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The cars the SA government is buying

"We often complain that government has ridiculous vehicle purchasing habits but the data tells us that expenditure on cars is being curbed."

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#Budget2019: Picanto, Ranger, Corolla - 5 budget beating car bargains

2019-02-21 05:30

Lance Branquinho

Image: Charlen Raymond/Wheels24

No matter what job you do, it is probably less challenging than SA Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. 

The South African minister of finance is tasked with balancing South Africa's out of control government spending and it means sacrifice for all of us.

READ: Comfort on a budget - When a small car just won't do

Motorists are an easy source when additional state revenue is required, via stealth taxes such as the government levy on fuel. 

So, what to do if you are considering a new car but worried about what uncle Tito’s budget might do to your monthly motoring spend? Can you spend less and still enjoy driving?

You need to keep it simple, without sacrificing safety and quality. Forget about those inched-up alloy wheels, voice-controlled infotainment and climate control. 

To help in this endeavour, we've compiled a list of relatively affordable South African market cars, which aren’t awful too drive or unnecessarily unsafe to travel in. 

Hatchback: Kia Picanto 1.0 Street R158 995

Korean engineering quality at an affordable price, if you sacrifice a lot of the modern infotainment features, matching trim and alloy wheels. 

A phenomenally over-engineered compact car which drives with the confidence of something bigger.

                                                                   Image: Kia Motors SA

It might roll tiny 13" wheels, but they are steel, which means if you have that inevitable pothole encounter at speed, those wheels are more likely to stay true than an attractive alloy wheel – which might crack or buckle.

You could go even cheaper, for a Picanto Start at R150k, but then you forego anti-lock brakes and the front passenger airbag – which would be silly. 

Sedan: Corolla Quest 1.6 R222 900

Yes, it’s about to become a two-generation old car when the new one is launched in the coming weeks – but this remains a legendary South African market family car. 

The sedan configuration means you have smash-and-grab proof stowage for luggage and laptop bags too.

                                                                 Image: Quickpic

Toyota doesn’t give you any form of in-car infotainment (not even speakers), but you do get airbags and anti-lock brakes. 

And a free-revving 1.6-litre engine good for 90kW and hundreds of thousands of kilometres of use without any issues. 

Favoured by government agencies who send employees out to do work in rural communities, which should tell you something about the Quest’s reliability. 

Single-cab bakkie: Ford Ranger 2.2 TDCi base 5-speed R268 000

Steel wheels. Black bumpers. No phone synching. But also, a turbocharged 2.2-litre engine with 285Nm, airbags and anti-lock brakes.

This is the cheapest Ford Ranger and there isn’t a better value single-cab bakkie in South Africa, with its combination of basic safety features, turbocharged power and load-carrying stability at speed. 

Double-cab bakkie: Mahindra Scorpio Pik-Up 4x4 R363 999

The Toyota Hilux is a South African sales phenomenon, but that popularity also makes it a vehicle theft target. 

If you want an affordable double-cab that can go most places your sense of destiny desires and isn’t a terrible drive getting there, Mahindra’s Scorpio is an alternative.

Powered by a relatively responsive 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, boosting 103kW and 320Nm, the Scorpio Pik-Up’s styling might be questionable, but the driving experience isn’t. 

Inside you’ll find a comprehensive infotainment system, with touchscreen functionality and navigation ability. It even has rain sensing wipers. 

SUV: Haval H6 premium R264 900

A mid-sized SUV for very little money and laden with standard kit including a reversing camera and inclusive infotainment. 

Unlike many Chinese vehicles of yore, this one doesn’t smell like a chemical manufacturing facility inside if you park it in direct sunlight for a few hours.

                                                                     Image: Charlen Raymond/Wheels24

The 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine isn’t overly powerful at 105kW, but the brakes work better than most Chinese vehicles and with a steering system geared with hydraulic assistance, instead of an algorithm, it is a decent steer too.

You only get the H6 in front-wheel drive, but most rivals are similarly configured too.

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