South Africa’s best cars right now – ranked by affordability

Leading online vehicle retail portal Cars.co.za has announced the 39 finalists of its 2018/19 Consumer Awards.

The finalists (three in each of 13 respective categories) were selected out of 65 vehicles (semi-finalists) that Cars.co.za’s extended editorial team agreed were the best derivatives available in the South African new passenger vehicle market on 1 September 2018.

No fewer than 18 vehicle brands are represented in the list of finalists, with Volkswagen leading the nominations with seven derivatives, followed by BMW and Ford (four apiece), and Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo (three apiece).

Significantly, Porsche and Isuzu make their first appearances in the final stage of the #CarsAwards programme, while Honda and Range Rover return to the list of 39 after failing to make the last round in 2017/18.

The next phase of the programme will take place on 1 and 2 November 2018, when all the vehicles that are listed as finalists will be judged back-to-back (against the rivals in their categories) during a 2-day test session at Gerotek.


Budget Car (under R200,000)

The winner of this category represents ‘as much good car as possible for the asking price’.

Value is very important, as are low running costs and all such “common sense” considerations.

The price cap for this category is R200,000, with an emphasis placed on safety equipment – dual front airbags and ABS are required features in this category.

  • Kia Picanto 1.2 Style
  • Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL
  • Volkswagen Polo Vivo 1.4 Comfortline

Compact Hatch (R200,000 – R300,000)

Cars in this segment must appeal to a very wide audience – from the young professional or family buying up from an entry-level car, to pensioners buying down from something larger and expensive.

The winner of this award must truly reflect what is best about modern automotive design and engineering, but present it in a concentrated, reasonably affordable form.

  • Ford Fiesta 1.0T Titanium
  • Mazda2 1.5 Individual Plus Auto
  • Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Auto

Adventure SUV (R550,000 – R700,000)

This category focuses on the ultimate recreational vehicle to transport a family and their holiday and lifestyle gear in comfort to almost any destination, on or off-road.

Off-road ability is emphasised in combination with practicality, comfort and long-distance cruising.

  • Ford Everest 3.2 4WD XLT
  • Isuzu MU-X 3.0 4WD
  • Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Auto

Compact Family (R300,000 – R400,000)

Practicality and spaciousness are important considerations, but so are safety, technology, fuel efficiency and a modicum of lifestyle flexibility.

  • Ford EcoSport 1.0T Titanium Auto
  • Hyundai Creta 1.6 Executive Turbodiesel Auto
  • Nissan Qashqai 1.2T Acenta Auto

Family Car (R400,000 – R500,000)

The winner of this category should be ideal not only for the morning school run, but also school-holiday trips to distant locations.

In judging this category Cars.co.za said it placed particular emphasis on interior flexibility, comfort and safety.

  • Mazda CX-5 2.0 Individual
  • Peugeot 3008 2.0 HDI Allure
  • Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI Trendline

Leisure Double Cab (R500,000 – R800,000)

A leisure double-cab is required to be as many as 5 different vehicles (depending on which task it is required to perform): a luxurious tourer, hardcore off-roader, capable carry-all, family do-all and lifestyle activity machine.

This type of bakkie can no longer afford to be too utilitarian and rough around the edges; it’s expected to be a highly sophisticated offering.

  • Ford Ranger 3.2 4×4 Wildtrak Auto
  • Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Raider Auto
  • Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI Highline Plus 4Motion Auto

Business Class (R600,000 – R800,000)

In this category, you will find the type of cars that (realistic) dreams are made off.

The target customers have achieved success and want a car that isn’t only a personal reward, but the automotive embodiment of their achievements.

  • Audi A5 Sportback 2.0TFSI quattro Sport S Line sports
  • Mercedes-Benz C300 AMG Line
  • Volkswagen Arteon 2.0TSI 4Motion R-Design

Executive SUV (R700,000 – R900,000)

An Executive SUV is increasingly regarded as the status symbol to have, therefore most premium brands now offer road-biased SUVs that combine prestige and practicality in a package that is characterised by superior refinement.

Drivetrain performance and refined road manners are priorities, as is a cabin that features upmarket materials and the most up-to-date technology.

  • Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro Sport S-Line sports
  • BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport auto
  • Volvo XC60 D5 R-Design

Premium Compact (R450,000 – R600,000)

Stylish and sophisticated, yet practical enough for most motoring needs, these are the cars for upwardly mobile go-getters.

The winner in this category must not only offer outstanding quality, refinement, performance and the latest technologies but also broadcast a message of success and ambition.

  • Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG-Line
  • Volkswagen Golf GTI
  • Volvo XC40 T3 R-Design

Hot Hatch (under R700,000)

This is one for the petrolheads – a car that must leave die-hard enthusiast smiling after every drive, in the way it looks, handles, sounds and, performs.

  • BMW M140i sports-auto
  • Honda Civic Type R
  • Renault Megane R.S. 280 Lux

Performance Car (under R1 million)

While supercars and other “exotics” are mere fantasies for most, there are cars priced below the magical R1 million mark that offer near-supercar thrills and performance.

In this category, the focus is not only looking for performance but also driver engagement – whether driven on track or road.

  • Audi TT RS
  • BMW M2 Competition (manual)
  • Porsche 718 Cayman S

Premium SUV (R1 million – R1.3 million)

Luxurious SUVs may appeal for irrational and emotional reasons such as kerb appeal and status, but at their core, they are some of the most sophisticated and capable vehicles on the market.

Blending spaciousness with high-tech off-road equipment, powerful engines, as well as luxuriously trimmed cabins, the prestige-badged premium SUV we are looking for in this category should be tailor-made for image and practicality-obsessed buyers.

  • Porsche Cayenne S
  • Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE
  • Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI Luxury R-Line

Executive Sedan (R800,000 – R1 million)

These technological masterpieces represent an enviable blend of first-class luxury and comfort, and business-class technology and dynamic appeal.

Prestige is usually a given in this segment, but we’re also looking for significant technological advancement, yet without compromising the level of comfort and quiet style that these sedans are renowned for.

  • BMW 520d M Sport
  • Mercedes-Benz E220 d Avantgarde
  • Volvo S90 D5 AWD R-Design

Read: South Africa’s 10 best-selling cars right now

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South Africa’s best cars right now – ranked by affordability