Seven safe, small cars for your stu­dent’s driv­ing needs

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

YOUR son or daugh­ter is ma­tric­u­lat­ing this year and the de­gree he or she wants to do is of­fered only at the Univer­sity of the Free State.

If the stu­dent body al­lows uni­ver­si­ties to open next year, you would like your chil­dren to come home ev­ery now and then, but they don’t have a car.

You would like to buy one for them to use be­cause your wife’s Mazda is 19 years old and only makes it to How­ick if driven slowly and care­fully.

Your chil­dren would love a car, prefer­ably a red BMW 220 coupe.

As a re­spon­si­ble fa­ther you ex­plain that, if you bought such a car there could be no higher ed­u­ca­tion and they would im­me­di­ately have to find a job de­liv­er­ing piz­zas, or sell­ing the new book on gov­ern­ment in South Africa called Buy the Beloved Coun­try.

So they agree to a cheaper car and you com­mence the search.

We would ad­vise that you look at cars with a record of re­li­a­bil­ity and at least some safety fea­tures.

The AA in a re­cent re­search paper sug­gests that ABS, a body frame to pro­tect pas­sen­gers and air bags are the ba­sic safety fea­tures to go for.

It should also be the kind of car that you would feel com­fort­able buy­ing sec­ond-hand at two or three years old.

We have at­tempted to find cars that are un­der R150 000, if you can af­ford to go to R200 000 the list ex­pands greatly.

Not all of the cars se­lected have the safety fea­tures the AA rec­om­mends, but they are good re­li­able ve­hi­cles with sound rep­u­ta­tions.

Also the list is not ex­haus­tive; there are many other good cars out there that you might look at. As to pric­ing, with the dis­ap­pear­ing rand and ris­ing costs our pric­ing should be re­garded as ap­prox­i­mate, but re­mem­ber it’s a buyer’s mar­ket — so ne­go­ti­ate.

• Chev Spark. The 1,2-litre Cam­pus is more so­phis­ti­cated than its pre­de­ces­sors and nice to drive. At R137 400 it is good value.

• Citroen C1. This is a stylish and so­phis­ti­cated city car but a lit­tle small at the back. The VTi51kW Feel comes in at R149 900

• Dat­sun Go. Very af­ford­able and has the back­ing of Nis­san. How­ever, the en­try 1,2-litre Mid has no air bags or ABS but costs only R104 900

• Honda Brio Hatch 1,2-litre Trend. Honda comes with a huge in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity. You could prob­a­bly buy a two or three-year-old with­out wor­ry­ing too much about break­downs. The car comes in at R144 300 and af­ter your daugh­ter has fin­ished with it, you could prob­a­bly pass it on to a younger son.

• Kia Pi­canto one-litre LS. This car has ex­cel­lent build qual­ity, an up­mar­ket cabin and ad­e­quate space for four adults. Don’t let the small en­gine fool you; it will make it home with ease. It comes in at R130 000. How­ever, it has no ABS.

• Renault San­dero 66 kW turbo Ex­pres­sion is good value and has ev­ery­thing you need for a safe drive. The en­try model is R142 900

• Suzuki Cele­rio one-litre GA. Ro­bust lit­tle car made for the Third World, very pop­u­lar in In­dia. Pleas­ant to drive. It costs R129 900.

Good Luck and happy ne­go­ti­at­ing.

• Brian Bassett

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