CAR magazine’s Top 12, goes into its fourth year in this issue. Opt for one of the dozen winners and, in the opinion of our experienced panel, barring the odd out-of-character glitch, you won’t go far wrong…

CAR magazine’s Top 12 best buys goes into its fourth year in the February issue. Opt for one of the dozen winners and, in the opinion of our experienced panel, barring the odd out-of-character glitch, you won’t go far wrong…

For this year, the 12 categories have been adjusted to mirror

recent shifts in the marketplace. For example, to accommodate rising prices, the ceiling for the budget car list has been raised by R5 000 to R75 000.

The larger and more expensive saloons and hatches previously listed as part of the light car category - cars the size of the Golf and Corolla - have been moved up into a new sub-compact category, the group formerly named medium cars is now known as compact cars, and the performance car division now caters for sporty saloons and hot hatches as well as traditional sportscars and sports coupés.

There have also been changes to the people-mover categories, with small station wagons and mini-MPVs grouped together, and large wagons bracketed with full-sized MPVs.

Despite rising prices and a drop-off in sales, most of the world’s motor manufacturers still find it worthwhile contesting the SA market. At the last count, local consumers had a daunting line-up of more than 850 model derivatives to choose from. In arriving at their Top 12, CAR’s editors have placed themselves in the shoes of the local car-buyer, using their hands-on experience to come up with the most sensible choices…

Best budget car: Toyota Tazz 130

It’s becoming a habit… for the fourth year in a row, CAR’s judging team has voted Toyota’s Tazz the best new-car buy for people looking for budget wheels. Cleverly updated a couple of years ago, this entry-level hatch has a cheeky persona that has found favour with the trendy set, along with the traditional Toyota attributes of practicality, reliability and good resale value.

Small wonder that it continues to top the local sales charts. As before, its two closest challengers are also extended-model-life offerings, the Opel Corsa Lite and Volkswagen CitiGolf Chico.

Runners-up: Opel Corsa Lite, Volkswagen CitiGolf Chico

Best light car: VW Polo

Winner of the revised light car category (which previously included “Golf-size” cars but now caters for the smaller modern hatchbacks and saloons), is VW’s magnificent new Polo hatchback.

Continuing VWSA’s move towards standardising its range with products on offer in international markets, the new Polo sets new standards for fit and finish. It has a level of interior space you’d have got in a Golf a decade ago, and comes with an exciting range of engines, topped by an efficient three-cylinder diesel, a first for vehicles in this category.

Runners-up: Renault Clio, Citroën C3

Best sub-compact: VW Golf/ Jetta

Another four-time winner is VW’s Golf/Jetta range, which topped our “Best light car category” for three years in a row before reclassification as a sub-compact contender.

The established benchmark for its category, the Golf IV set new class standards for design and quality levels when introduced back in 1999, attributes that were equalled by the Jetta, which made its local début a little later. But the opposition is gaining ground, and

Volkswagen’s ageing pair have hung on by a small margin this year, only just shading two magnificent newcomers, the new-generation Toyota Corolla and the Peugeot 307.

Runners-up: Toyota Corolla, Peugeot 307.

Best compact car: Mercedes-Benz C-Class

In a volte-face, Mercedes-Benz’s much-improved new

C-Class range displaces the BMW 3-Series at the top of the category previously defined as “Best medium car”.

At the heart of the change is Merc

Best MPV/SW: Chrysler Voyager

This section combines full-size MPVs and station wagons for the first time. Overall winner is Chrysler’s impressive Voyager/Grand Voyager range, which was a runner-up to the Renault Espace/Grand Espace in last y

Original article from Car