South Africa’s motoring industry took a huge hit because of Covid-19. With money too tight to mention, Melinda Ferguson picks four of her best 2020 sub-R500 000 rides, and shares her motoring shock of the year.
MOTORING SHOCK OF 2020
THE HUMMER ELECTRIC
Once an imposing presence on South African roads, General Motors’ huge gas-guzzling Hummer was killed off almost a decade ago because it was no longer relevant to the market evolution in terms of efficient drive technologies. My motoring shock of 2020 was the virtual unveiling of the all-electric Hummer. Yes, the Hummer has gone all green on us. The Hummer EV (electric vehicle) produces 750kW and ... wait for it ... 15 592Nm of torque! On its 35-inch tyres and with massive ground clearance, the beast can catapult to 100km in just three seconds. Our current EV tax levels are exorbitant, so it’s unlikely that we will get to test the vehicle on local roads, but let’s dream on.
Price: It’s about $75 000 (R1.115 million without the taxes!)
ISUZU D-MAX 3.0 X-RIDER
Isuzu bakkies are a big hit with South Africans due to good pricing, mean looks and capability. To sweeten the D-Max X-Rider range, a new 3.0-litre auto was introduced in August, producing 130kW of power and 380Nm of torque. It’s a rugged beast with an imposing presence, including black roof rails, a black sport rail with a red X-Rider logo, a black tailgate handle with reverse camera and a 3.5 ton towbar. With its new 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, you can conquer almost any terrain. The inside is surprisingly premium, offset by black partial leather and red stitching. It’s a great deal compared with its competitors.
Price: D-MAX 3.0 TD Double Cab X-Rider Auto – R479 217
HYUNDAI GRAND i10
Over the past few years, Hyundai SA has become one of the bestselling local brands. This year saw the launch of the 2020 freshly styled Grand i10 budget hatchback with two naturally aspirated petrol engines – the 1.0-litre 3-cylinder and 1.2-litre4-cylinder, in either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The 1.0-litre is impressive and has a surprising punch, considering it only offers 49kW and 94Nm, but then it only weighs about 890kg. It’s one to definitely consider if you need a run around that’s light on fuel and easy to park.
Price: Grand i10 1.0 Motion MT – R191 900
Although it was in fact launched late last year, the T-Cross really came to the fore this year, and sold in buckets despite the devastating effects of Covid-19 on the industry. Both the 1.0-litre (85kW and 200Nm) and the newly introduced 1.5-litre R-line (110kW and 250Nm) share that seven-speed DSG auto gearbox, which, along with its sleek and sexy looks and, of course, the VW badge, is exactly why, in my opinion, it’s a winner.
Price: 1.0 TSI Comfortline from R364 300
What would a year be without a new Corolla? The 2020 edition is the best-looking one by far. As someone who’s always considered the Corolla somewhat pedestrian, I came away impressed, primarily due to its aesthetic swag. The Corolla comes in two engine choices – the 1.8-litre or the2.0-litre – and does exactly what Corollas have always done: brake and accelerate as they should and, although there is nothing surprising or adrenaline-inducing under the hood, driving it feels warm and familiar, like those comfy slippers that never let you down.
Price: 1.8-litre Corolla – R380 209
Jerome: My family is growing, so it’s time to buy an SUV. I am thinking of and love the Ford Everest. Is it a good car when looking at used SUVs? If not, which one do you suggest?
The Everest is comfortable and spacious, but its unladen weight of 2.4 tons dulls its performance. It received a suspension upgrade in May last year, which improved its ride comfort, steering and handling.
If you can afford one of these “facelifted” cars, you’d enjoy a plush ride, as the upgrade made it the most comfortable vehicle in its class. An obvious alternative is the extremely popular Toyota Fortuner. Other vehicles you should consider are the Isuzu MUX, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Kia Sorento and the Mahindra XUV500.
Rod: I recently bought a 2017 2.2-litre Ford Ranger and drove from Cape Town to Gauteng. After 186km, the vehicle lost power. In Beaufort West, a mechanic informed me that the turbo was faulty and must be repaired. This was my first long-distance trip with the vehicle and it is still under dealer warranty. I had to drive to Gauteng at 100km/h, which helped to keep the warning light off. I’m disappointed. What do you suggest I do?
Take the car back to the dealership and have the necessary repairs performed under warranty, so it shouldn’t cost you a thing.
Section 61 of the Consumer Protection Act provides a remedy for consumers who have bought a faulty car. The consumer can claim their damages (repair cost) for a defective car from the manufacturer, importer, distributor or retailer. In this case, the dealership would most likely claim from Ford Motor Company SA because the Ranger has a four-year/120 000km warranty. Even if the warranty has expired, you still have recourse according to the law.
Trudie Broekmann, an attorney specialising in consumer law, says: “The consumer is entitled to claim their damages up to three years from the date on which they discover material facts about the damage to the car, for example the nature of the problem and the repair cost. If the consumer suffers economic loss or has to incur expenses as a result of not having the use of the car, costs such as transport [Uber, for example] or loss of income, can also be claimed. I would recommend that the consumer talk to a lawyer to claim his damages.”
Geoff: We are looking to buy a luxury sedan for our hotel. A colleague mentioned the new Audi A6 as an option. Is it a good choice? Should we consider other cars in this class, or maybe a people carrier or SUV?
Nothing says luxury hotel like a sleek four-door sedan, so I do recommend that you add one to your fleet. The new A6 certainly looks the part, but the interior plastics look and feel cheap. Sometimes the cabin emits creaks when the chassis is subjected to flex, for example when it moves off a driveway and on to the road. This is odd because Audi SUVs like the Q5 and Q8 have superior build quality to the A6. The latter’s ride can also be on the harsh side if it runs large wheels wearing low-profile tyres, and noise intrudes into the cabin when going over bumps or road imperfections.
The upside is the amazing fuel efficiency of its 2-litre turbo diesel engine that never seems to drain the tank.
I recommend that you test-drive the A6 with a critical mind, but also consider the Volvo S90 D4 Momentum and the Lexus ES 300h EX. They cost less than the A6 and are superior in various respects.
Mary: I want a small 4x4 that can go off-road. I drive a Toyota FJ Cruiser, but it uses a lot of fuel. What cars should I consider? I want to buy new for R300 000 or less.
The price of the Suzuki Jimny has now exceeded R300 000, so I suggest looking for a nearly new one. It’s one of the best 4x4 off-roaders money can buy and has excellent reliability, so you can buy a used Jimny from a reputable dealer like Suzuki with peace of mind.
The Renault Duster is also worth a look. It’s more of a “soft-roader” than the Jimny, but there is a capable 4x4 diesel version in its line-up for R362 000. Its advantages over the Jimny are ultra-low fuel consumption, a more powerful engine and ease of overtaking on the open road. The entry-level Duster uses a petrol engine that’s inferior to the diesel, but it retails for R290 000. If you are planning to drive on gravel regularly, I would recommend the Jimny.
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