The Best Compact SUVs You Can Buy In South Africa Under R350 000

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Gear-Tech

In a short space of time, we witnessed the explosion of a segment. We’re dubbing them the budget-friendly compact SUVs—and there are five gems in particular, all debuting under R350 000. We’ll begin with the plucky tyke from France.

1. Renault Kiger

The Kiger makes a visual statement with bold lines and a futuristic frontend 

It can be had as cheaply as under R220k for the non-turbo base model. But for a better example of the breed, you’ll want to shop closer to R300k for the Zen model. This comes with far more tech and the turbocharged version of the 1 litre engine.

The Kiger has two jobs. First, to be a competent rival in this brimming segment, but also to replace the Renault Sandero range that came before it. Hence it’s affordability. Then there’s the fact that it shares its underpinnings with my next entry.

READ MORE: The SA-Bound Alfa Romeo Tonale Is Gorgeous, Inside And Out

2. Nissan Magnite

The Magnite’s turbocharged engine gives this car adequate grunt

By now it’s no surprise that Nissan and Renault have an alliance so here is the Kiger’s nonidentical twin sibling from Japan. Originally conceived as a Datsun SUV, the Magnite does everything the Kiger does. And more in fact—case in point, cupholders, which the French car simply doesn’t have.

It starts at R296 500, and has an identical turbocharged 1 litre engine with 74kW and 160Nm. Between the two of them, I’d lean towards the Nissan, but there’s still a few more options to consider.

3. Suzuki Vitara Brezza

Light and snappy, the Brezza is responsive and easy to drive

Of the five cars on this list, the Vitara Brezza was the first to market. Reminiscent of a full-sized Vitara but at a much more affordable price point, the public fell in love with it almost at once.

Indeed, especially here at the coast, its naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine provides a fun driving experience. It shows that with just 77kW and 136Nm on offer, the lightweight compact SUV has what it takes to keep an adventurous family of four or five on the move.

But nobody was more impressed than Toyota who quickly went about slapping their own badges on it.

READ MORE: Hatchback Versatility Meets SUV Utility with Toyota’s New Corolla Cross

4. Toyota Urban Cruiser

The Brezza with a brand-new badge (and Toyota’s after-sales experience)

Was that cheeky? Good. Because that’s more or less what happened when Toyota launched the Urban Cruiser. Same car, same formula but now at a tiny premium. Fair when you consider the excellent after-sales experience and favourable resale value typical of a Toyota product.

Honestly, these two represent a great ownership experience and are markedly better than most other rides in the compact SUV category.

5. Kia Sonet

Practical and stylish—at this price point, what more could you ask for?

This one is marginally pricier than the others depending on which model you select. On the flipside, it looks and feels bigger and better in every regard. For example, opt for the Kia Sonet 1.5L manual EX model for R336k and you’ll have a well-equipped, handsome compact SUV that feels like half-a-million bucks. They all offer 84Kw/144Nm engines and come with six-speed manuals or a CVT automatic option.

And that’s a wrap on five great compact SUVs to rival the segment champion, the Ford Ecosport. Even that has received a new lease on life thanks to the Black edition, but is a sticker job enough to take on these five new models? In my opinion: no.

READ MORE: 5 Tips for Long Distance Driving to Use On Your Next Road Trip

 Now Take It There

Set these budget rides loose in the wild for the ultimate driving experience 

“Gravel travel has never been this accessible. Just look at the list alongside of five brand new whips under R350 000 that can venture far off the beaten path, and in style. If you’re ready and willing, here’s a photogenic jaunt just two hours from Cape Town.“

Cape Town to Algeria

“Take the N7 north. If you hit the Namibian border you’ve gone way too far. Instead, veer right onto the Niewoudts Pass between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam. Also known as the Cederberg Pass, it joins the Algerian Valley with the southern Cederberg region and will give you the opportunity to get your tyres dirty with corners to reward a driver with a serious rally fetish. Plus your passengers get the benefit of some of the most gorgeous vistas in the land. “

There’s plenty of places to eat along this route, but the Kardoesie Padstal is beloved by all who venture this far up the N7. Have the burger. Have the milkshake, too.

*Words: Calvin Fisher

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