For high rollers on a budget

2012-03-02 09:48

In the 1980s, the car of choice for many career-driven professionals was the Land Rover Defender or an Isuzu KB.

Over the past century, the Volvos and the Lexuses became the symbol of successful individuals.

Fast-forward to the naughties, and the sports utility vehicle (SUV) has become the mode of transport du jour – from glamour model Katie Price’s custom-made pink Range Rover and Kourtney Kardashian’s monster Merc to Paris Hilton’s black and silver Hummer, if you are a celebrity or a professional who is “with it”, you’re likely to be driving on higher ground clearance.

So what about the so-called Black Diamond generation of professionals who yearn for that lifestyle but whose salaries don’t quite have that reach? Well, there are the crossover vehicles.

Cross-overs are a blend of the SUVs and multipurpose vehicle (MPV). They look the part but don’t pack as much punch. And their price tags are much friendlier on the pockets of the LSM 5-7 worker, or young family.

Nissan South Africa’s product manager, Nancy Reddy, says the crossover cars target the younger market because they are unique and trendy.

“Most buyers are between 25 and 35 years old, and bring a statement of ‘dare to be different’,” says Reddy.

Sergio da Silva (27), a marketer from Craighall Park in Joburg, is such a person. He recently bought a pearl-white Nissan Juke, which was unveiled in the country late last year.

“I wanted something different to the mediocre-looking cars in our market as you can hardly tell them apart these days,” he says. “It’s a sporty hatch on steroids and it was in my price range for performance and practicality.”

Fleet administrator Marco Afrika (31) is a father of two and drives a Honda CR-V. He’s always been a Honda fan.
 
When his family started growing, he ditched the macho Civic Vtec but stayed true to the Japanese brand.

“We needed a bigger car to fit two baby seats, two strollers and, of course, enough space for groceries or luggage for road trips. Going for a bigger car like the CR-V was a natural choice.”

Pretoria resident Sophie Masemola, a furniture store sales manager, sits behind the wheel of the Hyundai ix35, an SUV favoured by those who one day will probably graduate to a
Merc ML500 or Range Rover Sport.

“We used to drive a Toyota Hilux, but when our first-born was on the way we needed a bigger car. Since we often travel to our families in KwaZulu-Natal, we needed a car that could handle rural roads,” says the mother of two boys.
Crossovers and small SUVs
are definitely for the younger, high-earning motorists whose demands grow as their families do.

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