2019 was an exceptional year for Mzansi's roads with several debutantes and stalwarts battling for dominance in their segments. But, and we've always said this, there's plenty of excellent metal that flies under the radar too.
Rather than break it up into segments, these are simply cars we've driven this year that stood out for whatever reason – and as such should definitely be under serious consideration for your driveway. And I repeat, these are the road centric cars we've actually driven in 2019.
Best Car Under R200,000
The Hyundai Atos seriously impressed us in a segment that's absolutely congested with offerings. Cheap offerings, some perilously close to being unsafe. The Atos comes in cheaper, is somewhat safer and in general drives well, looks good and ticks all the right boxes. Furthermore, it's become the car we recommend to young buyers, and really old ones too. It comes with a 7 year/200 000km warranty and 1 year/15 000km service plan which is really desirable in an entry level hatch.
Datsun GO – if only for Datsun's continued attempts to turn their safety reputation around with constant improvements to their car.
But what if you need a cheap sedan? Look, if you're just after a three-box sedan that does the job it says on its tin, the Suzuki Ciaz is a great option. B segment money gets you a car that can punch in the C class
This one was easy and has to go to the new BMW 3 Series. Besides being sublime in base form, this chassis will underpin some seriously potent performance machinery in the years to become - as well as become the platform for the slippery 4 Series models. As it stands, sharp looks and dynamic handling comes standard.
We really loved the Mercedes-Benz CLS 400d AMG Line 4Matic. What, you were expecting more budget cars? That's the thing about a great saloon – sometimes they feel special and completely worth their excessive sticker prices. That's how the slippery sedan-cum-coupe felt from the moment we tested our eyes on it and soon thereafter the second we sprung its diesel engine into life. A car we could live with, to the nth.
The C segment hatchbacks are losing ground to their smaller B segment counterparts, and that means the likes of the Polo now trump the Golf. Ironically, it's the T-Cross that we prefer but that's in a whole different segment. But it exists for similar money and that alone has us disqualifying the regular Polo.
And so, we must give it to the Ford Figo. What? Are we mad? No, because while it is a budget car, the cheap as chips Figo felt like the kind of car you'd run happily day in and day out with no fuss. We even managed to grow a bit fond of ours. Which surprised us most of all.
We enjoyed our time with the new turbocharged Nissan Micra and couldn't help wonder why more people don't park the cheerful little hatch in their garages.