This year was a big one for new models – on the showroom floor, that is. Ané Theron sampled a few of the best, and picked her favourites
Car of?the Year
The Porsche Cayman S (R870?000 to R920?000) drove away with the plaudits at the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists’ Car of the Year competition, and there’s little to fault.
It’s all about performance, quality, perfect handling and understated elegance. I managed to pry the keys from the fingers of a Cayman owner at the IBV Supercar Club breakfast run and drove it to Val de Vie Polo Estate across Du Toitskloof Pass. Yes, it is every bit as good as they say it is.
The Ford Ranger (prices range from R181?900 to R541?900) takes the number one spot. It has great interior space and good on- and off-road manners, as well as good engine performance.
The butch but stylish Ranger appeals to everyone.
The indestructible Toyota Hilux Legend 45 also impressed as we took it flying along the Karoo’s less-travelled dirt roads. (Hilux prices range from R300?200 to R533?900)
Best Budget Buy
Even though the long-anticipated Datsun GO made its appearance, there’s not much to get excited about when airbags and ABS brakes don’t
So if you’re looking for a safe, reliable and cost-effective little car to transport your treasure(s) at varsity, the fuel efficient Chevrolet Spark Campus (R118?300) will set your mind at ease.
Also consider the Ford Figo?1.4 Ambiente, which comes standard with ABS, EBD, two airbags, air-con and Bluetooth. Ford is running a special on a selection of models, including the Figo 1.4?Ambiente, for R119?990.
Go to fordspecials.co.za for more info
Best Budget 4x4
The Renault Duster 1.5 dCi Dynamique 4x4 (R255?900) proves you don’t have to be a Man United football star’s significant other to drive a “proper” 4x4.
This little French car is robust, geared towards families and it didn’t have to stand back one bit for my brother-in-law’s Jeep Cherokee when we took it on an off-road adventure.
Packed with standard features like the Bluetooth-enabled MediaNav system with 18cm colour touch screen, the Duster offers premium features at a pocket-friendly price.
Most Extravagant Wheels
Without a doubt, the Lamborghini Huracán (from R4?750?000) rocked my automotive year.
Dubbed by Lamborghini as “an everyday supercar”, there’s very little “everyday” about it.
Power comes from a V10 5.2-litre engine with 448kW and 560Nm of torque and is mated to a dual-clutch, seven-speed gearbox and an all-wheel drive system.
Once you figure out how to start it, it’s a fantasy on wheels – its fighter-jet inspired cockpit is where I’d find solace on my last day on earth.
With face-shattering performance and the “wow!” factor rolled into one, it’s at the top of my “if I ever win the lotto” list.
Very few things are as pleasurable as driving a cool cabriolet on a perfect summer’s day.
The Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI S tronic (R453?000) made my heart sing.
With just enough oomph for swift overtaking, the A3 is a fuel-efficient, ultrastylish little sports car.
The uncluttered German interior put my chaotic mind at rest and, even with the top down doing 120km/hour, I could still listen to my favourite music without any wind interference.
Most Dramatic Makeover
The Nissan X-Trail, an old favourite of mine, went from square and boxy to svelte and sleek.
As much as I miss its old design, the new-look X-Trail is looking good and features some of the most advanced safety systems in the sector, such as Moving Object Detection.
I’m already spotting quite a few X-Trails on our roads.
Be sure to watch this space because I’ll be giving one a thorough test early next year. (Priced from R327?700 to R473?600)
Best Premium Drive
The Lexus IS350 F-Sport (R605?900), with its aggressive styling, Mulberry leather interior and smooth, powerful, naturally aspirated engine, made me fall in love with the road all over again.
I was looking for an excuse to drive everywhere and anywhere.
The IS350 offers great value for money, with so many standard specs thrown in. And did I mention its movie-star looks?
Most Interesting Drive
Honda’s hybrid, the CR-Z 1.5 3-dr CVT (R381?500), has an interior so novel and so full of multicoloured lights you might think you’re in Las Vegas. It also boasts different drive modes so you can decide how sporty you’d like the CR-Z to be.
It handles beautifully and, because of its electric motor, the power is there the moment you step on the gas. There is also a nifty “boost” function for sudden acceleration.
The CVT (auto) gearbox can get a little noisy, so try the manual version, priced at R367?400. The styling is futuristic and aerodynamically advanced – I love the glass panel in the rear for increased visibility.