This is your A-V of what is available on the market!

My name is Michael and I am the proud owner of the online vehicle website CHANGECARS www.changecars.co.za

What sets CHANGECARS apart is we only allow the country’s top dealerships to advertise on the site. That means the chances of being scammed are zero.

We DO NOT allow Private Sellers or the shady JHB Central crowd to entice you with the proverbial it’s too good to be true….. Simply because it’s never true!

Click on our 'Our Dealers' Tab and see the quality Dealerships we are proud to work with. If you get a quote for a brand new vehicle from a Dealership not on the site, make use of our Beat-My-Quote feature and it is my personal commitment that we will endeavor to get you a better deal and better service.

I am also proudly the host of the TV show ALL THINGS MOTORING on DSTV channel 189 and www.allthingsmotoring.co.za and enjoy interacting with the public.

If you have a motoring event or interesting story contact us on [email protected] or 083 377 5432 and see why I love what I do.

We almost there and you will be able to have a quick reference of the brand you love or you are possibly considering. If you are wary of the brand this will guide you :)

Please note the opinions expressed in this article are my own, built up through my 32 years in the industry. If you have any question you want answered click here to Ask Mikey.

Now that we have the formalities out the way, here we go!

ALFA ROMEO 

Image of a Alfa Romeo carPositives: There are many! You will always stand out and people will engage you on the reason you chose an Alfa. Very low theft risk and this despite Alfa’s being drop dead gorgeous! 

Negatives: Historic perceptions that will always be indelibly etched in people’s memories. At the forefront of these challenges are electrical issues! 

Brand Cachet: Not great and I believe it is unfortunate as Alfa is unique. It’s not competing with Mercedes or BMW or even Volkswagen. It is more a Peugeot, Volvo competitor. Streets ahead of the former and marginally behind the latter. 

Dealer Network: Well represented in Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN with 15 Dealerships Country wide. 

Alternatives: The saying goes you buy an Alfa with your heart not your head. I say I have never heard of a ‘Head Attack’ :) 

Legacy: Superb and that extends back many decades. Alfa has a proud history in Motor Racing and has made the most exceptional sports cars like the GTV and Spider. 

My Favorite Thing: The badge, the styling and the engines. 

My Least Favorite Thing: Quality of the fit and finish and parts availability. 

Tip For the Brand: Get it across to the public that you are serious about customer service and wish to attract buyers who are hesitant to consider this exciting brand. 

Tip For Buyers: Look at all the options in this price range and if you are still smitten by the Alfa charms go for it…. Second hand options are the best value. 

Would I buy it: Not as a first choice, but definitely a consideration. I personally own a 1999 GTV and 2007 Alfa Spider Q4 

Mike Score 7/10 

AUDI 

Image of a green Audi driving fastPositives: Vorsprung Durch Technik and that is true. Audi is an exceptional brand that deserves its place among the big three. Cars are good looking, superb quality and all round top notch. 

Negatives: Zero legacy in SA and that holds the brand back. No one aspires to any Audi that pre-dates 1996. With its competitors it’s the exact opposite. Audi has by far the lowest dealer network when compared to BMW and Mercedes. If you don’t live in a major centre an Audi can not be on your shopping list. Resale value is perceived to be lower than BMW or Mercedes. 

Brand Cachet: Very strong albeit not on the same level as BMW or Mercedes and that sadly will not change for a myriad of reasons. 

Dealer Network: Limited when compared to BMW and Mercedes and this does affect the desirability of the brand in the second hand market. 

Alternatives: BMW and Mercedes and lately Volvo. 

Legacy: Worldwide very strong and Audi is on the level of BMW and Mercedes. In South Africa a very poor third and that will not change positively in the future. 

My Favorite Thing: The understated excellence and their incredible Sports models from the RS Sport division. RS4/RS6 and R8 are literally in a league of their own. 

My Least Favorite Thing: That the brand itself has no concept of why an excellent product is under performing. Hearing every journalist put an exceptional product 3rd when compared to its competitors re-enforces that. 

Tip For the Brand: Change direction completely as you are currently 3rd in the pecking order and soon that will be 4th and it is all down to marketing strategy. 

Tip For Buyers: Shop around and look at BMW, Mercedes and Volvo before you put pen to paper. 

Would I buy it: Yes and I am the proud owner of an Audi R8 V10 original and I consider this the best vehicle ever built….Ok I am biased on this one. 

Mike Score 8.5/10  

BAIC 

Positives: All the products are good looking and well priced. The team behind BAIC are exceptional and it is a product I believe in for the future. 

Negatives: Quality of the fit and finish is not on the level of their competitors. BAIC are aware of it and I believe in years to come this will be addressed. 

Brand Cachet: New to the market. 

Dealer Network: Amazing considering the brand is new in SA. No concerns here. 

Alternatives: Chery, Haval, Honda, Hyunda, Kia and Nissan. 

Legacy: Still new to the market. 

My Favorite Thing: Styling. 

My Least Favorite Thing: Interior quality. 

Tip For the Brand: Work on the quality of fit and finish, keep your pricing keen and continue to develop the dealer network. 

