Frank is helping his daughter buy her first car. They want something fun, so aren’t interested in boring hatchbacks. They are considering a Mazda MX-5 and, despite its sporty nature, Frank is keen on the idea. He reckons its low running costs and good braking/roadholding are pluses and likes the fact she’ll only be able to carry one passenger. Is he on to something or should they look at other options?
Less than $25,000
We wouldn’t recommend an MX-5 to young drivers who can only afford the first two generations sold up to 2005. While they have good braking and roadholding they tend be taily on the limit, which is fine for experienced steerers but could catch out greenhorns.
Get to the $20,000 bracket, however, and you’re looking at current NC models, which have stability control to help keep the ham-fisted out of trouble.
In this case, we really can’t argue with Frank’s logic. But we will include another two-seater with some contrasting strengths and weaknesses to frame it better.
We would have had a third two-seater here, too, if logical options at this budget didn’t lack stability control. So we’ll throw in something completely different that’s safe, affordable and – most importantly – a little bit of fun.
2012-on Hyundai Veloster, from $19,360:*
Yes, this Hyundai has a hatch and a back seat but with its dramatic coupe styling and asymmetrical back door you’d never call it boring.
It’s also packed with youth-friendly toys such as bluetooth phone/audio streaming, while parents will love its generous safety fitout. The factory five-year warranty will still have plenty of life in it, too.
Of course, the Veloster can accommodate two more potentially goading friends than the Mazda. However, the near-new base models that are the sole choice the sub-$25,000 segment are powered by a pedestrian 1.6-litre petrol engine and the handling is safe and predictable.
Read Drive’s Hyundai Veloster reviews: Hyundai Veloster road test
2006-on Mazda MX-5, from $19,470:*
The current MX-5 arrived in 2005 but we’re recommending MY06 models, which introduced stability control as part of an update to coincide with the arrival of the folding hardtop version in late 2006.
Its two-seat, open-top layout is obviously very different from the Veloster’s. Young drivers will only have one friend to distract them behind the wheel but they’ll also have its willing 2.0-litre petrol engine and go-kart handling egging them on.
The MX-5’s small boot is another headache and the factory three-year warranty will be expired on examples in this budget range. Don’t expect as many toys as the Hyundai, either.
Read Drive’s Mazda MX-5 reviews:Mazda MX-5 used
2009-on Peugeot 207CC, from $21,010:*
As with the MX-5, the 207CC received stability control during a mid-life upgrade. So while you’ll find examples from 2007, we’re recommending only MY10 models onwards sold from late 2009.
There are other similarities, such as its open-top layout, which is utilised via a slick power folding hardtop roof. While it technically has a back seat, no humanoid of anything like adult stature can fit.
The Pug, though, has a bigger boot and base 1.6-litre petrols (which we’re recommending as quicker GT turbos with MY10 plates will test the budget and any P-plate restrictions) aren’t quick or sharp enough to whip up hooning instincts. Just don’t expect it to be quite as reliable or cheap to service as Asian alternatives.
Read Drive’s Peugeot 207CC reviews:Peugeot 207CC road test
It seems a sin not to recommend something as brilliantly executed, satisfying and affordable to own as the MX-5 but there’s something about putting a first-time driver into a car that begs to be driven hard we just can’t warm to.
The Pug, for inexperienced drivers at least, seems more appropriate with its tame engine, tame front-wheel-drive handling and bigger boot, which is sure to come in handy at some stage. If you must have a two-seater and can live with the odd potential reliability niggle it’s worth considering.
In the end, though, we’d sooner steer any young ‘un we knew into a Veloster. It might not prohibit back-seat riders like the other two but it’s got the style, safety, specification, driving character and rock-solid ownership qualities to keep them satisfied, safe and on financial track. Like Drive南京夜网.au on Facebook Follow Drive南京夜网.au on Twitter @Drivecomau
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.