South Africa’s recent downgrading to junk status will inevitably take a bite out of households’ disposable income, and when coupled with expected interest rate hikes and pricier insurance, new car purchases might have to go on the back burner for many. The very bottom end of the market is under the spotlight now more than ever, so for those still shopping for new cars we’ve listed the ten cheapest passenger vehicles on sale today.
1. Chery QQ3 TE – R99 995
Chinese brand Chery is the only carmaker in our market currently offering a new vehicle under the R100 000 mark, albeit by just five rand. But don’t expect much in the way of safety features at this level. The QQ3 in base TE spec comes with air conditioning and a CD player, but no airbags, ABS brakes or stability control. If we included individual variants in this list, the QQ3 TX and TXE would technically sit second and fourth places.
ENGINE: 812cc 3-cyl, 38kW and 70Nm
2. Datsun Go Mid – R106 900
The relaunch of budget brand Datsun has seen a handful of bargain basement models, but the cheapest of all is the Go hatch in Mid spec. Air conditioning is included but there’s no radio, and more importantly no airbags or ABS brakes. It has seatbelts but they’re only retractable in the front seats. The Indian-built city car is a sub-brand of the Nissan stable and is only sold in Russia, Indonesia and South Africa.
ENGINE: 1.2-litre 3-cyl, 50kW and 104Nm
3. FAW V2 DLX – R114 995
Another Chinese entry, the FAW V2 is surprisingly well stocked for the price, and comes with two airbags, ABS brakes, electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking, and a sound system with a USB port. It’s also one of the biggest cars in this list with a maximum 320 litres of boot space, and is the most powerful in this list.
ENGINE: 1.3-litre 4-cyl, 67kW and 120Nm
4. Tata Indica LGi – R118 995
Tata’s Indica is one of the stalwarts of the cheapie league with a familiar nameplate that’s been around for nearly two decades. In latest LGi form the Indian hatch gets rather bland styling with unpainted bumpers and is stripped down to only the bare essentials with no airbags or ABS , but some buyers might comfort in the relatively established Tata brand.
ENGINE: 1.4-litre 4-cyl, 55kW and 110Nm
5. Renault Kwid Expression - R124 900
As the newest car on this list, Renault’s Kwid comes with relatively modern styling designed to look like a miniature SUV. Buyers at this level will be impressed with its digital instrument cluster, aircon, an 18cm colour touchscreen with Bluetooth and USB port, and a decent 5-year/150 000km warranty, but Renault has skimped on safety features with just one airbag and no ABS brakes.
ENGINE: 1-litre 3-cyl, 50kW and 91Nm
6. Kia Picanto LS – R129 995
Kia’s cheapest car, the Picanto in LS trim, is an attractive little runabout with its gaping front grill, a cheeky headlight design and an up-to-date dashboard layout. It also gets one of the best warranty plans in the segment at 5-years with unlimited mileage. It has no ABS and only the driver gets an airbag.
ENGINE: 1-litre 3-cyl, 51kW and 94Nm
7. Suzuki Celerio GA – R132 900
It might not be the prettiest, but Suzuki’s Celerio is one of the safer budget cars in this list with two airbags and ABS brakes even in its lowest GA spec. You won’t get much in the way of creature comforts here though, with air conditioning pretty much the only standard nicety. Not even a radio is included. For 17 grand more, the much higher specced GL is a no brainer.
ENGINE: 1-litre 3-cyl. 50kW and 90Nm
8. Tata Vista Ini Bounce - R134 995
The Vista fits into Tata’s hatch range above the cheaper Indica, and below the pricier Bolt. It’s actually a newer version of the Indica, and overseas it’s badged as an ‘Indica Vista’. Spec-wise it’s nearly identical to the bare basics Indica (listed at number 4) but for the extra money you get a slightly more modern look and feel.
ENGINE: 1.4-litre 4-cyl, 54kW and 114Nm
9. Chevy Spark Curve – R140 700
Chevy’s Spark is certainly among the smallest hatches in our top-ten, but it’s also one of the most radical looking in baby bulldog kind of way. It’s also specced well at lowest Curve level with dual airbags, ABS brakes, electric windows, remote central locking and a stereo with all sorts of input options.
ENGINE: 1.2-litre 4-cyl, 60kW and 108Nm
10. Mitsubishi Mirage GL - R149 900
Though Mitsubishi’s Mirage disguises its age well, it’s one of the oldest models here. When we road tested it after its local introduction in 2014, we described it as “basic transport” with “anonymous jellybean styling”, although at this end of the market we know there are buyers looking for exactly that. Two airbags, ABS brakes, central locking, aircon and an audio system are part of the well-stocked deal.
ENGINE: 1.2-litre 3-cyl, 57kW and 100Nm
* Note that as pictures of the base models are not always available, we have in many instances had to substitute with images of higher-specced derivatives.