If you are considering a compact hatchback at a reasonable price, it’s a buyer’s market right now.
The only drawback with these little automotive superstars, is that size limits fuel capacity. Averaging 35-litres, these hatchbacks might be light on 95 unleaded, but their long-distance driving endurance isn’t always what South Africans expect. Calculate those Karoo refuelling points on your smartphone carefully, before attempting Jozi to Cape Town in one of these.
These are four cars you can buy today for under R200 000.
With its oversized headlights and dinky proportions, Suzuki’s executed the Pokémon-type styling we expect from Japanese compact cars perfectly with this Ignis. With 180mm of ground clearance, it will also survive that unavoidable pothole strike without being rendered immobile. The large side-surface area, elevate stance, narrow track and short wheelbase make it susceptible to cross-winds, though, something to consider if you live in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth. An unbeatable feature on Ignis remains its ride height, bettering the class average by 20%, and making this one compact city car which is very at ease gravel travelling on Limpopo, Karoo or KZN backroads.
Launched last year, the third-generation Picanto might be small, but it absorbs a lot of engineering expertise applied to larger Kias. Constructed from a superior generation of new alloys which are 30% stronger, this is the safest Picanto yet, and inside there’s a touchscreen and abundance of great features: rear-view camera, Bluetooth voice recognition, four-speaker sound system and a 2.6-inch LCD display. Primary designed for ease of driving around hectically trafficked city streets, Picanto does not feel at odds with open road cruising, its excellently calibrated suspension and steering interface making for a small five-door vehicle with big car stability.
The conservatively styled cousin to the Picanto, i10 features similar core components and equipment levels - at a slightly discounted price. The Fluid derivate enjoys best buy status with a touchscreen infotainment system, keyless entry, electric mirrors, rear electric windows, alloy wheels and a two-year/30 000km service plan. The other advantage of i10 as opposed to Picanto is Hyundai’s larger dealer network, which means if you are in the middle of nowhere with your little car, and happen upon a spot of bother, chances are better of a Hyundai technician being in proximity than a Kia one.
The brand which enables most South African to get around (in Quantum taxis) and operates small businesses (with Hilux bakkies) is almost forgotten as a purveyor of compact city cars. Aygo has recently been updated and features electric windows, USB charging/device ports, air-conditioning and power-steering as factory features. It’s styling is outrageously daring for a Toyota but that does not hamper the intrinsic reason why you’d want one – the near depreciation-proof residual values all Toyota vehicles enjoy in the local market. Buy one of these and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much of your initial purchasing returns after selling it in three years’ time.