So, you've finally managed to scrape together a few handfuls of cash, and you're in the market for a brand new car. The cheaper, the better, you say. What are your options in the budget-beater segment?
Don't fret. We've put together a list of the ten cheapest cars on the South African market, with basic (before extras, but including VAT and emissions tax) prices ranging from R69 900 to R106 900 (all figures correct on 1 February 2012).
Although there are obviously a number of similarities between the contenders (all are five-speed manuals, and all are petrol-powered, for example), there are also a few marked differences. But always remember: you get what you pay for. Don't expect supercar performance or barge luxury from an entry-level, no-frills compact runabout.
For the record, the list is made up of one German, one Italian, one American, one Indian, one Japanese, two Chinese and three South Korean vehicles.
1. Chery QQ3 0.8 TE
Price: R69 900
This Chinese five-door is known for one thing, and one thing only: its rock-bottom price. The tiny three-cylinder 812cc powerplant churns out an embarrassing maximum power figure of 38kW, and tops out at a not-so-lofty 138km/h, returning a claimed combined fuel consumption of 6.8 litres per 100km. Nothing impressive about any of those figures, then. Oh, and don't expect niceties such as radio, air-con or airbags. But, as they say, you get what you pay for, and you just can't beat the QQ3's pricetag.
*Joint lowest power output
2. Chevrolet Spark Lite 0.8L
Price: R82 300
The bottom-of-the-range Spark is similar to the Chery QQ3 in many ways. So similar, in fact, that General Motors once accused the Chinese manufacturer of copyright infringement, pointing out that even the doors of the two vehicles were interchangeable. However, the 795cc engine in the Spark returns a far better fuel consumption and higher top speed than its so-called clone. So, of the two, which should you buy? Our advice: save for a bit longer and spring for the Spark.
*Joint lowest power output
3. Geely LC 1.3 GS
Price: R84 990
The third-cheapest runabout in our list is surprisingly well-specced. Yip, for your 85 large, you get a radio, air-conditioning, front and rear electric windows, remote central locking, electric side mirrors, ABS, power steering, adjustable steering wheel and height adjustable front seats. Phew. But the question is: how much of that will fall off in the first year? Doing duty under the bonnet is a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine with a maximum power output of 63kW — the highest on this list.
*Highest power output
4. Tata Indica B-line 1.4 LE
Price: R89 995
The Tata brand has gathered a fair amount of support in SA, and the Indica started it all for the passenger segment back in 2004. And, it's still going strong today. So, what do you get for your R90k? In terms of specifications, pretty much nothing. But the B-line's most alluring feature is perhaps the fact that it comes standard with a two-year or 45 000km service plan (one of only two vehicles in the top ten with a plan as standard). You could do worse, in all honesty.
*Worst fuel economy
5. Hyundai Atos Prime 1.1 GLS
Price: R94 900
In most markets around the world, the Atos has been replaced by the i10. But not here. No, for some unfathomable reason the Atos is still offered new, despite the fact that the i10 costs just a few thousand more and is quite a bit better in every respect. They both make use of 1.1-litre powerplants, but the Atos lags behind in terms of power, top speed and fuel economy. Do yourself a favour and go for the fresh-faced i10 over the ageing Atos.
Click through to page 2 for the final five.