The 2024 Car Buying Guide: 12 Cars For Every Personality Type

by | Mar 15, 2024 | Gear-Tech

Not sure where to start with your car buying journey? Let motoring journalist Calvin Fisher be your navigator with this 2024 car buying guide.

The State Of Cars In 2024

Chances are you grew up (and were possibly conceived) in the back of a sedan. Did I get that wrong? Maybe a hatchback then, or a kombi bus. My point is that a few decades ago, your choice in whip was limited to just a few body styles as opposed to the absolute smorgasbord of options on display on our roads today; from four-door coupes to sporty SUVs—even vans have made a comeback.

Let’s face it: if you need seating for seven, your only limit is budget. But we’ve fully evolved as a species from Human Beings to Human Doings with our lifestyles fully determining our four-wheeled counterparts. So, with that in mind, here are six groovy rides that pair sweetly with your identity—plus six affordable alternatives.

READ MORE: The Best Luxury Electric Cars To Check Out

1. Cars For The Hype Beast

You want something big to flex with—it has mega presence, is overqualified at everything it does and is generally desirable. If so, there’s a wealth of options in the premium SUV segment. For me it’s a no-brainer—in a world where Porsche and Lamborghini now make off-roaders, simply choose their more affordable Audi sibling or go for the BMW IX.

Car Buying Guide Audi Q8

Audi Q8

This is pretty much the recipe that the Ingolstadt marque used with their R8. Where that car shared its mechanicals with the Lamborghini Gallardo, the Q8 performs a similar feat with the Urus and Porsche Cayenne. It does so for a substantially smaller sticker price but loses nothing in impact. It looks menacing, and depending on which powertrain you choose, more than matches them in performance. Get one in black, be obnoxious. Enjoy.

Car Buying Guide BMW IX


Same, same, but different. The Bavarian manufacturer remains Audi’s most important rival, but in the IX, BMW has quite the EV on its hands. Being electric means it has all the torque to challenge the burly Audi, but with a more delicate aesthetic and luxuriant cabin. This one feels stately in comparison—and has the perk of being electrically powered —so more affordable in the long run. But is ultimately too soft for first place.

2. Cars For The Non-Compensator 

Small is a choice. Europe gets this right, and so does Japan. Dotted along the roads of fashionable Metropolises such as Paris, Rome and Tokyo—you’ll find rows and rows of little hatchbacks and sedans and not the large SUVs and saloons you’d perhaps associate with the wealthy and the affluent.

For decades, celebrities too have appreciated a characterful little car, such as the Mini Cooper and VW Beetle. If they’re good enough for Steve McQueen and Heidi Klum, they’ll do for you. They’re practical, parkable and, in 2024, available with just about any kind of badge. And a few still are powered by electricity, but more about that later.

Car Buying Guide Fiat 500

Fiat 500

Yes, that little Italian tyke. And no, your street cred won’t be revoked; here’s a friendly reminder that Clint Eastwood had one. Seek out a fiery Abarth derivative however, and you’ll even have some enviable performance to flex.

Car Buying Guide Hyundai Grand I10

Hyundai Grand i10

Comfy, well-appointed and an enviable after-sales experience really makes it shine. You might not fall in love with this one, but it’ll take good care of you.

READ MORE: 8 R&R Local Getaways You Need To Check Out

3. Cars For The City Slicker

Let’s face it. You’ve seen the mountain, you’re aware of the gravel roads that lead to it, but you’re just not interested. Your domain is wholly urban, paved in asphalt and punctuated with traffic lights as you visit night spots, dine at the hippest cafés and indulge in the occasional indoor rock climbing. Or something equally interesting, maybe it involves tanning beds, gin pairing or podcasts—I’m not sure. Either way, your car has even less dirt road ambition than you do so forget knobbly tyres and gracious ground clearance, you require wheels with a svelte profile and a firm, purposeful ride. Another non-negotiable: it needs to look dope under the lights. Size is not a factor, but the fuel source is.

Car Buying Guide Mini Cooper SE

Mini Cooper SE 

Wait. What? Bear with me as I extol the virtues of electrification in the confines of city life. If your commute is mostly limited to the CBD, there’s no real reason to visit the pumps ever again. The Cooper SE has 160kW at its disposal, good for a rapid 6.7 secs to 100kph and can cover around 380km on a single charge. Depending on the speed of your charger, you can top it up in anywhere between three to eight hours. Plus, it’s a cool car, just think about it—Mr. Bean had one.

car buying guide gem ora cat

GWM Ora Cat

The what what? Meet the Ora, the first affordable EV from China and at R686 950 we reckon it’s about to make a dent in SA… For all the reasons above.

