"Family life isn’t coupe friendly. Here are cars to help you cope with lift club and family vacations," writes Lance Branquinho as he list top cars for SA families.
Life can get hectic when are you attempting to juggle the responsibilities of being a young professional with a family.
Eliminating transport frustration is crucial to coping and that often means buying a set of wheels that might not look like the hot hatch you desire but will be the best solution for your family’s motoring requirements.
Nothing says family motoring quite like a Toyota, the brand which moves about more South Africans than any other. For a mere R227 200 you can have three rows of seating to accommodate the family and grandparents – a simply terrific value offering.
That said, the entry-level Avanza is powered by a 1.3-litre naturally aspirated engine which only makes 71kW and 121Nm – and that doesn’t really leave much in reserve regarding performance, especially when it is fully loaded.
For Gauteng commuters, where the rarefied air will dilute the 1.3-litre engine’s performance even further, it might be worth saving up for a few extra months and upgrading to the 1.5-litre engine, which is R24 900 more, but offers 77kW and 136Nm.
More of a true van than the Avanza, Nissan’s NV200 features dual sliding doors for entry and debussing convenience. It also has a cavernous cabin which measures 3.1m³ in total volume and can alternatively accommodate a complement of five passengers or even three bicycles inside.
Image: Net Car Show
At R354 000 NV200 IS notably more expensive than AN Avanza, but you are getting a whole lot more space for the family, and the panel-dinging mitigation of those sliding doors.
Caddy Crew Bus
Every young family would love to own a VW Kombi, but those have become quite expensive over the last decade. Even the cheapest Kombi now retails for R556 600.
Fortunately, VW has an alternative: the Caddy Crew Bus. A lot cheaper than any Kombi at R267 000 and although it rolls steel wheels, the Caddy Crew Bus has ABS and electronic stability control to keep your family safe on any journey.
Image: Net Car Show
Not unduly underpowered either, with the 1.6-litre petrol engine cranking out 81kW and because Caddy shares a platform with Golf5, its ride quality and open-road handling confidence is quite unlike any other compact van.
The most successful French SUV in South African sales history, Renault’s Duster is a true budget off-roader without feeling cheap.
If you have a young family who prefer being out in the great wide-open spaces of Africa, instead of at the Mall of Africa, Duster is a superb entry-point to the South African SUV lifestyle.
Image: Wheels24/Sergio Davids
Robustly engineered to last on gravel and potholed roads, it features 210mm of ground clearance to get you to all those great viewing points too. If you want to make memorable family selfies, this is your entry-level family SUV of choice.
For R312 900 you get the Duster 4x4 which also happens to be powered by a wonderfully frugal 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine, delivering a punchy 240Nm and averaging 4.8l/100km.
Chinese brands have not impressed South African buyers but one which has made an impression is Haval. Essentially the SUV division of GWM, Haval markets a range of affordable SUVs and crossovers, all with very generous specification.
The H1 is Haval’s smallest vehicle and classifies as a crossover, powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine delivering 70kW. It’s light at 1106kg and therefore quite swift at city commuting speeds.
The compact dimensions make it very easy to park, or hustle for that pick-up spot during the morning or afternoon school run, and 310-litre of luggage capacity mean you won’t have to burden the kids with sitting schoolbags on laps.
H1’s cabin is well-equipped too, although most of the switchgear and infotainment console design appears to have been lifted from the GM parts-bin. At R174 900 it’s a very affordable way to get your young family into crossovers.