Tip For Buyers: Give this brand a chance. 

Would I buy it: Yes 

Mike Score 7/10 

BMW 

A blue BMW M3 Sport on the racetrackPositives: One could write a book on this incredible brand. Sheer driving pleasure is the buzz word and millions around the world will agree. Incredible engines, incredible styling and tech that is exceptional. 

Negatives: Definitely a higher theft risk than Audi as an example. You will fit in as opposed to stand out as BMW is the ‘go to’ on so many models. 

Brand Cachet: If it was any higher it would be on a different planet. 

Dealer Network: Superb and wherever you are in SA you will be able to service your BMW. This is a huge reason that BMW outsells Audi almost 3 to 1. 

Alternatives: Mercedes, Porsche and Audi. When you consider that BMW buyers have Porsche as an option, you know your brand is exceptional. 

Legacy: Unlike Audi in SA, BMW has an incredible legacy and people resonate with that. From the 2002 to 3.0CSL and the 530/535i, 325iS and M3/M5 BMW deserves its place in the sales charts.

My Favorite Thing: The way BMW never rests on its Laurels. The new Design theme is superb and my girlfriend is the Ultimate BMW Fan. 

My Least Favorite Thing: Hearing my girlfriend tell me the R8 is not the ultimate car. As for the brand itself there is nothing I dislike about BMW! 

Tip For the Brand: Carry on doing what you are doing, if it isn’t broken don’t fix it! 

Tip For Buyers: When buying second hand take your time as there are plenty of these wonderful machines around. Post 100 000KM and out of maintenance plan be careful as servicing cost are not cheap. 

Would I buy it: YES in capitals. 

Mike Score 9/10 

CHERY 

A white Chery car in the eveningPositives: What a success story CHERY is. Quality fit and finish, good looking, incredible engine warranty and just a solid stand out new offering! 

Negatives: Not many and for a new product that is incredible. Fuel consumption is higher than the competition. 

Brand Cachet: New to the market, but super well received and perceived. 

Dealer Network: Considering only been around since 2021 it is exceptional and growing. Zero concerns here. 

Alternatives: BAIC, Haval, Hyundai and Kia. In its own stable is OMODA which is the ultra luxury version of Chery. Think Lexus and Toyota. 

Legacy: Growing quickly and deservedly so. 

My Favorite Thing: Interior quality. 

My Least Favorite Thing: Nothing to fault. 

Tip For the Brand: Extend the 1 million Kilometer Warranty beyond the first owner. 

Tip For Buyers: Consider this fine brand. 

Would I buy it: Unhesitatingly Yes. 

Mike Score 8/10 

CITROËN  

A blue Citroen car near the coastPositives: Good looking and different. Low theft risk and stand out for right reasons. 

Negatives: Re-sale value and ease of selling will be a challenge. In my personal opinion this needs to be dispelled. 

Brand Cachet: Not very high and marketing needs to be scolded. Citroen is such a famous French brand and deserves better. 

Dealer Network: Adequate in major centers but inadequate outside of. 

Alternatives: A lot and this is why sales will always be a challenge. 

Legacy: Very good but Citroen do a shocking job of getting this across. Ask the buying public what they think of Citroen and they will answer ‘are they still around’ in many cases. 

My Favorite Thing: Styling! 

My Least Favorite Thing: Under powered engine on the C3 which is the one vehicle that can turn the brand around. 

Tip For the Brand: Fit a 1.0L Turbo to the C3 and tell your marketing team to call me for a chat! 

Tip For Buyers: Definitely worth a look as its low theft risk and a funky option. 

Would I buy it: Personally no as there are better options, but I can change my mind in the future. 

Mike Score 6.5/10

 FORD 

A red Ford Puma carPositives: Car of the year winner 2023 is as big a positive as you need. Superb brand and a firm deserved SA fan favourite. 

Negatives: Not a lot and deservedly so. 

Brand Cachet: Brilliant or not so much. An incredible following but many detractors (Toyota Fans you know the drill) 

Dealer Network: Superb across all nine Provinces. 

Alternatives: Toyota, Isuzu and Nissan particularly on the Bakkie front. 

Legacy: One Litre Coke, 2-litre Brandy and a 3.0L Ford that is legacy for you. Amazing history in F1, Le Mans and proud heritage in South Africa. 

My Favorite Thing: The ST Models. 

My Least Favorite Thing: The ugly badge. Very personal point, but I really hate the badge design. Look at Alfa badge and see why I say so. Only the Chev badge is worse in my contact lens wearing eyes. 

Tip For the Brand: Continue to build on the Ford Tough slogan and work hard to improve Dealership service. 

Tip For Buyers: Look at the best Price, Year, KM combination when buying second hand. Options are plenty and don’t rush, you can be picky. 

Would I buy it: Yes 

Mike Score 8/10 

GWM/HAVAL 

A red Haval Jolion S carPositives: For a brand that is so new to the market the sales success is a story for the ages. Well done to a very dedicated sales and marketing team. 

Negatives: Very few that I have seen, albeit there have been some niggly issues that Dealerships could handle better. 

