Data from the RACQ annual ownership survey.
Data from the RACQ annual ownership survey.

Want to save money on your car? One way is to downsize

CHOICE is driving one of the most competitive automotive markets in the world.

More than 60 marques are fighting for our attention and consumers are the winner.

But new car buyers should look further than the sticker price. The RACQ this week unveiled its analysis of 110 cars, taking into consideration fuel consumption, servicing, replacement tyres, loan interest and deprecation.

For those seeking budget-focused motoring they come no better than the Suzuki Alto. It was the named the cheapest car to own in the first five years after driving it out of the showroom, with costs calculated at $113 a week for someone doing 15,000km annually.

It led the way for the light-car brigade, followed by the Mitsubishi Mirage ($117) and Holden Barina Spark ($119).

At the other end of the spectrum, the V8-petrol powered Nissan Patrol was named the worst offender with a weekly cost of $402, just trumping the Toyota LandCruiser GXL diesel ($394) and petrol ($393) models for the infamous title.

One of the key findings from this year's survey was the benefit of downsizing.

Buyers who opt out of large cars in favour of a small car can see their bank balance improve by about $3100 per year or nearly $60 per week.

Choosing a medium SUV instead of an all-terrain four-wheel model could slash motoring costs by about $94 per week or $24,325.65 over five years from new.

In almost all examples in the survey, the diesel variants of essentially comparable models worked out to be more expensive to own and operate.

With so much on offer nowadays, anyone shopping for a new car should do their homework.

One of the key initial steps is to identify needs and future wants. The car which suits you now may not be appropriate in the long-term.

A great way to narrow the focus is to identify the segment, such as light, small, or compact SUV, and then look at the features of comparable models which have similar prices.

"Once you have decided on a category of vehicle, you really do compare models and take into account their full range of operating costs. There is quite a difference between the cheapest and most expensive in a category," the RACQ's Steve Spalding said.

"For vehicles of similar characteristics there are fairly big savings to be made."


  • Analyse your needs short and long term.
  • Identify the segment which suits those needs.
  • Compare models within that genre, taking fuel consumption, servicing, depreciation and other factors into consideration.

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