[2023] "Inexpensive" new cars (compact-sized)?

I am seriously considering buying a car. I don’t really “need” one, but would definitely enjoy having one (also because I am planning to move out of Taipei City to New Taipei). Unfortunately (well, at least from the perspective of a potential buyer) cars in Taiwan are more expensive than in Europe or in the US, so I am looking for an inexpensive compact-sized (or smaller) vehicle in the price range between $600k-$800k. Most important requirement is having Apple CarPlay functionality so I can use Google Maps in English while driving.

Taiwan being humid and surrounded by the sea, I would strongly prefer to get a new (or at least “newish” car), because I don’t want to save maybe 2-300k in exchange for the risk of the car giving up on me rather soon or having some hidden issues (rigged odometers also seem to be a thing in Taiwan in the used car market…).

I know that I won’t be getting a really “fun” car to drive for that budget, but I’m still looking to get a solid car that won’t require much maintenance. I have started to look at some models online and so far have seen the following alternatives:

  1. Hyundai Venue: Doesn’t look “boring”, clean interior - starting from $729k for the GLB model (123hp) having CarPlay
  2. Toyota Yaris: Probably can not really go wrong getting a Toyota in terms of reliability - especially the interior looks a bit dated and “boring”, though. $695k for the “Luxury” line (107hp).
  3. VW Polo: Probably more expensive to maintain as it’s an “imported” car and a bit more expensive than the other ones, but I personally like this car because I have driven two of them back in Europe. $838k (110hp).
  4. Skoda Fabia - should be similar and a bit cheaper than the VW Polo, but I haven’t found a price on the website
  5. Kia Picanto: Not much knowledge about that one, but the interior looks modern and it starts at only $565k (haven’t found out yet how much I would need to add for CarPlay and such)
  6. Mazda 2 (> $749k - 116hp)
  7. Honda Fit Home ($759k - 121hp).

Has anyone been in a similar situation recently and has done some more research on these models? Any (good or bad) experience? Any other similar model I should be looking at?

What smaller-sized cars are Forumosans driving in Taiwan? :slightly_smiling_face:

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You might look at Mazda or a Honda FIT also, we had old Honda lasts long time and made in Pingtung (most of them I think)


My vote is for the VW Polo. That’s the car I would get if I were shopping for one. I had a Jetta back home and after driving a German car, I can’t go back to Japanese or Korean or American cars. It wasn’t any less reliable than a Japanese car.

Don’t believe what you hear about higher maintenance costs. It’s not like it’s a BMW or Mercedes.

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Given that reliability is your number 1 criteria go with a Japanese brand. Any of them would do just fine.


I test drove a Yaris with my wife who said no way so we bought Camry. 65000 miles and never even 1 problem. But in a big city, much easier to park a smaller car.

In 2004, I walked down the street in Beijing in front of Pacific mall and was amazed Chinese could now afford Toyotas — only 4 years after joining WTO. Lining the street were parked Toyotas. As I crossed the street, walked between cars, I looked at the Toyota logo; it was a tiny bit off — when you got close to it. Chinese Geely copied the Toyota mark but with a cosmetic micro difference one could only see on close inspection.

Toyota sued. Chinese judges said “looks different to us”

Toyota Altis (or Corolla in the states) is pretty good and reliable, cheap maintenance

Maybe you can look at the second hand market. 10 year old corollas sell for $4k in the states and are still reliable

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Thank you! I’ve just added both models to my list above.

It’s definitely my favorite of the ones in the list. However, it’s also the most expensive one…

Was it because of the size? Looks? Or what did your wife dislike about the Yaris? :sweat_smile:

My biggest “fear” about buying an older used car would be getting overcharged for one with serious issues (prior undisclosed accident, engine issues, tampered odometer, hidden rust issues, …). Doesn’t make it easier being a foreigner who doesn’t know enough about cars to recognize these potential issues myself.

Airbags usually have a live of 10 years. Afterwards, the manufacturers recommend changing them because they’re not guaranteed to work anymore. With the added heat and humidity in Taiwan, I wouldn’t want to drive a car which is older than maybe 8-10 years, so if I buy now, I wouldn’t want to buy one older than maybe 2-4 years. And then, the premium for a new car becomes much less.

i rent toyota yaris quite often, its ok, but i find the field of view a little limited. its an ok car, nothing to write home about.
i rented a Honda Fit a few times, and found it more convenient and versatile, especially storage wise, if you need lots of storage space in the car the fit is better option.
id suggest taking a test drive and see what you like more.

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My personal rule is this: If I can’t afford a VW, then I don’t buy a car at all. I wanted a Polo when I first moved to Taiwan, saw the price, and then said NOPE!

