Five sub-RM30k manual hatchbacks that are cheap-ish but very cheerful


…..and the best part is, you can still attain loans for these and monthly repayments wouldn’t exactly render you homeless.

The other day I was thinking; aside from tying the knot with a bank for a Perodua Axia one of the cheapest brand new cars you can buy in Malaysia (without insurance), what are the other cheap and cheerful options for a 20-odd year old to consider, should he (or even she) actually enjoy driving and not see it as merely an act of getting from A to B.

Turns out, rather plentiful and here’s five of my picks you might have overlooked.

Ford Fiesta 1.4 LX

Introduced in small numbers in 2012, the Fiesta 1.4 could be the most overlooked manual hatchback in the market.

Despite being the base model Fiesta, it isn’t exactly bare either with ABS, EBD, 7 airbags and even ISOFIX available. And if we knew Ford any better, you can rest assured about the Fiesta’s ergonomic cockpit and exciting driving dynamics.

As it does not share too many parts with the more common 1.6 models, availability of replacement parts could be a problem.

Price: RM20,000 – RM26,000

Kia Picanto 1.2

As a (more expensive) alternative to the Perodua Myvi and Proton Iriz, the perky 87 hp Picanto’s refinement is unlike any other in its segment. With better build quality than its cheaper rivals and nimbleness in the way it drives, the Picanto is a steal if not a bargain.

Before you take that plunge, do look into the cost of replacing the wear and tear bits. Word is that it can be quite pricey. Then again, good things are never cheap.

Price: RM28,000 and above

Proton Iriz 1.3

Like the Kia Picanto, the chassis in the 1.3-litre Iriz almost beggars belief of how rigid and compentent it can be. At this price point, nothing comes remotely close to the Iriz in terms of agility.

Even the way the gears feel when you engage them stimulates excitement; can’t imagine what the new one would feel like!

Price: RM20,000 – RM35,000

Suzuki Swift Sport 1.6

By far my most favourite option, the Swift Sport is possibly the cheapest path to a proper hot hatch experience.

With looks to charm, 125 hp and a redline of well over 7,000 rpm, the Swift Sport is quite the force to reckon with in the right hands, when the roads get narrow and twisty.

Price: RM30,000 – RM35,000

Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI

Ok, I lied. This last one isn’t a manual but for its asking price, the Polo TSI offers by far the most value for your money in terms of performance, practicality and most importantly, fun.

That said, as the 1.2 TSI was plagued with reliability issues in its earlier days, especially with its gearbox, it could be a real test of your patience and spending power – things you’ll really need to have as an owner.

Alternatively, there’s the 1.6-litre model that’s even cheaper – with prices starting from just over RM20,000.

Price: RM20,000 – RM35,000 (depending on 1.2 or 1.6)

*Prices stated were aggregated from search results on Mudah.my. This article is not the definitive buying guide but are merely suggestions for the eager, bold and those with considerable cash reserves.


Pan Eu Jin

Pan Eu Jin

Regularly spend countless hours online looking at cars and parts I can't afford to buy. How a car makes you feel behind the wheel should be more important than the brand it represents - unless resale value is your thing.
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