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Faced with downsizing from large and sophisticated cars to counter expensive vehicle prices and fuel costs? Don’t fret, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean nasty. Budget hatchbacks can be pumped full of luxury items normally found in expensive brands that cost a million and above. Here are five hatchbacks that can sort you out whether you are looking for luxury, genuine sporting ability, or both, but importantly on a budget.
Fiat’s sporting subsidiary Abarth has a history of churning out special models of the cutesy 500, making for truly cool but eye-wateringly expensive special editions. In recent times they have marketed the carbon-fibre heavy 695 Biposto, which commanded a staggering R880,000, but now the most prized model is the 595 Monster Energy Yamaha cabriolet. It has voice control and an electric-sliding soft-top roof, which aren’t the top-notch opulence items, but it comes with a 1.4T four-cylinder engine with 121kW/230Nm and adaptive sports suspension. It’s about chic city travels with historic street-cred and an above- average shove and agility for R509,900.
Audi makes no bones about its premium status, and no less is expected from any product that bears the four rings. The entry-level A1 Sportback is now larger, but it shares most of its skeleton and hardware with the Volkswagen Polo. Opting to configure it in Python yellow paint for the range-topping A1 40TFSI S line, and which costs R576, 200 as standard, we raided the options list with gay abandon, ticking off leather seats, the Audi Phone box, a special steering wheel, plus more to arrive at a sticker price of R727,000. Boasting 147kW, it’s a fine mix of class, technology, performance and fuel parsimony.
Mini Cooper SE Hatch
The Mini Cooper is a legend in the premium tot sector. The cheapest version already asks a solid R400,000, and the cost price juggernaut is the fully electric Mini SE three-door that costs R726,300. It uses zero fossil fuels and has electrifying acceleration. We opted for the Resolute Edition, a special range styled with green paint and contrasting white roof. Eschewing even this spec for the optional Enigmatic black paint (R4,500), multitone roof blue (R13,500) and roulette two-tone alloy wheels for R2,200, our shopping spree ended at R775,800, which isn’t too painful but leaves you with a smart-looking, luxuriously specified and zero-emissions hatchback.
Toyota Yaris GR 1.6T GR-Four Rally
The Toyota Yaris GR is a special tyke. Developed from the forests of the World Rally Championship stages, it’s powered by a three-cylinder engine that outputs 198kW and 360Nm driving an adjustable AWD system. The 0-100km/h time is 5.5 secs and a top speed of 230km/h, so it’s quite a serious performer.
It comes equipped with a reverse camera, head-up display, adaptive cruise control and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration as standard. Exterior colours are the only interchangeable option. The GR Yaris 1.6T GR-Four Rally will cost you R761,200.
Volkswagen Polo GTI
Packing 147kW, the junior GTI is a peppy performer with a frugal streak when driven calmly. It’s well specified as standard for a price of R499,500. Using the configurator we cherry-picked the most expensive options on offer, which included the very popular tilt-and-slide panoramic sunroof (R14,900), leather seats (R10,900) and the Comfort Package which brings keyless access, park assist and a rear-view camera system (R16,000), and the banging Beats audio system (R10,300). It’s one choice of alloy wheel style and we kept it at cost-free Kings Red exterior paint as befitting of the GTI legacy. Total price? R562,000.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.