5 Budget-friendly cars under R300 000 for empty-nesters and retirees in South Africa

November 15, 2021
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Have your kids grown up and moved out? Are you planning to make the most of your retirement years based on your available pension or retirement annuity?

You might be scaling down in terms of the size of your home, cutting back on some of the more lavish expenses, too, now that you will be maximising your retirement income. It makes sense that you consider a new vehicle, particularly if you’ve been driving a large premium car for the past few years that could require costly maintenance later on in life. After all, cars are mechanical things, and they can break.

As the cost of living in South Africa increases, spending as little money as possible on a new car going into your retirement or as an empty nester makes financial sense. Cars aren’t cheap in Mzansi, so we decided to narrow down a handful of new vehicles you could consider between the R200 000 and R300 000 price point.

All the cars on our list come with automatic gearboxes to make life easier on the road. We’ve also included petrol cars only, as diesel vehicles have disappeared in this price segment. Of course, pre-owned cars for retirement can make sense too, but if you’re looking for something with that new car smell to set off into the sunset, then perhaps take one of these models for a test drive:

1. Suzuki Swift 1.2GL auto

The venerable Suzuki Swift might look small and compact on the outside, but it’s spacious and pleasant on the inside. The 1.2GL auto is priced at R214 900, and it’s one of the cheapest new automatic cars you can buy in South Africa right now. You’ll get electric windows, power steering, a decent Bluetooth compatible audio system and a couple of airbags. You won’t get fancy technologies such as traction control or cruise control. It’s an entry-level car with a small boot, but if maximising your money in retirement is your aim, you can’t go wrong with this value-oriented offering from Suzuki. They say it will sip 4.9 litres of petrol per 100km, and it comes with a five-year or 200 000km warranty. It also comes with a two-year or 30 000km Service Plan to cover your first few years of motoring. If you aren’t fussy or in need of something high-tech, this could be perfect.

2. Renault Kiger 1.0 Zen auto

Kiger has arrived as a replacement for the hugely popular Renault Kwid. The entry-level Zen model comes in at R224 900, and it’s relatively well-appointed with all the creature comforts you’ll need in a daily driver. Unlike the Swift mentioned above, which is a traditional five-door hatchback, the Kiger is one of those new-age crossovers that aims to combine the practicality of the hatch segment with the rugged looks of an off-roader. The Kiger offers a slightly raised ride height than regular hatchbacks, which is essential if you sometimes traverse dirt roads. Renault claims that the Kiger 1.0 Zen auto sips 5.2 litres per 100km. It is fitted with an AMT transmission that can take some getting used to as it shifts with a very different feeling to a torque converter auto box. With a five-year or 150 000km warranty and a two-year or 30 000km Service Plan, you get some peace of mind that Renault will cover part of your mobility expenses in the purchase price of the car.

3. Honda Amaze 1.2 Comfort auto

If hatchbacks or crossovers aren’t your cuppa tea, you could consider the Honda Amaze as a decent sedan alternative under R300 000. In fact, the 1.2 Comfort auto sells for a respectable 252 800, and it’s loaded with comfort features such as aircon, electric windows, anti-lock brakes and dual airbags. The audio system in the Amaze isn’t the best in this segment, but once you’ve paired your phone with it, it’s easy to stream music or make and receive calls hands-free. If you will be travelling to visit grandkids in future, or you plan on taking some road trips, you can pack its large boot with luggage and gear. The traditional auto box works a treat too. Honda says the Amaze auto will sip 5.7 litres per 100km in a combined cycle, and the car comes with a five-year or 200 000km warranty and a two-year or 30 000km Service Plan.

4. Fiat 500 TwinAir Dolcevita

If you would like something funky and fun for you and your partner and still want to come in under R300 000, you cannot ignore the recently introduced Fiat 500 TwinAir Dolcevita (R279 900). The 500 has been around for about a decade now, but Fiat has regularly updated it to ensure it’s relevant. The latest model comes with a surprisingly punchy sub-1-litre two-cylinder turbo petrol engine that makes it feel like a little sports car. We’ve had nothing but good experiences in our test drives of the 500, and it ranks highly worldwide in terms of customer satisfaction. Like the Kiger we mentioned earlier, the 500 comes with a robotised manual gearbox that shifts gears automatically (MTA). It might feel odd at first in auto mode, but you’ll get used to it after a few drives. Fiat says this car uses a frugal 3.8 litres per 100km, and it comes with a five-year or 100 000km warranty.

5. Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.5 XS auto

If you require more space, perhaps for golf clubs or hiking gear, or if you would like a vehicle that can easily accommodate a mountain bike carrier or roof box, you could consider the hugely popular Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.5 XS auto (R299 200). These compact crossover style SUVs are selling like hotcakes, even on the Suzuki side, where it’s packaged as the Vitara Brezza. We understand why Mzansi can’t get enough of the Cruiser and the Vitara because they come in under R300 000 and have decent features and good warranties. The other cars in this list have more compact engines; the Cruiser will satisfy you if you need a bit of grunt, and thanks to tried-and-tested engines and gearboxes, you don’t have to worry about high-tech repair costs in future if anything goes wrong. According to Toyota, the Urban Cruiser with the auto box sips 6.2 litres per 100km. It also comes with a three-year or 100 000km warranty and a three-services or 45 000km Service Plan.

All the cars in this list come with essential safety features, and while it would be nice if they came with more advanced technologies, we understand you won’t pay less than R300 000. With these cars, insurance will remain manageable, tyre replacement costs won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and you get access to decent dealer networks around the country. There are several other models to consider, from Kia, Hyundai, Datsun, Ford, Nissan, BAIC and JMC for less than R300 000. Still, we picked these cars as we’ve recently experienced them and can stand by them as solid choices for financially-savvy individuals going into retirement or starting life as an empty nester.

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

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