4 new fuel-saving self-shifting vehicles you can buy in SA for less than R300 000

February 8, 2022
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If you’re looking for a new fuel-efficient vehicle to get to work and back (and for that odd holiday trip) one of these models might work well, and they’re all priced under R300 000.

1. Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX auto

Suzuki Auto SA enjoyed a successful retail month in January 2022, recording sales of 3 232 new vehicles. The company’s best-seller was the mighty Swift compact hatchback (1069 units sold). We rate the Swift highly, but for this list, we’re focusing on one of the company’s niche vehicles, the Ignis compact crossover, of which they sold 88 units last month.

The Suzuki Ignis has been facelifted since its introduction more than four years ago, keeping things fresh inside and out. The 1.2 GLX auto model is priced at R247 900, and it comes with a five-year or 200 000km mechanical warranty, and a two-year or 30 000km Service Plan. An engine service will be required annually or every 15 000km.

The car’s naturally aspirated 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine makes 61kW of power and 113Nm of torque. It’s rated to sip 4.9-litres/100km in a combined cycle, which is particularly handy as fuel prices rise to R20 per litre again. We like the rev-happy nature of the vehicle, but the AMT (automated manual) gearbox does take some time to get used to. We find that AMT-equipped vehicles respond best if you are gentle with your inputs on the accelerator.

Still, this Ignis is well-priced considering the rising cost of cars (under R250 000), and it comes packed with features such as dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, a multi-function steering wheel, thumping audio system with Smartphone support, electric windows all round, ISOFIX anchors for child seats, rear parking camera and park distance control. Thoughtfully equipped, we don’t think you’ll want for features if you go this route.

Readers have informed us that this model can feel a little underpowered on long highway journeys. Its 1.2-litre engine, while efficient and eager to perform to get you up to speed in the city, might feel like it’s revving too high at the national limit for some.

If you want something to get to work and back, and you don’t expect to do much highway driving, it might be worthwhile to consider this model as it’s different, it’s fun to drive, and it’s backed by a company that’s now the third best-selling passenger car brand in SA.

2. Volkswagen Polo Vivo hatch 1.6 Comfortline auto

We don’t have to tell you that the Volkswagen Polo Vivo is a great car. More than a thousand South Africans do that by hustling into Volkswagen dealers to sign up for one each month. In January 2022, VW South Africa sold 1 373 Polo Vivos even though the company’s hot facelift Polo hatchback had started arriving at local retailers. Incidentally, VWSA sold 1 455 of the facelift premium Polo last month.

Volkswagen keeps the Polo Vivo line-up fresh and exciting by regularly introducing special edition or limited-edition models, much like it did with the hugely popular Citi Golf more than a decade ago. Our pick for this list is the hatchback, 1.6 Comfortline auto, priced at R278 900. It comes with a three-year or 120 000km mechanical warranty. Service Plans and Maintenance Plans are available at the dealer level, and the car will require a trip to the dealership every year or every 15 000km.

The vehicle is powered by Volkswagen’s tried-and-tested 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 77kW and 153Nm. It’s economical, claimed to use 6.1litres/100km in a combined cycle. Because it features a traditional torque converter automatic gearbox, and because you get six forward gears, the car feels spritely, and it offers more than enough poke for city or highway travel.

Comfortline Volkswagen’s are usually well-equipped, and that’s precisely the case here as you get a decent air-con, multi-function steering wheel, powerful audio system with Bluetooth support for smartphones, central locking, a USB port for charging and connectivity, and ISOFIX anchors. Keep in mind this car has manual windows at the rear, so kids who can reach it might be able to roll the rear windows down while you’re driving them to school.

The Polo nameplate was in the headlines recently because it’s involved in the most significant number of accidents. But it’s a best-seller, so there’s more of them on the road, to begin with, so they are bound to be in more crashes on the road.

We get the odd email from readers who highlight that insurance is a bit steep, but mechanically, we don’t hear many complaints about the Polo Vivo.

If you want something that will get you from A to B without a fuss, and you might use it to travel to visit family in other provinces (alone or with the kids), this Polo Vivo is a winner.

