Polo Vivo. Photo by polodriver.com

By Dumi Xaba

It has been over two years since the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in Mzansi and the rest of the world. We experienced the hardest lockdown that affected many industries, including the automotive industry which was left in limbo. Since then, it has been an uphill battle with a few come-back victories. We have never been able to fully recover from the pandemic that has caused untold damage.
As if that’s not enough, the heavens also armed this enemy further by almost vanquishing our vehicle storage facilities at the Durban Harbour.
This has slammed sharp brakes on new car sales since demand far outweighs supply. All was not lost however since this has opened a new opportunity on the used car market.
I have been approached by several people seeking advice on which car brands to choose when buying a pre-loved vehicle. It mostly depends on how well the vehicle has been maintained by its previous owner. most modern vehicles can surpass a 500km mark with a single engine and gearbox. if properly maintained. I have owned several used vehicles and also went through all frustrations of buying lemons while spending a ton of hard-earned money to try and turn them into oranges which mostly never work.
Eventually, you end up spending more than buying a new vehicle without enjoying any benefit of driving a new vehicle. This has prompted me to do a thorough market research in terms of faults per vehicle.
Some vehicles are less prone to breakdowns than others. and some are cheaper to repair than others. I will try and accommodates all tastes on vehicles by choosing four groups of most popular buys to date.
Budget daily runners.

Polo Vivo versus Suzuki Swift
The Polo 1.4 non-turbo engine is proven to be the most reliable car on South African roads. It can handle daily abuse and long distances without any hustle. A good second hand will cost around R200 000. This beauty will give you almost a 1,000km with just a single tank of fuel, hence it’s the most popular brand.
These vehicles are well-specked and gallop well under any situation. Some parts might be costly after 80,000km. This is one of the high-risk cars in South Africa.
The Suzuki Swift has proven to be one of the most reliable cars on our roads. Frankly, I have never seen one being towed away unless it is involved in an accident. These vehicles are a germ on the road and with fewer stops next to the petrol pump station, specially in urban areas. it is also extremely unlikely that you might visit a copshop to report one that has just vanished into thin air.
You get an average of 700km per tank on this sweet spot of a machine. Naturally, your insurance premiums will also be favourable. This one gets a thumbs up as a low-risk car from my side. One might score a new 1.2GL from R200,000. Also look at the Ford Figo, the Mazda 2, the Hyundai Grand i10 and the Toyota Starlet.

Mid-size SUV
In this category I will have to suggest three vehicles as two of them are closely related cousins.
Toyota Fortuner, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento
The Fortuner is a brilliant family mover and comes bearing a
bullet-proof of an engine.
The current models come with bells and whistles in terms of safety and family entertainment. Well-maintained, at 100,000km, it is still a baby.
Most examples I have seen have long surpassed the 500,000 milage with no signs of slowing down. Sadly, everybody agrees, hence you are most likely to be hijacked in this vehicle. You may pick a good example directly from the dealer at around R500,000.

Kia Sorento versus Hyundai Santa Fe
Both vehicles utilise the Hyundai D4HB engine which is a gem of Korean engines. They both come with almost limit less warranty and a great service package.
You have to bear in mind that the Koreans have taken off the gloves when it comes to quality and specs. Just like the Chinese. they have taken stock on this model and nothing has been left to chance.
All the extras come as standard features on this model. The seating and driving are out of this world and fuel consumption is good. There is less likelihood of starring down the barrel of semi-automatic weapon while driving one of these beauties with at least a seven-year peace of mind.
For R500,000, you might pick one with less than 30,000km on the clock. Also. look at Ford Everest, Discovery Sport and the new kid on the block, the Nissan Terra.

Double-cab bakkies
Toyota Hilux versus Nissan Navara

The Toyota IMV platform is used both in the Hilux and the Fortuner, with several engine options. But the 2.8 diesel, as found in the Fortuner, is a gem.
This has been fine-tuned to perform quite well and beat the likes of Ford Everest in every sphere. You might just hop into one and drive to Cairo and back without having to break any sweat.
To date, this is one of the most reliable vehicles on the road and is moving our economy. Most fleet companies have put their bet on this work horse and it fails to disappoint year after year.
The new 2.8 will give you 150kw of power and 500Nm of torque, enough to pull a trailer full of elephants. You also get around 1,000km with a single tank of fuel. in a perfect world it will get my vote every time but in South Africa it’s just a matter of when will it be taken as it shares most undercarriage components with minibus taxis. mostly stolen, stripped and sold as scrap parts or it may end up in a second-hand market in neighbouring countries. For R400,000, you might get almost a new one.

The Nissan Navara
Frankly speaking, this is one of the most dependable bakkies on the road. This workhorse has earned its stripes as one of the most dependable vehicles. The parts might be a bit costly, hence most dealerships will pay you peanuts for a trade-in. This, in turn, has driven private sales market to boom.
Well-maintained, you will get over 200,000km without any major repairs. This is a good alternative to the likes of high-risk Hilux and Isuzu D Max. Slightly slimmer and shorter than the Hilux. Easy to park in malls and tight spots. The new 2.5DDTi produces 140kw of power and 450Nm of maximum torque while averaging 8.1L/100km.
You are good for almost a 1,000km with a single tank of 80L of fuel. For R500,000, you might park a brand-new SE guise double-car in your garage with a five-year 150,000km peace of mind. Which is similar going from Cape to Cairo 15 times. Also, look at the Mitsubishi Triton 2.4DiD.

Hot hatch
VW Golf 7 R versus Hyundai i30N

It will be a total scandal to leave the hot hatch market behind. The mighty Golf GTI is knocking almost at the million Rand mark. The Golf 7 R is a germ of a car. It produces a clean 228kw of power and 400Nm of torque, enough to shame most R2 million super saloons on the road.
This beast can turn a priest into a hooligan on a Sunday afternoon on the freeway. It is a well-known fact that it is reliable, easy to handle and totally balanced. Not forgetting those farts and crackles from the exhaust note.
The only downside might be some repair cost, specially the transmission which is rare to break. But this will be one of the vehicles that will be without lights if you park it on the unsecured parking or the entire vehicle will be gone from a mall parking lot. An almost new second-hand will cost around R500,000.

Hyundai i30N
Nothing on this car says I am a beast of a machine. This is not just a pretty face on the road but a well-put-together machine.
It produces 202kw of power and 353nm of torque, enough to put a smile on any face. The sound is divine and so is the driving.
You feel in control and the machine is forgiving. It comes with a lengthy warranty for peace of mind which will outlive most brand-new cars.
There is however a ton of road noise that will need some getting used to. This is one of the lowest risk vehicles on our roads that you can park on any street corner today.

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