When you are in search of a perfect budget car, there are several important factors that you need to consider.
- Costs: This includes cost of purchase and cost of maintenance.
- Reliability: A vehicle that will not have constant breakdowns and plenty of downtime.
- Fuel economy
- Availability of technical support. ( Mechanics and parts)
With a budget of between Ksh 650,000 to ksh.750,000 the budget cars which you would be looking at include The Honda Fit GE6, The Nissan Note E12, Mazda Demio or the Toyota Vitz. These cars can be used as errand cars, family cars for small families and are pretty ideal for the taxi business. With all the above factors held into consideration, the Honda “fits” the description of the perfect budget car.
I will justify this by diving deep comparing these four cars with regard to the factors that I have listed above.
The Nissan Note E12
Among the four cars, the least reliable (most problematic) is the Nissan Note E12. The reason for this is its Xtronic CVT gearbox. The build quality of that gearbox is below per and often fails due to overheating especially if you do long distances and heavy acceleration. It’s a problem known globally. Replacing the Note’s gearbox can be an expensive affair stretching up to a budget of Ksh.80,000. The only remedy to this is installing a device called a transmission cooler. This is very unfortunate since the Nissan Note E12 is the most spacious of cars in this category. In addition to that its also pretty fun to drive especially if you get the supercharged DIGS version.
The Mazda Demio
The Mazda Demio is the cheapest in this category and has very good fuel economy especially for the SkyActiv versions but has a few shortcomings too. The most obvious one is space. Its small and crumpled. The leg room on the rear seats is too small even for an adult of average height. The other shortcoming of the Mazda Demio is its tendency to break its rear axle. Our Kenyan mechanics have tried to modify and reinforce the rear axle of many Demios but it does not seem to bear any fruits.
The Toyota Vits is a very reliable car, staying true to Toyota’s legacy of reliability. It is however not the perfect budget car in this category reason being, it is overrated and overpriced especially the 1300cc option. The more affordable option the 1000cc variant is very lazy and slow often prone to overheating especially if you strain that puny 1000cc engine. I have seen several with even cracked blocks as a result of drivers revving them hard on steep inclines. I always advice; if you are buying a Vitz, buy the 1300cc one.
The Honda Fit
The Honda Fit is what I would call the cream de la cream in this category. The car is surprisingly spacious for its size and packs in it very good fuel economy. Hondas on Kenyan roads have also proven to be very reliable. The Honda Fit is not as cheap as the Note and the Demio but its has very good value for money.
The availability of a Hybrid option also puts it ahead of the pack. The Hybrid has impressive fuel economy. The concern for many on the Hybrid is the battery, however slowly but gradually, it is becoming easier to replace them here in Kenya.
When it comes to reliability, the Honda tends to tie with the Vitz but it beats the Vitz when it comes to space and fuel economy. Even the non-hybrid options offer very good fuel economy.
Spares and technical expertise (mechanics familiar with the cars) for all the cars in this category are available.
Whether it’s for family, errands or taxi business, the Honda “fits” the description of the perfect budget car.
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