Kids going to college in 2022? Here are some budget-friendly cars for parents to consider

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  • A compact hatchback under R100 000 might be the best place to start your motoring journey.
  • If you can spend a little more money, you can even consider a pre-owned sedan or crossover.
  • If you have a decent budget, you can buy a brand new compact crossover for under R300 000.
  • For motoring news, got to Wheels24

As South Africa emerges from nearly two years of lockdown and disruption, you might be all set to head off to university in 2022. If you haven't heard already, petrol will cost around R20 per litre by the time you start campus next year, so it's advisable to look at mobility solutions that won't cost you an arm and a leg to fuel.

Of course, buying a frugal vehicle doesn't mean you have to purchase something bland, as there are numerous funky models to choose from in South Africa. If you or your parents are in the fortunate position to buy a car for your first year as a tertiary student, here are our top picks:

2013 Honda Brio
One of Honda's best-sellers, the Brio can be had for less than R100 000.

Cars for students under R100 000

New car prices are what they are in South Africa, which is to say, it's not cheap to buy a new vehicle in Mzansi. However, there are numerous cared-for pre-owned models to choose from under R100 000 if you look on AutoTrader.

We did a quick search here for budget cars under R100 000 with less than 50 000km on the clock and was surprised to see many options. You might find older models here, perhaps more than five years old, but with low mileage and full-service histories. Of course, you must do your homework and get in touch with the respective dealers to ask for things like an AA Dekra Report and proof of service history, but rest assured there are cars for you to choose from under R100 000 if you want to remain thrifty.

Our search revealed that you could find low mileage Kia Picanto and Hyundai Grand i10 vehicles, as well as Suzuki Swifts and Honda Brios in this segment. They are small, sub-1.0 litre or 1.2-litre vehicles that use very little fuel and, in most cases, are highly reliable.

These vehicles also come with five-door body styles, and you get a decent amount of space in the trunk for bags and gear. It's good to look at tried-and-tested brands when shopping for under R100 000 and to consider the brand's dealer network close to your campus to ensure you have access to parts and workshops.

Are you in the market for student wheels? What are your top priorities when shopping for a vehicle for college in 2022? Drop a comment below or send us an email here.

Kia Picanto
A 2020 Kia Picanto could be found for less than R100 000.

Cars for students between R100 000 and R200 000

If you can spend up to R200 000 on your first car for college, well, you're very fortunate, and you can opt for different body styles or larger engines, but remember that all-important fuel consumption gauge when you're out tyre-kicking.

In this segment, our Autotrader search revealed a selection of crossovers, hatchbacks and compact SUVs. If we were shopping in this segment, with this decent budget in hand, we'd seriously consider a B segment vehicle, perhaps a Suzuki Baleno or a pre-loved Mazda 2. These cars offer some seriously cool features, including Bluetooth, which is very important for hands-free smartphone use. If you carry an expensive laptop or specialist equipment for college use, you might even want to consider a sedan, such as a Toyota Etios, as a lockable boot will go a long way in keeping your items safe and secure in the trunk.

As these cars could cost a little more than your entry-level vehicle, it's essential to factor in insurance in your monthly expenses together with fuel and maintenance. We reckon the R100 000 to R200 000 category is a great place to shop, as you can buy a decent car now and even hang onto that car after you graduate for a few years until you settle into the working world as a post-grad.

Suzuki Baleno
A 2020 Baleno could hit your sweet spot under R200 000.
Mazda 2
Often forgotten, the Mazda 2 can be a great pre-owned first car under R200 000.
Tried-and-tested Etios with a boot can help you keep valuables safe on campus.

Cars for students between R200 000 and R300 000

If you have between R200 000 and R300 000 at your disposal, you must be thankful as this is one heck of a budget to have for your first car. At this point, you don't even have to worry about buying in the pre-owned space, as you have the means to purchase something brand new and quite decent at that.

In 2021, we've had the opportunity to put a few great new vehicles to the test through the Wheels24 driveway, and we can tell you that there's nothing that brings more joy than that new car feeling. If you're starting a new journey in life and want to take some confidence with you from home, you can certainly do so in one of these new cars.

So what should you consider with this healthy budget? We'll be pretty frank here and say that we'd look at buying a Toyota Urban Cruiser or a Suzuki Vitara Brezza. We love these cars because they are priced well; even the higher-end models come in around R300 000 and are loaded with comfort and convenience features.

Suzuki Brezza
2021 Suzuki Brezza shares its gizzards with the Toyota Urban Cruiser.

You also get expansive dealer networks with these cars, and if you plan on doing lots of cross-country driving next year, you ought to consider the coverage your dealer network can offer. The Urban Cruiser and the Vitara Brezza are built on the same line in the same factory, so it's much of a muchness. Shop around for both cars and see which one you can get the best deal on.

There's no arguing that the cost of motoring is going up in South Africa, and while it might be tempting to use your college motoring budget for something sporty or to garner street-cred amongst your friends, it's essential to look at all the costs.

2021 has seen the arrival of a raft of new models from so many manufacturers, including the Stellantis Group, so it's important to talk your local car dealers about your needs. Let them know the distances you'll be travelling, where you'll be parking the vehicle and how you plan on using it day-to-day to ensure you get the best advice when it comes time to sign an offer to purchase.

Toyota Urban Cruiser
2021 Toyota Urban Cruiser is a great buy that will take you into your first job as a post-grad.
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