Car reviews

Fun new cars for summer under $40k

Summer fun doesn’t have to mean driving around scorching the top of your head in a convertible, surfboard sticking out the side hoping not to collect any low hanging branches as you drive to and from that crowded surf spot. You may want something that looks fun, is fun to drive, simply transports you to a place to have some summer fun - or all of the above.

Here are some new cars for under $40k that might just do that as we see out the end of 2021 and welcome summer 2022.

Volkswagen Polo

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This little European hatch may seem hidden behind the shadow of its larger sibling the Golf, but with more than 18 million units built, the Polo could be classed as one of the most successful compact models in the world. For just $33,990 you can get a bucket load of fun in the Polo TSI R-Line which is the mid-spec offering of the Polo range sitting in front of the TSI DSG and behind the rocket ship GTi.

The Polo brings a modern and sporty vibe with a fresh, clean style, striking the perfect balance between design and function. Inside you will find the usual impressive array of safety and intelligent driver assist features as standard, an ergonomic driver centric cockpit, 8” infotainment system with Sat Nav.

Powered by a suburb little 1.0 liter 3-cylinder engine bring outstanding fuel efficiency (4.8L/100km) and a lively sounding exhaust note that loves to sing in the higher rev range.

With a range of vibrant and youthful exterior colours for you to choose from, you can stand out as little or as much as you like this summer.

If you want to stretch that budget to just over the $40k mark, the GTi is within reach.

Suzuki Jimny Safari


It’s small, kind of cute, and rugged all at the same time. The new addition to the Suzuki Jimny family is the Safari edition and is designed to help you explore off the beaten track or at least look like that’s what you intend to do. Based on the 1.5-litre JX entry model, the Safari is a limited run for NZ buyers.

The Safari is clearly distinguished by a black ARB Base roof rack with side trade rails and wind deflector, a special heritage grille, front window weathershields, mudflaps front and rear, a large rear cargo tray and Safari decals on the rear wheel disc cover.

Instead of the standard tyres, the Safari comes with larger section Maxxis Bravo 980 all-terrain 215/75R15 tyres fitted to the black steel rims.

The Safari launched with a recommended retail price of $29,990 + (ORC) and is additional to the current range that comprises of the standard JX manual and Sierra with manual or auto transmission options. Read our recent review of the Jimny Safari 2021 here.

Citroen C4 Hatch


The third generation Citroen C4 just landed in NZ and takes on a more grown up stance with a touch of luxury and just enough quirky thrown in to make driving fun.

The sloping roof line gives this hatch a coupe-like appearance, and the black side trims and wheel arches create a small amount of that ‘off-road’ look.

Citroen has focused on comfort for its latest C4, delivering a soothing interior atmosphere. Created with the use of light, soft materials and advancements in suspension, seating and acoustic comfort, so that the driving experience feels like being wrapped in a silky cocoon.

Based on the same platform as the Peugeot 208 and 2008, the new C4 comes in the Shine variant only in NZ. Also, powered by a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine producing an impressive 114kW. Currently available at a special launch price of $39,990 + (ORC)

Peugeot 208 GT


Peugeot’s latest generation 208 GT is a breath of fresh air and is distinctly different to the small hatch launched in 2012, with a very curvy appearance for its time. Although the styling has become more refined over time, some winning aspects of the original design remain the same. Such as, Peugeot’s pursuit of incredible fuel efficiency.

We were impressed from the look at every angle and in typical French fashion - style comes first. Even this premium supermini model, at least from the outward appearance, is just as enticing as its nemesis the Audi A1 City Carver or even the VW Polo GTI.

The new 208 GT is longer, wider, and lower than the previous Peugeot 208, with sharper and more poignant bodylines, which suggests a sportiness. Peugeot say there is a touch of sensuality conferred by the wide shaped wings and overall body curves claiming a discreet balance between soft and firm.

With its 3-claw and Saber design LED daytime running lights and its Claw design LED rear tail lights, these cues give this compact car a slight wild like appearance. The Peugeot 208 GT is powered by a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine, available from $37,990 + ORC. The 208 GT also comes in an electric version the e-208. Read our recent review of the 208 GT here.

Honda Jazz Crosstar

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The Honda Jazz recently received an all-new model change, which incorporates 3 quite unique variants. The base model Life, the SUV like Crosstar and the top spec e-HEV hybrid.

The baby blue hero coloured fresh faced Crosstar features many of the same specifications as the entry-level Life, but appeals more to those with an adventurous spirit, given its bolder stance and enhanced array of protective garnishes.

The A pillars are a major stand out over the whole range - they have been reduced to half the width of the previous model and help create a widescreen look when viewed from inside the cabin.

The interior of the Jazz Crosstar feels more rugged and a touch more suited to an adventure-based lifestyle, especially with its waterproof fabric upholstery. There are also some thoughtful touches such as anti-fatigue seats, a soft-touch fabric dash, knee protectors and door trims to help make longer ventures a bit more palatable.

The Honda Jazz Crosstar is powered by a 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC engine and is priced from $30,000 + (ORC). Read our recent review of the Jazz Crosstar here.

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