So you want a nice hatch?
The Fiat 500 Abarth 595 Turismo 1,4T sells for R371 990 with an auto box, which includes a 3-year/100 000km warranty and maintenance plan. The Abarth out handles, out accelerates and out jeeh-haws any other little hatch out there today. Its only minus point is that the Italians added a lot of lightness to make all that responsive handing possible, and it shows when compared with the competing Opel Adam S 1,4T (below), which sells for R330 000, or a grand less for the S-less but equally fun Adam 1,4T. There are five Adam models, all with a 5-year or 120 000km warrantee and a 3-year or 60 000 km service plan. Wheels recommends the 1,0-litre, which is fantastic. Note, none of the Adams come in auto — you have to give them stick. The build quality is better and even the entry level Adam 1,0T packs more gadgets than the Abarth, but this also make the little Opel a tad slower and the fuel-efficient ratios mean even the most experienced illegal drag racer will struggle to snap-shift the Adam R’s gears from first to third. The Hyundai i10 (left), shown here after driving a wet Sani Pass, is a favourite on the rental car floor and has been our budget hatch of choice for several years running. The 55 kW/99 Nm i10 automatic now sells for R169 900, with a 5-year/150 000 km warranty, which is also offered by the Kia Picanto 1.0 auto, but for R95 more. The edges on the facelifted Picanto, however show where the money went. Despite these two Koreans’ hardearned reputation, their resales are only slowly catching up with their new prices. Even a used City Golf, like this 1986 1600 Sport, still rates as one of the most responsive hatches to heeltoe-heel out of a corner, and is yours for R19 500 on OLX, with bucket seats. Parts to fix a Golf are in every store. Just be sure to park this model in a garage, for thieves also still love these 1980 classics. In SA, no hatch is cheaper, or cuter, than the Geely LC 1,0 — yours for R92 990 with a 3-year/100 000 km warranty. Inside there are hugging seats, aircon, a radio with a USB slot and even park distance control. The best surprise, however, is how it all comes together when you push the engine behind 3 000 revs. The skinny 165/60 R14 tyres pull hard up front while the light cabin sits well on a rear hybrid link to remind one of the City Golf’s glory days. The resale value on this little Chinese? You are kidding, right? The VW Polo (shown above as raced by Sheldon van der Linde in the Polo Cup) is SA’s top-selling car. Last month, 3 459 people bought a Polo in SA and 6 004 units were exported. Thanks to this demand, the hatch retains its value better than most hatches on the used market. The 63-kw Polo Vivo Hatch Trendline costs R189 450 with a six-speed Tiptronic, which can give about 20 km/l thanks to 175 Nm from just over 1 500 revs. Large 215/45 R16 tyres also do not notice potholes that much. VW’s 3-year/120 000 km warranty is respectable, as is the 3-year or 45 000 km service plan. • If you do not demand an auto, Wheels recommends not a Polo, but the 2015 Best Budget Car, Toyota’s Etios, (shown right in race mode). Toyota wants R152 000 for the 1,5 Xi. Granted, the measly 66 kW/132 Nm from the robust 1 496 cc engine in the Etios will not blow anyone’s hair back, and nor is Toyota’s 3-year/100 000 km warranty and 2-year/30 000 km service plan as good as that of VW, but Toyota has more dealers and this hatch from India does thrive as a Witness staff car. At R154 700 with a 2-year or 30 000 km warranty, the Suzuki Celerio is the cheapest “automatic” hatch in SA, with 50 kW and 90 Nm from the 980 cc engine. The gears are shifted electronically by an electro-hydraulic shift actuator mounted atop the regular five-speed gearbox that reportedly works well on India’s clogged roads. On SA’s faster roads, the results are less pleasing, with glacial gear changes, much like those in the first Smart car. Unless your knees demand an auto, pay only R138 900 for a manual Renault Sandero, which comes with a 5-year/150 000 km warranty and a 2-year/30 000 km service plan and is, as we reported in Wheels last week, able on the N3 and eager on dirt roads, with boot space and leg room to spare. Ideal then, for the retired couple who go away on weekends or the young friends on their way to Splashy. Fen. If you are also still liking the City Golf, may we rather recommend the Datsun Go (right) and the Tata Bolt (below). Compared to the ever-popular City Golf, both the Datsun for R104 900 and the Tata for R146 995 are the better cars by far, even in a crash, thanks to modern crumple zones. (But bear in mind, small cars always come second.) Security companies love the Datsun for its low price and lower running costs. The Go now sells on a 72-month plan R2 499/m for the Go and R2 799/m for the Lux. Wheels, however, prefers the Bolt, for in that R40 k price difference are ABS brakes, (which do help on wet roads), and a 5-year or 100 000 km warranty and 2-year or 30 000 service plan. On the same wet spot the Go’s brakes will just lock up and its warranty is shorter — 3 years or 100 000 km, with optional service plans available. We still admite how, when the Bolt launched, the importers challenged all motor hacks to see who could get the most from each litre, in the process proving any careful driver will get over 20 km/litre in a Bolt, a claim that cannot be made by many of the Bolt’s competitors that sell for under R150 000. Good industrial design means less is more and form follows function. The three-door VW UP! for R152 500 epitomises these design tenets and the frugality from its 1.0 55 kW engine has to be experienced to be believed. But three doors are two too few for most South Africans, which is why VW added four new models — all with five-doors as shown. The Cross UP! costs R181 400 with its bigger wheels and 166 mm ground height. Standard safety and convenience features on all include four air bags, ESP, power steering, front electric windows, remote central locking and radio/CD, with a warranty of 3 years or 120 000 km, and optional service plan.
You want all the air bags you can get for the leasr money
… with proven history and a long warranty?