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Used City Car Shootout

City Cars offer more driving thrills and frills for budget buyers without the bland and boring appeal of yesterday for South Africa used car shoppers.

A handful number of years ago city cars were boring to drive and bland in charm. The favourite of pensioners and car rental agencies the world over, these little cars offered little in the way of motoring thrills and frills for what was considered a ‘budget’ market.

With increasing pressure on carbon taxes and emissions, the ever-shrinking power of the Rand on the global economy, and this car segment seeing a growing trend of downward-shopping, city cars became en vogue.

For many years, the star of this small car show was the Kia Picanto. A winner of numerous ‘Best Buy’ and ‘Class Winner’ titles and awards, this little Korean grew and matured from a bubble-like hatchback with an asthmatic 1.0-litre engine offering 45kW of power into a more gutsy engine that pushes out 49kW and a much increased 95Nm to make it zippier and more responsive.

However, Picanto faced stiff competition from would-be pretenders: Ford Ka; Chevrolet Spark; Mitsubishi Mirage; Hyundai i10 and Atos; et al.

And Kia/Hyundai (for they are one and the same company, essentially) threw more comfort features at their smallest model. More technology, more attitude, and new customers: this class of vehicle exploded. This prompted the Germans in Volkswagen and Opel at first, to pitch their know-how to this growing market base with all-new models.

Standard across the class, shoppers can expect to find: airbags; aircon; power steering; central locking; a 900cc, a 1-litre or 1.2-litre engines with or without turbochargers; 14- or 15-inch wheels; cloth upholstery; and, a basic audio system. The lovely “D” word means that buyers of pre-owned vehicles will be spoilt for choice as Depreciation will mean better-specced vehicles at even more affordable prices. These models, one- to three-year-old models can add to the list of features touchscreen media interfaces; remote central locking; electrically-operated windows and exterior mirrors; USB, AUX and Bluetooth media inputs; foglights; LED headlights and daytime driving lights; auto headlights and windscreen wiper controls; cruise control; sunroof; alloy wheels; and, up to 4 airbags.

As this is a used car vehicle resource, we favour and promote the sale and ownership of pre-owned vehicles. In that light, city cars range in price from R80,000 to R180,000. Depending on your financial means and transport needs, a great price point offering the widest selection of choice models is between R120,000 and R150,000.

There will be two models of Kia Picanto I’d recommend. The first comes, and most widely available, is the second-generation of this nameplate. For a little less than R150,000, you’ll pick up a 2017 (the final year of its production run) model with the lovely 1.2-litre engine in EX trim with an automatic gearbox.

2017 Kia Picanto 1.2 EX Automatic

Price: R149,800
Odometer: 31,000km
• Power: 65kW | Fuel Consumption: 6.0l/100km
Key Features: Bluetooth, AUX and USB audio inputs; auto headlights function; daytime driving lights; cloth upholstery; multi-function steering wheel controls; 15″ alloy wheels

2018 Kia Picanto 1.0 Smart

Price: R148,980
Odometer: 21,730km
• Power: 49kW | Fuel Consumption: 5.0l/100km
Key Features: Touchscreen with Bluetooth, AUX and USB audio inputs; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; auto headlights function; PDC with Reverse Camera; LED headlights and LED daytime driving lights; leather upholstery; multi-function steering wheel controls; 15″ alloy wheels

The Hyundai offerings are the new-for-2019 Atos and the fantastic Grand i10 model line-up. While the Atos is fresher, the Grand i10 is difficult to beat in terms of specification, space and power. With a lower price and slightly less features but with the same interior space as the Kia Picanto second-generation models, the Hyundais deserves a second look and test drive…

2018 Hyundai Grand i10 1.25 Motion

Price: R128,000
Odometer: 4,000km
• Power: 64kW | Fuel Consumption: 5.9l/100km
Key Features: Cruise control; audio with USB, Bluetooth and AUX media inputs; PDC sensors; multi-function steering wheel controls; cloth upholstery

2019 Hyundai Atos 1.1 Motion

Price: R129,990
Odometer: 5,000km
• Power: 50kW | Fuel Consumption: 5.7l/100km
Key Features: Audio with USB, Bluetooth and AUX media inputs; multi-function steering wheel controls; cloth upholstery; aircon

The French have taken a slightly different approach to bringing city cars to South African buyers. The Renault Kwid presents fantastic value on paper, but when matched against its rivals in this article its shortcomings are highlighted: it is rougher around the edges and lacks a firm build quality. Peugeot offers a re-dressed Toyota Aygo for its smallest city car – and this no negative. In fact, it presents a few small details that its Japanese brother doesn’t carry.

2019 Renault Kwid 1.0 Dynamique Automatic

Price: R134,500
Odometer: 3,000km
• Power: 50kW | Fuel Consumption: 4.7l/100km
Key Features: Touchscreen with USB, Bluetooth and AUX media inputs; SatNav; remote central locking; foglights; cloth upholstery; aircon

2019 Peugeot 108 1.0 THP Active 5-Door

Price: R149,900
Odometer: 11,200km
• Power: 53kW | Fuel Consumption: 4.3l/100km
Key Features: Touchscreen with USB, Bluetooth and AUX media inputs; remote central locking; multifunction steering wheel controls; cloth upholstery; aircon; LED daytime driving lights; Hill Start Assist

2019 Toyota Aygo 1.0 X-Play 5-Door

Price: R149,900
Odometer: 3,050km
• Power: 53kW | Fuel Consumption: 4.3l/100km
Key Features: Touchscreen with USB, Bluetooth and AUX media inputs; remote central locking; multifunction steering wheel controls; cloth upholstery; aircon

The Ford Figo is marginally longer, taller and wider than its city car rivals in what is essentially a ‘budget’ car. It is sparsely specced, but it does offer robust build quality, Ford’s proven reliability track record for small hatchbacks and a strong resale value thanks its Blue Oval on the front of the nose.

2019 Ford Figo 1.5Ti VCT Ambiente

Price: R134,900
Odometer: 7,500km
• Power: 88kW | Fuel Consumption: 5.7l/100km
Key Features: central locking; cloth upholstery; aircon; audio with Bluetooth, USB and AUX media inputs

Fighting toe-to-toe with the Picantos and Grand i10s, Volkswagen’s popular Up! lineup brings quirky styling, clever packaging and impressive specifications to this market segment. Is it better than a comparable Picanto? That would be subjective as both deliver on performance, quality, driving thrills (yes, really) and more technology than all others in this segment. The Volkswagen name and positioning of this model makes means it is classless in its buying audience.

2017 Volkswagen Move Up! 1.0 5-Door

Price: R149,900
Odometer: 23,000km
• Power: 55kW | Fuel Consumption: 4.6l/100km
Key Features: Audio with USB, Bluetooth and AUX media inputs; remote central locking; multifunction steering wheel controls; cloth upholstery; aircon; LED daytime driving lights; tyre pressure monitoring system

This segment, growing in models and manufacturers year-on-year, is sure to be the most hotly contested segment in less than a decade in terms of vehicle sales and development. From budget-friendly runabouts to tech-laden and smooth driving cars that comfortably cross provinces with fuel-efficient performance, these little cars offer first-time and mature vehicle shoppers much to smile about.

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