Dream cars: What I would do with a R400k budget

Although many young people either don’t have a car, or have a car that is a hand-me-down or on a low budget, we often dream of the day we can get ourselves something special. I have thought about the days when I myself can afford something nice, something that can turn heads, and also has the practicality required for the urban city life. Below I have detailed 3 of the cars I would consider for various reasons as my R400k Dream Car.

The New Mercedes A-Class

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New Mercedes pocket rocket

With a cost of R392 606, this is a luxurious, yet very sporty option to get for your R400k. This new model is a vast improvement looks-wise on the previous model, and also comes with a monster under the bonnet.

The A250 Sport comes with a 2.0l four cylinder engine that generates 155kW (165kW in Sport mode) and 350Nm of torque. This car is a ripper, giving you a whole lot of luxury and sporty-ness in one very good looking shell. With the price being just below the R400k threshold, you get a whole lot of badge for not such a lot, if you were to compare this car to other cars in its class.

In terms of the economy, the car is able to get a fuel consumption of around 6.6l per 100km (claimed by Mercedes), although if I were to own this, I probably would be a bit heavy on the accelerator. But who’s counting when you are unleashing a hot hatch, consumption isn’t the main reason for this car being purchased. However, if you want power and consumption, best you buy the A220 CDI… diesel power, great economy. But that’s another review.

In terms of the speed, this car rockets from 0 to 100km/h in 6.6 seconds. Not bad given that you are driving a car make that is more known for their luxury than brut speed (with the exception of the AMG department).

What sets this car apart from other cars that I will be reviewing is that you get a whole lot of extras standard when you get this top of the range model. So for just under R400k, you get a whole lot of luxury, speed, and class. This is my pick for my money.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

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Golf just keeps churning them out. Wow

The Golf GTI, for a long time, was my ultimate (realistic) dream car. With performance always being up there with the best of its class, and the build quality always being reliable, this was the bench mark for hatch-back vehicles all over the world.

Like the Mercedes above, the golf has a 2.0l engine, powers through the use of a twin-turbo system known as the TSI system. This allows the car to have extra power at both low and high revvs, allowing for smoother acceleration, and less turbo lag.

For a price of R382 800, it is well priced for a very well built, good looking and sporty hatch-back vehicle. Although this car is sometimes regarded as being expensive when it comes to its speed in comparison to other hot-hatches, I don’t believe this is the case. I don’t believe, in my personal opinion, that the other hot-hatches have the same build quality and reputation. From my own experience as a VW Polo Tdi owner, I find that the build quality, service quality, and reliability is top-notch. Noddy badge to Volkswagen.

I know most people that read car blogs are only interested in speed, so here are the specs… The new Golf 7 GTI has 162kW of power, and 350Nm of torque, making this car very similar power-wise to the Mercedes detailed above. This translates to 6.5 seconds to get to the 100km/h mark, which is quite respectable indeed. The claimed fuel consumption is 6.0l per 100 km, but as mentioned in the Mercedes review, this is a very unlikely figure given how strong the gravitational pull of the accelerator pedal is.

What makes me lean more towards the Mercedes is that you get a lot of items/extras included when you buy it, as opposed to the Golf which seems to have a lot of optional extras on the pricelist which seem like they should be included anyway when you buy the car.

On the whole, you cant go wrong with a Volkswagen. The GTI is the hatch that, for me, revolutionised the hot hatch era. Without it, the Mercedes above would not have happened, and it would have forever been included in the mommy-car department. Thank you Volkswagen.

Audi A3 Sportback 1.8l FSI Quattro

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Fast, yet practical

I was originally going to give my 2 cents on the BMW 1 series, however the Audi has caught attention more lately. So my blog, my rules.

This model is not exactly in the same range as the Golf or the Mercedes, given that it has the 1.8l engine as opposed to the 2.0l engines of the former vehicles. However, this car still gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

With an asking price of R370 000, this is the cheapest of the options above, and its not all that much slower.

