Help me pick a car for 5-8ish AUD!


New Member
Jan 8, 2020
2013 Fiat Abarth
I have no idea how forums work but @CrzRsn is making me post here! Bear with me as I attempt to figure out what I'm doing...

I'm moving to Australia (from the US) in a few days and will be needing a car on a grad student budget! I'm currently toying with a mid/late 2000s Golf or something of that caliber... but I'm open to suggestion. Honestly I just don't know the best car to get me through the next 3 years with minimal upkeep. My other criteria are:
- Needs to be able to rack up some mileage (might need to commute 1000+ km/week)
- Less than $10,000 AUD (prefer less than 8 if possible)
- Less than 150,000 km (?? - is this even a realistic number? I've been trying to filter things out but maybe my target is wrong. Open to suggestion)
- Strong preference for sedan/hatch, strong preference away from wagons but will consider them
- Minimal maintenance cost/upkeep - I'll be a grad student so would very much prefer to avoid major expenses
- I hate red

Any advice or opinions is strongly welcome!!
@CrzRsn is making me post here!

Yup! Figured the best way to get advice for Australian ownership was to get input from actual Aussies. Paging @Misrabelle @stevanford1 @TroyWK @Paul_The_Aussie anyone else?

Basically I was commenting on the same generic Japanese cars that we got here, Civics, Corollas, IS250s, etc, however I don't know if they got unique engines or any anything else in Australia. Guessing the typical Germans (Golfs, Jettas, 3er BMWs) will be the same maintenance nightmares there as they are here.

I also really wanted to recommend some Australian Fords, maybe a Falcon, but I also realized that I know very little about those. Have no idea about reliability of Barra engines or anything else we offered over there. No clue what the typical pain points are or what to look for when looking at used ones. Same goes for Holdens. So I recommended @mollypop signs up here because FG is awesome and we have a few people in Australia that can probably give a quick rundown of what to look for and general info about vehicle ownership in Australia.
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Sounds like you need a Japanese or Korean hatchback, depending what the Australian used car market offers.
Where are you moving to? Sydney/Melbourne inner-city areas, a Japanese or Korean hatch is your best bet. If you're going to be based outside of the major population centres, then an Aussie sedan would be a good choice.
There was a reason they used the Falcons and Commodores as taxis, until they stopped being made. I'm not as well versed in most things GM, but the Barra engines are pretty damn reliable with basic care and maintenance. They're also going to have abundant parts in smaller population centres.

Personally I'd stay away from most of the Euro stuff, as finding spares is going to be more difficult, and more expensive. Labour costs for anyone who specialises in those things is also higher.
Would go a Falcon tbh. Reliable and won't be too expensive if something does go wrong. Also well within your price range.

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My friend has a Hyundai i30, which his mum bought brand new back in the summer of 2013. No major problems in these 6,5 years. Hyundai Elantra is basically the same car, and so is the Kia Cerato. Now, those post-2012 models would probably be outside your budget, so I'd keep my eye on the pre-2012 models.

That's just my two cents. I can't say much about Japanese cars as from what I've heard here in Croatia, they are reliable but damned expensive to maintain. That might be a different case in Australia, though. And I definitely can't say anything about Australian domestic products such as the Ford Falcon or the Holden Commodore.
I have a Mazda 3 (fiance's one i am using) - 2011 version and it is a little gem. Nothing outrageous about it but it is good on fuel, comfortable and cheap to maintain (even at dealership services).
As others have said steer clear of euro cars as here in OZ they cost a bomb. Also forget anything with more than 17inch wheels (tyres for that will cost).