Toyota Corolla

Meet SA’s best used three-box sedans


Our fourth Auto Bakkie Race Gumtree Pre-Owned Car Awards shootout considers the five best two-year old pre-owned repmobiles sedans for sale for less than R250K on the South African used car market right now. 

Three used to one new
The Gumtree Pre Owned Awards showcase the best used cars in twelve classes on the market every year. Three pre-owned cars sell for every new car sold in South Africa and while many Cars of the Years choose their best new cars, only the Gumtree Awards single out the five used car finalists that best retain their value before the Pre Owned Awards Jury selects the best car in each category.

So, based on Unitrans pre-owned car sales data, but in alphabetical order, the Hyundai Elantra, Suzuki Ciaz, Toyota Corolla and Quest and Volkswagen Polo are already winners as they maintain their value best among all medium-sized sedans. We will now pick the one that we feel does the job best, but let’s see how close – or how far we will be versus the full Jury decision come 24 October…

It was not long ago that we were testing these cars as new, so before we take a look at how they shape up as pre-owned bargains today, let’s look back at what we said about them new, a year or two back…

Hyundai Elantra – Does the Job Well
The Hyundai Elantra Sport is a worthy three-box rival, it’s well specced, spacious and easy on the eye both inside and out. Not quite a sleeper as its GTI-slaying Sport sibling is, this Korean is far more about getting the job of transport done, than being a drag strip special.

Offering a fair balance of space with a big boot and ample interior room, it still has to box hard in a well-fought neck of the motoring woods, where it fares well against all-comers pretty well across the board.

Suzuki Ciaz – See as Proper 
We were not expecting anything special from the new Suzuki Ciaz – say it ‘See As’. But I came away impressed. Set to take the likes of Corolla Quest by the scruff of the neck, it’s actually a proper contender for cars a niche above like the new Corolla.

Nothing special to look at, climb inside and you immersed in a surprisingly spacious and well equipped cabin with a cool wedge of style added. It’s no dynamite on the road, frugally humming along, but put a clock on it and this Champion of Downsize sedan delivers well.

Toyota Quest – Old School Cool
Some see it as a regurgitated old school Corolla, but in reality Quest – which indeed is the old Corolla – is a godsend to many new car buyers on a value-challenged market. At a20% discount to its modern sibling, while you don’t get the new nicks and creases, you still get a new Toyota.

So while it lacks the novelty, bells and whistles, Quest brings a welcome air of value and affordability to a most important market niche and it should sell like hot cakes. Of course if you want a new one, it is there – it’s just a matter of an extra eighty grand for that fresh appeal…

Toyota Corolla – Going Right!
Toyota’s bolder and more refined new Corolla has lost that odd Japanese look and added superior handling, a smart, comfortable and spacious and well-kitted out cabin. It’s also quick off the mark, strong enough throughout the rev range and economical too.

Road holding is excellent even with the well-damped ride, while noise, vibration and harshness are at a minimum. The CVT box works well once you get over the drone, but overall, everything quite clearly keeps going right!

Volkswagen Polo – The All Rounder
An interesting option in a hard-fought neck of the woods, there must be good reason why Volkswagen’s booted Polo sells so well. Handsome from the front but a bit frumpy from the back – in a class of frumps, Polo’s big boot is however a boon to the traveller and holiday renter alike.

This one has Volksie’s old-school 1600 lump, so don’t expect high tech high jinks here, but Polo does well enough versus its similarly-endowed class rivals, where it competes bloody well on price too. So, it’s a great all-round package at the rate, after all.

Power to the People
Looked at on paper, the Hyundai and Volkswagen immediately spring to an advantage with the most powerful and torquiest engines among these cars with the two Toyotas right there. The less powerful Suzuki bounces back at the fuel pumps though with by far the best fuel economy, but bring out the stopwatch and it’s the old school Corolla Quest that comes to the fore, while the Suzuki was the surprise.

The Suzuki surprises again when it comes to space and practicality with by far the biggest boot too, but it does have the dearest parts basket and with the second shortest warranty and service package, so it falls a bit short in value, where the Quest also struggles in spite of its age perhaps suggesting otherwise. 

Quest however stars in value retention, but that is of course a double edge sword that suits the original owner more than the buyer, who may be tempted by the bargain allure of the Polo that dumps more of its original value than the rest to make it a bit of a bargain. Not as much of a bargain as the Suzuki, which on average, costs least of all five right now.

We love a good surprise
So, with the Hyundai, the Suzuki, the Quest and the Polo each stealing their own headlines, you’d expect one of them to be our choice, no? Our score sheets however suggested differently. See, those four were as good as they were bad, leaving the almost secret new-spec Corolla to scoop our surprise favorite among this lot.

Remember that is our own call and real winner will be voted in by the entire Gumtree Approved Used Car Awards Jury and announced on 24 October. Needless to say, all these cars are winners because they kept their value best of all sedans under costing R250K or less, so whichever you may opt for, it will clearly do you well! – Michele Lupini

Gumtree is offering South African motorists the opportunity to win a car by simply placing their vote for the People’s Choice Award. To vote simply go to click here and follow the prompts.

Gumtree Pre Owned Awards Program & Links
Budget City Cars 
Light Hatchbacks
Medium Hatchbacks
Medium Saloons
Medium Luxury Saloons
Performance Cars
Double Cab Bakkies
Crossover Vehicles
Entry SUVs
Medium SUVs
Large SUVs
Luxury SUVs
All The Winners

Auto Bakkie Race has revised its Road Test Rating System to deliver a more versatile 1-10 score. Over the past few years, very few cars tested ever achieve less than 75% in our previous scoring system and hardly any more than 95%. The new ABR Rating works in a 1 to 10 basis, where 1 represents a traditional score of  75% or less and 10 is 95% or more.

Auto Bakkie Race road tests all cars using state of the art Racelogic VBox test equipment, both at coastal altitude or at the Reef. All cars are tested starting at the same point on the same test road in all tests. Reef tests are differentiated by (1500m ASL). Where we have tested both sides, both sets of figures are published. Coastal acceleration data most often delivers quicker results due to the higher oxygen content of air at lower altitudes.