Brand Cachet: Growing and deservedly so. In terms of prestige GWM/HAVAL will never win awards but then neither will its competitors. 

Dealer Network: Superb and growing literally by the month. No concerns here. 

Alternatives: Chery, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Toyota. Tough competition but GWM/HAVAL is a tough competitor. 

Legacy: Historically none but lets re look this in 5 to 10 years and I am positive it will be strong. 

My Favorite Thing: Keen pricing and quality finishes across the product range. 

My Least Favorite Thing: I personally do not love the styling, however it’s not ugly just not my taste. 

Tip For the Brand: Continue to focus on keen pricing and deal with the odd customer complaints more decisively. 

Tip For Buyers: Look at this brand for whatever vehicle you are looking at. You will be impressed. 

Would I buy it: Yes 

Mike Score 8/10 

HONDA 

A blue Honda Civic RS on the roadPositives: Very little at the moment. This once incredible brand is totally nondescript in the market and will not change in the future. 

Negatives: In terms of quality zero. In terms of looks a lot and the challenges are many and the people marketing Honda have a lot to answer for. 

Brand Cachet: No longer what it used to be. The Honda badge in my eyes was superior to Nissan and on a par with the incredible brand that is Toyota. 

Dealer Network: Barely adequate and outside of Gauteng challenging. Compared to Nissan, Mazda, Suzuki and Toyota its Japanese competitors its hopelessly inadequate. 

Alternatives: Chery, Haval, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Suzuki and Toyota. In this company Honda comes last and the sales figures back it up. 

Legacy: Incredible and it is for this reason I am saddened by the poor marketing and brand positioning of the brand in SA. 

My Favorite Thing: My memories of my 1991 Honda CRX and Nelson Piquet winning Honda’s first F1 drivers World Championship in 1987. 

My Least Favorite Thing: The fact that I am not even bothered to look into their latest products. 

Tip For the Brand: Look at your incredibly poor marketing strategy in SA. Honda is still a leading seller in Australia and North America. Max Verstappen has won 3 world championships using Honda engines.  You are doing an excellent job of keeping it a secret! How?? 

Tip For Buyers: Look only second hand as there are some seriously good deals on the market and it’s a sound product. 

Would I buy it: Second hand without hesitation but definitely under no circumstances would I consider it as a new option. 

Mike Score 6/10 

HYUNDAI   

A Hyundai Kona on the Cape Town cityscapePositives: Many and deservedly so. Great warranty and solid brand in every respect. 

Negatives: Sorry this is Hyundai… We don’t do negative. 

Brand Cachet: Reliable, dependable mommies cars don’t have brand cachet. Hyundai owners know why they buy the superb product. 

Dealer Network: Excellent and wherever you are in SA Hyundai have you covered with just on 100 Dealerships. 

Alternatives: Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Suzuki and Toyota. When these are your competitors you are doing something right. 

Legacy: Strange one in my view particularly in SA. Not a great start, but it is not how you start the race it is how you finish it. Billy Rautenbach and the SKD was the start… Motus have taken it to victory. 

My Favorite Thing: Hyundai is a mommies car, you cannot have a favorite thing on mommies cars :) everything is just perfect! 

My Least Favorite Thing: Its not a Daddies car and Dads are also important. Jokes aside this is a great product! 

Tip For the Brand: Keep doing what you are doing. 

Tip For Buyers: Great buy new and equally so second hand. Shop wisely they are great sellers and many on the market. 

Would I buy it: Yes from Monday to Friday and YES ,YES on Saturdays. 

Mike Score 8.5/10 

ISUZU 

A white Izuzu D-Max on a tar road with long grassPositives: Many and in the esteemed company Isuzu plays that is a compliment in itself. When you are on the same level as Ranger and Hilux you are doing something right. 

Negatives: Limited product range and not first choice for true leisure buyers! 

Brand Cachet: Isuzu owners choose not to buy a Hilux or Ranger :) That is brand Cachet right there. 

Dealer Network: Sufficient but lagging compared to Ford and Toyota. 

Alternatives: Ford, Nissan and Toyota. 

Legacy: Very proud and long tradition in SA. The KB name is synonymous and rightfully so. 

My Favorite Thing: Open disclosure I am about as fond of Double Cabs as I am of Eskom. So I am going with that I do not own one. 

My Least Favorite Thing: As per my disclosure I am not a fan of Double Cabs so Isuzu will have to make a R8 rival soon. 

Tip For the Brand: Increase the base engine size from 1.9L and increase the product range. 

Tip For Buyers: If looking for a work horse you won’t go wrong. For Leisure look at Hilux, Navara and Ranger. 

Would I buy it: Did I mention I am not a fan of Double Cabs? Oh! you also have the MU-X ok then the answer is Yes. 

Mike Score 7/10 

JAGUAR 

A Red JaguarPositives: Stunning looking vehicles with excellent quality finishes and a distinct Land Rover resemblance. 

Negatives: The fact that the Land Rover relationship is what makes Jaguar relevant is telling. 

Brand Cachet: Interesting one. Very good but far lower than it ought to be. 

Dealer Network: Decent and more than sufficient for a niche brand. If you are a fan in Kuruman you will have a challenge! 

