Buying a car can be a daunting task, especially for first-timers. There are so many models to choose from, brands on the market, and car classifications. Safety features are also important to consider, as well as fuel consumption. 

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There’s a reason why compact cars enjoy a high level of popularity among Filipino motorists: they navigate well in the byroads of the city, have decent storage space for their size, great fuel economy, and they’re the cheapest kind of cars in the market. It’s always a good idea for first-time car owners to start with compacts because this is a “learning” car: learning how to take care of a vehicle, its casa maintenance process, and understanding and managing insurance, for starters.

With so many brands to choose from, here are five of our picks for compact cars that have a healthy combination of safety, creature comforts, and features. As a bonus, all these cars start at under P800,000!

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*Monthly Amortization calculated via the BPI Loan Calculator assuming a 20% downpayment and 60-month payment term.

**Prices may change without prior notice.

Toyota Wigo

Price: starts at P596,000 (M/T) and P631,000 (A/T)

Monthly Amortization for M/T: P10,352 (20% downpayment, 60-month payment term)

Monthly Amortization for A/T: P10,960 (20% downpayment, 60-month payment term)

Toyota has always been a top-of-mind brand for Filipinos for generations. It’s no surprise that their cars, like the Wigo, have always been well-received thanks to their commitment to quality and affordability.

The 2019 Wigo retains its 1.0L DOHC VVT-i engine from previous models and while small, is enough to give the Wigo great acceleration when needed. The engine, combined with a fuel capacity of 33L, gives the Wigo great fuel economy (around 10kms/L, your mileage may vary), which makes it great for city driving and even better when you take it to a quick trip to Tagaytay with friends.

As with most cars, we really suggest the automatic transmission G variant (starts at P631,000) which comes with 13-inch ventilated front disc brakes, driver and front passenger airbags, and steering wheel access to the infotainment system located at the center console.

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Windows on the Wigo are large and give a feeling of a bigger interior, and giving the driver lots of sight as well as minimizing blindspots that can cause you to misjudge the space you’re squeezing through.

Honda Brio

Price: starts at P598,000 (M/T) and P658,000 (A/T)

Monthly Amortization for M/T: P10,387 (20% downpayment, 60-month payment term)

Monthly Amortization for A/T: P11,429 (20% downpayment, 60-month payment term)

The 2019 Honda Brio is a little car that’s already in its second generation. This time around, it’s less cute, more mature. The front now looks a lot like its bigger cousin, the Mobilo! Honda has been known for producing speedy cars (remember the flashy Honda Civics in the 2000s?) and the Brio has a slight advantage in the speed and power category over the Wigo thanks to its 1.2L SOHC i-VTEC engine.

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For compact cars, every little upward increment in number counts when you’re number-crunching, but for the first-timer looking for a roadworthy ride in Metro Manila (with around 8-12km/L depending on traffic and situation), then rest assured the Brio can give you great acceleration and great maneuverability when Waze takes you to the narrow back roads of the city.

The Honda Brio 1.2 V CVT variant (starts at P658,000) is an automatic transmission version that comes with driver and front passenger airbags, an anti-lock braking system (ABS), and the body is equipped with G-CON, a collision safety technology that minimizes impact to passengers in the event of an accident. For entertainment, this version of the Brio has Bluetooth connectivity through a center console touchscreen with steering wheel controls so you’re equipped with your favorite playlists for those road trips.

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Mitsubishi Mirage G4

Price: starts at P735,000 (M/T) and P785,000 (A/T)

Monthly Amortization for M/T: P12,766 (20% downpayment, 60-month payment term)

Monthly Amortization for A/T: P13,634 (20% downpayment, 60-month payment term)

For those with small families or scouting for a great vehicle that small and with decent trunk space, we see you! That’s why the Mirage G4 from Mitsubishi is on this list. We know that not everything can fit into a tiny hatchback and with the G4, there is actual trunk space to fit in the stroller and groceries. The G4 is a perfect first car for a starting family, thanks to its courtesy lights that stay on for 30 seconds when you unlock the car and 60 seconds when you turn off the engine. The former is great for locating your vehicle in carparks at night, and the latter is perfect for illuminating the path to your doorstep when you park at home for the evening.

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With its 1.2L DOC MIVEC engine, the G4 can output a decent amount of acceleration comparable to other cars in this list, but can go up to 21km/L (for highway driving) in terms of fuel economy. It has dual front airbags for driver and front passenger, anti-lock braking systems to make sure you can maneuver even on sudden stops and wet roads, and a Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body structure which disperses the impact away from the interior of the car for additional safety during accidents. It may not be the cheapest car in the list, but the Mirage G4 more than makes up for the price with roomier interiors, dedicated trunk space, and great savings on fuel.

Hyundai Eon

Price: starts at P508,000 (M/T)

Monthly Amortization for M/T: P8,823 (20% downpayment, 60-month payment term)

For the minimalist spendthrift, there’s the Hyundai Eon. A mainstay on the roads since 2012, the Eon is our cheapest entry in this list and is the smallest. For the engine, the Eon sports a modest 814cc 12-valve engine paired with manual transmission. This ensures you get the most out of the Eon’s powerhouse which isn’t really a lot, but makes up for it with amazing fuel economy: up to 30km/L! 

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While the Eon is definitely small, it doesn’t slouch on the safety department. Built with high-tensile steel reinforcing its body, the Eon is durable without sacrificing passenger comfort or looks. It has a lot of storage spaces tucked away in its surprisingly-comfy interior, and the upgraded variant features an Android-driven entertainment system for those who can’t travel without music. The Eon is easy to drive, easy to maintain, tough, and can get you through the day’s traffic in comfort.

Kia Picanto

Price: starts at P590,000 (M/T) and P635,000 (A/T)

Monthly Amortization for M/T: P10,248 (20% downpayment, 60-month payment term)

Monthly Amortization for A/T: P11,029 (20% downpayment, 60-month payment term)

The (unofficial) spiritual successor of the 90’s Kia Pride, the Kia Picanto maintains its budget-friendly angle but built for the modern needs of today’s everyday road warrior. For starters, the Picanto looks more aggressive and sporty than the Pride was, perfect for the younger market its aiming to impress. It’s 1.2L DOHC Kappa engine together with 4-speed automatic transmission ensures great acceleration and overall speed in the city with great fuel economy at 12km/L.

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The Picanto comes with a reinforced high-strength steel body for improved cabin proctection, dual front airbags, and anti-lock braking systems for safety. Higher variants include a rear camera complete with a heads up display and static guidelines to help you maneuver in tight parking spaces safely. The center console also has AUX and USB ports for your gadgets, and the rear seats fold down for additional trunk space. Overall, the Picanto has come a long way from its Pride origins, but doesn’t scrimp on safety and creature comforts.

While compact cars may be a “budget meal” option compared to an SUV’s “full meal” deal, it’s never a bad thing to invest in a little road machine to help you get from point to point in the city. A car should never be a bad deal, so make sure you talk to as many casa representatives as possible, and schedule test drives to make sure you get a feel for how the cars actually drive. At the end of the day, pick the car that fits the budget, how much extra features you can get out of the deal, and how it looks to you. Happy driving!

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*Monthly Amortization calculated via the BPI Loan Calculator assuming a 20% downpayment and 60-month payment term.

**Prices may change without prior notice.

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