A friend of mine recently purchased a brand new Audi A1 1.6Tdi, and I know, I know, it’s a bit of girly car for a guy to drive. But that being said, the A1 is actually a very nice comfortable car, with a killer sound system, nice ride, and sleek interior. This is the same with the A3 Sportback, except even more so.

The 4 wheel drive system will give the vehicle better handling when going into corners, as well as in wet or variable conditions. The Quattro system was the innovator when it came to all-wheel drive systems in sedan, and now hatch back, vehicles. It has set the bar very high, with other car manufacturers trying to follow suit.

The car is not as quick as the GTI or A250, taking 6.8 seconds to get to 100km/h. However, with the all-wheel drive system, it would be interesting to have this car compete around corners or on a track. With 132kW and 250Nm of torque, this is the more reasonable, and less crazy of the lot, giving you just enough power, without losing its mind. With a combined travel cycle of 6.6l per 100km, it compares favourably with the hot-hatches above.

Summary

I might be biased towards the Mercedes, given that my family has always been a Merc family, and that the new Merc is a “new” model out on the street, but I think that is where my R400k would go. But if I were to think with my head, rather than my right foot, I would have a hard time deciding between these three cars. They each have their own benefits, pros and cons, and features that make them unique. I would need a three-sided coin to realistically decide which to choose. So when having a tough choice, ask around. Good luck with that.

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What car to get as a first car with a R110k budget?

Once you have passed your learners license, and are planning on getting your South African drivers license the next step would hopefully be to get yourself a car. Obviously everyone has a budget, and this post wont cater for everybody. I will post some more tips and ideas on what you need to think about when buying a new car, and what options there are available. For more car reviews on my blog, look on the right at “What are you looking for” and click “Cars”.

This post look specifically at NEW cars, but I will later put a post on how to buy 2nd hand cars.

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The car above is the Hyandai i10, a small, reliable car that wont cost you an arm and a leg in fuel. On the highway you can average 4.2 litres of fuel per 100km, and you should get around 4.8l/100km on your average day-to-day travel. This is the base model which comes with what you’d expect in a competitive small car market, airconditioning, mp3 player, and electric windows. All new Hyandais come with 5-year/150 000 km warranty to give you piece of mind if any covered components were to break during normal driving.

This is a very convenient and safe vehicle, perfect for anyone looking to save fuel and ultimately money.

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The next option is a very popular option, being the Volkwagen Polo Vivo. This car replaces the now non-existent Citi Golf, and is the entry level Volkswagen vehicle.

Although I am a Polo fan, having driven a Polo Tdi for many years, I am not quite sure what to think of the Vivo. Sure, Volkswagen has a great reputation for quality vehicles and services (I can attest to that), but you dont get that much in the way of extras. For instance, the 1.4l basic Vivo (with only 2 doors) has a starting price of R110,500 but for airconditioning you will have to add another R8,110 onto the price. You also need to add in the mp3 player at a cost of R3,200. It all starts to add up.

Dont let the extras and additional costs take away some of the good points of the Vivo. The car drives very well, and is solid. Volkswagen are generally very good with their services, and the car will likely hold its value well compared to other cars in its class. It’s just the extras that are going to cost you if you are not careful.

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The last car of this post is the Chevvy Spark. This car does infact come in other colours if green is not your favourite (not my favourite either).

The Chevvy starts at R103,400 and comes in a variety of trim and colour options. Chevvy state that the car averages 5.4l/100km, and comes with ABS brakes and 2 airbags to ensure that the car is safe. The car has a 1.2 litre engine, power steering and key operated central locking (which cant be said for all cars in its class).

Out of the cars that I have looked at I like the Chevvy best for its looks, value for money, as well as the extras that you get. The one downside that you get with the base model is that you dont get radio, as its “radio ready”. This isnt too much of an issue though, given that the price is still lower than the competitors. Put a radio/mp3 player in and you are ready to go.