Alternatives: Landrover, Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volvo are who the big cat has to contend with. 

Legacy: Exceptional and your average South African does not realize just how much so. 

My Favorite Thing: The design philosophy, I think all models are stunning. The Jaguar F Type is the Ferrari 308 of 2013 in my eyes. 

My Least Favorite Thing: Very little. 

Tip For the Brand: Show some muscle and take the fight to Audi in particular and show BMW and Mercedes you are on their level. 

Tip For Buyers: Shop around as prices vary a lot for same cars. You can negotiate on both new and second hand when it comes to Jaguar. 

Would I buy it: Yes for sure 

Mike Score 8.5/10 

JEEP 

A yellow Jeep driving through the mud fastPositives: Not nearly as many as there should be. The Iconic Wrangler in my view is the only reason this brand is relevant. 

Negatives: Poor resale value, limited product range, pricey, fuel inefficient and essentially less good than the competition. 

Brand Cachet: Jeep clothing is fantastic and many people feel the same way. The brand itself is Iconic but not nearly as relevant as it ought to be. 

Dealer Network: No challenges here. Stellantis who import Alfa, Citroen, Jeep, Opel and Peugeot into SA have just on 80 Dealerships across SA. 

Alternatives: Other than the Wrangler pretty much all manufacturers have a competitor for Jeep. A competitor that is better. 

Legacy: Absolutely the epitome of Iconic and the Wrangler is the main reason. 

My Favorite Thing: The fact that Jeep owners flash lights at each other when they pass. 

My Least Favorite Thing: The pricing new makes no sense and surely the importers can see that. 

Tip For the Brand: Drop the Renegade, improve pricing on Wrangler and please keep the Long Wheelbase Hearse I mean Grand Cherokee a secret. 

Tip For Buyers: Look at second hand before new as there are some amazing options available. 

Would I buy it: Guilty I own a Wrangler Unlimited and love it. 

Mike Score 6.5/10 

KIA 

A maroon Kia SeltosPositives: Warranty, looks, quality, resale value, low theft risk. 

Negatives: We are talking Kia and speedily we move on. 

Brand Cachet: Like its brother from another mother Kia is focused on families. In my opinion equal to the stand out name that is Toyota. 

Dealer Network: Superb and wherever you are in SA you will be able to service your reliable Kia. 

Alternatives: Chery, GWM/HAVAL, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Suzuki and Toyota. 

Legacy: Until 1996 I never knew Kia existed. One man’s vision Ray Levin changed that. Thanks to Ray we have a brand that is just superb on our shores. 

My Favorite Thing: The exterior styling. This is what happens when you head hunt the designer of the Audi TT. 

My Least Favorite Thing: That we cannot find enough of them second hand. Superb sellers! 

Tip For the Brand: Keep doing what you are doing. The public love your excellent product and deservedly so. 

Tip For Buyers: Superb products and you can be choosy especially when looking second hand. 

Would I buy it: Yes 

Mike Score 8.5/10 

LAND ROVER 

A gold Range RoverPositives: Styling, interior quality and just a superb all round product. 

Negatives: You will have to put up with stale jokes about Land Rover products from a time when Margaret Thatcher was the only real man in the Conservative Party. 

Brand Cachet: Excellent and truly the one Kings and Queens aspire to! 

Dealer Network: Excellent and they are where they are needed. 

Alternatives: Aston Martin, BMW, Lamborghini, Mercedes and Porsche. This is how good this car is. 

Legacy: When it comes to 4x4 in my opinion the world owes Land Rover and Range Rover (From 1979) a huge debt of gratitude. The good folks from Greenpeace will take me to task on this point. 

My Favorite Thing: That I am privileged enough to own a Land Rover Discovery 3 and Range Rover Autobiography. Exceptional vehicles! 

My Least Favorite Thing: With genuine honesty, zero. The product is exemplary. 

Tip For the Brand: Keep the fact that Tata own JLR a secret. However keep using the vast resources that this incredible Indian mega company has for R&D. 

Tip For Buyers: Work hard and buy a Land Rover/Range Rover it’s a magnificent marque. 

Would I buy it: I already have and this is one of two brands that get a perfect 10/10 score. 

Mike Score 10/10 

MAHINDRA 

A blue Mahindra on a roadPositives: No brand I know has ever gone from zero to Hero like Mahindra. Their new products are really impressive. A good friend of mine and well known motoring personality Adam Ford sums it up perfectly - it is like Mahindra decided to skip Gen 2, 3 and 4 and just went from Gen 1 to Gen 5. 

Negatives: Perceived as cheap and nasty based on the fact it’s made in India. The initial offering fully deserved this bad reputation. 

Brand Cachet: No one is going to admire you for buying a Mahindra and that will never change. Some people are content with knowing not showing :) 

Dealer Network: Very good and struggling brands like Audi can learn from Mahindra. 56 branches and focusing on the smaller towns for growth. 

Alternatives: Ford, GWM and Nissan. The fact that Mahindra is now an option for Farmers across SA is telling. 

Legacy: Lets focus on the future as it is very bright. 

