2017 Winners

Budget City Car under R110k

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The Kia brand has certainly come a very long way in South Africa. Their vehicle range is fantastic and the quality of their models can now compete head on with the best in their respective categories. Their vehicles also come with fantastic warranty and maintenance plans. Our little Kia Picanto not only impressed in these areas, but its overall competence exceeded expectations by far.

The storage space and quality of the Picanto interior is impressive at the price, as is ride comfort. The Picanto’s drivetrain is the star of the show. The clutch is easy and light to operate, with the bite point at exactly the right place. Overall, the Kia Picanto’s highlights are good fuel economy, fantastic drivetrain, reliability, quality, and a comprehensive warranty. As it lacks ABS braking and only comes equipped with a driver side airbag, the Picanto’s negatives are limited standard equipment and safety features. Overall, the Kia Picanto 1.0LS offers a certain kind of upmarket feel at a very competitive price.

Light Hatchback under R140k

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Although the Polo Vivo has been around for some time, it is still South Africa’s number one selling new passenger vehicle. On the used car market, it performs equally well and due to high levels of demand.

The engine technology is quite old on the Vivo and thus the car has the least amount of power of some of the other vehicles in its category, although torque figures are up there with the best.

The old trusted 8-valve engine delivers only 55kW of maximum power and comes accompanied by a healthy 132Nm of torque. With its 8-valve configuration, the Vivo is no high-revver, but on the upside, the engine pulls strong from low engine speeds and due to closely stacked gear ratios.

The 0-100km/h dash will take around 12.9-seconds. A closer look under the bonnet reveals a very tidy engine bay and all the wiring and important plumbing still appear like new. Due to the older nature of the engine it probably does not appear tidy.

Hatchback under R260k

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Very few cars have the classless appeal of the Volkswagen Golf. The Golf has always been a vehicle that ages well and promises excellent levels of quality and overall competence at the price. Yes, you will have to pay a bit of a premium for a Golf, but in at the end of it all, it's a solid buy whichever way you look at it.

This 2015-model is the seventh-generation of Golf and VW has managed to come up with a car that's not only as multi-talented as its predecessors, but which improves on them significantly.

For starters, the low-capacity 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine punches far above its weight in terms of performance, as well as returning impressive fuel efficiency. 92 Kilowatts of power might not sound much, but coupled to an impressive 200Nm of maximum torque, this Golf TSI delivers an effortless driving experience.

Moving to the interior of the Golf you immediately notice that the lay-out is rather plain and simple, but with an upmarket quality feel.

Safety features include stability control, ABS braking with EBD and front, side and curtain airbags. The brakes on our 2015-model seemed perfect, with a nice progressive feeling on the pedal. No vibrations or shudders were noticed at all. For all this, there is of course a price to pay - and although the Golf is a little more expensive to buy than some of its rivals, it's an exceptionally well-rounded vehicle that not only ages well, but will also retain its value well in the long run.

Cross-Over between R200-300k

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With the ever-increasing popularity of crossover vehicles in South Africa and even the rest of the world, this sector is now one of the most important for manufacturers. It’s is very clear to see that Mazda has certainly put a lot of effort behind the design of the Mazda CX3.

The CX3 comes with Mazda’s 2.0-litre 16-valve Skyactive petrol engine, which is also found in the Mazda 3 and bigger CX5 models. The CX3 goes from 0-100km/h dash takes 9.5-seconds, one of the only vehicles in its category to break the 10-second barrier. The automatic gearbox is tuned to maximise efficiency and therefore the Mazda returns impressive fuel economy regarding its normally aspirated petrol status, with a quoted figure of just 6.1-litres per 100km.

The automatic gearbox also offers a sport mode that alters throttle response and shifting time, while you can always opt to change manually with the paddle shifters situated behind the steering wheel. Overall the engine proved smooth and stays well composed even at higher engine revolutions.

Entry Level SUV under R325k

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The Toyota RAV4 has established itself as one of the favourites on the local SUV market and consistently sells over 400 units per month. It was first launched in 1994 and this is the fourth generation, introduced locally in 2013.

