What you need to earn to afford the cheapest Audi, BMW, and Merc in South Africa in 2024

 ·10 Jun 2024

The cost of a new premium German car in South Africa has significantly increased, making it necessary for a prospective car buyer to be in the top 7% of earners to afford the cheapest models from Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz.

The latest TransUnion Vehicle Pricing Index (VPI) indicated the price of new vehicles rose well above inflation in the last quarter of 2023.

The index measures the relationship between the increase in vehicle pricing for new and used vehicles from a basket of passenger vehicles comprising 15 top-volume manufacturers.

According to the report, the average price of new vehicles increased by 6.3% in Q4 2023, respectively (1.3% above inflation).

The report noted that price increases in almost all segments exceeded the CPI, except for electric vehicles, which only saw a 1.1% increase.

On average, the price of all body types rose during the period, with hybrids and hatchbacks experiencing the sharpest increase at 104.% and 7.8%, respectively, in Q4 2023.

It’s not surprising that the hatchbacks, which are the cheapest cars from some of the most popular luxury brands, saw the steepest price increases year-on-year.

Some of the most popular luxury car brands in South Africa are Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. The cheapest models from these manufacturers are priced at well over R500,000, except for the Audi.

In 2024, more than 70% of all the cars in South Africa now cost more than R500,000.

One of the many contributors to this fact is the poor performance of the local economy and the rand/US dollar exchange rate, which has made it notably more expensive to import and sell vehicles here in recent years.

The most affordable German luxury car is the Audi A1, which costs R492,600 in June 2024, up from R487,300 in January.

Despite the increase, it’s still over R199,000 cheaper than the BMW 1 Series (R691,716) and over R300,000 cheaper than the most expensive of the three, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (R796,559 821,491).

The A-Class is the most expensive hatchback and has increased by almost R35,000 since January, from R796,559 to R821,491.

Interestingly, comparing the cost of a Mecedes-Benz GLA200 from 2014 to 2024 shows that the car’s cost has increased by 131.4% over the past decade.

Sales for Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW have more than halved over the same period, with total sales declining from 71,889 in 2014 to 26,202 in 2023—a concerning 63.5% decline.

Experts said that this shift is driven by competitive pricing, quality, and high-tech specifications from other manufacturers, such as the Chinese.

This is reshaping the competitive landscape and posing challenges for traditional premium dealerships.

How much you need to earn in June 2024

Assuming a payment term of 60 months (five years), at a lending rate of 13% (prime (11.75% + 1.25%) and a 0% deposit, the monthly instalment amount of the Audi A1 is roughly R11,305.

Experts still recommend that prospective car owners spend no more than 25% of their monthly income on vehicle finance – meaning you’d have to earn no less than R45,000 per month to afford the cheapest car on this list.

According to the World Inequality database, this puts you in the top 7% of income earners in South Africa – meaning 93% of the country’s population earns less than you.

The cheapest Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz are listed below, along with the starting price, estimated monthly instalment, and monthly salary required to afford the vehicle.


Audi A1

  • Starting price: R492,600
  • Monthly instalment: R11,305
  • Estimated monthly salary required: R45,220

BMW 1 Series

  • Starting price: R691,716
  • Monthly instalment: R15,835
  • Estimated monthly salary required: R63,340

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

  • Starting price: R821,491
  • Monthly instalment: R18,788
  • Estimated monthly salary required: R75,150

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