3. Toyota Rumion 1.5 SX auto

Toyota South Africa Motors had one of its best retail months ever in January 2022. Most of its models were sought after, from the compact Agya (888 units sold) to the ultra-luxurious Land Cruiser 300 models (249 units sold). Hilux was the company’s best-selling model (2 803 units sold last month). Our feature car for this list is the Rumion, of which they moved 368 units.

As the twin to the Suzuki Ertiga, the Toyota Rumion has been a hit ever since it launched in South Africa less than six months ago. Hundreds of new Rumions are finding new homes every month, more than likely due to its keen pricing, spacious interior, and ability to use very little fuel if driven with a light foot.

The Rumion 1.5 SX is priced at R295 000, and it comes with a three-year or 100 000km mechanical warranty and a four-services or 60 000km Service Plan. It will require a trip to the dealer annually or every 15 000km.

Powered by Toyota/Suzuki‘s well-known 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine, you get 77kW of power and 138Nm of torque. It might not seem like a lot, but the vehicle offers a four-speed torque converter automatic that helps it gain momentum quickly around town. You might argue that the transmission is dated, but we can’t deny that it’s durable and works well as a package here in this car. Claimed consumption is 6.2litres/100km.

The Rumion 1.5 SX auto is one of a few seven-seater models you can buy in SA to transport a large family reliably. It doesn’t scream and shout luxury on the inside, but it’s well-assembled, and the materials used to build it seems durable. You get a decent aircon, dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, and a respectable audio system (although it should be better, please upgrade it, Toyota SA). You will also appreciate central locking, Bluetooth support for your phone to make and receive calls, electric windows all around and loads of luggage space (550 litres) if you plan to use it as a five-seater most of the time.

As the Rumion is still new for us, we haven’t had many complaints about the vehicle through our feedback channel. It might work well for you if you want something simple but large to go from A to B daily and capable of taking you and the family on memorable holidays across the country. Thanks to Toyota’s colossal dealer network and ongoing success, we think the Rumion will remain a hit for many years to come.

4. Chery Tiggo 4 Pro 1.5 Comfort

Ah yes, the car with the 1 000 000-kilometre warranty. Chery returned to South Africa as an official original equipment manufacturer/importer (OEM) a few months ago with the Tiggo 4 Pro, and it’s proving to be a huge hit based on social media posts by the carmaker. We don’t know how many they’ve sold officially, as the brand did not report its sales yet. However, we won’t be surprised if they’re selling more than a thousand units a month. Just look at Haval with the Jolion (1038 units found homes in SA in January 2022).

The Tiggo 4 Pro in this list is powered by a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 83kW of power and 138Nm of torque. Motivation is sent to the front wheels via a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) which can take some time to get used to, like the AMT in the Suzuki Ignis mentioned above.

The Suzuki has actual gears; however, the Chery uses bands and cones in its auto box to variate ratios as you drive. It’s priced at R299 900 and comes with that 1 000 000km or ten years (for the first owner) mechanical warranty and a five-year or 60 000km Service Plan. Chery hasn’t listed service intervals for it, but we expect it to be in line with the rest of the vehicles here, requiring an annual service or trip to the dealer every 15 000km. No claimed consumption figures are listed for this model yet.

Being the Comfort model in the line-up, you can expect a decent selection of standard features. You get dual airbags, anti-locking braking, USB ports front and rear, keyless entry, and central locking. You also get ISOFIX anchor points for child seats and park distance control at the back with a reversing camera to ensure it’s easy to manoeuvre.

We drove the range-topper at the launch last year and came away impressed at how the car performed. We’re looking forward to experiencing this model on test soon, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss that review.

We understand that Chery‘s previous foray into South Africa might have left a sour taste in the mouths of consumers who voted with their wallets and bought QQ3s and previous-gen Tiggos, but the company assured us at its launch that it’s here to stay.

Chery will launch its first large SUV, the Tiggo 8 Pro, in South Africa later in February. With more than 30 dealers around the country and growing, we expect more people to gravitate toward the brand in 2022.

Source: Pritesh Ruthun (www.wheels24.co.za)

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