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By unknown | Jul 08, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

I HAVE about R50000 I have saved to buy my first car and my monthly disposable income should qualify me for a car of up to R250 000 at current interest rates.

I HAVE about R50000 I have saved to buy my first car and my monthly disposable income should qualify me for a car of up to R250 000 at current interest rates.

My problem is that I am not sure which car is the best for me. For instance, I was thinking of a 3-door Audi A3 or BMW 1-series. Please let me have your views on this. I am so confused.



Both cars you mention are guaranteed to bring a twinkle of excitement to the eyes of any driver.

The Audi A3 1,4T FSI is priced at R249500, while the BMW 116i weighs in at R241000.

The Audi has a turbocharged 1,4-litre petrol engine with a sophisticated fuel injection system, while the BMW has a naturally aspirated 1,6-litre engine.

The Audi has greater power and torque output and is marginally more fuel-efficient. The BMW has rear-wheel drive, while the Audi has front-wheel drive. Both cars have 6-speed gearboxes.

Interestingly, the two have almost identical JD Power quality ratings: 85,5 for the Audi, and 85,7 for the BMW.

If we delve a little deeper we discover that the Audi has a timing belt, while the BMW uses a timing chain. This is a rather important. While manufacturers have not yet made timing belts that last for the normal life of an engine, one can be confident that a timing chain will last until the engine needs a major overhaul.

Overall the BMW is less complicated and more likely to remain trouble-free for longer .

Some private mechanics are reluctant to work on Audis because of their complexity and spares prices, something that will not worry you for the duration of the 5years-100000km service plan that comes with a new car, but might trouble you once the plan expires.

But I am not convinced that either an Audi or a BMW is the right car for a first-time buyer. Car ownership has a steep learning curve during the first few years, and it's better to negotiate this curve at the wheel of a more basic, uncomplicated car.

Workshop service advisers are past masters at reading body language. They can spot a beginner in an expensive new car from a kilometre away. The temptation will be there to bamboozle the inexperienced owner with meaningless jargon and take him (and especially, her) to the cleaners.

It can become embar rassing to stand your ground and demand understandable explanations when you are surrounded by the posh, glittering, soft-carpeted atmosphere of a luxury car dealer.

So I would advise any first-time buyer to stick to a cheaper car, say one priced at less than R150000 in today's market. There are very desirable cars in this category from manufacturers such as Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, Volkswagen and so on.

I am only suggesting that perhaps you should settle for a more modest buggy while you learn the ropes.


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