At the value end of the spectrum, choice is limited. The sad reality is that budget stalwarts the Ford Figo and Volkswagen Vivo are now both the wrong side of R150k, even in base model variants. Many will consider the Renault Sandero, but, call us picky, air-conditioning is a must-have in this age of global warming and the Renault’s R20k jump from naturally ventilated Expression to climactically acceptable Dynamique is a leap too far when the bank is harping on about affordability. We discounted the Chery QQ3 as simply too small for a family, so too the Chevrolet Spark and – by a whisker – the Suzuki Celerio (roomier than it looks). So that leaves these three, two Indian and one Chinese car. The aim was to set aside preconceived notions and assess them on ability, features, livability and affordability. So to it.
The Datsun Go, a Renault/Nissan lovechild conceived in India, is billed as South Africa’s cheapest car and has had some success, despite a patchy safety record. The FAW (an acronym for First Automobile Works) is wholly Chinese, a monster company owned by the government, the V2 a Communist car sent out to conquer the decadent West. That its name suggests a WWII rocket shouldn’t put you off, necessarily. The Bolt is the glamour kid here, Tata’s global warrior, tasked with ‘doing a Kia’ by resetting what the world thinks of both Indian cars and Tata.