You have to admit that recently the SA car market has been shaping in a rather incline manner whereby like the rest of the world, the popularity of SUVs has garnered the space and suddenly caught the attention of buyers. We’re seeing new vehicle nameplates that we have never heard of and those we never thought would land in SA. Take for instance Haval. This is a carmaker that was just founded less than 10 years ago and is already making moves in terms of sales and proving that brand loyalty is not the major factor in having a successful venture.
In the last four years, less than 20 unprecedented new models have been introduced in South Africa and that doesn’t sound enough given the number of good cars that already exist or are currently in the testing phase. This had me wondering which cars that we are at present not getting and should be getting because they could fit the bill in our market. Of course, some may not fully meet our requirements but surely, they could be pardoned. Please note that these are cars that were introduced in recent years.
We know that sedans are a dying breed in our market with examples such as the Volkswagen Arteon, Polo Sedan (AW sixth generation) and Hyundai Elantra that have exited quietly. Now we are left with compact executive sedans that cost a fortune. The 2022 Mercedes Benz C-Class will start at R856 080, that’s a bit comical and it is without any options. Some are looking for a premium feeling car and not everyone is prepared to settle for an SUV and that’s where I believe the K5 GT-Line enters the conversation. Hideous is not a word I’d use to describe the styling because it looks stunning. The equipment fitted is brilliant as well with things like a digital instrument cluster, 12-speaker Bose audio system, leather seats, plush interior materials, and various safety assists like Smart Cruise Control and Surround View Monitor. Most reviewers state that it is great to drive and with the 217 kW 2.5L turbocharged engine, it is marvelous. Price wise in SA would be looking at around R500 000, a bargain.
Tesla Model 3
The K5 is popular in the US, so is the Model 3 but it is much, much popular by a mile. Elon Musk’s best-selling electric car with a minimalist exterior and interior design would be a refreshing addition to our market. Despite the substandard build quality, it has been around for a long time and will fly by easily with sales. There has been word since 2019 that Tesla might be introduced soon in SA and we believe that 2022 and 2023 would be great years to land. That’s in line with Audi and Mercedes Benz planning to introduce various electric models since our infrastructure is now fit to accommodate them.
Ford Focus ST & Fiesta ST
It still baffles us that Ford decided not to bring the current Focus and Fiesta, even the performance variants due to the admiration of crossovers and the quality of our fuel. The second reason I’m not exactly in the know of it but that is what they stated. The fourth-generation Focus ST boasts a 2.3-litre turbocharged engine with 276 hp (206 kW) mated to a 6-speed manual and it is also available with a seven-speed automatic transmission, something South Africans have been longing for. The smaller Fiesta ST has a 197 hp (147 kW) turbo 3-cylinder engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox, a nifty package. These cars would be perfect to rival the current Golf 8 GTI and facelifted Polo GTI, as they have in the past.
Volkswagen Golf 8 R Estate
We have the Golf 8 GTI and the Golf 8 R is coming soon, why isn’t there an estate version of the latter for us? I’ll tell you why. South African do not like station wagons/estate cars. There is not even a need for them or even a sense of questioning why they are not available for purchase, apart from petrolheads who desire them. Imagine an even more practical, 235 kW Golf 8 R to use on a school run and as well as taking it to drag races on the weekend, the possibilities are endless. And it would be a perfect alternative to fast SUVs.
Speaking about SUVs, the CX-9 immediately came into mind. Not that it is performance-oriented because it isn’t but for the fact that it would fit well in our market. The Hyundai Palisade recently launched in South Africa and so far, it is receiving positive feedback plus it is priced well. Like the CX-9 it has 7 seats, has four-wheel drive, decent towing capability, it’s spacious and drives well according to reviews. Already the CX-3 and CX-5 have proven that Mazda can provide good SUVs and the CX-9 with its charming charisma can solidify its stature if ever it comes this side.
Now we shift to the budget savvy segment and it’s safe to say that we already have a lot of models, not much space left in it but we can at least squeeze the Versa in. You know it as the Almera and yes, this is the new one and the reason why it is on the list is one, it is a sedan… we need more of those and two, it is a bargain. Challenging the Kia Pegas, the Versa would cost +/- R200 000 if brought to our shores. The car has a TFT LCD touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android, LED lights, Keyless Entry, and some leatherette surfaces in the interior. It’s essentially a Micra Sedan and the Micra has already shown that it has a good engine and a good chassis, shouldn’t be a drag to drive. And did I mention that it looks gorgeous? Because it does.
I am still furious that a car such as the Accord is not for sale locally. It is one of the best, if not the best, sedans in the world. It looks bold, attractive, and sells really well globally. The name dates back to 1976 and it became popular immediately, even today and remains a trusted buy thanks to good old-fashioned Japanese reliability. It was once sold in SA until it got discontinued in 2016 due to the drop in sales but the new one should convince local customers otherwise.
The only version of the i30 we’re getting is the fully-fledged N model. But what about the normal variant? The C-Segment models are experiencing a decline in popularity and Volkswagen hasn’t brought the normal Golf 8 yet, just only the GTI. That could be the reason why Hyundai didn’t bring the i30 and also, the new Astra is rumoured that it won’t come to SA. That’s disappointing because hatchbacks are still very much loved by South Africans. Maybe if car manufacturers bring the newer generations of these hatchbacks, it would revive this segment.
Dodge Challenger and Charger
This sounds like a wild request and one that will never be heard by Stellantis but imagine being able to purchase a 700 hp+ 6.2-litre supercharged V8 muscle car because it seems like the Americans are having a splendid time. We already have the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk with the same engine and it is pretty rapid in pace. Plus, there a two imported Dodge Demons looming in South Africa and the reception that they are receiving has been pretty well. There are right-hand drive Hellcats available and we need Dodge to think about the Southern Hemisphere.
BMW 3 Series Touring and practically every Station Wagon
We have already mentioned the Golf R estate and now this is a plea for car manufacturers to consider bringing wagons. The only brand-new ones we have are the Audi RS6 Avant and the Volvo V90 Cross Country. There are several ones that would be great for the local market such as the BMW M340i xDrive Touring, Volvo V90 R-Design, Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S shooting brake, Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Series Touring and the E63 S Wagon. The introduction of these models could put us in line of receiving the upcoming BMW M3 G80 Touring if it hasn’t been announced for us yet.