General

SEE | 4 underrated family cars with good value for money and good fuel economy

city car, celerio

• Petrol prices will soon move towards R27 per litre.
• Family cars come in all shapes and sizes, depending on a driver’s needs.
• Here are four cars that most consumers wouldn’t normally think of when looking at cars to buy.


Everyone knows that bakkies and SUVs are the best choice for the vehicles South Africans love most. They are the ones that we all want to possess at some point in our lives. But there are so many cars that are overlooked and serve as great purposes for the average family.

What is a good car for my family? It should be economical with excellent fuel economy – this is probably at the top of everyone’s list regardless of the vehicle you are considering buying. The following is good dynamics; it should have plenty of power for highway driving, the daily school run, and the occasional weekend getaway. And then there is space; the boot should be big enough to carry a hefty load and enough of all the little girl’s stuff.

READ | 4 budget cars that will cost you less than R1,000 to fill once the petrol reaches R27 per litre

I recently drove four cars that are not normally in the spotlight when consumers consider buying a new car. But these four choices tick most of the boxes I need to check when looking at a vehicle. And while they are all very different, there is something for everyone on this short list.

Suzuki Celerio

motorcycle press

Suzuki Celerio

The Japanese automaker is doing well, as they surpassed SA’s leading automaker Toyota’s sales in May. Despite the local Toyota factory now being closed for two months since the devastating KZN flooding, Suzuki takes the credit for consistently good numbers every month. The Celerio is one of the brand’s good sellers; In May, 178 units were taken off the showroom floors.

It’s such a good package, with prices starting from R174 900 for the 1.0-litre GA manual model and up to R209 900 for the top model GL AMT.

Under the hood is a 1.0-litre Dualjet engine mated to a five-speed manual or automatic manual transmission (AMT). Suzuki claims a combined fuel consumption of 4.2 litres/100 km. While fuel readings are always based on near-perfect European driving conditions, I have to say my readings weren’t far off – even with the air con on warmer days. After a full week of driving, more than a quarter tank of fuel was left when the car left our test garage. Our reading was 4.7 litres/100 km on a good day and 4.9 liters with daily commute on the highway.

It’s also roomy in the back, and even in the trunk. It is a spirited car and surprisingly agile behind the wheel. But what surprised me the most, besides the high fuel consumption, was the amount of active and passive safety features that come with it. The AMT model features dual front airbags, an automatic engine stop/start system, an Electronic Stability Program (ESP), rear parking sensors and even slope control.


Mitsubishi ASX

Another Japanese automaker is flying under the radar in South Africa for some reason. And I always wonder why, because Mitsubishi is known for building high quality vehicles. Their dealer footprint may be small, but their name carries a legacy that one cannot deny.

The Mitsubishi ASX only has a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine in the local range. We tested the entry-level ES five-speed manual; it delivers 110 kW and 197 Nm. It is a car for a niche market or someone who is not looking for the usual like the Ford EcoSport or Haval Jolion.

2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES

2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES

quickpic

It has a solid build and is more than enthusiastic on the road no matter the driving conditions, be it in heavy traffic or on free flowing public roads. My average fuel consumption for the week of the test gave me a reading of 7.3 litres/100 km, while my colleague Pritesh Ruthun reached 8.0 litres/100 km in Johannesburg. He also said: “The ASX is one of the most reliable cars Mitsubishi has ever made”. And I usually agree with this.

Priced at R371 995the ASX is quite loaded with standard equipment, including three airbags, power windows and mirrors, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, hill start assist, cruise control, active stability and traction control systems, keyless entry and an engine start button.

Mahindra XUV300

A few years ago, Mahindra entered our local market as an Indian car manufacturer, and most people didn’t quite grasp the brand. Since then, Mahindra’s sales growth has grown so rigorously that the brand has had to open several dealerships in record time, and they are constantly expanding their dealer network.

It has taken a while to get here due to the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on global automotive supplies for many brands, but the XUV300 is a special gem in the Mahindra stable. It was relaunched earlier in 2022 after its 2019 debut and is the first vehicle in Africa to achieve a five-star safety rating in the NCAP global crash test. We drove the top-of-the-range 1.5-litre turbo diesel in W8 trim – which is also available on the 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine. Coupled to a six-speed manual transmission, the XUV300 delivers 86 kW and 300 Nm and offers excellent fuel economy that means you don’t need to refuel as often.

It is also packed with standard features such as Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), hill-hold assist, a panic braking system, a sunroof, seven airbags and other active and passive safety features.

Mahindra estimates the fuel reading is 4.8 litres/100km in perfect driving conditions but I managed to get an average reading of 5.6 litres/100km which is pretty good anyway.

The price for this model is R336 999† With fuel prices soon moving towards R30 per litre, this is a good choice if you are looking for something reliable and useful in terms of monthly fuel budget.

Mahindra XUV300

2022 Mahindra XUV300

quickpic

Volvo XC40

The Volvo XC40 SUV is probably the most premium on the list and of course the most expensive. But it has a lot to offer as a family SUV. In addition to the high-quality materials and good looks, it is one of those cars that you really have to get to know and get used to. Just like a married couple – you have to know each other well to make the most of your nature.

Fuel consumption is a good example of this. Drive through the city or on the daily school trip, and you will see your range decrease, as consumption is usually on the higher end of the scale – yes, even in Comfort mode. However, the engine has a stop/start function, so this helps. Also make sure to use Eco mode and expect to see readings of around 8.5 litres/100km, which isn’t bad for a mid-sized SUV.

The trick is to drive conservatively; easy on the accelerator and soft braking. Cruising at lower speeds will of course also help keep the readings low.

So why would I put this down as a fuel-efficient vehicle, you might ask? Put the XC40 on the highway, and this is where the car excels. Fuel consumption may only be 7.9 litres/100 km, but the longer you stay at a steady speed, the vehicle will give you more range, and you’ll actually see that number increase and drive further. This is certainly a car suitable for extended daily commutes in heavy traffic and would work best for someone who may live quite a distance from work or need to be on the road a lot.

Volvo XC40

2021 Volvo XC40 T4 Inscription

Wheels24 Cayne Philander / Eighty Photography

It is also packed with standard features and offers several riding modes. There’s keyless entry and an auto-powered tailgate, and it’s incredibly comfortable and roomy.

The price tag may seem steep, but this is a great family car if you’re looking for something long-term or for retirement. And with all the standard features already included in the price, it’s definitely value for money.

Pricing for the XC40 range starts from R673 600.