Light Car Under $25K: Gold Star Value Awards 2014

French domination a genuine surprise

1. Renault Clio Expression TCe 90
LET’S first tackle the elephant in the room: Why is it that, a price bracket up, the Clio and Mazda 2 change order, and where has the Jazz gone? There’s nothing sinister happening; it’s just that the battle raging in this class is a particularly close one, and subtle differences in price, resale and insurance premium shake up the order. Renault’s Clio takes the gong, while the Jazz is relegated to fourth.

The take-home message is that they’re all excellent buys. But the Gallic gold medallist tops them – by a slender 1.4-point margin – with a terrific 4.5L/100km official combined cycle fuel economy figure (albeit on 95-octane premium fuel) and a characterful, throbby triple-cylinder note. The Renault’s 66 percent three-year Redbook resale is reasonable, while the annual insurance bill is among the cheapest here at $933.

The brand’s adoption of an across-the-range five-year warranty counts for plenty. Without it, the Renault would slip to second. Meanwhile, the Clio’s 12-month service interval offers hassle-free motoring and cash-saving potential. Consider the driver appeal on offer for less than $18K (plus on-roads) and Renault’s baby is the archetypal Gold Star car.

2. Peugeot 208 Active
THE three-pot Peugeot goes close to Clio’s economy, but without the turbo torque. Betters its rival’s resale, at 70 percent, and matches it for cheap insurance and a 12-month service interval, but falls two years short of Renault’s five-year warranty, which is certainly a consideration on French cars.

3. Mazda 2 Maxx Sport hatch
WITH fuel economy to rival the pair of Frenchies above it, the Mazda 2 coodabeen a contender. In fact, a small but meaningful drop in fuel use would see it take out the category, and the next-gen 2, due in December, will bring that efficiency improvement.

Light <$25k Purchase Price Comb. Fuel (L/100km) Fuel RON (min. rec.) 3-year fuel cost Redbook resale (%) 3-year deprec. AAMI insurance prem. Service interval (months) Warranty (years)
Renault Clio Expression TCe 90 $18,290 4.5 95 $2739 66 $6219 $933.53 12 5
Peugeot 208 Active 1.2 $18,490 4.7 95 $2856 70 $5547 $951.86 12 3
Mazda 2 Maxx Sport hatch $17,440 6.4 91 $3653 72 $4883 $951.59 12 3

Notable classmates: Hyundai i20 5-dr Elite, Honda City VTi / Number of cars crunched: 13

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