Movers have breathed new life into the local new vehicle market. South Africans are eager to get back on the road after two treacherous Covid-19 years. News24 Motoring’s Janine van der Post looks at four striking models that make good choices.
If there’s one thing Covid-19 has brought back, it’s a newfound love for local travel. Not too long ago, there was a time when we couldn’t even leave our municipality, let alone the province. And because we were all cooped up at home and fed up with our loved ones, all we could do was take long road trips and find the love of being tourists in our own small towns.
There’s nothing I love more than getting together in a big car and driving off to a family gathering. My parents are also getting older, so we try to spend as much time with them as possible. The fact that I can take my brother with his two toddlers is an added bonus. But to fill so many bums on chairs, you need a people mover.
At a time when we thought the MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) was dying a slow death, it has gained popularity and revived the segment.
Here are four models we rode recently that may tick the right boxes for you, too:
It may look like a vehicle ahead of its time. Hyundai’s products are almost perfect these days. The Staria replaces the H1 minivan in the Korean range and is available as a nine- or eleven-seater. There is also a Multicab version (R764 900), which is a perfect alternative to a bakkie, and a panel van is available.
It’s packed with all the bells and whistles, even in its most ‘basic’ entry-level version, the R2.2-litre 9-seater Executive model, priced from R818 900. It may seem pricey on paper, but it’s a really good buy if it fits your needs as a family car, and even better if it is used by companies looking for luxury movers.
2022 Hyundai Staria Multicab
The double automatic sliding doors are a blessing. It also has a double sunroof, swivel seats that you can configure to your liking, USB ports throughout to keep devices connected, cup holders for everyone and it’s packed with safety features like the pre-collision avoidance system.
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Despite its size, it is extremely comfortable to drive and impressively economical on the highway. Hyundai claims a reading of 8.7 litres/100km, but with economical driving you can get lower. I managed to reduce consumption to just 6.1 litres/100km on average while driving at the national speed limit – with the air con popping (and even lower to 5.9 litres/100km in a good way). If you’re concerned in stop/go traffic, expect a higher 7.9 to 8.0 litres/100 km.
2022 Opel Zafira Life
Opel Zafira Life
When the Opel Combo Life was launched, I was sold. It was practical, economical and fun to drive; it is still. And, with prices starting at R458 900, it’s also an excellent alternative to a bakkie. So when the news came that the Zafira Life was coming our way, I was excited. I have to say right off the bat that I was slightly disappointed as I expected to feel the same hype as with the Combo models.
It may not look as attractive as its rivals, but it really isn’t a bad car at all; it also has double sliding doors and can accommodate up to eight people with numerous seating configurations. And as an asset, you get access to your luggage compartment with a handy rear window/trunk lid instead of having to open the entire rear door.
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It has a panoramic roof and cool massage function seats (Elegance model), but it lacks the luxury draped in the Hyundai Staria and Kia Carnival.
2022 Opel Zafira Life
To be fair, it has its fair share of standard equipment. There is smart beam functionality with the headlights, driver assistance systems, including front and rear parking assistance. There are two trim levels available in the range: Edition, which is priced from R781 900 and the Elegance, priced at R902 900.
The models have a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine that produces 110 kW and 370 Nm. Opel claims that fuel consumption is estimated at 7.2 litres/100 km in the city and 6.3 litres/100 km in the combined cycle. These claims aren’t far fetched and are quite achievable, in fact you could improve on it like I did during our testing period. Naturally, weather conditions and your driving style play a major role. Despite its size, the Zafira Life has surprisingly good driving dynamics and shifts are smooth on the 8-speed automatic gearbox.
2022 Opel Zafira Life Elegance
If I had a small business and had to move people on a daily basis, this would be my choice. Or maybe you take children to school, that would also be ideal. But if you’re a family man or woman, who travels frequently and takes countless road trips, you’d probably want something a lot more luxurious. This could very well be.
VW Caddy 7 seater
I was planning to add the VW Kombi or Caravelle in this place as these are also good vehicles with a significant legacy. But the latest version of the brand’s Caddy is a must on this list. Available in various options from a panel van, which has plenty of space, a standard five-seater or a seven-seater, it is the latter that tickles our fancy.
2022 Volkswagen Caddy
The Caddy is available with a six-speed manual transmission with two powerful combustion engines as an option; a diesel and a petrol. These reliable engines provide extremely economical consumption values, I have an average value of 5.7 litres/100 km on the highway and 6.0 liters for combined driving in the city. It’s quite spirited to drive, and I’m a big fan of the high-quality, upholstered seats; it is also quite easy to clean. The third row of seats is probably more comfortable for kids. There could be a few slender adults in them, but I wouldn’t put anyone behind them if they’re taller than the average Joe.
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It is available in these three models: a 1.6i-litre 81kW/152Nm manual model, a 2.0-litre TDi 81kW/300Nm manual model or a Maxi 2.0-litre TDi 81kW/300Nm manual model.
2022 Volkswagen Caddy
The seven seater also has double sliding doors – this is clearly a highlight for me on all four models mentioned in this article. With an independent seven year old, who wants to open and close doors on her own, these are the best as she doesn’t need one of her parents to come and hold the door for her, especially when we are in tight parking spaces.
Other features include black roof rails, drawers under the front seats, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera system, tow bar and LED headlights with separate daytime running lights and a multifunction steering wheel.
But what’s great about the Caddy is that it’s evolved with the times, as well as with the rest of the brand’s development. It also features a digital smart infotainment system with a Composition 20.96 cm (8.25-inch) intuitive touchscreen radio. It is also available with App-Connect, so you can access your favorite entertainment, apps and take calls from your smartphone.
2022 Volkswagen Caddy
Prices for the five-seater are from R494 200 and the seven-seater from R612 200.
I’m having a hard time choosing between the Staria and the Carnival from Hyundai’s sister brand, Kia. However, the Carnival takes things to another level and scores better as an everyday family vehicle. This is luxury at its best, with quality materials, even more USB ports to keep all the kids happy – even in the third row of seats. It also has automatic sliding doors and is packed with features you can imagine.
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Kia Carnival 2022
Here too, driving dynamics and fuel consumption are high. Although it could be considered a minivan, the driving comfort is fantastic. Whether you’re cruising along the coast on a Sunday ride or taking a long road trip, Carnival can hold its own in all conditions or road conditions. It would also barely feel any bumps on a bad, rough road.
The materials are sumptuous, the seats are extremely comfortable and the technology is innovative. The cab is very driver-oriented and despite the numerous functions, the driver can control most functions from the multifunction steering wheel.
Opel Zafira Life
Prices for the Carnival range start from R799 995. It ticks a lot of boxes for me, and it’s probably the best people mover I’ve driven so far this year, if not one of the best cars I’ve owned all year controlled.
Kia knows exactly how to list their products and also how to set the price. And if you compare it to the rest of its rivals in the segment, Carnival wins hands down.