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This award category was created to accommodate a raft of 2013 debutantes in 2013, such as the Renault Duster, Ford EcoSport and GWM C20R, all of which are aimed at budget-minded consumers who seek SUV style in a small family vehicle. However, last year’s winner, the Nissan Juke, is still the benchmark in terms of build quality and performance even if its oddball design and limited boot space isn’t to everyone’s taste. Powered by a willing 1,6-litre engine petrol engine (86 kW or 140 kW for the turbo version) or a 1,5-litre turbodiesel, the Juke range encompasses two CVT models and an all-wheel drive (but expensive) flagship.
In 4×4 guise, the Duster is tailor-made for those who seek genuine off-road ability for less than R250k, but two-wheel-driven models, especially the 75 kW petrol-engined versions, seem a bit less enticing.
A practical city car with a raised riding height and driving position, the EcoSport falls squarely in the crossover category and performs admirably. Offers turbocharged petrol and diesel engines as well as an auto model.
This van-based MPV provides a well-rounded and practical package (low loading height, up to 1 200 dm3 utility space and sliding doors on either side of the vehicle), as well as driver- and family-friendly specification (Bluetooth connectivity, driver’s armrest, large glovebox, four airbags, ABS with EBD and Isofix seat mounts). A three-year maintenance plan adds an extra dimension to the keen pricetag and standout styling makes a bold statement.
LOOK OUT FOR
There will be no respite to the light crossover onslaught in 2014. Set to arrive in coming months are the chic Peugeot 2008, all-wheel-drive versions of the Fiat Panda, an all-new Suzuki SX4 as well as the keenly priced GMW M4, which is a more upmarket spinoff of the C20R.
Check out all the winners from our Top 12 Best Buys for 2014 here (click).