I am in the process of relocating to Canada from India. Can I please have your opinion on purely cost, not noise or smoke factors, if it makes sense to buy a diesel vehicle in Canada, or am I best with a petrol car as a daily runner? I’m looking at the most practical, no-frills car, to be honest. – Ajay
Richardson: We don’t think about diesels very much anymore, after Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal.
Gentile: I know. They tend to be best for haulers, because diesel engines make a lot of torque for low-end power. But while diesel fuel often costs less than gasoline in much of the world, and the cheapest cars there are diesel, that’s not always the case here in North America.
Richardson: The price of diesel fuel goes up and down. It’s cheaper to refine because it’s less refined, but there’s no incentive here to increase the capacity of the refineries. Trucks use diesel, but there’s hardly any demand for non-commercial vehicles.
Gentile: So Ajay, you’re better off driving a gas-powered vehicle in Canada – something cheap, cheerful, fuel-efficient and “no-frills” like a Nissan Micra. At $10,488, plus taxes and $1,650 freight and PDI, it is one of the cheapest new cars money can buy in this country.
Richardson: It’s so cheap, the base version comes with manual window winders, no air-conditioning and a stick shift. Definitely no frills there.
Gentile: What’s wrong with a stick shift? Or manual windows? It’s old school. I love it. It’s a refreshing change to go back to the basics. And besides, Ajay wants no frills.
Richardson: It’s a utilitarian shifter – there for the cost, not the engagement. Most Indian cars are stick shifts, though, so Ajay will probably be fine with it.
Gentile: At least it has a warranty.
Richardson: And that’s probably its biggest advantage: it’ll be reliable. But when it comes time to sell, good luck finding a buyer. It’ll be best to lease it, for a guaranteed purchase price at the end.
Gentile: Okay. What about the Honda Fit? It’s a smart, no-frills hatchback with lots of space, and it’s not too expensive, starting around $15,000. Does that get your approval?
Richardson: No. Gotta be cheaper. Hyundai Accent? It was the first car in years to come in below $10,000, though it’s $14,599 now. They don’t sell the tiny two-door any more.
Gentile: If all Ajay wants is cheap, the Chevrolet Spark is the cheapest in Canada. It lists for $9,995. It’s the same small size as the Micra and that two-door Accent.
Richardson: Now we’re talking.
Gentile: Ajay might like that it’s made by a North American manufacturer.
Richardson: Yes, but don’t think of the Spark as a domestic vehicle. It’s made in Korea, even farther away than the Mexican plant of the Micra.
Gentile: True. There’s also the Mitsubishi Mirage. It starts around $11,000 and has a 10 year/160,000 km powertrain warranty. I like that, but I’m not a fan of the Mirage. It would be at the bottom of my list for Ajay.
Richardson: I’m afraid the five-door Mirage is at the bottom of everyone’s list because it’s underpowered and stripped, but that warranty does guarantee a no-worry drive. I think the best quality buy here in the sub-$11,000 class is the Micra.
Gentile: Hands down, my pick for Ajay is the Nissan Micra.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at email@example.com
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