It’s worked well for me so far. I saved a bunch of money, AND as an added bonus, I don’t have to drive a crappy Japanese car around! :joy:

Personally I prefer the sitting position, visibility and versatility of an SUV. Have you considered some of the CUVs that are in your price range, such as Toyota Corolla Cross, Honda H-RV, Mazda CX-3 or Nissan Kicks?

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I think the Hyundai Venue already falls in the category of a compact SUV and would be $729k and has most of the features I am looking for (rear view camera, CarPlay, automatic AC) - that definitely sounds quite compelling.

The Mazda CX3 doesn’t sound bad either at $779k, but I don’t see much value in paying a premium for a „lifted“ Mazda 2 basically. Then I‘d probably just get the regular version.

If I spent more, I would rather get a Mazda MX5 than a bigger car. But that one is just too expensive in Taiwan, unfortunately…

I’ve created a table comparing some technical data of the vehicles:

Length Width Height Trunk [l] Displace-ment [cc] HP Torque Turn Radius Weight
Venue 4040 1795 1595 355 1598 123 15.7 5.07 1173
Yaris 4145 1730 1500 286 1496 107 14.3 5.1 1100
Polo 4074 1751 1451 351 999 110 20.4 5.3 1183
Picanto 3595 1595 1485 255 1197 84 12 5 983
Mazda 2 4065 1695 1515 280 1496 116 15.1 4.8 1050
Fit 4045 1695 1535 309 (?) 1498 121 14.8 5.2 1117

In terms of size, the cars are all of similar size - with the notable exception of the Picanto. That one is probably a bit too small for me, I would say.

Also, all cars would fall within the 1201-1800cc category of the license tax in Taiwan (except the Polo and Picanto). Thus, those two would save me almost NT$ 3000 per year in tax :sweat_smile:

The Honda Fit and the Polo seem to be the only two models with ACC (cruise-control with automatic distance control using radar). The other ones will only issue sound alerts and/or brakes before a collision.

I wonder what about electric vehicles? Tesla doesn’t currently have a compact car but it looks like they are working on one.

Other manufacturers may have electric compact car.

I know Toyota Prius is pretty good, small engines, hybrid and all that.

I’m mentioning this because there might be subsidies on electric or low polluting vehicles, I don’t know what that is, but this could help you save on recurring costs.

I won’t buy an electric vehicle as long as I am renting an apartment. Simply no place to charge, unfortunately…

Hybrids are unfortunately much more pricey so they take some time to offset the initial investment. I won’t be commuting using the car, though, and will drive maybe 5000-10000km/year so fuel-economy is much less of a concern in my situation.

My wife says my size is too big. She’s Taiwanese, small

But she said Yaris is too small
(I Don’t mean Your Is Too Small. I mean the Toyota brand Yaris)


Have you considered Vitara? Suzukis are very reliable and I think the vitara looks good, although material selection in the inside is not luxurious to say the least. Friend has an Ignis and he loves it (super unappealing though imo)

VW maintenance isn’t like a BMW or Mercedes, but it’s higher than most Japanese and American cars.

Maybe if they have 350k+ miles on them…

Within 200 miles of me, the cheapest Corolla (between 2012-2014 model years) listed on autotrader is a 2014 going for $6500 with 260k miles.

Yeah, maybe $60 instead of $50 for a cabin air filter replacement once every 20k miles? :roll_eyes:

Oil changes and tire rotations cost the same as any other car, and those are the most frequent expenses when it comes to car maintenance (every 10k miles for Jettas).

Besides, if you buy a new VW and drive it for five years, the first major recommended maintenance is for new tires at 50k miles, and the cost depends on the tires and not the vehicle model.

I had a Jetta for five years. The annual maintenance costs were insignificant, and it shouldn’t be a determining factor in a purchase decision for a new car.

More like $20 for a mustang or civic thermostat vs you can’t replace just the thermostat on a golf so you need the $200 thermostat assembly that takes 4 hours of labor to get to.

That’s not even true if you follow the manufacturer requirements, as you’ll need some 5xx.xx spec oil, which is going to be a subset of full synthetics.

We had a Jetta with the auto transmission, which is a dsg. Super frequent maintenance required - every 40k - with expensive fluid (it’s a $500+ service, $120+ for fluids if you diy, you need a special tool, and it fills from the BOTTOM so it’s a pain in the ass and you’re guaranteed to lose some of your precious fluid). How much does a trans fluid change cost on a civic cost, and how often does it need it? Oil changes could be had on sale for $80+, vs the $20 pep boy specials we got for our Acura RSX.

Even a battery change on a VW costs more, because you’re supposed to code the ECU to a new battery.

Which is why I have a really fancy odb ii reader (vcds, $200+) vs a $25 reader, so I can do more of this shit myself on my VWs. You also need vcds (or the like) for things like changing the rear brakes (to unwind the electro mechanical parking brake).