CAR DOCTOR: Should I upgrade my Corsa?

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The car doctor suggests test-driving the Suzuki Swift 1.4T Sport and Polo GTI, which might be worthwhile options to consider. Picture: Supplied
The car doctor suggests test-driving the Suzuki Swift 1.4T Sport and Polo GTI, which might be worthwhile options to consider. Picture: Supplied

This month, car doctor Justus Visagie advises whether the new Opel Corsa is a worthwhile buy, on saving fuel, and on the Mercedes-Benz SLK versus the BMW Z4.

Shamiel: I drive a 2016 Opel Corsa 1.0T with 63 000 kilometres on the clock, and I’m thinking of trading it in for the new Corsa GSi. What do you think?

Justus: Measured against the 1-litre turbo engine in your car, the GSi’s 1.4 turbo engine does add an extra dose of excitement. It’s a shot of espresso rather than a shot of anabolic steroid, though, so don’t expect the VW Polo GTi’s power. With that said, performance isn’t only measured in (straight) lines but also in cornering prowess and associated road grip – which this car has in buckets. Speaking of pails, the GSi has two beautiful, figure-hugging Recaro “bucket” seats for the driver and front passenger. These leather pews heat up at the touch of a button and even the steering wheel can be warmed to pamper cold hands in winter. Other highlights of the GSi are the forward-collision warning and lane-departure alert systems.

Because the GSi’s suspension is sporty by design, the ride can be harsh on poor road surfaces. It can also take time to get used to the car’s sporty or “quick” steering, meaning small steering adjustments (turns) have a big effect on the car’s direction.

The completely new Corsa range will debut in South Africa sometime next year. Although the current generation is exceptional, the new car is likely to be improved and modernised – and more handsome too.

At R365 900 the GSi is around R90 000 over the 1-litre Corsa and I’m not sure it’s worth the premium, seeing that the smaller engine is already a strong performer. Test drive the Suzuki Swift 1.4T Sport (R315 900) and Polo GTI (R398 400) before you decide, or wait for the new Corsa and look for a pre-owned GSi if you don’t like the newcomer.

Ricardo: Will a hybrid save me money on fuel? My budget for such a car is R260 000.

Justus: A hybrid can certainly save you money but the “cheapest” new hybrids on sale in South Africa are the Toyota Prius (R498 000) and Lexus UX 250h SE (R723 100).

The pre-owned classifieds have plenty of bargains. One of the best is the Toyota Yaris 1.5 HSD, which is no longer sold new in our country. It’s not much of a family car, with its small cabin and boot, but it uses only 4.5 litres/100km in city driving. I’ve seen many late-model specimens at reputable dealers for under R200 000.

Hybrid cars use electric motors and batteries to assist the petrol engine in powering the wheels. This is how they reduce the petrol engine’s load, which reduces consumption, so it’s important to ensure these components are covered by a comprehensive warranty. Interrogate the sales manager or dealer principal and buy from a major dealer, such as Toyota or Imperial. The batteries in hybrid and electric cars are largely reliable but very expensive, so avoid paying for a replacement. Also consider the slightly bigger Honda Jazz hybrid and the Toyota Auris hybrid, although the latter won’t give you better consumption than cars such as the frugal Suzuki Baleno or Suzuki Ciaz.

Thulani: Mercedes-Benz SLK or BMW Z4?

Justus: If buying new, you might have a hard time getting your hands on an SLK (or SLC, as they were later called), because this model has been retired. However, I did see an SLC 200 in stock on the Mercedes-Benz SA website for an astronomical R937 700. That’s simply too much for a very average car designed 10 years ago, so you might be pleased to know that BMW’s Z4 sDrive20i can be had for a base price of R740 000 (“base” meaning you can increase that price significantly if you don’t curb your lust for gadgets and in-car finery). The Z4 sDrive20i kicks a useful 145kW and 320Nm of grunt to the curb, which outclasses the SLC’s figures. If that’s not enough for you, the BMW Z4 M40i offers 250kW and a tremendous 500Nm of torque. It has a base price of R1 036 700. From what I’ve heard, the less powerful and lighter Z4 sDrive20i is the pick of the two. With cars, the pricey version isn’t always the best.

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