From the Suzuki Celerio to the new Volkswagen Up!, AutoTrader narrowed it down to six cars that are safe, good value, practical, and economical to run.
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1 Suzuki Celerio
From only R109 900, the Alto-replacing Celerio is a solid and affordable entry-level car, perfect for students or a retired couple who need a practical little run-about. Suzuki calls it "the extra large small car" and it's easy to see why. It can seat four adults comfortably and has a decent sized boot of 235 litres. You will have to buy the service plan, though.
Need something small and inexpensive, with a boot? The Suzuki Swift DZire (from R132 400) will fit you, your mates, as well as your stuff.
2 Chevrolet Spark Campus
Apart from being incredibly cute it's also nippy, well-built, and pretty cool on the inside. Aimed at students, it offers no-frills reliability, quality, safety and fun at a pocket-pleasing R119 500 - but you'll have to buy your own radio.
3 Volkswagen Up!
Even though the Up! looks small from the outside, Volkswagen's made very good use of the available space. The secret is in its long wheelbase and the engine that is mounted well forward. The funky new Up! has with a lively, 3-cylinder engine capable of 55kW/95Nm.
The interior is fresh and contemporary, with class-leading safety features such as four air bags.
4 Opel Corsa
The fifth-generation Corsa (from R185 500) is not just pretty to look at and its specced to the hilt, it's also super-refined. As with the Opel Adam, the design of the new Corsa is ruled by Opel’s latest design philosophy of ‘sculptural artistry meets German engineering’.
Solid as a rock on the road and equipped with a turbocharged 1.0 litre engine, the futuristic looking Corsa will appeal to trendy singles and couples alike. Good build quality is a given in any Opel, and the new Corsa doesn't disappoint.
5 Toyota Corolla Quest
If you want the reliability of a new Corolla but you're strapped for cash, consider the Quest. Priced from R183 900, it doesn't offer all the convenience features of the sexy, latest generation Corolla (from R224 600), but it does have the coveted Toyota badge, cavernous cabin and boot.
Safety features include anti-lock brakes, electronic-brake force distribution, brake assist and two air bags.
6 Nissan X-Trail
The new Nissan X-Trail (From R327 700 to R 388 300) is perhaps not within the grasp of the virgin car-buyer, but if you're keen on a larger, sportier first-time buy, consider a 2012/2013 model with low kilometres. The X-Trail boasts great handling for a high-riding SUV, and has ample space for sports equipment and your favourite bunch of friends.