A growing number of buyers are looking for a little bit extra from their small hatchbacks, such as a modicum of added ground clearance and eye-catching off-roader inspired kerb appeal. If you're in the market for a new car, here’s how you can get "a lift" while sticking to a budget of R200k.
If you’re looking for something slightly raised because you travel on dirt- or badly maintained roads or just like the "ready-for-action-looks" of a faux-4x4 crossover then we’ve compiled a list of interesting models for you to consider. R200k doesn’t go very far, but thankfully a few manufacturers have got creative with their standard models and given them a "raise".
1. Renault Sandero Stepway R182 900
The Stepway has been the top-seller in the Sandero range on a few occasions. Replete with a 66 kW turbopetrol engine, the Renault is well specified and kitted out with safety essentials such as traction control and ABS. The raised ride height of the Stepway gives it 193 mm of ground clearance, more than enough to traverse a panhandle or hop a kerb.
2. Volkswagen Cross Up! R185 500
Volkswagen’s Up! product line-up was recently expanded with the introduction of multiple new derivatives. The Cross Up! is just one of the additions but, is the only one that adds a touch of extra ground clearance to the city car's packaging. The lift is only 15 mm but thanks to the plastic "outdoorsy" bumpers around the wheel arches, it looks rugged. 16-inch wheels are standard too, adding a bit of extra value to the R185 500 price tag. The Cross Up! has a ground clearance of 162 mm.
3. Toyota Etios Cross R190 800
Toyota added the Cross derivative to its Etios line-up in an apparent attempt to attract more male buyers to its budget-oriented product. The Etios Cross isn’t actually raised over the standard model, but with all the extra cladding it certainly looks more capable at tackling some gravel. In fact, Toyota claims that the Etios was built with extra ground clearance already so it didn’t need an additional raise. With 155 mm ground clearance, it’s still a touch low to be a real crossover.
Read: Toyota Etios Review
4. Mahindra KUV 100 R149 995–R197 995
The Mahindra KUV 100 is a purpose-built crossover hatch. It has just been launched in SA and is available in a range of petrol and diesel models. It's surprisingly spacious inside with plenty of areas to store odds and ends. The ground clearance stands at 170 mm and its high-profile 185/65 14-inch tyres should render it quite competent at negotiating small obstacles.
5. GWM M4 R189 900
The M4 is a reasonable rendition of a crossover hatch. It’s made more to look the part than act it, but the GWM's reasonably equipped and, yes, good looking. Those daytime running lights are standard as are the 16-inch wheels. Taller drivers may struggle to find a good fit behind the wheel as the steering wheel is quite low. There’s good ground clearance (183 mm).
Watch and read: GWM M4 review and video review
But, wait... there's more
Volkswagen Polo Vivo Maxx R200 300
Yes, the Vivo Maxx is R300 over budget (and should therefore not feature in this article), but it deserves an honourable mention, because it's only a bag of groceries over the price limit. The Vivo Maxx is more of a styling exercise than a functional crossover: its ride height is a lowly 130 mm, but the Vivo features 17-inch wheels and a roof rack as standard. The Maxx also comes with the more powerful 1.6-litre petrol engine, making it more (small) family friendly.