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Seven of the most appealing budget cars launched in the past 12 months

The Suzuki Celerio starts at R174,900.
The Suzuki Celerio starts at R174,900.
Image: Supplied

From family hatchbacks to spacious panel vans and high-riding compact SUVs, here is a look at seven cracking new budget cars that launched in Mzansi over the past 12 months. All are packed with features and not one of them will set you back more than R300,000.

Suzuki Celerio: From R174,900

Built on the Suzuki Heartect platform, the new Celerio (above) is a compact hatchback that offers decent build quality, reasonable boot space (295l) and miserly fuel consumption courtesy its 1.0l, three-cylinder petrol engine with a fuel-saving start/stop function. Suzuki claims the five-speed manual version will sip 4.4l/100km on the combined cycle. ABS is standard across the range as are ISOFIX anchors on the back seats. Spring for the R194,900 GL derivative and you will score niceties such as 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, electrically-adjustable mirrors, front and rear electric windows, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a USB port and remote central locking. 

The Kia Sonet starts at R296,995.
The Kia Sonet starts at R296,995.
Image: Supplied

Kia Sonet: From R296,995

Built in India at Kia's cutting-edge Anantapur plant, the handsome little Sonet is perhaps one of the most affordable ways to garage yourself a compact SUV. Opt for the entry-level LX model — you'll have change from R300,000 — and enjoy a raft of standard goodies including an eight-inch infotainment system (wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatible), a reverse camera, front and rear USB ports, automatic headlamps and electric windows. Power comes courtesy of an 85kW/144Nm 1.5l four-cylinder petrol mill that can be paired to either a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT). While 190mm of ground clearance will help you navigate urban road obstacles, 392l of boot space should suffice for most weekend escapes to the country. 

The Toyota Starlet starts at R226,500.
The Toyota Starlet starts at R226,500.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

Toyota Starlet: From R226,500

The new 2022 Toyota Starlet offers a stiffer chassis, revised suspension and a more potent 1.5l four-cylinder petrol engine making 77kW and 138Nm worth of torque. Besides being better to drive than its predecessor, the second-generation Starlet also scores more points in the looks department thanks to a restyled visage cut with considerably more visual menace. Standard on all model derivatives is a fully automatic air-conditioner, electric windows, a sliding front armrest and a multi-function steering wheel. You also get a touchscreen infotainment system that syncs with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and is connected to four speakers. Three USB ports are standard as is a 12V power socket.

The Renault Triber Express starts at R219,900.
The Renault Triber Express starts at R219,900.
Image: Supplied

Triber Express: From R219,900

Run a small business and looking for a capacious load-lugger for not much money? Then the recently launched Triber Express might be worth partnering up with thanks to its cavernous loading bay that can accommodate a claimed 1,500l worth of cargo and a payload of 542kg. A heavy-duty steel mesh screen helps separate freight from the driver and passenger while standard features include air-conditioning, front power windows and rear park distance control. There's also a digital tachometer with an efficiency gear shift indicator as well as an infotainment system that offers Bluetooth and USB integration.

The Fiat 500 Sport starts at R269,900.
The Fiat 500 Sport starts at R269,900.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Fiat 500 Sport: From R269,900

The Fiat 500 has been around for 16 years and still looks cool thanks to its characterful Italian styling. The local model line-up was in 2021 treated to a refresh, which brought about four new trim levels starting with the entry-level Cult and topping out at the Dolcevita Cabriolet. However, we think the sweet-spot lies with the mid-tier Sport model that offers keen handling and perky performance courtesy of its 0.9l two-cylinder TwinAir petrol motor developing 62kW and 145Nm. Mated to a five-speed manual transmission, it offers a lot of the Abarth driving experience for a fraction of the price. 

The i20 starts at R290,900.
The i20 starts at R290,900.
Image: Supplied

Hyundai i20: From R290,900

Built to take on the venerable Volkswagen Polo, the third-generation Hyundai i20 rocks the family hatchback boat with aggressive styling, generous equipment levels and a range of naturally aspirated and turbocharged petrol engines designed to suit any budget. Under the R300k mark you'll be looking at the 1.2 Motion that packs a 1.2l four-cylinder petrol engine sending 61kW and 115Nm of torque to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. Standard features include an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system (compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), a digital instrument cluster, electric windows, daytime running lights, rear parking sensors and a reverse camera. 

The Nissan Magnite starts at R287,700.
The Nissan Magnite starts at R287,700.
Image: Supplied

Nissan Magnite: From R287,700

While interior build quality could be better, there's no denying that the Nissan Magnite offers superb value for money with standard features that include cruise control, push-button start, tyre pressure monitoring, multifunction steering wheel and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that syncs with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also a reverse camera as well as rear parking sensors. Further sweetening the deal is a 1.0l three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making 74kW and 160Nm of torque. With 205mm of ground clearance you can also traverse gravel roads with confidence. 

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