which doesn’t hurt. You’ve got a lot of standard features included, which help, like all-wheel drive, LED headlights, two electric motors, wireless phone charging, etc. Of course, it’s priced a little high, it’s worth it when you realise how much you save on fuel every month. Overall, this is a great vehicle for those looking to make the switch to EVs.

    What’s the best value small car to buy?

    The best small car in terms of value for money is the Hyundai i30. It's well equipped and very affordable, making it a great choice for budget-conscious small car buyers.

    What is the best overall small car to buy?

    We think that the Mercedes-Benz A-Class represents the top pick for small cars in Australia. However, you have to be prepared to part with close to 50k for the entry-level model alone.

    What's the best small car to buy second-hand?

    If you can find a VW golf without too many kilometres on the clock, then this small car would make for a great second-hand purchase. Another small car that holds its value well is the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

    What is the best small car for safety?

    The Volvo XC40 is a small family car that comes with a host of safety features as standard. These include LED daytime running lights, autonomous emergency braking, and lane departure warning system.

    What’s the best small car under $20,000 in Australia?

    We are giving the Kia Picanto the nod for the best small car under 20k. It’s a great little runabout that is cheap to run and maintain. Plus, it comes with a decent amount of features as standard for the price point.

    What’s the best small car under $30,000 in Australia?

    We like the Hyundai i30 because not only does it look great, but it comes with a heap of features as standard. These include city collision mitigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and LED daytime running lights. It's also very well priced, starting at $25,220.

    Declan Flaherty

    As the Digital Marketing Manager at Driva you can find Declan during the day transfixed by a flurry of spreadsheets, mar-tech, Slack emojis and graphs all pointing in the right direction and keeping up to date with the latest car finance trends.

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