My Favorite Thing: I am not the right person to ask…. However I repeat I admire the brand's strategy. 

My Least Favorite Thing: That they offer Double Cabs :) 

Tip For the Brand: Continue to grow the Dealer Network and focus on customer retention. 

Tip For Buyers: Only look at the newer models. If someone mentions Bolero say Mikey said Stop it. 

Would I buy it: If I was a farmer who plays the most incredible role in our food security, yes. 

Mike Score 7/10 

MAZDA

A grey Mazda carPositives: Absolutely stand out quality in every respect. Looks superb in my opinion and just all round appealing. 

Negatives: Choice of engines on many models and no doubt this is affecting sales. 

Brand Cachet: If ever there was a brand that deserved better its Mazda.

Dealer Network: Good but could be better. Behind Ford, Nissan, Suzuki and Toyota. 

Alternatives: Literally every Chinese, Korean and Japanese brand. Mazda is stand out with CX-3 and CX-5 but not everyone is aware. 

Legacy: From the Halcyon days of 323 and 626 Mazda have not gone forward. Not in terms of product quality, but rather like Honda have just not been ideally positioned. 

My Favorite Thing: CX-3 and the fact that I have never heard of a Mazda being stolen. Also I must add the MX-5 Club of SA are a bunch of superb people. 

My Least Favorite Thing: The fact that such an excellent product is so poorly marketed in SA. 

Tip For the Brand: Whatever you are doing it needs to change.. You should have Toyota quaking in their boots, yet you are rivalling Honda. In 2024 set your sites on Audi.

Tip For Buyers: Buy this superb product with your eyes closed both New and Used. 

Would I buy it: I bought the most magnificent original 1979 Mazda 323 from the original family and a magnificent 2003 Mazda Sting. 

Mike Score 8/10 and could be 9/10 

MERCEDES-BENZ

A red Mercedes-Benz sports carPositives: To discuss the positives of the Three Pointed Star requires hours not a few words. If there is one brand in South Africa that has my admiration it is Mercedes-Benz. I know I am far from alone in this belief.  A visit to the East London Plant will show you how heavily invested in our beautiful country this legendary brand is. As for their current product offering… If there is a box Tick it. 

Negatives: Not one that I can think of and that I believe again is shared by a cross section of our population. 

Brand Cachet: Let’s just say this is as good as it gets and deservedly so. Mercedes has been a leader in the industry since Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz saw no future in riding a Bicycle :) 

Dealer Network: Superb and every single facility is stand out quality and you feel you are at a premium facility. 

Alternatives: BMW, Land Rover, Maserati, Porsche and in a few cases Audi. 

Legacy: Where does one start and it’s clear that there is no finish. Mercedes are synonymous with safety, motorsports and performance. 

My Favorite Thing: That Mercedes are consistently at the top of the game. Ask 10 people in what order they Rate Audi, BMW and Mercedes and you will get  5 Mercedes 4 BMW and 1 Audi. 

My Least Favorite Thing: That Lewis Hamilton has gone two seasons without winning. As for Mercedes Cars let’s move on speedily. 

Tip For the Brand: Never change the ethos of your brand. Quality is the what Mercedes is stand out famous for. Performance and Safety is the Cherry on the beautiful German cake. 

Tip For Buyers: You will not regret your choice both new and second hand. 

Would I buy it: YES IN CAPITALS 

Mike Score 9.5/10 

MITSUBISHI 

A white Mitsubishi Outlander SUV carPositives: Super low theft risk and that is always a positive. Very nice looking vehicles in my opinion and rock solid reliabity. 

Negatives: Ask anyone and I mean anyone to name 4 Japanese brands in SA and if they mention Mitsubishi I will eat my Pajero hat. 

Brand Cachet: Very little and it is sad. The Pajero and Lancer (In Evo Guise) are legendary. This brand should be on the level of Nissan at least. 

Dealer Network: Acceptable but not ideal and it all goes hand in hand with the lack of sales. 

Alternatives: Chery, GWM/Haval, Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Suzuki and Toyota. This is where the issue for this fine brand lies. 

Legacy: In SA very little has been done to promote the incredible street cred of the Evo and Pajero. 

My Favorite Thing: That its different in the most positive way. 

My Least Favorite Thing: Difficult to spell and unlike Mercedes-Benz and 'Merc', calling it a Mitsu just sounds wrong :) 

Tip For the Brand: Tell the marketing team not to try and win the Camouflage prize year in year out. 

Tip For Buyers: Give this brand more than a second glance. Pajero Sport for me in particular is a no brainer. 

Would I buy it: Short answer Yes… long version My Pajero 3800 Shorty was one of the best cars I owned 

Mike Score 7.5/10 

NISSAN

A white Nissan Magnite Crossover car

Positives: I like the styling of Nissan and particularly their front end. The Vehicles are reliable and ownership is generally hassle free. 

Negatives: For such a mainstream brand their offering in SA is very limited and that needs to change. 

Brand Cachet: Nissan is like Finland. Well known and does nothing whatsoever wrong. However Sweden, Denmark and Norway are more likely holiday destinations. I have to pat myself on the back for this analogy :) 

Dealer Network: Excellent and after Ford and Toyota has the best Dealer network in SA with 117 Dealerships. If you stay in the North, South, East or West you can with Nissan. 

