Cars Consumer Awards: Best Budget Car

Cars Compact Car Header Budget Car

The winners in the first annual Cars.co.za Consumer Awards will be announced at a glittering event on January 14th. With the finish line in sight, these are the three excellent contenders in the Budget Car category that are battling it out for the prestigious prize. Which one should get the trophy?

For more information on the Cars Awards and the judging panel, head to CarsAwards.co.za

What are we looking for?

As the cost of living continues to rise, budgets are becoming tighter. But that doesn't mean you should settle for anything cheap and nasty. Despite the name, a budget car shouldn't skimp on quality, technology and safety. The finalists here all represent excellent value for money. We're looking for the best car that R150 000 can buy.

Which cars are eligible?

Its listed price must not exceed R150 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (June 17, 2015). This price must include all accessories/options deemed as requirements for eligibility in this category.

ABS braking – (if not fitted as standard, the cost of this, together with other required options, must not push the price of the vehicle over R150 000 at the time of voting).

Dual front airbags – (if not fitted as standard, the cost of this, together with other required options, must not push the price of the vehicle over R150 000 at the time of voting).

Service Plan – (if not fitted as standard, the cost of this, together with other required options, must not push the price of the vehicle over R150 000 at the time of voting).

Most important judging factors

Fuel Economy – (based on NEDC combined cycle L/100 km)

Value for money – (comfort features such as air-conditioning, power steering and a sound system etc. score valuable points.)

Practicality – (cabin space, boot space, general accessibility, folding seats etc.)

Brand strength – (preference for established brands with a proven track record; includes peace of mind that comes from a large servicing network, resale value, a strong warranty, length of service plan etc.)

Want to have a say?

We appreciate and recognise the fact that owners are the ultimate judges of cars, as they live with them (and the people that provide the backup) on a daily basis. For that reason, we launched a comprehensive Ownership Satisfaction Survey a few months ago to gain insight into what owners say of their vehicles and after-sales service experiences. By completing this survey, you will have real impact on the Awards programme. This year, voting has already taken place in the individual product categories, but your input can still significantly impact the prestigious Brand of the Year category.

Complete the survey here.  

The Finalists

Suzuki Swift 1,2 GL
Volkswagen Take up!
Renault Sandero Expression

Suzuki Swift 1,2 GL

The Suzuki Swift is a very underrated vehicle that has much going for it. It is a B-segment hatchback which is priced extremely competitively and comes with a whole host of standard features. The perky 1.2-litre engine is able to match most of the turbocharged brigade and aside from delivering a fun drive, is also rather frugal. One of the big positives of the Swift is its build quality and owners speak highly of the overall satisfaction levels. No wonder then that Suzuki is one of South Africa's fastest growing brands.

Do you own a Suzuki Swift? Tell us about your experience to have real input into the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards programme.

Test Team Opinion

“Perhaps the Swift is overlooked by the local market simply because people don’t expect to find such a good car at such a low price point? Unlikely… but whatever the reason, consider this well-kept secret now out.” ­Hannes Oosthuizen

“The Swift feels like it should be in a more expensive category, it’s a really good drive and feels well-built inside and out. It doesn’t skimp on safety and features either.” Ashley Oldfield

“The Suzuki Swift is one of the most underrated cars and it’s really fun to drive. While the boot space may be on the small size, this car is overall very tough to beat.” David Taylor

Volkswagen Take up!

The Volkswagen up! is here because it brings suprising practicality, slick design and that famed Volkswagen build quality to the budget segment. It features a 1.0-litre engine which offers spritely performance and frugal fuel consumption. It may not offer as comprehensive a specification package as the Suzuki Swift, but Volkswagen's options list is affordable meaning you can effortlessly bring it up to top spec and remain under the R150 000 barrier. The major feather in the cap is safety, with the Volkswagen up! having the bonus of side airbags fitted alongside the standard driver/passenger units. Despite it's three-door setup, the cabin is deceptively spacious and the double-tiered boot means it boasts good levels of cargo carrying ability. Volkswagen is one of SA's most-loved brands and the little up! has plenty of backup and support.

Do you own a Volkswagen up!? Tell us about your experience to have real input into the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards programme.

Test Team Opinion

“The up! brings something different to the budget car segment and will appeal to a more youthful buyer. Yet it is not as compromised a product as you may think.” ­Hannes Oosthuizen

“The Volkswagen up! brings a touch of style and funk to the budget car market. It’s good to drive as well.” Ashley Oldfield

“It’s a pity the up! was introduced so late to SA as I believe that its build quality and European compact styling will win it many fans. Quite easily the cutest car in its segment and despite its two-door setup, interior space isn’t cramped.” David Taylor

Renault Sandero Expression

The Sandero offers excellent levels of specification and safety, and it's the only finalist boasting a turbocharged engine. It's also one of the cheapest cars of its size on sale, meaning a bargain is on the cards. There's a comprehensive radio with Bluetooth/Aux/USB connectivity, cruise control with limiter, and on the safety front, ESP and ISOfix mountings come standard. Air conditioning is a surprise omission, but at R10 000, it's a worthwhile option. With five doors and a large boot, it's arguably one of the biggest and most practical cars in its class. Renault has tried its hardest to undo the quality and service issues of the past and offers the longest warranty in this class as well as a service plan thrown in. 

Do you own a Renault Sandero? Tell us about your experience to have real input into the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards programme.

Test Team Opinion

“At the price it is really hard to fault this offering. I particularly like the focus on safety features, the comprehensive audio system and the long warranty.” ­Hannes Oosthuizen

“The Sandero 2 returned as a more modern and solid offering. Despite its keen price, it still manages to maintain excellent levels of standard safety equipment and in-car entertainment.” Ashley Oldfield 

“The Renault Sandero is a well-equipped and spacious city car. Combined with a lengthy and comprehensive warranty, the Sandero is one of the most sensible offerings in the segment.” David Taylor

Read more about these cars and the Budget Car category

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