Sometimes you feel the urge to get a second car because your daily driver just doesn’t scratch a particular itch.
It’s possible to find a vehicle that offers practicality, style, enjoyable dynamics, and a long feature list in one well-rounded package, but what if you want something just a little bit silly? A fun weekend toy, perhaps, while your daily is of the more sensible persuasion?
The average new car transaction price in Australia is in the $40-50,000 range, so what would you buy if you had to pick two new cars with a price cap of $100,000 before on-road costs?
The members of the CarExpert team have answered that very question.
- Honda Civic Type R: $72,600 drive-away
- Suzuki Jimny Lite: $30,490 before on-roads
Nothing, and I do mean nothing, would come before the Honda Civic Type R – even if it meant I had to settle for a Specialized Turbo Levo e-MTB as my second mode of transport.
But then, the entry-model Suzuki Jimny Lite means I get to have the best hot hatch ever built, along with the best bang-for-buck off roader on the planet if we’re talking new series production models.
For those that might be under the assumption I’ve broken this week’s op-ed rules by exceeding the $100k cap with my very cool choice of the Civic Type R and Jimny, I’ve been reliably informed by our in-house accountant (who owns a Type R) that the before on-roads cost is $69,150.36. (Alright, I’ll let it slide this time – Ed)
- MG 4 Excite 51kWh: $38,990 before on-roads
- Subaru BRZ S manual: $41,590 before on-roads
I’ve erred on the smaller side with my garage, and have opted for two very different cars.
My daily driver would be the MG 4, in base Excite 51kWh guise. Sure, the 350km of range it offers won’t get me to the moon and back, but it’s more than enough to take care of commuting and general daily running around.
The cabin of the 4 is simple but full featured, and the way it drives genuinely impressed me on a short hop. Smooth, quiet, and quick enough to embarrass the average warm hatchback off the line, I don’t know what more you could want from a daily driver.
I’ve gone completely in the other direction with my weekender. I really wanted a Honda Civic Type R, but it wasn’t quite within budget so I’ve gone for the next best thing if you’re a keen driver on a budget.
With more torque and an evolved chassis, the new Subaru BRZ fixes most of the flaws with the first-generation car without undermining what made the car’s name in the first place. I owned a first-generation car and adored it, so the formula already has a hold over me.
There are more practical sports cars, there are cheaper sports cars, and there are faster sports cars out there, but there are very few sports cars so focused on making the driver feel good.
- Isuzu MU-X LS-T 4×4: $65,990 drive-away
- Mazda 2 GT: $27,610 before on-roads
My weekend car would be an Isuzu MU-X LS-T 4×4 which is currently on drive-away for $65,990. I’m torn between getting a black one or one in Mercury Silver.
For my daily I want something that is practical, economical and easy to park in the city, hence why I think for the $34,000 I have left, the Mazda 2 is the best of the bunch. I’d take a top of the line GT in the new Air Stream blue which is $27,610 before on-roads. With the money I have left over I’d rig out my MU-X with some gear.
I can’t wait to get a two-car garage so I can buy a weekend car that I can explore Australia with. My daily now barely gets used as it is so I don’t think lots of space is necessary.
- Subaru Outback AWD Sport XT: $52,190 before on-road costs
- Volkswagen Polo GTI: $39,690 before on-road costs
If I had a hypothetical $100k to spend on two brand-new cars, I think I’d have to go down the route of having one super comfy highway cruiser and a fun, zippy everyday car.
For my highway cruiser I automatically know that I’d opt for the Subaru Outback. In terms of the variant, I’d go for the Outback AWD Sport XT with its 2.4-litre turbocharged flat-four engine.
I recently reviewed the atmo Outback AWD Sport and thought it was the closest you’ll get to a couch on wheels. Its naturally aspirated engine was nothing to phone home about, however the XT’s turbo engine fixes this gripe.
For my other car I’ve chosen the Volkswagen Polo GTI. At just under $40k before on-roads, I think it’s one of the performance bargains you can currently buy in Australia.
I’m a huge fan of how it looks on the outside, thanks in part to the front LED light bar. Inside, on the other hand, I’m opting for the Dark Iron Grey Metallic gloss dashboard inlays because the standard red ones just don’t look right.
For the rest of my $100k budget I’m going to use it to upgrade my garage setup and perhaps buy some high-quality cleaning products.
- Subaru BRZ S manual: $41,590 before on-roads
- Volkswagen Passat 162TSI Elegance: $57,790 before on-roads
The pragmatist in me says the most expensive car of the two should be the daily driver, and the weekend toy should therefore be the cheapest. So no garage consisting of, say, a Mustang GT and an entry-level Puma, as tempting as that may be.
A base Subaru BRZ gets me the simple, rear-wheel drive, manual sports car I crave and leaves me with a decent chunk of money for a spacious, well-appointed second car.
This is where the decision gets harder. A Skoda Kodiaq 132TSI Style or Octavia RS with the options I want pushes past our price cut-off, as does a Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid.
A Subaru Outback Touring XT seems a sensible, capable choice, but that was my justification for buying a Subaru Liberty wagon a few years back and I ended up selling it within a year (nice car, just not for me). I enjoy the way the Mazda CX-5 2.5T drives, but do I really want an SUV?
A Hyundai Sonata N Line or Toyota Camry SL would be lovely sedans to own, but I’m going to be practical and get a wagon – specifically, one of the last examples of the Volkswagen Passat 162TSI Elegance.
Sure, the Passat is a bit old and dreary and everybody on the road will think I’m a plain-clothes detective. But it has the equipment I want (ventilated front seats, panoramic sunroof), as well as poised dynamics and a spacious cabin.
Picking the Passat also allows me to get the BRZ S with its heated front seats.
- Cupra Leon VZ: $53,490 before on-road costs
- Hyundai Kona Hybrid Premium: $43,500 before on-road costs
This genuinely took me ages, because there are so many different cars and combinations that I would be looking at for $100,000. In my mind having one fun option and one practical option is the way to go, though having an element of efficiency and practicality in both is still important to me, as I’m quite pragmatic and one day when I have kids I’d still like to be able to cart around my mini-mes in whichever car I have in the garage.
The Cupra Leon VZ is a Golf GTI by another name, with some Spanish flair injected for added measure. It’s a bargain in today’s market, given it packs so much performance and standard equipment for under $55,000 – plus it has pretty sharp drive-away pricing that has it in your driveway for less than $58,000.
Further, being based on the Golf it’s still impressively practical, with a big back seat good for friends or kids in booster seats, and the 380L boot can swallow a fair bit of stuff too.
When you’re not carrying people or cargo, you can flick it into Cupra mode and tear up a winding B-road, with the burble and popping of the dual exhaust outlets adding a bit of drama. It also claims to use just 6.7L/100km on the combined cycle – be gentle, and you can actually get close to that in mixed driving.
Meanwhile, the Kona Hybrid also shapes as something of a bargain in today’s market, given the new-gen crossover is much larger than its predecessor and its 1.6-litre hybrid drivetrain claims to use just 3.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle – that’s Yaris Hybrid good!
It has a smartly packaged cabin and open-plan design that makes it feel bigger than it is. The Premium specification also packs in heaps of features and tech that will make you think twice about going for something similarly sized with a premium badge.
It’s also nearly $10,000 cheaper than the related Kia Niro HEV GT-Line, despite sharing a platform, drivetrain, as well as various tech and features out of the same Hyundai Motor Group parts bin.
And before any of you say anything: No, I don’t want an MG 4 or BYD Atto 3 for the same money.