Alternatives: Chery, GWM/Haval, Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Suzuki. There is no stand out must have Nissan in the eyes of the public and that has to be worked on. 

Legacy: From the Datsun 120Y, SSS, Nissan 1400, Safari, Skyline GTX, Hardbody, here is a brand that has serious history. Then of course there is the all time stand out GT-R. 

My Favorite Thing: The brand has no stand out weaknesses and is just a allround solid safe buy. 

My Least Favorite Thing: That when you mention any Nissan as an option, you get ‘I did think about that, but what are your thoughts on!’ 

Tip For the Brand: Take the fight to Toyota and Suzuki. The brand is in the same league and sales in Australia and North America bear this out. Google how Nissan does in China and you will be in awe. 

Tip For Buyers: Don’t hesitate about a Nissan. 

Would I buy it: Yes I practice what I preach. 

Mike Score 8/10 

OPEL 

A Opel Mokka SUV carPositives: Very appealing designs and ultra-low risk in terms of theft. 

Negatives: Poor historic record, parts availability at times, quality not up to scratch and limited product offering. 

Brand Cachet: Interesting one for Opel. No one sees Opel as premium and anything German should be seen as premium. Great following amongst die-hard fans who reminisce about the days of the Big Boss and Superboss. 

Dealer Network: Acceptable and sufficient if you live in a City that German people have heard of. If you live in Bethlehem may I recommend anything else. 

Alternatives: If you read this guide from A-V those are your alternatives in my opinion. 

Legacy: Very little that anyone is aware of. Opel has done a dismal job with this brand I truly believe. 

My Favorite Thing: That I own an immaculate 1990 Monza 160 GLE with only 60 000 KM as well as a beautiful 1989 Kadett GSE. 

My Least Favorite Thing: That there is not a single application in which Opel have the 'must have' product. 

Tip For the Brand: Look at every single reason the product is not selling and fix each item. 

Tip For Buyers: Read this guide carefully and remember it covers all from A-V…. O that’s right but in this case it’s not :) 

Would I buy it: New most definitely No. Second hand definitely worth a shout if you getting divorced and you need to buy your partner a vehicle that will make them hate and remember you forever. 

Mike Score 5/10 

PEUGEOT 

A Red Peugeot HatchbakcPositives: Absolutely exquisite designs and I really am a fan of the looks. Every time I see one I like it. Very low theft risk and for me these are huge positives for all. 

Negatives: Limited Dealerships, poor resale value even if not totally deserved. Poor parts availability and trust issues around reliability. 

Brand Cachet: Not great and such a shame. Peugeot should be streets ahead of the Chinese, ahead of the Koreans and on a Par with the Japanese products. This is not the case. 

Dealer Network: No issues in major centres but limited outside off. 

Alternatives: When it comes to looks, zero and Peugeot can be super proud in this regard. However when it comes to value for money, after sales service and future resale value… Kindly read my A-V guide :) 

Legacy: The 404 and 504 are spoken about with great affection. If you visit West Africa you will be in one as a Taxi. Sadly the Halcyon days of Peugeot are in the history books and that is sad for this once premier brand. 

My Favorite Thing: That when you buy a Peugeot you stand out and for the right reasons. 

My Least Favorite Thing: That when you buy one your knowledge of vehicles is questioned as is your sanity. 

Tip For the Brand: Win over the public and if you need help I am dead serious feel free to engage me. 

Tip For Buyers: Dare to be different and look at Low Mileage second hand options. 

Would I buy it: Before an Opel any day. On other days I would definitely consider it second hand. 

Mike Score 7/10 

PORSCHE 

A white Porsche sports car with red racing stripesPositives: Everything you can think of! Looks, performance, brand cachet, service, back up and just the fact that this is one of the world’s finest products! 

Negatives: We are talking about Porsche there are no negatives. The crazy thing is even the pricing on Second hand vehicles is surprisingly affordable. 

Brand Cachet: What car do you drive? A Porsche! That is in my opinion the ultimate statement. Porsche does not have the potential negative wannabee connotations of some ultra-top end brands. 

Dealer Network: There are 4 Dealerships across SA namely Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria. Porsche Centres do offer mobile servicing and also have arrangements for servicing in various cities. 

Alternatives: BMW, Ferrari, Land Rover/Range Rover, Lamborghini Maserati and Heaven. This fine brand has a product that rivals, matches, betters its competitors.

Legacy: If there is one marque that has a legacy then it starts with a P. From the day Ferdinand Porsche decided that a VW is a peoples car and some people are more equal than others this iconic stand out brand has excelled. The Porsche 911 is stand out in my opinion the most identifiable ‘Super Car’ of all time. The Porsche 917 is in the Pantheon of Motor Sport greatness and the list goes on. 

My Favorite Thing: The styling, the quality and in SA the incredible back up that Porsche Centres provide. 

My Least Favorite Thing: Sometimes I feel this category is not needed and when it comes to Porsche I know it’s not needed. 

