Quality cutie a great buy
If you haven't heard, the buzzwords for motoring these days are "saving", "fuel-price" and the "e-toll".
Times are tough, with the country up in arms over various dramas revolving around car ownership and the only good thing about these volatile times, is that buying a small car is seen as less of an embarrassment.
A small car may make the difference between being able to afford a house, food, or clothes these days, or living a life of financial stress.
In that spirit, I would like to talk about the Kia Picanto.
Even though it was given more visual appeal in 2011, the older Picanto shape has proved a hit among those who gambled on the brand and the car itself.
As the middle-child of a cute range of city cars started in 2004, the Picanto has been significantly refined since and the latest one, a 2012 SA Car of the Year runner-up, is the most high tech of all.
The focus here is on savings that can be derived from a pre-owned unit of an already affordable car.
The smalls show pre-owned Kias goinjg for between R70000 and R100000 - pretty reasonable by today's standards and, although you can find new cars in this price range, they are brands that don't come with a reputation or a finely-honed dealer network.
This places the little Kia in good standing. The brand is growing in stature and its small, frugal but peppy engine is a good recipe for savings.
Launched in South Africa in 2010, this model is refreshing - a last blast before the latest model landed.
While the new kid on the block is well engineered, stylish and sensible, it's important to remember its building blocks - how it came to be a serious contender in the COTY contest. Much of what makes up today's Kia Picanto came with the previous model, and that is good news for bargain-seekers who are not after the latest model.
Just one engine powers the entire range - a 1.1-litre four-cylinder developing 48kW and 98Nm. It epitomises vehicle design in which a car need not have vulgar performance numbers to be a hit.
A small engine, powering an equally light body, makes for zesty progress and, as a bonus, coming with a low price and very good fuel consumption.
This Kia is available in LX and EX specifications. The latter offers fog lamps, alloy wheels, a sportier body kit and high-level brake lights - luxuries in this low price bracket.
Kia hasn't skimped on safety features either, The Picanto is also equipped with airbags, and ventilated brakes with EBD. Although not important, it will hit the 100km/h mark in 15 seconds and top out at 152km/h.
Slow? Yes, but it'll help you stop giving metro cops money to burn.
It's a city car and, although it is available standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, the lazy among us can hold out for the automatic version which was also available.
It's a great little car if you want to save money without compromising mobility.