2019 Toyota Corolla.
2019 Toyota Corolla.

Australia’s most popular first cars

BUYING your first car is a right of passage and it appears Australians have a lot of shared experiences.

A new survey by Gumtree Cars has revealed the most popular first car choices for Australians.

Not surprisingly the Toyota Corolla is the most popular vehicle for first time buyers. The Japanese hatch has been the best selling new passenger car for many years and is known for its solid reliability.

The Corolla was Gumtree Car ambassador Grant Denyer's first vehicle purchase, too. The car isn't the most exciting ride for a gear-head like Denyer but it is dependable and affordable for the first-timer.

Grant Denyer Gumtree Cars ambassador with a Toyota Corolla.
Grant Denyer Gumtree Cars ambassador with a Toyota Corolla.

"Turns out, I completely fell in love with my Corolla. It was the perfect first car," says Denyer.

"I bought it when I was starting my racing career, and it was my best buddy. I towed this massive trailer that weighed a ton off of the back of it. I ended up having some great adventures in my Corolla."

The next most popular vehicles were the Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon, Toyota Camry and Nissan Pulsar.

All vehicles in the top five have been long running sales darlings in Australia so used car lots are packed full of examples.

Used car lots are chock full of older versions of the locally built Holden Commodore.
Used car lots are chock full of older versions of the locally built Holden Commodore.

The research also revealed that the younger generation is more likely to splash out on a new car as their first vehicle than previous generations.

About 24 per cent of Millennials bought a new vehicle as their first car. This compares to 15 per cent for Gen X and 14 per cent for Gen Y.

Denyer explains that buying pre-loved can be a daunting experience but can save you big bucks.

"You can save a lot of cash if you buy second hand - money that could be spent more wisely elsewhere," he says. "Be sure to take someone with you, who knows enough about cars. I took my mum and dad."

However, new cars have distinct safety benefits over used. Current models - even at the cheaper end - come with an array of driver aids including autonomous emergency braking and reversing cameras.

Despite the increase in new car purchases, used cars still account for about 80 per cent of first cars.

To promote the safety of new cars, the NSW government in partnership with the NRMA and Australisian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) launched a driver safety campaign that targeted the potential dangers of older vehicles.

The campaign featured a video of a head-on collision between a 1998 Toyota Corolla and a 2015 version.

Research showed that the risk of fatality was four times greater in a car more than five years old.

ANCAP crash test: Toyota Corolla 2015 versus 1998 models. Picture: Supplied
ANCAP crash test: Toyota Corolla 2015 versus 1998 models. Picture: Supplied

NRMA director of motoring operations Melanie Kansil said that older vehicles were more likely to be driven by inexperienced and older drivers, who were putting their lives at risk.

"We know older vehicles are attractive to young people and older people who tend to keep vehicles longer. They are two groups that we need to work hard to protect on our roads," she says.

Kansil wants these demographics and other road users to buy a car with a five-star ANCAP safety rating and to remind people of the importance of regular servicing. Both are key to helping save lives she explains.

ANCAP chief executive officer James Goodwin echoed that statement saying that research has shown the age and relative safety of a vehicle are a likely contributor to road fatalities.


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