Tip For the Brand: Continue to market the product as the absolute premium product it is. Equally make more people aware that a Porsche is within their reach as it truly is. 

Tip For Buyers: If you are looking for a vehicle in this category go in and see what a Porsche Centre is about. You will not just be impressed you will be smitten. It is imperative that when looking at this stand out product you buy from a Porsche Centre as only they offer the full Drive Plan option on their used products. 

Would I buy it: Yes when new, Yes when Second hand, Yes when young, old, male or female.

Mike Score 10/10 

PROTON 

A Red Proton SUV carPositives: It is very rare that I can say that I detest a brand. In this case Proton have succeeded. There is not one compelling thing about this product that for me would make me consider driving one. Unless I was in a war zone and the United Nations where evacuating people in Protons. 

Negatives: Styling is dated, the Tech is irritating the plastics are hard and just all round way behind the competition. China, India, Korea, Japan, Germany and Sweden know how to make cars. Malaysia does not! 

Brand Cachet: Zero and that is flattering the brand. 

Dealer Network: Surprisingly decent but how well they are geared parts wise is an unknown. 

Alternatives: Anything else, new or second hand and I really do mean anything. 

Legacy: Let’s not joke. Proton where in South Africa and then left. In the words of Car Magazine ‘They must have left for a reason’  In my opinion that reason was no one liked your product. 

My Favorite Thing: The X-50 is a surprisingly appealing vehicle on certain levels. I was taken around Kyalami in one and if this was the only Proton on offer I would be less unimpressed by the brand. 

My Least Favorite Thing: The fact that there is ZERO manufacturer backing. It is Imported by a Motor Group and unlike all its competitors cannot be seen as an OEM. Then the name of the entry level Saga. Hey John/Mary how is your Proton Saga going? Go figure! 

Tip For the Brand: Listen to those who have given you sound advice. Work with people in the industry and not against them. Realize that if you compete head on with other manufacturers you will not succeed. Proton as a product is overpriced. No legacy and minimal backing. You need to fundamentally understand the challenges and not wear blinkers! 

Tip For Buyers: Don’t buy it unless you have lost a bet and want to show that you are an honorable individual. 

Would I buy it: No and that is both New and 2nd Hand. In my personal view and the view of other journalists this is the worst brand currently on offer in SA.

Mike Score 3/10 

RENAULT 

A Orange Renault Duster SUV carPositives: Very nice styling and all-round an appealing vehicle. Worked hard to dispel the negativity around the brand historically. 

Negatives: Perceived Re-sale value, parts availability and long term reliability. These are perceived and in time I hope Renault change these perceptions. 

Brand Cachet: Very decent and while seen as left field, its often first choice left field. 

Dealer Network: Very good and with over 80 Dealerships you are well covered. Renault is backed by Motus (Formerly Imperial) and are doing an excellent job of presenting the brand in SA. 

Alternatives: A lot and many will be seen as safer options especially the Korean and Japanese products. 

Legacy: Renault is a brand that shouts I am French, I dare to be different and I am chic. Incredible motorsport heritage. 

My Favorite Thing: That its different and always in a positive way. 

My Least Favorite Thing: That many of the incredible European offerings in the stable do not make it to our shores. 

Tip For the Brand: Play to your strengths and market this chic brand to the right audience. 

Tip For Buyers: Give it a more than a second Glance 

Would I buy it: Yes 

Mike Score 7.5/10 

SUBARU 

A blue Subaru sports hatchback carPositives: There are many and this is a great underrated brand that deserves success worldwide. Standard spec and pricing is superb. 

Negatives: Very little and deservedly so. 

Brand Cachet: Just fine by its owners who are proud of their Scooby’s. 

Dealer Network: Limited but not an issue as there are Dealerships where they are needed. Plus they are seriously mechanically bullet proof. 

Alternatives: Plenty and very little all in one. Subaru have a limited offering in SA but and a positive but, what they offer is stand out. 

Legacy: WRC is where this legend was born. WRX is Subaru as is the Forester and I respect this brand immensely. 

My Favorite Thing: The handling of these incredible AWD Boxer engine vehicles. 

My Least Favorite Thing: That I don’t see enough on the road. 

Tip For the Brand: You have an incredible product that many potential buyers don’t even consider. Take the fight to the streets and get ‘Dirty’ that is where Subaru is at its best if you get my ‘drift’ 

Tip For Buyers: Test drive one and see what different in the right way is about. 

Would I buy it: Unhesitatingly YES. 

Mike Score 8.5/10 

SUZUKI 

A grey Suzuki Jimny 4x4 SUVPositives: Absolutely unlimited and what an incredible brand. Nice styling, well priced, a product for every need and just a solid sound choice. 

Negatives: As someone who deals with customers every day I have yet to have a unhappy Suzuki client. 

Brand Cachet: Superb and growing by the month. 

Dealer Network: Equally superb and also literally growing by the month. Suzuki want your business and they are coming to your town. 

Alternatives: Plenty. Better alternatives? I am all ears and I know the answer already. 

Legacy: Growing by the year and that is across SA. 

My Favorite Thing: Suzuki Swift Sport and how well loved the brand is. 

