Four budget beating hatchbacks for the cost conscious consumer

By Jarryd Neves

The cost of living has become prohibitively expensive for the average South African consumer. Groceries, fuel and daily necessities are starting to push the boundaries of many budgets. To combat this, many families have opted to trade their larger vehicles in for something smaller and more economical.

Known as downsizing, the trend sees larger vehicles – such as saloons and SUVs – swopped in for smaller, more compact alternatives. However, those who are used to larger vehicles are accustomed to the creature comforts and space that come with them.

These four A-segment hatchbacks may be compact, but they boast a comprehensive standard features list, parsimonious fuel economy and most importantly, value for money.

Kia Picanto 1,0 Start

budget hatchbacks
The Kia Picanto Start offers ABS brakes and dual front airbags as standard.

Kia‘s smallest offering is a perennial favourite on the local market, enjoying great popularity with consumers. The 1,0 Start boasts a solidly built cabin, with plenty of standard equipment. You may have to forgo alloy wheels, but the base-model Picanto comes equipped with the important features – ABS brakes and dual front airbags, for example.

ISOFIX child seat mountings are also standard, as is Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning and a two-year/30,000 km service plan. The 1,0-litre, three-cylinder engine may only produce 49 kW and 95 Nm of torque, but it is sufficient for a compact car. Kia claims fuel usage of just 5,0 L/100 km, meaning the Picanto can do approximately 700 km between trips to the petrol station. At R183,995, it offers exceptional value.

Toyota Agya 1,0 

budget hatchbacks
The Agya replaces the Aygo in the local line-up.

The Agya is Toyota SA‘s smallest offering. The range is made up of four models, all utilising the same 1,0 powertrain. Two transmission options are available – a four-speed automatic and a five-speed manual. Both are available with or without an audio system, the omission reducing the price by R3,800 . The pick of the range would be the manual Agya, equipped with an audio system (R182,400).

Like the Picanto, the 1,0-litre powertrain develops just 49 kW, but slightly less torque – just 89 Nm. Two airbags and ABS form part of the extensive features list, with nice-to-haves such as keyless entry and all-round electric windows also making the cut. Toyota claims the Agya sips unleaded at a rate of 4,8 litres/100 km, which is remarkably frugal. The service plan is two services/20,000 km.

Suzuki S-Presso 1,0 GL+

budget hatchbacks
The S-Presso has 180 mm of ground clearance.

The Suzuki S-Presso is currently the cheapest new passenger car money can buy in South Africa. Starting at just R145,900, the Indian-built hatchback offers phenomenal value for money. Under the stubby bonnet sits a delightful 1,0-litre, three-cylinder engine. 50 kW and 90 Nm is all you get, but the lively engine works well with the slick five-speed gearbox and light body.

For a bit more (R150,900) the GL+ offers more features as standard. Like the Agya and Picanto, the S-Presso GL+ offers two front airbags and ABS. Rear park distance control and a reverse camera makes parking the compact Suzuki a doddle. The Japanese car maker claims the S-Presso can 4,9 litres/100 km, placing it between the Agya and Picanto.

Hyundai Atos 1,1 Motion

A five-speed manual is the only available transmission option.

The Hyundai Atos is a massively competent little car. Plenty of standard features festoon the surprisingly capacious interior. An on-board computer, front electric windows and an infotainment system (with Apple CarPlay) are all standard. Like the other three, the Atos has two front airbags and ABS brakes.

The four-cylinder, 1,1-litre engine develops 5o kW and 99 Nm of torque. This is sent to the front wheels via a five-speed gearbox. A service plan is standard, but it is just 1-year/15,000 km. Hyundai claims the Atos uses just 5,7 litres of fuel per 100 km. Only one model – the 1,1 Motion – is available, at R172,900.

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