With all new cars, you need to bear in mind how much things like insurance will cost you for each model. Other factors to take note of is that the colour of the car can affect the insurance cost. For instance, my Polo Tdi is black, and has the GTI mag (standard). It looks pretty cool when it’s clean, but since its black it becomes a higher “hi-jack” risk for insurance companies. So I learnt the hard way that black is not always the best. Also, black cars get dirty very easily. Best advice… white. So when choosing a car, perhaps give your insurance company a call to see what the various pricing options are for the cars you are interested in.

These aren’t the only good small cars around, but what I have written in my post is true. Look around, because you can find some awesome little cars with lots of extras for a decent price tag.

My experience of the Chevrolet Sonic

Most people dream of driving a Lambo, McLaren, or Aston Martin, but let’s face it… they quite expensive. So here is a little review of a little affordable car that I quite enjoyed.

I was sent to Joburg (better known by some as Jolburg) on a work assignment for a few weeks. At the airport I had to pick up my rental car, and saw this little car waiting for me in the parking lot. At the time I had never seen this model, and was a little bit skeptical of the car (being a volkswagen driver), but it was mine for 3 weeks. Might as well test it out.

I had the entry model, with a 1.4 litre 74kw engine, and a five speed manual gearbox. The car wasn’t super fast, and compared to my Polo TDi, it didnt have a lot of power. This put me off a bit, as I have become accustomed to the extra power that the diesel provides. That being said, there was a lot to like about the little Chevvy.

It’s a looker, but is it any good…

The car does have quite a sporty look to it, with “angry” headlights headlights giving it the always important (in my mind) look and feel. Not only do the 15 inch alloy wheel look good, but it prevents the unfortunate but frequent occurance of you hub caps gettin nicked. A reality living in South Africa.

The little engine is not fast. But where this engine lacks in accelleration, it makes up for in fun. The exhaust system makes the car sound sporty, and the fact that it is a petrol engine (as opposed to the diesel engine I am used to) you can rev the little engine to higher revs and pretend you are a race driver. The engine is also quite economical, allowing me to average around 6 litres per 100km, which isnt bad considering I wasn’t trying to be all that economical. The build quality of the car is also excellent for a car in this class.

A compact, yet futuristic interior…

The car is very comfortable to drive, and has a very pleasant interior. The heads up display has a digital speedometer, and a racey rev counting which tells you when to shift gears (which I generally ignored, but its nice to have). The overall dashboard is very cool, and compares well with other cars in the same class.

As far as safety is concerned, the car features both driver and passenger side airbags, and a sturdy body which reassured me for any possible mishaps that may happen.

I would recommend this car, based on what you get for your money. Some of the bigger, more German brands seem to have most of the market share based on their reputation, and brand awareness campaigns, but this little car is great. With a starting price of around R162,000 you get a lot for you money.

Maybe not a first car for most new K53 South African drivers, but definately a good, realistic car for young people on the move.

Accountants…

I’ve always tried to fight the stigma of being lame, boring, or uncool due to being an accountant. I profess to being different from the average accountant, and try to reassure people that “actually accountants are pretty cool”.

Well I was up in Johannesburg recently for work, and I was sent the following picture:

IAS 19 (Accounting standard on ‘Employee Benefits’)

Of course I thought it was pretty funny, and I had a good laugh. I thought it was funny enough to show my girlfriend (who is a drama student). You know when you have to explain a joke it loses its appeal.

In the words of Lord Allen Sugar, “That went down like a lead balloon”.

Start of the blogging

I’ve just turned 25, working at an auditing firm and living in Cape Town. That the extent of my life at the moment. Until I make my millions, i can but dream of owning the cars I see driving past my small flat in Bantry Bay.

Ferrari’s, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and Maseratis. All the cars i see driving past my flat seem a million miles away, but I WILL and MUST get there one day.

Although I have a dream of driving and owning these sometime in the future, I still have  passion for the more reasonable, “normal people” cars. This blog is just somewhere where i will be posting my ideas on what cars I recon are great cars.

Some of my posts will be dream cars, but others will be more attainable cars, from first cars to trade up vehicles. I will give you my opinion on what cars I think are great, which cars i dont enjoy, and the occasional dream car i stumble upon.

Feel free to agree or disagree. Just speaking my mind!