This comment is distinctly late, and I apologise (just a little).
It turns out my lovely little red car was written off by the insurers, and I was thus forced to purchase a new car a few weeks ago. I was terribly saddened at the time, but I’ve adjusted :-).
I went car hunting with my father on Saturday, April 17. The car was insured in his name, so the payout would go to him. I arranged a loan with the Private Bank of AP van Wyk, through the relative financing option, and made an initial deposit to the bank, along with very generous monthly repayment options.
Having decided on the amount we were talking, only a few cars fall into the category. I was unwilling to look at the new players in the market (Kia, Proton etc) simply because they haven’t had time to prove themselves yet. I also wanted a car with four doors and a bit more oomph – if I was going to buy a new car I might as well upgrade. That left a few models: Toyota Yaris, VW Polo, Renault Clio, Citroen C2 and C3, Ford Focus and the Fiat Palio.
The Polo and the Focus could be ruled out quickly since I could only afford a model with no features at all – a 1600CC engine with an outer shell, effectively. The Citroen’s I wasn’t thrilled with, since I spent 20 minutes being ignored at a Citroen dealer during lunch a few days earlier just looking at them. The C2 is like a jukebox inside, with a colour scheme that can only have been caused by an explosion in a box of Diwali treats (the noxious green, red and yellow ones). The C3 was nice, but it seemed almost flimsy inside – the build quality wasn’t high. I ruled them out too.
We first travelled to Busa Toyota in Hillcrest and had a very impressed look at a Yaris – I really liked it, as did my father. We both thought we’d be back, but somehow convinced ourselves to go to Pinetown and look at some others. However, the Clio we looked at was shown to us by a woman so thick someone probably helps her dress in the morning (this should be irrelevant, but somehow it wasn’t). It’s a nice car, but as we left my dad and I concurred – the Yaris was great, this was merely nice. Also, Renault parts can take more than two weeks to arrive – Toyota parts are here all the time…
In order to fully test the options we also test drove a Fiat Palio – this was a 1600 as well, with all the features. The problem was that it felt no better performing than my 1100 Seicento – a bad sign for a 1600… It also felt oldish – it’s been 10 years on the market, and they just keep making the features better, whereas the Yaris is a modern, brand-new car. We weren’t sad to leave the Fiat behind.
Back to Hillcrest Toyota then, for the car we both kinda knew we’d go for anyhow. We took it for a test drive – I drove up to the Shongweni offramp, and my dad drove back. We both found the car amazing – a 1300CC engine, but we struggled to keep it below 100 kph going up the hill to Shongweni (I took that to be a good sign). We came back even more impressed than before, and filled out the paperwork immediately.
The only choices left then were colour and model. The base model, the Yaris T3, has aircon, power steering, ABS and EBD and central locking, by key. The next model, the T3+, adds electric windows and mirrors, central locking with remote and colour-coded mirrors and door handles. That didn’t excite me, but the electric windows and remote did, so I sprung for the T3+, for a few extra grand.
In terms of colour, the cars at the lot were available in blue, dark blue, orange, silver and white. This won’t surprise those who know me – blue it is :-).
You may be wondering why I only took a 1300 – for the kind of money I was spending, I could have a 1600 with nothing in it, or a 1300 with every feature known to man. Personally, I’ll take the aircon, power-steering etc over a slightly faster car any day. It’s not even in my nature to speed (sad as that must sound) :-).
So now I have a Toyota Yaris – the car still overjoys me after three weeks. I’ll take pictures tomorrow (I’ll try, at least) to show off a few details. It’s like driving a starship though – the only display is in the middle, and set out like an arcade machine, with a mirror reflecting the display at you, so it appears to be set deep within the dash. Everything is fully digital – for an electronic engineering geek, that was a big selling point :-).
Cup holders abound, and the back seats have room aplenty – they even slide forward if need be to gain extra boot room (never seen that before in a hatchback). The boot is tiny (the only downside) but with the seats slid forward, and even lowered if need be, space should never be an issue.
I’m still a little bummed that my little red car will never be seen again, but this is a hell of a silver lining. I’m happy, very happy…