BUYING USED: Compact sedans for under R180 000

By: Peter Palm

Sedans are less popular than hatchbacks but some need the added security and space of a boot. These are often more affordable than the more sought-after.

Volkswagen Jetta 1,6


Space: 5 seats, 448/1 160L
Safety: 6 airbags, ABS
Cost of four tyres: R5 210
Road test: April 2014 (2,0 TDI)

0-100 km/h: 10,90 seconds Top speed: 164 km/h Power: 77 kW
Torque: 153 N.m C02: 162 g/km Fuel consumption: 8,20 L/100 km

If you are not too concerned about power or the ultimate in fuel economy, you have a good spread of options with this sedan. The safest bet will be a straightforward 1,6-litre, four-cylinder with 77 kW.

Then there is a more modern engine in the shape of a 1,2-litre turbo. This will have slightly better fuel consumption if you drive carefully but does add a lot of complexity to the mechanicals. The same goes for the 1,4-litre turbo that raises the power to 92 kW and offers more torque at low revs. This may be the one to choose if you live at higher altitudes. If it’s maximum fuel saving you’re after, opt for a 1,6 TDI that gives you under 6,00 L/100 km. Prices between the models on offer are evenly spread.

Boot size has been a strong feature of the Jetta since the first model in 1982. Having owned one of these cars that later became the Fox, I think I overloaded that boot too often because I had to replace the rear wheel bearings. This one has even more luggage space, a full 448 L. Unlike the first generation, this can be expanded considerably with a handy foldable rear seat.

Kia Cerato 1,6


Space: 5 seats, 376/1 016 L
Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, EBD
Cost of four tyres: R4 370
Road test: March 2014 (1,6 EX Sedan)

0-100 km/h: 10,60 seconds Top speed: 200 km/h Power: 95 kW
Torque: 157 N.m C02: 154 g/km Fuel consumption: 7,80 L/100 km

The Cerato has always been a polished alternative to its German and Japanese rivals. Engine options are the 1,6 or 2,0-litre with manual or automatic transmissions. Rear legroom is less than that of the Corolla. These are reliable, well-built vehicles that have proven their credentials from the first imports in the 1990s. Although earlier models had the option of a frugal 2,0 diesel, the last sales year was 2008. An impressive list of safety features and others such as cruise control was standard.
A full-size spare is provided under the boot that we measured at 376 L with a utility space of 1 016 L when the rear seats are folded forwards. A five-year/90 000 km service plan was standard but you would be fortunate to find one with lower mileage than this.

Make sure you are content with the steering feel as the electrical assistance is very artificial. The highish engine revs in top gear at 120 km/h can also cause some droning. Mileages of cars in our price range generally have around 150 000 km under their steel belts but there are some with under 100 000 km. Ceratos and Korean sister Hyundai Elantras are on par price-wise.

Toyota Corolla


Space: 5 seats, 416/1 344 L
Safety: 4 airbags, ABS, EBD
Cost of four tyres: R4 050
Road test: August 2016 (1,8 Prestige)

0-100 km/h: 10,20 seconds Top speed: 195 km/h Power: 103 kW
Torque: 173 N.m C02: 165 g/km Fuel consumption: 8,40 L/100 km

If you purchase a 2017 model Corolla, you are celebrating 50 years of this bestseller in our country. This is the 11th generation and a mild facelift to the grille, headlamps and taillamps was introduced in this year. The base model utilises a small 1,3-litre engine but with a respectable 77 kW. For higher altitudes, you may want to opt for the 90 kW 1,6 or the flagship 1,8-litre with 103 kW.

If you wish to save on the high fuel levies, there is a 1,4 D-4D that will reward you with around 5,00 L/100 km. A solid, if staid performer that offers an excellent ride quality. If you have to do long trips and high mileages, you won’t be disappointed. The service plan lasts for five years but the mileage limit of 90 000 km is likely to have been exceeded. All models come with four airbags except for the 1,8 Exclusive versions that have seven. It has the second largest boot capacity here plus the benefit of folding rear seats, a feature missing on the Corolla Quest of that era. This is an important point since the Quest is perhaps the best-value car in our market but some will require the extra versatility for that extra outlay.

Honda Ballade 1,5


Space: 5 seats, 400 L
Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, ESC
Cost of four tyres: R4 778
Road test: August 2014 (1,5 Elegance)

0-100 km/h: 12,54 seconds Top speed: n/a Power: 81 kW
Torque: 153 N.m C02: 169 g/km Fuel consumption: 8,76 L/100 km

The Ballade name has also been in South Africa since the 1980s and this model brings modern style and sophistication to the long-standing name. Subtle changes were introduced in 2017 including a revised grille, with LED daytime lighting, keyless entry with a start/stop button and leather upholstery on the flagship Executive model. Isofix tethers were added to all models and there are two USB ports. In the classifieds, we saw a wide variety of mileages covered including some surprisingly low ones that would make excellent buys considering one pays about half the price of a new car. Choice is easy as there is just one engine, a 1,5-litre with 88 kW. Transmission choices are five-speed manual or CVT.

Although the boot capacity is impressively large at 400 L, the rear seat does not fold down to store large items. On the other hand, this has an anti-theft benefit in that valuables can be locked safely in the boot. With fold-down seats, all a thief has to do is break a window for guaranteed access to the boot. The service plan lasted four years or 60 000 km and services are required at 15 000 km intervals.


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