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Cool cars that are frugal on fuel

Cool cars that are frugal on fuel

By Andrew Willink
2nd September 2008

Petrol prices may have stabilised for the time being, but the inevitable increase in the cost of oil will once again have people thinking about ways to save on their weekly fuel bill. While in the past, cars that were fuel misers were not necessarily the sportiest, most fun, or flashiest cars to drive, there has recently been a move towards cool cars that are also frugal on fuel. Here are a few cars worth looking at if you’re shopping around and want to save the environment and your hip pocket at the same time:

  1. Volkswagen Polo 1.9 TDI

This small turbo-diesel has been awarded Australia’s Best Small Car award for 2007 and is not only powerful and fun to drive but also returns excellent fuel consumption, rated at just 5L per 100km. On a single, relatively small tank of 45L you can expect to travel a whopping 900km. That’s honing in on Prius territory, yet the Polo costs a fraction of the price, starting at $22,990 plus on-roads. And with an engine that pumps out 74kW of power, it’s not dull to drive either.

  1. MINI Cooper

BMW is the parent company of MINI and the build quality of these cars really shines through in everything from the interior lighting to the steering feedback and chassis. The MINI is not necessarily built to be easy on the fuel gauge, but the combination of small size and engine technology results in a very respectable fuel consumption figure of 5.8L per 100km. For a car that accelerates from 0 – 100 in 9.1 seconds, the 1.6L 88kW engine is not only fun to drive but also cheap to fill up. Add to those stats the customisability of the MINI and you have another attractive option when shopping around. The base model Cooper costs $31,100 plus on-roads, making it by far the most expensive of the three cars listed here, but the MINI does offer a lot of extra features.

  1. Citroen C3 HDi

This hatch is relatively new to the Australian market and it comes with some impressive fuel figures. The 1.6L 66kW diesel consumes just 4.4L per 100km and comes with a price tag of $23,990 drive-away. Dubbed “the most economical conventional car in Australia”, the C3 HDi is only beaten by hybrid cars in the fuel stakes, and only by a very small margin at that. Considering the price difference, the C3 is a very tempting and affordable option. For the second year running, Citroen has been named “Car Manufacturer of the Year” at the GreenFleet Awards.

These are just a few of the great fuel-efficient cars now on the market, offering savings to the environment as well as your wallet, while at the same time performing well in terms of performance and appearance. The savings you’ll amass by driving one of these cars could really add up. If you currently drive a big family car such as a Holden Commodore or Falcon, you could be looking at half the fuel consumption. And if you’re still driving a heavy 4×4 around the city, the savings could be even greater!

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Learn more about car insurance

Can I get a refund on car insurance?

Have you decided to cancel your car insurance policy? Maybe you’ve sold your car, or you found a better rate elsewhere.  Perhaps you’re just not driving it anymore. So what happens to the unused amount of your car insurance? Can you get a refund on unused car insurance in such a scenario?

It often depends on who cancelled the policy: you or your insurance provider. If you initiated the process of cancellation, then you may be able to get most, if not all, of your unused amount. There might be some cancellation fees involved.

However, if the policy has been cancelled by your provider, because you defaulted on a payment, then you will not receive any refunds. Keep in mind, sale of your vehicle, or traffic violations such as receiving too many speeding tickets, or being charged with reckless driving, are not reasons to withhold refunds.

If you pay your insurance monthly, your future payments will simply stop. However, many insurance policies are paid upfront for the year, as some companies offer discounts. If this is the case, get in touch with your insurer about getting a refund for the unused amount.

Can I drive a new car without insurance?

It is illegal to drive a car in Australia without insurance. Most states require that you get your insurance in place before you drive the car off the dealership’s plot. So, the answer to whether driving a new car without insurance is no, it is not allowed.

The only time you can possibly legally drive an uninsured car is when you have to get the vehicle registered. You should drive straight to an inspection station or your state's vehicle registry. You must also make sure that you take the most direct or convenient route possible.

It is important to note that your compulsory third party insurance (CTP or green slip) isn’t valid until your car is registered.

Driving an unregistered or uninsured vehicle can have severe legal repercussions. If you are involved in an accident, and are driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle, you will be personally liable to pay compensation to anyone hurt, as well as for damages. If you are caught driving a vehicle without insurance, you may be fined or even have your vehicle seized.


Does the colour of your car affect your insurance rate?

You may be surprised to learn that you may want to consider choosing the colour of your car based on your insurance premium, and not your favourite colour. Research from Monash University back in 2007 has shown that the colour of the car could affect the likelihood of a crash and hence some colours could attract higher car insurance premiums than others.

Statistically, silver and grey cars have demonstrated a higher crash risk as compared to say, white cars. This could be because these colours have lower visibility on roads as compared to other colours. The colour orange is deemed a safer bet than white, as are shades of cream, yellow and mauve, although the difference in their premium pricing is not as significant.

Additionally, some colours and paints, especially metallic or pearl shades, can be expensive and cost more to repair or replace. These colours could also affect the value of your car and may raise its cost to a certain degree.

Besides the likelihood of being involved in an accident and the cost of repainting, certain colours also pose a greater chance of being stolen. On average, a green car costs less to insure than a black one since data has shown that black cars are more likely to be stolen than green ones.

Can you claim insurance for car dents?

Car insurance has been designed to protect you from some of the costs of repairing damage to your car. However, is it worth claiming car insurance for a dent?

The main factor to take into account is the excess that you will need to pay at the time of making the insurance claim for the car door dent, and comparing it with the repair cost of the dent.

For instance, if someone collided into your car with a shopping cart and the cost of repairing the dent is lesser than your excess, you would be better off not making the claim. However, if your car’s panels are dented by intense hail, in all likelihood the cost of getting the dents taken care of will be much higher than your excess. Here making a car dent insurance claim would make sense.

Please note that if you’re making a car dent insurance claim for damages that have accumulated over a long time, you will be required to pay an excess for each separate incident that dented your car.