So you want a cheap car?

An­swer the ques­tions be­low to find a car that will take you places for less than R150 000

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

“WHAT is a cheap, re­li­able car to buy?” This is a ques­tion we get as of­ten from young peo­ple just start­ing their ca­reers as we get from pen­sion­ers.

The short an­swer is any used car bought from a car dealer that has been do­ing busi­ness for a decade or more and main­tains its own work­shop.

But for those who in­sist on a new car, an­swer the ques­tions be­low to find a car that will take you to where you want to go for less than R150 000.

With one ex­cep­tion, these cars are hatch­backs — the sec­ond most prac­ti­cal shape for a car af­ter a panel van — with small en­gines that just sip petrol. Safety sys­tems are min­i­mal, but on av­er­age still better than any of the many 15-year-old mod­els still fill­ing our roads.


The Changan is the mini-van among the hatches. Ad­mit­tedly, this is not latest nor safest in tech­nol­ogy from China. The ro­bust 1,3 petrol (60 kW/102 Nm) of­fers 12 km/l, which is okay rather than im­pres­sive and the war­ranty is a short one-year or 60 000 km. But this lit­tle work­horse does of­fer en­try into the world of vans for the young mu­si­cian or pen­sioned pet trans­porter at only R155 000. Do you need seats, or seats and space?


Are you a bar­gain hunter, or a loyal brand val­uer? For some, at R107 000, the Dat­sun Go is the, erm, go-to car for young and old buy­ers alike. Its 1,2 petrol makes 50 kW/104 Nm. Con­sump­tion is some 20 km a litre in the city, the doors open wide, while its three-year or 100 000 km war­ranty is a tad on the low side among the com­peti­tors.


Sell­ing for about R125 000, the Re­nault Kwid has a lit­tle 0,9 engine that packs 50 kW and 91 Nm. Made for city traf­fic, it gives well over 22 km a litre and comes with a five-year or 150 000 km war­ranty. Re­nault is cur­rently of­fer­ing R2k/m bal­loon pay­ments at 11,13% in­ter­est and a 35% resid­ual. Do not use bal­loon pay­ments un­less you want to keep pay­ing for life, even as you change mod­els.


BAIC is, as yet, a dark horse in SA, but on pa­per this looks a very re­ward­ing car con­sid­er­ing the price. This one is for buy­ers will­ing to brave the un­known. A mod­ern 1,3 petrol engine makes 75 kW and 128 Nm from a rel­a­tively low 3 800 rpm. It sells with a five-year or 120 000 km war­ranty.


The Mit­subishi Mi­rage is so rare on SA’s roads, it is al­most a lit­eral mi­rage. Sell­ing for a rec­om­mended R150 000, deal­ers are of­fer­ing sub­stan­tial dis­counts, and this small hatch of­fers a high revving 1,2 petrol engine that makes a use­ful 57 kW and 100 Nm, yet gives over 20 km per litre. Like the Brio, it sells with a three-year or 100 000 km war­ranty and a twoyear 30 000 km ser­vice plan. ... or a brand val­uer, but not that loyal?


Demo mod­els for un­der R150 000 abound, but we can rec­om­mend ei­ther a Toy­ota Etios or a Re­nault San­dero. Both re­tail for over R160 000, but can be found for un­der R150 000. While you are kick­ing the wheels, check out the Tata Bolt be­cause they have built a lot of econ­omy in this lit­tle high-backed sedan.


With Chevro­let with­draw­ing from SA at year end, deal­ers are strug­gling to sell the Spark, which still of­fers ex­cel­lent value. All Chevs sell with a five-year or 120 000 km war­ranty and GM will have parts avail­able for at least a decade. Mean­while, deal­ers are of­fer­ing fan­tas­tic deals on its rec­om­mended re­tail price, start­ing at just over R141 000.


Honda of­fi­cially wants R156 000 for its Brio 1,2, but as we like to re­mind you, its a buyer’s mar­ket and dis­counts are there for the ask­ing. The sweet petrol mills out 65 kW and 109 Nm, with fuel econ­omy just shy of 20km/l while Honda’s five-year or 200 000 km war­ranty and two-year 30 000 km ser­vice plan are stan­dard.

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