Motoring News

The best fuel-efficient compact new cars under $30k

Looking for a new car that won’t cost a fortune? Fuel-efficient cars are better value than ever, thanks to the Clean Car Discount – and they’re not all Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) or Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs). The Clean Car Discount is available on any vehicle that emits less than 146g of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre. You can check eligibility here.

Several new petrol cars meet this threshold, particularly the smaller models. These cars have always been a fantastically economical option for anyone wanting to buy a new vehicle – now the prices are looking even more appealing. Whether you’re looking for a city runabout, a car for the kids, or just that new-car smell, these fuel-efficient compact cars are all priced at under $30,000, starting with the least expensive.

Suzuki Baleno


From: $19,990 + on road costs (ORC)
Safety: 4 star safety rating
Fuel efficiency: emits 131g/km of CO2
Rebate: eligible for $1,871.72 rebate for the GLX manual

The Baleno is the bigger sibling of the Suzuki Swift, making it ideal for cost-conscious small families. The design creates plenty of room inside such a compact car, with a big 355-litre boot and a surprising amount of legroom. It’s not only economical to buy, but also to run. With a reversing camera, six airbags and touchscreen infotainment, it’s hard to go past the value. 

Suzuki Swift

Swift Hybrid REDO11

From: $21,990 + ORC
Safety: 4 star safety rating
Fuel efficiency: emits 117g/km of CO2
Rebate: eligible for $2,593.45 rebate for the GL manual

The Swift has been the best-selling light car in New Zealand for many years, and it’s not hard to see why. This is a versatile small vehicle that’s perfect for zipping around town, with a generous rebate thanks to its excellent fuel efficiency. It’s roomier than it looks, easy to park, has smartphone connectivity and comes in eight colourways. 

Suzuki Ignis GLX


From: $21,990 + ORC
Safety: 5 star safety rating
Fuel efficiency: petrol – emits 119g/km of CO2
Rebate: eligible for $2,490.34 rebate for GLX manual

This is New Zealand’s only super compact SUV – bringing you the high viewpoint of an SUV with the fuel efficiency of a compact car. It has a distinctive style, comes in some eye-catching colours, so you’ll stand out in the crowd. The Ignis is a peppy drive and spacious throughout, from the roomy glovebox to the fold-down seats and wide-opening doors. 

Kia Rio

KIA RIO online010

From: MRP $23,990 + ORC
Safety: 5 star safety rating
Fuel efficiency: emits 143g/km of CO2
Rebate: eligible for $1,253.10 rebate for LX manual

One of New Zealand’s most popular hatchbacks, the Rio has a five-year warranty programme and some outstanding safety features, including straight line stability, electronic stability control, reverse parking sensors and hill start assist. The Rio is one of Kia’s top-sellers internationally, and it’s an all-round performer at an excellent price. 

Toyota Yaris

toyota yaris gx features exterior colours 1150x790

From: $27,290 total driveaway price
Safety: 5 star safety rating
Fuel efficiency: emits 119g/km of CO2
Rebate: eligible for $2,129.48 rebate for the GX hatch

The latest GX Yaris is the fourth generation of this nippy city hatch, with a sporty look and plenty of personality.  It’s high on connectivity and safety, with state-of-the art Safety Sense features like Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Tracing Assist, plus All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. The price includes up to 5 years’ warranty. 


mazda2 sp15
From: $27,590 +ORC
Safety: 5 star safety rating 
Fuel efficiency: emits 137g/km of CO2
Rebate: eligible for $1,562.41 rebate for the SP15

Mazda’s smallest hatch the five-door Mazda2 SP15 is a combination of good looks, beautiful interior design and thrilling performance packed into a compact size that's perfect for city living. Drawing on Mazda's signature 'Kodo - Soul of Motion' design language, the stunning interior has been finished in quality materials with everything perfectly laid out. The Mazda2 SP15 comes with a five-year warranty and a host of safety features including Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM).

Honda Jazz Life

Honda Jazz Life front static HDR

From: $28,000 + $800 ORC
Safety: 5 star safety rating
Fuel efficiency: emits 119g/km of CO2
Rebate: eligible for $1,150.00 rebate

This five-door hatch is designed with comfort in mind, from the big cupholders and padded armrests to the anti-fatigue seat technology with lumbar support. Its back seats are also cleverly designed, with 18 potential configurations to give you the space you need for passengers or cargo. It has excellent visibility for the driver, too, plus a 9” touchscreen display and reversing camera. This is an ideal car for those who drive frequently. 

Safety ratings may be ANCAP or VSSR; ratings and emissions ratings from Rightcar NZ.

Find out more on how the AA can help you when buying a car 

Vehicle experts you can trust 

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