My Least Favorite Thing: The engine on the Jimny. Put in a 1.0L or 1.2L Turbo and the winner you have will be unbeatable. 

Tip For the Brand: Continue respecting the public and understanding what makes a brand successful. You have many fans and I am one of them. 

Tip For Buyers: Look at the other options first so that when you at the Suzuki Dealership you can sign there and then You won’t be sorry. 

Would I buy it: Hai, Ja, Ewe, Yebo and Yes 

Mike Score 9/10 

TOYOTA 

A white Toyota Fortuner SUVPositives: In 2023 there are very few brands that are not very good. The difference is Toyota have been stand out for the last 50 Years and will be so in the next 50. Reliability and quality are what continues to set this brand apart. 

Negatives:  You tell me as I truly cannot think of one! 

Brand Cachet: Superb and along with their incredible Luxury division Lexus the Brand Cachet is stand out. 

Dealer Network: Best in the country and by some distance. Every town has a PEP and every town has a Toyota Dealership. 

Alternatives: Like Suzuki with whom this incredible brand works closely, there are many. However finding better is not easy and that’s across the range. 

Legacy: Top notch. Everything keeps going right. True words that the brand continues to work hard for. 

My Favorite Thing: The unlimited kilometre warranty extension for up to eight years at around R12 000. Let that tell you the strength of this brand. 

My Least Favorite Thing: Being cut off by a Toyota Quantum Taxi on a daily basis :) 

Tip For the Brand: Bring back the slogan ‘Everything keeps going right Toyota’ as for the rest you are the example others need to follow. 

Tip For Buyers: if you looking for best resale value, ease of ownership and a no risk choice…. Visit your local Toyota Dealer as there truly is one near you. 

Would I buy it: Yes and for every reason and season. 

Mike Score 9.5/10 

VOLKSWAGEN 

A Red Volkswagen Polo GTI Hot Hatch Positives: So many and lets nail them. Incredible styling and with the R-Line package more so. Superb engines and super Gearboxes and I am a DSG Fan. 

Negatives: From a vehicle point of view zero in my eyes. Unfortunately real and perceived VW’s are stolen and higher risk than the competition. VW Pricing is also edging to the high side. 

Brand Cachet: Top notch and what other manufacturers aspire to. 

Dealer Network: Superb and only slightly behind Ford and Nissan while chasing the market leader Toyota. With 109 Dealerships you are well covered wherever you are in SA. 

Alternatives: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and Volvo when comparing apples with apples. However lately and mainly due to pricing the brand is facing stiff competition from the Chinese brands. 

Legacy: Once the Peoples car, always the peoples car. VW SA can be very proud of their contribution historically and present and future. Uitenhage owes VW a great deal of gratitude. 

My Favorite Thing: The name continuity like Golf from the 70’s till present and Polo from the 90’s till present. 

My Least Favorite Thing: Pricing and the fact that to ‘some scoundrels price is not a factor’. My Polo is my Polo :) and you have no right to steal it. 

Tip For the Brand: Continue the love affair the public has with your incredible brand and work hard on containing the price increases. 

Tip For Buyers: When buying second hand shop long and hard. These are ultra-popular vehicles and you have mega choice, don’t rush. 

Would I buy it: Unhesitatingly yes 

Mike Score 9/10 

VOLVO 

A Volvo SUV on a roadPositives: I love the styling and even more so on the latest versions. All modern cars are super safe but Volvo still pushes the envelope on enhanced safety. 

Negatives: Perceived resale value and I say perceived because in reality it is most definitely not behind Audi as an example. 

Brand Cachet: Not as strong as it ought to be. An old man’s car is most certainly not what this innovative brand deserves. 

Dealer Network: Good in the three major Provinces and this is where Volvo buyers are. 

Alternatives: Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW and to a small degree Mercedes. 

Legacy: Exceptional and Volvo deserves more recognition than it gets. Volvo invented the Three Point Safety Belt ( Inertia Reel) in 1959 and were instrumental in Airbag innovation for cars. 

My Favorite Thing: That Volvo in 1959 chose not to patent the technology of three point safety belts. Rather they chose to share this innovation with other manufacturers. Why? Volvo cared about saving lives. That alone for me will be why I am a fan of this incredible marque. 

My Least Favorite Thing: From a pure vehicle perspective I cannot fault this brand. 

Tip For the Brand: Work harder to ensure that buyers that would and should consider a Volvo actually do view and possibly test drive one. 

Tip For Buyers: If you are looking for a good looking, safe practical well designed car, then go look at a brand that would possibly not automatically be on your list. 

Would I buy it: Ja… and Yes… I loved Abba and I really respect and like Volvo 

Mike Score 8.5/10

 

You will notice I have not covered Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Maserati, McLaren and Rolls Royce. Simple reason is that I have no followers from Hollywood, the English Premier league or F1. 

However I give each of the brands a 10/10 Score, zero negatives and huge brand Cachet.  

Would I buy one….. No I am holding out for the day dream that one of them would wish to make me a brand ambassador. For ease of getting hold of me I repeat 083 377 5432 :) and [email protected]  

Regards Mike