Buying a first car is a big job. Finding something that’s safe enough, practical enough and the right price (like we covered in our blog on buying a used car) is a hard task. However, if you asked our Kashy mechanics, there are only a few cars that really make sense.
These are our top picks for the best first car in 2021.
1. Toyota Corolla 2006-2012 – The ZRE152R Corolla (that’s the series) is one of the best small hatchbacks of the modern era. Super spacious inside and very reliable, these cars cost about as much to keep on the road as buying a loaf of bread. Plus, spare parts (and panels) are available from every supplier and wrecker.
While these car also sport (potentially) the most "beige" driving experience in the last 20 years, there is nothing to fault them on and they're always super cheap to buy and (on the plus side) are safe enough to survive almost any incident resulting from a miscalculated handbrake turn.
2. Toyota Yaris 2012-2020 – This generation of Yaris (the NCP130R) is another example of Toyota just providing a solid (ref. boring) car. These cars rank well in ANCAP safety tests and with similar reliability and servicing to the Corolla (which is a good thing).
Available in some of the most horrific colours since the 90's (see above), this micro-hatchback has great visibility and is perfect for tight city driving and illegally parking around the university. Our pick of the bunch is definitely the 1.5L motor as the 1.3L is a bit anaemic and stands absolutely no chance of ripping a sick burnout in McDonalds at 2am.
3. Subaru Forester 2005-Present – We’ll be honest on this one, we absolutely love almost anything Subaru does (except diesels and CVT’s which we hate) but, the Forester holds a special place in our heart. Available with a ‘good-enough-to-do-the-job’ 2L all the way to a 2.5L turbo motor (which is almost quick enough to beat a Fiat/Abarth 500).
Hugely spacious inside and with enough off-road capability to allow for a good 0-100km/hr time even in the muddiest cow pasture but not so much that your beloved Timmy will start frequenting bush-doofs and BNS balls. Our pick for a first car is a 2nd or 3rd generation with a 2.5L (turbo or not) and a manual, as the automatic is solid but about as advanced as mowing your lawn with a scythe.
4. Hyundai i30 2012-Present – Hyundai in Australia has had a (understandably) bad rap for a long time, with some of the earlier models being prone to not functioning in a car-like manor at all (i.e.unreliable).
However, this brand (and Kia alike) has poured ridiculous sums of money and effort into catching up with the big European brands (like Volkswagen) and has become a much more reliable counterpart, with interiors and driving experience to match. In addition, you'll never have to question whether Hyundai is secretly scheming to destroy the planet using computer trickery.
A late model i30 2L petrol is sure to be one of the few cars that will give effortless motoring and will remain cheap to look after for years to come. And (on the plus side) the i30 is so boring to look at there is almost no risk of little Timmy ever joining a car club, putting a loud exhaust and sound system on his car and cruising the main street of Bathurst every Saturday at around midnight.
5. Hyundai Accent 2011-2018 – The last entry on our list sits right in the same area as the i30 and the Yaris while somehow being just adequate enough in every category to be forgotten by everyone except Hyundai management itself. It ticks all the boxes that the other cars do in a small package and doesn’t get the name brand tax that comes with buying a Toyota either.