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2019 SA Car of the Year: Which top model should grab the coveted title? - Part 2

2018-12-18 09:03

Lance Branquinho

2018 Porsche Cayenne navy

Image: Janine Van der Post/Wheels24

Lance Branquinho takes a look at the remaining candidates for the 2019 South African Car of the Year, containing the two favourites – both of which are priced below R400 000.

From budget models to luxury SUVs, the 2019 SA CA of the Year sees a star-studded line-up vying for the coveted title. We take a look at each of the finalists.

We’ve separated the 2018 Car of the Year finalists into two groups, splitting the list alphabetically.

Below is a short analysis of the merits (and demerits) – of each candidate.

Nissan Micra Acenta

Why it might win: The defined shoulder pinch lines, hidden rear door handles and aggressive tailgate design combine to deliver a striking hatchback. Intuitive infotainment system.

READ: 2019 SA Car of the Year: Which top model should grab the coveted title? - Part 1

Tiny 0.9-litre triple engine means very little mass is above the front axle, which makes for quite a nimble and predictable handling little car under severe braking and cornering inputs.

Why it won’t: VW Polo is superior. Needs a sixth gear. Not that frugal when most of its engine boost is used. 

2019 SA Car of the Year: Here's what you need to know about the 5 new top car categories

Porsche Cayenne S

Why it might win: No other full-size luxury SUV matches its cornering ability or driver appeal. A true sports car with gravel travel ability. Porsche build quality and ergonomics, where the driver is prioritised, and technophobes feel at ease – because, beyond the touchscreens, there are still traditional hard buttons for most functions. Active aero and rear-axle steering show Porsche’s purpose with Cayenne is not appearance, but ability.

2018 Porsche Cayenne navy

Why it won’t: Absence of a diesel engine problematic for a touring luxury SUV in South Africa, where the high-quality petrol supply chain is not always at its best in rural areas. 

Renault Duster 1.5 4x4 Prestige

Why it might win: This is probably my best prediction of a winner. Keenly priced, Duster offers a crossover platform designed to traverse local gravel routes and sand tracks, instead of merely being an urban commuter with some ride height added.

Exceptional drivetrain at the price, with Renault’s 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine offering extraordinary fuel economy and range.

Why it won’t: There are no obvious issues with Duster’s offering of componentry and features at the price. Doesn’t look odd either. A finalist with no apparent weaknesses. 

Suzuki Jimny GLX

Why it might win: A charmingly honest vehicle in a market of opaque purposelessness from most rival SUVs and crossovers. Overengineered for its size, Jimny combines its rugged ladder-frame chassis and solid-axles with electronic driver assistance systems, more power and a vastly improved cabin. 

An underappreciated aspect is its excellence is as a city car, where Jimny’s compact dimensions and high-riding field of view making it effortless to park and manoeuvre in tight spaces.

Unlike other city cars, Jimny’s off-road grade ground clearance make it possible to wheel over kerbs when required. A credible nominee and a definite favourite for the overall title. 

Why it won’t: Immensely capable as a Safari-mobile but Jimny remains a very small vehicle, with a tiny fuel tank. Range anxiety is a real issue if you wish to go exploring into Africa on a 4x4 adventure with Jimny. Not powerful enough for demanding dune driving, despite its low mass. Two-door configuration an annoyance when you are travelling with more than one passenger. 

Suzuki Swift GLX

Why it might win: Value offering of Suzuki components and quality mechanical engineering.

Why it won’t: Can you imagine the Suzuki South Africa family issues if this wins over Jimny? Exactly. Doesn’t do anything exceptionally. 

Volvo XC40 T5 Geartronic

Why it might win: Gloriously balanced design which shows-up the unbalanced appearance of its German rivals. Safety specification is class-leading. The cabin is pure genius with futuristic ergonomics, seamless device integration and comfort levels that make Jozi-Cape Town in a day easily doable without the merest hint of fatigue.

Why it won’t: Pricey and although the ride-comfort is a justifiable compromise for 90% of driving conditions, German rivals are still better at covering twisty distances faster.


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