Stick to the road with Hennie

By Alwyn Viljoen

Proudly sponsored by Toyota

Toyota SA: Investigating affordable student cars

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Mbali, our real Zulu princess and the biggest petrolhead in the farm office, has been scouring the Internet to find a cheap student car for her niece, Ntombile.

The matriculant has been getting high marks in her exams and plans to study for a civil engineering degree. To help their clever niece, Mbali’s mom – the formidable matriarch of the extended family – had called a meeting to start a new tradition.

Instead of borrowing lots of money for her funeral one day, she wanted the family to gather a deposit and borrow that money now, so they could buy a car for Ntombile.

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Mbali said this caused an uproar among the more conservative uncles, but all the aunts had agreed with Mbali’s mom. Those stokvel queens said they would all rest much happier as ancestors in cheaper coffins if they passed on knowing they had invested in their children’s education, instead of wasting money on a lavish funeral.

“Tjôô! I can tell you, the uncles did not like that! But then my mom said the ancestors told her we must respect the living by spending as much on birthday cakes as on coffins, and that stopped the arguing,” Mbali said.

The Automark stamp of approval

Gert, the farm mechanic, told Mbali to look for a cheap hatchback as it offered four seats, and with the rear seats folded down, the loading space of a half-ton bakkie with a permanent canopy. I just warned Mbali about the voetstoots clause on private or auction sales.

“Look for a car listed by a dealer that is part of Toyota’s Automark certified used car programme,” I said and explained that all certified cars sold under the Automark promise have to pass a long checklist and come with a seven-day exchange plan.

Gert added that Toyota models younger than four years with less than 100 000km on the odo, also come with a one-year or 50 000km warranty under the Automark programme.

Safety first

Mbali said her clever niece didn’t care much about cars, as long as it had a frugal engine and high road clearance. But as responsible aunt, she would be adding passive safety features such as crumple zones and side impact bars to her search list.

Gert said the most overlooked feature in choosing a car was the steel the frame was pressed from. “On today’s congested roads, you want to sit in a cage made from high tensile steel.

“Kia and Hyundai used to lead the pack in such steel, but Japanese brands such as Suzuki and Toyota have been quick to catch up with the latest metallurgy. Not only because high tensile steel makes for safer cabins, but less steel is needed, making the car’s weight much lighter and the carbon footprint smaller.”

Weigh up your options

Mbali smiled broadly at this news. “As it happens, I’m looking at a Toyota Starlet. But what about these new Chinese hatches? They look very nice at the price.”

“I would,” said Gert.

“I wouldn’t,” I said. “The main advantage of Toyota versus the Chinese brands is that Toyota has the most dealerships for after sales service and great parts availability.”

“Why don’t you just sell your Avanza to Ntombile?” Gert asked Mbali.

“You can honestly say it has only ever been driven by one old lady,” I added.

“I’m not that old!” retorted Mbali. “But that is a good idea. The family can pay me to sell the Avanza to Ntombile, and I can look for a good used car for myself instead.”

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