Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI

Top five midrange lift-backs fight it out


Round three of twelve Auto Bakkie Race Gumtree Pre-Owned Car Awards insights looks into the five best two-year old pre-owned hatchbacks available on the South African used car market at under R260K. We determine our favourite in this feature, but let’s see how close – or how far we are versus the full Jury decision come 24 October!

The Gumtree awards set out to showcase the best pre-owned cars in twelve classes on the market every year, which is quite pertinent, considering that three used cars sell for every new car to drive off the showroom floor. So while many Cars of the Years choose their best new cars, the Gumtree Awards first determines the five finalist cars that best retain their value versus their original showroom price, from which the Pre Owned Awards Jury selects the best pre-owned car in each category.

All of them are winners
The 60 Gumtree Pre-Owned Car Awards Finalists are all 2017 models that are already all winners, which based on Unitrans pre-owned car sales data, are the five finalists that have best retained their new value in each of twelve classes.

In alphabetical order, Audi A1 Sportback, Kia Rio, Renault Clio, Toyota Auris and Volkswagen Golf TSI are the five cars that best maintain their value among all two-year old hatchbacks that cost less than R260K in South Africa right now. But value retention is great if you are selling, but buyers may be happier to opt for faster depreciating rivals that today offer more, for less.

It was not long ago that we were testing these cars as new, so before we take a look at what these cars represent insofar as pre-owned bargains go today, let’s first look back at what we said about them new, a year or two back…

Audi A1 Sportback – Funky Chic
In essence, the first real executive entry hatchback all wrapped up in really funky little Audi cocoon, A1 gets the finest finishes and materials and it’s quick, entertaining and interesting enough to drive 

The Audi is well positioned but it is not cheap – you can get a bigger, just as quick and perhaps more driveable rival a class or two up for about the same money, but if you want the A1, rest assured, it’s perfect for you. 

Kia Rio – Value Trader
The Kia coaxes the road in comfort with a quiet engine, faint road noise and an easy steering. One word though: Supple. Not the fastest hatch in the coop, but if you’re going for fun, the higher-powered, faster accelerating litre turbo is an option. Rio’s gearbox is slightly notchy but claimed consumption of 5.8 l/100km is pretty impressive for a car this size. 

Visibility is good, and proximity sensors are standard as is Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary ports and while ABS brakes are a boon, only the top models come with six airbags, which is disappointing. But Rio is well priced and very nicely equipped to really make it worth considering versus some apparently more upmarket rivals. 

Renault Clio – French Kiss 
Sophisticated and packed with healthy spec and driven by a futuristic, downsized engine, this Renault has plenty going for it. Clio looks the part and its re-aligned range has gone a long way to consolidating what has always been a quite compelling option into a most attractive one. It looks the part – chic and French without becoming overbearing. 

The cabin is well appointed and just as chic, with an interface screen that has enough functionality along with all the gizmos you’d want too. Its technical upsides are significant too – that tiny triple achieves what we’d expect of a bruising one-point-six just a few years ago, driving a slick-selecting six-speed manual gearbox, it handles very well too.

Toyota Auris – Still Going Strong
Toyota is playing a difficult game in this neck of the woods – an area where high tech and downsizing are the state of the art, so to be ploughing a traditional furrow is not the easiest course. That said, Auris X does a pretty fine job in spite of those challenges – it certainly looks the part – edgy and daring and may even lead the way in your design mind.

Auris still does the downsizing trick well – this little 1600 does the job of an old 2-litre while delivering the economy of an old 1300. But its turbo 1-litre rivals do the same job, perhaps a bit better. It drives better than expected and is economical, quick and stylish enough, but the biggest plus is that Auris is a Toyota, so that balances the trumps well.

Volkswagen Golf – More Than a Match
The impressive 81kW Volkswagen 81 Golf 1.0 TSI Comfortline gets a new radiator grille, new full-LED headlights and redesigned cooling air openings. At the rear you get full-LED tail lights, while new wheel designs complement the exterior update. 

New cabin new trim and materials add further refinement, but Golf really comes into its own on the road, where the TSI is particularly agile and at the same time is smooth and silent and performance is more than a match to keep most rivals in check.

Two years down the line…
So that was two years or so ago, but what about now – how do these five compare in the used car lot right now?

The value chain makes for interesting reading – the Kia retained its new price best by a significant margin over the Golf, but the Renault being the only of these cars under R200K, is the cheapest among them, with the Kia shaping well there too.

But the Kia has the most expensive out of plan spares basket cost and with only a year or so left on warranty, that could be a concern. The Audi is already out of warranty and while the Renault still has three years left, its service plan is close to its end. Of course, you can buy a service plan and warranty and may used cars come with those extras, but that also adds to the bottom line.

Practicality is another major selling point in this neck of the woods, so the significantly bigger Golf with the biggest boot by far is at an immediate advantage, while its Audi cousin suffers the tightest fit.

Chalk and cheese
This lot is also as different as can be under the bonnet – the Audi and the VW have turbo-litre triples and the Renault sports a 900cc turbo three-pot, the Kia is a fourteen-hundred and the Toyota a one-point-six, both of them good old naturally aspirated four cylinders. Our five sample cars also boasted quite different transmissions driving the front wheels – the Audi boasting a double-clutch six speed and the rest having five or six-speed manuals

So, its little surprise that the Audi, which has a less powerful version of the TSI lump, is most economical, closely followed by the Golf and then the Clio, while the Toyota seems a drunkard by comparison. But then the Auris happens to be the quickest car of this lot by some margin, followed by the Golf and Kia, while the Audi and Renault struggle. Remember however, the little turbos will be much stronger at Reef altitudes – all these tests were done at coastal climes.

Best of a good bunch
So, which of these pre-owned hatchbacks that cost less than R260K is best? Well it was a close-run thing, but the Volkswagen Golf proved to be our pick of this bunch – it stars in some areas and does most other things on the better side of good, while most of its rivals here ended up more in the middle, so to say.

All of which remains a moot point as the real winner will be voted in by the entire committee and announced on 24 October. Needless to say, all these cars are winners because they kept their value best of all hatchbacks costing R260K or less, so you would still be well advised to pick the one that suits you best. – Michele Lupini

Gumtree is offering South African motorists the opportunity to win a car by simply placing their vote for the People’s Choice Award. To vote simply go to click here and follow the prompts.

Gumtree Pre Owned Awards Program & Links
Budget City Cars 
Light Hatchbacks
Medium Hatchbacks
Medium Saloons
Medium Luxury Saloons
Performance Cars
Double Cab Bakkies
Crossover Vehicles
Entry SUVs
Medium SUVs
Large SUVs
Luxury SUVs
All The Winners

Auto Bakkie Race has revised its Road Test Rating System to deliver a more versatile 1-10 score. Over the past few years, very few cars tested ever achieve less than 75% in our previous scoring system and hardly any more than 95%. The new ABR Rating works in a 1 to 10 basis, where 1 represents a traditional score of  75% or less and 10 is 95% or more.

Auto Bakkie Race road tests all cars using state of the art Racelogic VBox test equipment, both at coastal altitude or at the Reef. All cars are tested starting at the same point on the same test road in all tests. Reef tests are differentiated by (1500m ASL). Where we have tested both sides, both sets of figures are published. Coastal acceleration data most often delivers quicker results due to the higher oxygen content of air at lower altitudes.