For every style and price range in between there are probably half a dozen cars worth considering, and, when it's your own money, making a choice can be difficult. This is particularly true if your circumstances don't dictate a particular body style, and, with Ford having been on the menu frequently of late I'll use them as an example.
I recently had their Focus ST3 on test shortly before their diesel Fusion TDCi Titanium and loved both cars - the hot hatch, honed for performance, and the very classy mid-level luxury sedan that's pretty lively, handles well and makes you feel like a toff behind the wheel.
Image: Ford Focus ST3
In terms of cost, they're not too far apart - the diesel Fusion will set you back R449,900, while the Focus ST3 retails at R421,900. The sedan's two-litre turbodiesel engine's 132kW and 400Nm gets it up to 100km/h in a respectable 8,6 seconds on its way to a 225km/h top speed, while the ST hatch, squeezing 184kW and 360Nm from its turbocharged petrol engine, gallops to 100 in about 6,5 seconds and tops out at 248km/h.
If you're 25 years old and ooze testosterone out of every pore that 2,2 seconds and 23km/h will feel more valuable than lifetime free tickets to every Rugby World Cup match, but your average driver commuting on public roads is unlikely to be too stressed about it.
Both cars are packed with comfort and safety features, both are well built, both handle well in their categories and both are Fords, which says a lot these days.
All of this made me wonder which I'd buy if it was my own money on the table. My heart points to the uncompromising Focus ST while my brain nudges me in the direction of the classy diesel Fusion, but there's a third option that, like you, I haven't yet driven. The petrol-engined Fusion 2.0T Titanium comes with 177kW of power and 340Nm of torque, which slots it neatly between the Focus ST and the turbodiesel Fusion in performance, while providing more comfort, elegance and space than the hatch. The price of R424,900 is also much closer to the ST's tag, making it even more appealing.
And that's just looking at Ford. We really are spoilt for choice these days!