These are the safest cars to drive in South Africa for under R270,000

The Automobile Association has published its Entry-Level Vehicle Safety Report for 2022, highlighting the budget cars with the best safety features in South Africa.

The inclusion of vehicle safety features on entry-level vehicles is improving with the majority of vehicles in this category offering moderate to acceptable safety features, said the AA.

The ELVS Report is produced following a desktop research methodology. The value threshold for vehicles considered is raised from previous years to R270,000. Thirty-eight vehicles are included in this year’s report which does not consider the structural integrity of the driver/passenger compartment.

The 38 vehicles are categorised into three groups based on their safety ratings. These categories are: Acceptable Safety, Moderate Safety, and Poor Safety.

In the 2022 ELVS Report, four vehicles are categorised as having Poor Safety, 23 are placed in the Moderate Safety category, and 11 vehicles are placed in the acceptable Safety category.

In terms of true safety points attained, points of 20 or less are considered as having ‘poor’ safety. Safety points between 20 and 50 can be considered as having ‘moderate’ safety, and safety points of 50 and above can be considered as having ‘acceptable’ safety.

“The fact that so many vehicles offer moderate or acceptable safety is extremely encouraging and indicates that manufacturers are taking the presence of critical vehicle safety equipment seriously. This is a good trend, and we hope to see even fewer vehicles in the poor category in the years ahead,” said the AA.

Two important figures provide context for the development of the ELVS: South Africa’s high annual road fatality figures, and the growing vehicle population in the country.

In 2021, the country recorded 12541 road fatalities. The current vehicle population in the country – according to official figures from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) – is 11 726 476, with just over 7.6 million being motor vehicles and just over 2.6 million being LDVs/Bakkies.

“The purpose of the research is to provide consumers with a starting point for vehicle purchases, be they new or second-hand. We point out what safety features are stated as being available on these vehicles and urge consumers to consider these a priority as part of their decision-making process,” the association said.

It stressed that this research does not provide a definitive measure of a vehicle’s safety which can only be determined through crash-testing.

The 38 vehicles surveyed for the 2022 ELVS Report were evaluated against the number of active safety features they have (anti-lock braking systems, electronic stability control), and passive safety features (airbags). Points are awarded to vehicles for the existence of each of the active and passive safety features. Additional points are awarded to vehicles crash tested under the NCAP system.

Of the 38 vehicles researched in 2022, 34 are equipped with Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) and 33 are equipped with driver and passenger airbags. Despite this positive showing, only seven vehicles researched have Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The least common safety feature was curtain airbags (no vehicles) and side airbags (only one vehicle).

Safety/Affordability Index

In addition to scoring the vehicles purely on safety features and awarding true safety points, the ELVS Report also considers safety weighed against affordability.

In this scenario, the score achieved by a vehicle for its safety features is measured against its cost to arrive at a Safety/Affordability Score. The Index can be used as a guide to understanding the “Affordability of Safety” proposition of vehicles.

For this report, a score of four points and above can be seen as ‘acceptable safety/affordability’, a score between three and 3.99 points can be seen as ‘moderate safety/affordability’, whereas 2.99 points and below can be seen as ‘poor safety/affordability’.

In 2022, five vehicles fall under the ‘acceptable safety/affordability’ category, eight vehicles fall under the ‘moderate safety/affordability’ category, and 25 vehicles fall under the ‘poor safety/affordability’ categories.


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These are the safest cars to drive in South Africa for under R270,000