The compact SUV market is one of the most crowded in Australia and the sheer volume of options can be confusing for buyers. But there are some great options if you know where to look.
I want to downsize from my 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander to a smaller SUV, possibly the Mitsubishi ASX. Ease of entry/exit is important, budget’s around $30k, and my shortlist includes the Kia Seltos, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson or Venue, Nissan X-Trail or Qashqai. Any others?
Matthew Geddes, email
I think you’ll find the Hyundai Venue too great a size change (it’s titchy), and the Tucson too similar to your Outlander. Hyundai’s Kona is a better fit, but I assume it’s been left off your shortlist for its polarising looks. The Honda and Nissans are fine but are showing their age: I’d favour fresher small SUV entries.
Mitsubishi ASX ES ADAS, about $29,700 drive-away
You said you’ve enjoyed Mitsubishi ownership, so we can’t discount the ASX – despite the model’s bones now a decade old. Even so, it’s been Australia’s best-selling small SUV for years. Why? Value, decent size and sharp looks after last year’s facelift. There’s good ride height for ease of entry, the 393L boot is handy and Mitsi’s ten-year warranty smashes rivals out of the park. Five years of services are a cheap $1495, but the 2.0-litre non-turbo drinks 7.6L/100km. Also not great is the dated cabin and the drive experience is short on delivering butterflies. In ES ADAS grade you score good infotainment and a suite of clever safety systems for under $30k on the road. The pragmatic choice.
Kia Seltos Sport with Safety Pack, $31,790 drive-away
The Seltos is about eight years younger than the ASX and it shows. It’s a “big” small SUV, has distinctive yet classy looks, cabin’s got loads of space and the ride and handling are standouts. Its 2.0-litre non-turbo is no firecracker but returns a better 6.8L/100km, warranty’s an excellent seven years but services for five years are a costly $1914. It’s long been my pick of small SUVs for its properly roomy back seats and 433L boot with full-size spare, but also its cabin class with giant 10.25-inch infotainment and modern styling. It feels a more expensive car inside. You can save $1000 by not picking the Safety Pack, but I’d recommend it.
Skoda Kamiq 85TSI Auto, $29,990 drive-away
The new kid on the block and winner of our 2020 Car of the Year. Many Australians don’t yet trust the Skoda brand, but make no mistake, the Kamiq’s a superb offering. The best to drive of anything else here. Another ‘big’ small SUV, handsome with its two-tiered headlights and sharp lines, it offers bang-up-to-date goodies like digital dashboard, wireless phone charging, auto tailgate and adaptive cruise control. Modern safety’s covered too, while the cabin’s rich with smart touches (including an umbrella in the door) and quality feel. Its three-cylinder turbo engine is down a cylinder on rivals, but has ample shove, is playful, and returns an excellent 5.1L/100km. The dual-clutch auto gearbox can jerk a bit around town, or save $2000 if you can handle a manual. A five-year service pack is just $1400, though Skoda’s five-year warranty can’t match Kia’s or Mitsubishi’s.
Mazda CX-30 Pure with Vision Tech, $34,075 drive-away
The wildcard as it’s a bit pricey. More elegantly designed than rivals, while cabin style and finish are a cut above. Boot’s a small 317L, and rear seats are more cramped than our other choices, but fine if they’re rarely used. A digital dashboard, 360-degree monitor, radar cruise control and oodles of safety kit are your wins. Drives with finesse and very well insulated, but the 2.0-litre engine is a bit dull. Its 6.5L/100km return is good, while nearly $2000 for five services and five-year warranty are average at best.
It’s between the Kia and Skoda for me, though the Mazda enters discussions if space isn’t a deal breaker. Go the Seltos if you value the seven-year warranty, but I enjoyed driving the Kamiq more. I’d take the Skoda home and pocket the difference.