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News Room

The Safest And Unsafest Budget Cars In South Africa

Jason Snyman
The Automobile Association's latest Entry-Level Vehicle Safety Report took a look at twenty-seven of the most affordable and popular vehicles in South Africa for 2019. Despite many recent improvements, the results are still shocking.

A short while ago, the Automobile Association (AA) published its 2019 Entry-Level Vehicle Safety Report, which assesses the safety features on some of the most popular entry-level vehicles (priced under R180 000) available in South Africa. 

The report looked at 27 vehicles, and aims to highlight the importance of safety features in new and popular cars, how these can save lives, and encourage buyers to consider safety above pricing.  

“Price is, unfortunately, a driving factor in people’s decisions to buy vehicles. What we would like to see more of is people considering other elements of the vehicles they intend buying such as safety features, which can mean the difference between life and death,” the AA said.

Some of the safety features the report looked for in these vehicles were, among others, active safety features such as anti-lock braking or electronic stability control, and passive safety features such as airbags.

These vehicles were then categorised into three groups, based on the safety ratings achieved. Seven vehicles achieved ‘acceptable safety’ ratings (an improvement from last year’s report, which only had two), sixteen achieved ‘moderate safety’ and four were classed as ‘poor safety’ – or – ‘most likely to kill you.’

Let’s take a look at the findings.

The Safest And Unsafest Entry-Level Vehicles

First off, let’s take a look at the seven vehicles that scored 50 or higher, making them the safest entry-level vehicles currently available. Three of these belonged to Toyota, and one each to Volkswagen, Renault, Smart, Suzuki and Honda.

Of these, the VW Take Up! achieved the highest score, with 6.38 out of a possible 7.5. This was followed by the Renault, and then the Toyota Aygo.  

Acceptable Safety: 

• Volkswagen Take Up!

• Renault Sandero 66kw turbo expression

• Toyota Aygo 1.0

• Smart ForTwo

• Toyota Etios Hatch 1.5 Xi HB

• Honda Amaze 1.2 Trend

• Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GL

Vehicles placed into the ‘moderate safety’ category achieved scores between 20 and 50, with the Suzuki Celerio achieving the highest rating with 3.57 out of 7.5, and the lowest being the Haval 1 with a dismal score of 2.78. 

Moderate Safety:

• Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GA

• Datsun GOMid

• BAIC D20 hatch 1.3 Comfort

• Datsun GO+ Mid

• Datsun GO+ Panel Van

• Kia Picanto 1.0 Street

• Suzuki Swift hatch 1.2 GA

• Suzuki Swift DZire sedan 1.2 GA

• Mahindra KUV100 1.2 NXT K4+

• Honda Brio hatch 1.2 Trend

• Hyundai i10 Grand 1.0 Motion

• Renault Kwid 1.0 Expression 5 dr

• Kia Picanto MT 1.0 Style

• GWM M4

• Nissan Micra Active 1.2 Visia+

• Haval 1

And then, the following four vehicles achieved the lowest scores – all under 20 – with both the Nissan NP200 and the JMC achieving an absolute zero. We’ve spoken a little bit about the Nissan before, and other zero-rated vehicles, and the dangers that come with driving it.

Of these four, the Datsun achieved the best rating, with a score of 0.85 out of 7.5.

Vehicles Most Likely To Kill You (Poor Safety): 

• Datsun GO+ 1.2 Lux

• Nissan NP200

• JMC 4×2 Boarding

• Kia Picanto 1.0 Start

In Conclusion – The State Of Entry-Level Vehicles In South Africa

According to the AA, the majority of entry-level vehicles still fall woefully short with regards to basic safety. So, it's crucially important to do thorough research into any vehicle before buying. 

Of the 27 vehicles assessed, only four were really deemed truly acceptable by the AA's standards, and these were the Volkswagen Take Up, Renault Sandero, Toyota Aygo 1.0 and Smart ForTwo.

One of the most noteworthy bits of information that we can take from this report is the fact that the vehicles ranked as safest and unsafest both retail at around the same price. The VW Take Up! retails at around R172 500, and the deathtrap-on-wheels JMC retails at around R176 880. Safety, then, really should be the most important thing that we take into account when purchasing a new vehicle. We have no excuse. 

According to the AA, the report results indicate a definite increase in safety features in vehicles, but it also highlights a crucial need for these features to be standardised across the board, instead of optional.  

Features such as anti-lock braking, electronic stability control and airbags save lives. These should not be seen as ‘nice-to-haves’ in the modern motoring world, but absolutely vital. 

CompareGuru has you covered.

During the pandemic, lockdown and beyond, CompareGuru recognises the uncertainty and anxiety you may be experiencing, and to do our part, we are offering the assistance and guidance of our expert Gurus at absolutely zero cost, to answer any and all questions you may have regarding the protection of yourself and your family.


Our Gurus are assisting anybody with queries relating (but not limited) to the following: 

  • Life Insurance and Funeral Cover;
  • The insurance T's and C’s;
  • How best to structure your insurance at this critical time;
  • And any other queries, where possible.  
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