On the move: What we drove - recent models from Chevrolet, Kia and Toyota

By admin
13 April 2012

1. CHEVROLET SONIC 1,3D LS - a real looker

Rating: 3/5

The new Sonic has a hot appearance that definitely attracts attention. You immediately recognise that it’s a Chevrolet because the lines are similar to those of the latest Spark.

Although the Sonic’s interior seems a little plasticky the car feels well put together and equipped. Particularly impressive is the lively diesel engine, which increases the distance between fuel stops.

Anton Vermeulen: My wife loves the car. The exterior styling isn’t to my taste but the engine and gearbox make up for it.

PRICE R178 730

ENGINE 1,3-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel; 70 kW; 210 Nm

PERFORMANCE 0-100 km/h in 11,7 seconds; top speed 174 km/h; 5,5 l/100 km

COMPETITORS Ford Fiesta, Suzuki Swift

SECOND-HAND OPTION Consider a two-year-old VW Polo TDI

2. KIA RIO 1,4 TEC - pretender to the throne

Rating: 4/5

The new Rio is an impressive Kia and there’s again every indication the Korean car manufacturer is giving its competition sleepless nights.

The Rio is not only easy on the eye but also incredible value for money, as befits a Korean car. This Kia, which competes with the VW Polo, is well equipped – the top model has standard luxury features such as leather seats.

Build quality is good but not altogether in the Polo’s class, while ride and handling aren’t at all bad. The Rio is one of the strongest competitors in its class.

Elna van der Merwe: I banged my left shin every time I pushed in the clutch. The powerful engine and smooth gear change was cancelled out for me by the cheap-looking dashboard with its sea of red lights and silver plastic.

PRICE R171 995

ENGIN: 1,4-litre four-cylinder petrol; 79 kW; 135 Nm

PERFORMANCE 0-100 km/h in 12,5 seconds; top speed 183 km/h; 7,68 l/100 km

COMPETITORS VW Polo, Opel Corsa

SECOND-HAND OPTION Perhaps a two-year-old VW Golf.

3. TOYOTA FORTUNER 2,5 D-4D - Entry-level version of an old favourite

Toyota deserves a feather in the cap for the Fortuner, which has been a favourite cross-country vehicle for years. Last year when Toyota gave Fortuner a new look it also introduced an entry-level model.

This seven-seater has all the convenience features you need but unlike its stablemates it has cloth upholstery. This model’s 2,5-litre turbodiesel engine is a good unit and in general the Fortuner feels well built.

Anton Vermeulen: What you see is what you get. The entry-level Fortuner reminded me of the bakkie my father drove when I was growing up. Good memories.

PRICE R332 000

ENGINE 2,5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel; 106 kW; 343 Nm

PERFORMANCE 0-100 km/h in 11,7 seconds; top speed 174 km/h; 5,5 l/100 km

COMPETITORS Ford Everest; Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

SECOND-HAND OPTION Consider a year-old Fortuner 3,0 D-4D

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