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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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.


Can you insure your car for 6 months?

Most Australian insurers won’t offer you a 6-month car insurance policy, so you may need to buy a policy that covers your car for damages and cancel it after six months. You will need to purchase comprehensive car insurance to protect your car from accidental damage, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.. 

Consider checking whether your 6-month comprehensive car insurance will cost more if you pay monthly or six-monthly premiums instead of a one-time annual premium. Another question to ask the insurer is whether you’ll need to pay administration or cancellation fees when you cancel the policy.

Alternatively, you can look for a suitable ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance policy, which usually offers you the coverage of a comprehensive car insurance policy but only requires you to pay for the distance driven. Such a policy may not be the ideal 6-month car insurance plan as it is based on how much you drive rather than for how long. If you need to drive a lot, you may end up paying more than you’d pay for regular car insurance. 

Does insurance cover a stolen car if keys were in the car?

A car insurance policy that covers the theft of your car, such as third party fire and theft insurance, usually covers a stolen car, even if the keys were in the car’s ignition.

However, your insurer may deny the claim if you live in an area where there have been several car robberies reported recently. They will see you leaving the keys in the car as a case of negligence. In such cases, your insurance provider may even expect you to have installed anti-theft security measures in your car. 

You may need to confirm whether or not you left your keys in your car, and if they had been stolen or misplaced, before filing your car insurance claim. The loss or theft of your car keys may be covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy, but usually as an optional item.

If you can confirm that your car keys were stolen, mention this in your claim as this will help establish that your car was not stolen as a result of your negligence.