Home / Social media / News / The current cheapest car in SA is R174,900 - but what can that get you if you don't mind age and mileage?


Here in SA, cars are stupidly expensive when you compare pricing to overseas markets. If you see a new car launch overseas with an estimated sales price and you convert it into Rands and then see the local pricing, there’s usually a marked difference. A trickle-down effect from this is that our 2nd-hand car market also has some higher prices than you’d see overseas. It’s a strong market though with some really good bargains to be had if you know what you’re looking for, and where to look. Used car websites like Autotrader and Cars.co.za have never been busier, if the former was still a printed weekly publication it would be as thick as an old-school telephone directory. These online platforms, along with places like Facebook Marketplace are a great way to find decent cars to suit most budgets, you just need to know how to navigate the scammers and chancers. We wanted to see what the second-hand market offers up if you want a new car, and to make it interesting we set our budget to be the same as the most affordable brand-new car in SA at the moment. As of January 2024, that would be the little Suzuki S-Presso. This budget-beater starts at R174,900 for the entry spec and goes up to R214,900 for the range-topper, so we set our budget at the former. The S-Presso has a normally aspirated 1.0 litre 4-cylinder in play that’s rated at 49 kW with 89 Nm of torque. It’s a great option if you want a new car, but with the power on tap, it likely wouldn’t satisfy those looking for a bit of performance. We’ll show you three cars we’d rather spend R175k on keeping performance in mind. The only downside to buying an older model car with all the power and features you want is that in most cases finance will be an issue, so the money you pay will need to be cash or from a bank loan or from taking money from your house bond. For this, we’ll assume that you have access to the full R175k to mess around with. We'll choose one car from Autotrader, one from Cars.co.za and one from Facebook Marketplace.

On Autotrader, there are a few, like a neat 2012 Volvo S60 T5 R-Design for R169,950 and a 2009 Audi S5 S5 Coupe Quattro for R169,900. There’s even a 1999 Porsche Boxster 986 for R169,700, but that has a few red flags. However, we’d take this minter of a 2007 Volkswagen Polo 1.8 GTI with just 102,000 km on the odo. Why this one? It may be older now, but the condition is great and most importantly for us, it’s a highly tunable car with a plethora of performance parts available for loads of vendors, and because Volkswagen is like Lego, many parts from other cars are interchangeable so you can customise the car to be unique. In stock form, the Polo GTI has 110 kW of power and 220 Nm of torque along with a 5-speed manual transmission. It already has a few tweaks that we can see in the engine bay, which is a bonus if done right.

On Cars.co.za we found a 2007 BMW M6 Coupe with 164,000 km on the odo for R169,950, but we know that at that price it can’t be in the best condition and that any decent work needed will likely cost what it’s selling for. There’s also a lesser-spotted 2013 Opel Astra 2.0T OPC with 84,000 km on it for R169,900, and again, knowing these cars and their values, that doesn’t add up just right. It’s a little cheap for one of these, especially with such low mileage - a typically dodgy find for a Webuycars listing. Our choice would be one that’s possibly a bit dodgy, but we don’t care. We like this  2010 Jaguar XF 3.0 V6 Premium Luxury with under 100,000 km on it for R169,900. That’s a whole lotta car for that money, and in all honesty, it may be hiding an issue or two, but this isn’t a sensibility test.

Marketplace is a cesspool of madness, but if you know how to navigate the scams, there are some bargains to be had. Here we stuck to what we know, so we specifically looked for something from the VAG stable. Unsurprisingly, these cars pop up in our feed anyway because Facebook knows what we perve over. There are loads of cars in the price limit, but we opted for a clean 2009 Audi TTS with 128,500 km on it that also has a few beginner mods, and its listed for R175,000. Luckily with what we do, it’s easy to check if the car is legit, our friend circle is tailored to these cars so someone who knows someone that we know will know the car and give us the skinny on it. This is the listing we’d actually go take a close look at. It’s a lot of car for the money, has a 200 kW powerplant, DSG transmission and an all-wheel drive setup and all the driver safety and bells & whistles you can want in a car - and if you have the right contacts, it’s not bad on maintenance. 

So you can have an entry-level car off the showroom floor, or one of the above for the same price. What would you spend R175k on instead of a brand-new car?

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