In terms of styling, the RAV4 appears modern and dynamic. This vehicle looks more edgy and grown-up what you might expect. On the down side, it only offers seating for 5 though.

Under the bonnet of this specific RAV4 is a 1 987 cc, 16-valve petrol engine that develops 107 kW and 187 Nm of peak torque. The RAV4 is positioned as more of a funky urban SUV.

Worth mentioning is the fact that the Dual VVT-I (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent) clearly has a positive effect on both power output and fuel consumption. The latter is 7.6 litres/100 km, which isn’t great compared to other vehicles in this category but isn’t bad for a vehicle with CVT.

The engine is quite perky and willing and mated to the CVT transmission it is very well suited to city driving. It’s a predictable performer and is a car that is rearing to go.

Medium-Sized Luxury Saloons under R475k

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The latest C-Class is much more dynamic and attractive than any of its predecessors, but retaining its core values of safety, comfort, quality, aesthetic appeal, individuality and value retention. The C220 Bluetec is the entry-level diesel Mercedes-Benz in the C-Class range.

At the heart of the C220 you’ll find a turbocharged 2.2-litre 4-cylinder diesel engine. With 125kW of maximum power and a flat torque peak of 400Nm available from only 1 400r/min, the C220 can reach a top speed of 235km/h and complete the 0-100 km/h dash in just 7.4-seconds.

This is a beautifully mannered diesel, easy to use in town, responsive on the road and clean running. This Bluetec also has an extra filler cap ‘’adblue” where clean driving chemicals can be added to ensure exhaust emissions are reduced even further. With all the attributes of quality, durability, resale value and style that we have come to expect from Mercedes-Benz still well and truly intact with the C220.

Large Luxury SUVs under R700k

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The GLC is a medium sized SUV with a difference. With this car, you can expect to jump in and have your nostrils filled with that alluring new-car smell. With only 24 000kms on the clock, one would expect a Mercedes Benz to be solid mechanically. The GLC is that and more.

The 2.1-litre turbo diesel shoves this SUV along with grin inducing pace. Mercedes Benz diesel engines, but it certainly isn’t noisy or agricultural. This is coupled with a slick 9-speed automatic gearbox that delivers fantastic fuel consumption if driven maturely. MB claims a figure of 5.5-litres/100km. With 500Nm of torque available under your right foot, however, it would be difficult to be frugal with the GLC.

You’d just want to welly it away from every traffic light. Should you choose to indulge yourself in that kind of fun, you’d sprint to 100km/h in just 7.6 seconds. Impressive for a 2.1-litre, 1,8-ton car.

Double Cab Bakkies 4x2

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The Ford Ranger holds the enviable title as the bakkie that knocked the Hilux off its seemingly impregnable thrown. That didn’t happen overnight or by accident. It happened because this locally produced bakkie is a world-class piece of kit. It has become very desirable.

Performance Saloons/Hatchbacks

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When launched back in 2014 the Volkswagen Golf R was the most powerful Golf Volkswagen have ever produced. This vehicle has proven itself over the years to be a popular choice for hot hatch enthusiasts that not only loves going fast, but also enjoys a comfortable, effortless driving experience. Thus, it’s also interesting that the Golf R has been one of the hot hatches that retains its value the best.

Obviously, we must start at the most important component of the VW Golf R, it’s heart. Keeping this Golf R alive is its 2-litre 16-valve FSI turbocharged powerplant, good for 206 Kilowatts of maximum power and 380Nm of torque.

With a nice flat power and torque curve you will immediately notice that this Golf pulls strongly from low engine speeds and unlike many hot hatches on offer in this sector of the market there is hardly any turbo lag to speak off. This ensures that the engine can extract the most performance out of this package, giving the Golf R the potential to really punch above its weight. The 0-100km/h dash will take just 5-seconds and naturally the top speed comes limited at 250km/h. Combine the fact that this super hatch will drink only 6.9-litres of fuel per 100km and its clear that the Golf R offers buyers quite a versatile package for the price.