As many as five new baby crossovers are scheduled to arrive in South Africa in 2021, each imported from India.
Since vehicles measuring less than four metres in length attract tax benefits in India, these imported small crossovers all fall into that category.
The local market already features the likes of the Hyundai Venue and Mahindra XUV300, but competition in the segment is set to grow substantially in 2021. And each of these fresh-faced competitors has the potential to add significant momentum to their respective stable’s sales volumes.
Here’s what to expect…
1. Kia Sonet
Kia’s new Sonet was revealed back in August 2020, sharing its platform with the aforementioned Venue. It should arrive in South Africa in April 2021, though engine options have yet to be confirmed. In India, the Sonet is offered with a brace of petrol engine options (a naturally aspirated 1,2-litre, four-cylinder unit and a more powerful, turbocharged 1,0 T-GDi mill) as well as a 1,5-litre CRDi turbodiesel powerplant. Transmission choices there, meanwhile, include conventional five- and six-speed manuals, a seven-speed dual-clutch item, a six-speed automatic gearbox and a six-speed “intelligent” manual transmission without a clutch pedal.
2. Nissan Magnite
At some point in the first quarter of 2021, Nissan South Africa will add the new Magnite to its local range. Unwrapped in November 2020, the little crossover will be offered locally with a turbocharged 1,0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels via either a five-speed manual gearbox or the Japanese firm’s X-Tronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). The three-pot offers a peak power output of 74 kW. In manual guise, peak torque of 160 N.m is on tap from 2 800 to 3 600 r/min, while the CVT version’s maximum twisting force is listed as a slightly lower 152 N.m (though is available over a broader spread of the rev range, from 2 200 to 4 400 r/min).
3. Renault Kiger
Closely related to the Magnite above, Renault’s freshly revealed Kiger is scheduled to make local landfall in the third quarter of 2021. In India, the newcomer will be offered with a 74 kW/160 N.m turbocharged 1,0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine (yes, just like the Magnite) driving the front wheels via either a five-speed manual gearbox or CVT. There will also be a 53 kW/96 N.m naturally aspirated 1,0-litre petrol engine on offer in that market (optionally available with an automated manual transmission). It’s not yet clear which powertrain will be available here in South Africa.
4. Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Suzuki Auto South Africa will expand its compact vehicle range in the second week of February 2021, slotting the Vitara Brezza between the smaller Ignis and the larger Hungarian-built Vitara. Produced by Maruti Suzuki since 2016, the Vitara Brezza offered locally will be powered by the Japanese firm’s familiar K15B naturally aspirated 1,5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, delivering some 77 kW and 138 N.m to the front axle.
5. Toyota Urban Cruiser
About a month after the aforementioned Suzuki touches down on local soil, Toyota SA Motors will launch the Urban Cruiser. And, yes, you guessed it: the newcomer is based on the Suzuki Vitara Brezza. Unlike the Baleno-based Starlet, though, this Toyota model features exterior styling distinct from that of its Suzuki cousin. While Toyota has yet to confirm the SA-spec Urban Cruiser’s powertrain, we strongly suspect it will be Suzuki’s naturally aspirated 1,5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, again delivering 77 kW and 138 N.m to the front wheels.