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Forever young!

Entry-level cars, Hyundai Grand i10; Kia Picanto; Toyota Starlet; Kia Pegas; Citroen C3

By Thami Masemola on 18 Jun 2021
Forever young, I wanna be forever young! Ah, the immortal lyrics of Alphaville. Of course as human beings we know very well that staying forever young is impossible for us, and yet feeling young is absolutely attainable. With June being our Youth Month in this country, what better way to capture that feeling and bottle it up, than to go after, or at least dream about cars that give us those feelings. Cars in general have always represented freedom and no one desires freedom more than the youth.
Sports cars are the obvious top-of-mind choices because they offer pure performance without the compromise of unnecessary weight. Mention the Mazda MX-5 and all car enthusiasts perk up. Not the most powerful out there, it still represents affordable, fun, spirited and real driving enjoyment. With the top down it simply opens up all kinds of possibilities. The Porsche 718 Spyder sits at the other end of this spectrum, with a powerful engine, two seats and a soft top. Listen to the engine roar and watch that hair blow back!
South Africans are obsessed with hot hatches. We enjoy the thrill, versatility and best of all, accessibility of a good hot hatch. They combine performance with practicality, something we deeply appreciate. Leader of this pack is the indomitable Golf GTI, now in its 8th itineration. Yes, prices have moved on, but if there is one car that looks amazing on everyone, it’s the GTI. From 18 to 80 year olds, nobody is immune. The younger Polo GTI is almost as effective too, for the buyer on a budget.
Toyota recently returned to the hot hatch fore with the new GR Yaris, a peppery little number that will get your entire circulation erupting, thanks to a small turbo engine and all-wheel-drive. It is absolutely super. We recently drove the new BMW M3 and nothing spells adrenaline like M3 does. Highly recommended.
For the truly young and young-at-heart who are in the market, there are suitable choices, although not exactly performance-oriented. At entry-level we see a lot of activity as buyers either buy-down from bigger, more expensive models, or enter the market for the first time. Here is what we would recommend for this particular person.

Hyundai Grand i10

The little Hyundai is a favourite among South Africans and can be seen zipping around the country in all sorts of places, including suburbs, schools, freeways and small gravel roads. An attractive-looking proposition, the Grand i10 is suitable for small families with an eye for style, but not too demanding on boot space. Because it carries small engines (49kW and 61kW), it does not offer much acceleration or overtaking excitement. But it is frugal and visits to the pumps will be few and far between. Hyundai has also fitted the car with plenty of nice features like touch screen infotainment, air conditioning and ABS brakes among others.

Kia Picanto

Kia’s best-selling model is still a popular figure with the buying public. The reasons thereof are pretty clear; price, size and performance. Price is obviously not the lowest in the country; there are definitely cheaper cars. However, when taking into consideration what is being offered, price becomes attractive, even at a base of about R188 000 today. Size matters of course, and the compact nature of the Picanto means it is easy to park (a key consideration for the target market) and does not take up too much space, even when one lives in a confined area. In this case performance does not necessarily mean fast. The tiny 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre engines make 49kW and 61kW respectively. They rev well and where they excel is in fuel consumption, which barely registers over 6 litres per 100km on average. The other selling point is that the Picanto really feels good inside, like a real quality product.

Toyota Starlet

The Toyota Starlet is based on the Suzuki Baleno, which has not been selling well in this country. Enter Toyota and suddenly that car is moving units. For example, in May 2021 the Starlet sold 651 units, one of the highest figures in the local Passenger segment. That is the power that is Toyota. Starlet replaces the smaller Etios and offers buyers a bigger (296 litres of boot space), better-equipped car at a reasonable price. The same 1.3-litre engine with 68kW and 130Nm runs through the range, paired to either a manual or an automatic transmission.

Kia Pegas

Kia is doing something quite unusual in this day and age; betting on a sedan. You will have noticed how few these types of vehicles are lately, mainly confined to the e-hailing taxi services now. The brand reckons there is still a good market for the sedan, hence the arrival of the new Pegas. Boasting 475 litres of boot space and a 1.4-litre naturally aspirated engine producing 69kW and 132Nm in manual or automatic, the Pegas is counting on the entry-level market that already has life going; job, partner, possibly a young family too. Having driven it in varying road conditions we can tell you that Pegas is no slouch. It is also well-specified, with features like a touch screen infotainment system coming standard across the range.

Citroen C3

The new face of French chic. That’s the Citroen C3 payoff line. South Africans used to love French cars, especially Citroen. Then the company pulled out of the country, returned, made a splash, kept quiet…and now it’s back under the brand umbrella of Stellantis. According to its local CEO, Citroen has the full backing of its European HQ and is here to stay. We certainly hope so, because their cars are really amazing.
Take this C3 for instance, seen here in its updated guise. A top hatch with looks to thrill, high quality build materials and comfort levels of a bigger car. They have kept the side air bumps not only for design aesthetics but for protection against minor body scratches too. Clever. The C3 is packed with all sorts of lovely things, including LED lights (front and rear), 16-inch wheels, an attractive colour pallet and comprehensive safety systems. Power comes from a 1.2-litre turbo worth 81kW (60kW if you choose to forgo the turbo), and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Compact, chic and fun to drive, the new C3 begs for attention.

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