Entry level price and safe to drive is possible

2018-10-11 06:01

MUCH like Martin Luther King, we all have dreams. As children, we dream of owning a fancy sports car – preferably in red! The reality, however, isn’t quite as exotic or glamorous.

One’s first car is typically what’s termed an “entry-level model”, something that’s relatively cheap and cheerful. However, it’s also vitally important that it’s safe.

That’s easier said than done. According to AutoTrader CEO, George Mienie, there are entry-level cars on our roads that are unlikely to be sold in more regulated markets like Europe or the United States, because they would be considered too unsafe.

“Some of these vehicles don’t even have airbags or an anti-locking braking system (ABS), which prevents lock-ups and skidding,” he reveals.

The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) concurs.

“The entry-level vehicle market remains hotly contested as motorists seek more affordable driving options, with lower prices sometimes attained at the expense of safety features,” explains the AA in their most recent report titled Entry Level Vehicle Safety (published in October 2017).

In this same report, the AA cites two entry-level vehicles deemed safe: the Toyota Aygo and Nissan Micra.

This situation has arisen because of the current safety legislation in South Africa. “The National Regulator for Compulsory Specification in South African does require the fitment of certain safety features in cars, namely safety belts, lights, mirrors and regular brakes, for instance. But airbags and ABS aren’t required,” Mienie explains.

Jaguar Land Rover’s Lead Instructor, Devon Scott, recommends buying a vehicle with airbags and ABS as a minimum standard.

“ABS is an active safety system which will assist you in avoiding an accident by preventing the wheels from locking and allowing you to have directional control of the vehicle under harsh emergency braking. Airbags are a passive safety system helping you in the event of an accident (in conjunction with a safety belt) to reduce injuries and save lives’’, concludes Scott.

For those considering buying an entry-level car, with airbags and ABS brakes, which models warrant consideration? The Toyota Aygo (from R166 800) and Nissan Micra (from R233 500) fit the safety bill owing to their standard ABS Brakes, Airbags and endorsement by the AA. The Datsun Go, initially criticized for its lack of safety features, will gain ABS and airbags in November, meaning it could make the grade. Pricing has yet to be announced.

The new Ford Figo is a safer car too, although if you want a full house of safety features (front airbags for the driver and front-seat passenger, side and curtain airbags, plus an electronic stability programme) you need to spend R207 900 for the top-of-the-range Titanium model. The Volkswagen Polo Vivo (priced from R182 200) also offers lots of safety features, from airbags and ABS to ISOFIX mounting points for baby seats.

Those wanting lots of space should consider the Renault Sandero; it’s the only car in its class to include Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and an Electronic Stability (Control) Programme (ESP). “EBA is very useful technology; it kicks in and automatically applies maximum brake pressure when emergency braking conditions are detected. ESP ensures vehicle stability and assists the driver to avoid possible loss of control,” explains Mienie. The Sandero range is priced from R171 900 to R206 900.



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