READ MORE: Need a Break? Try These Affordable Weekend Activities Near Your City

4. Cars For The Adventurist

You’ve also seen the mountain and, God help you, you’re going to live on the damn thing. You’re a hiker, mountain biker or both. You own a kayak, a surfboard and a contraption that gets you into the sky or underwater —look, we don’t know how you get your kicks exactly, but chances are it involves getting your tyres dirty to do it. Unfortunately, you’re treading into the most oversubscribed segments of them all from SUVs, crossovers, double-cab pickups and more. We’re talking full-on 4x4s, soft- roaders and, hell, there are sedans with all-wheel-drive that will conquer the Sani Pass now. But we reckon we’ve got two strong contenders with one edging out the other by the narrowest of margins.

car buying guide Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford Ranger Raptor

Whilst several off-roaders will get you through the trail on time, this one will make smashing your way up the mountain feel like the reason you left home to begin with. The Raptor has sportscar performance underpinned by an articulating masterclass of a chassis—with the added perk of a load bay hungry for jet skis, quadbikes… anything it can swallow.

Car Buying Guide Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki Jimny 5-Door

This one comes in at half the price and is half the size but it’s fully capable. The plucky Japanese 4×4 that thinks it can, does it in style, and now with two more doors so you can actually take more than one person onto the trails with you. It also means more packing space for gear, tents—anything your lifestyle can throw at it. Oddly, it’s one of the few cars on this list that looks as comfy in the city as it does in the mud, thanks to its compact dimensions and loveable puppy-like aesthetics. 

READ MORE: 5 Tips for Long Distance Driving

5. Cars For The Family Man

Five seats are no longer cutting it. You’ve got football games to get to, errands to run and cousins to collect. Sometimes dad life can be such a pain but thankfully just about every car manufacturer has your back with that much-desired third row of seats.

It’s in everything from the Toyota Fortuner to the Honda BR-V to the Hyundai Palisade and the Land Rover Defender. So, they’re not all Ubers, and that’s a good thing.

Car Buying Guide Kia Carnival

Kia Carnival

The Carnival is a proper jol, with seating for seven or eight depending on which model you prefer. The flagship model is a million-Rand bus with a premium cabin featuring rafts of tech, toys and high levels of safety that borders on being semi-autonomous. Few cars in the land can challenge the Carnival for extended road trips in terms of comfort and space. In short, returning the Carnival after testing was a sad day.

Car Buying Guide Suzuki XL6

Suzuki XL6

Hear me out: at about a third of the sticker price of the Carnival resides the Suzuki XL6. It shares quite a bit of mechanicals and a body panel or two with its unsexy Ertiga sibling. However, it’s miles more appealing. Instead of that car’s seven-seat configuration, the XL6 boasts a pair of captain’s seats in the middle row bringing the tally to six pews. More elbow room, and space in general. 

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

6. Cars For The Speed Freak

Performance cars have been dominated by automatic gearboxes lately —with their blistering shifts and straight-line advantage. So I’ll warn you now and admit I’ve found a pair of high-performance darlings that require you to row your own gears since—when it comes to sheer stirring of viscera—nothing comes close to the experience.

car buying guide Lotus Emira 

Lotus Emira 

The Emira drips curb presence out of every pore, vent and intake with its Ferrari-like styling—a clue to the mid-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive. My test unit was blue, powered by a 300kW Toyota V6 and, at R2.5 million, was hardly a bargain. Make no mistake there are faster cars, cheaper than this and a Porsche 911 has it beat in several departments. But a Lotus is a special kind of machine, a throwback to a time when cars were light and nimble. The fact that it’ll do zero to one hundred in just over 4 seconds tells half the story. The raised hairs on the back of my neck tell the rest. 

Car Buying Guide Toyota Yaris GR

Toyota Yaris GR

It features half the amount of cylinders but is less than a third of the price of the Emira. Also, it’s only down a hundred or so fewer kilowatts but gains a second drive axle, making it 4-wheel drive. No, not like a family sedan. Like a world rally race car.

Words By Calvin Fisher

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