Bite-Sized Hatchbacks

Which one would you go for?

“…the unique design does make you stand up and take notice.”

The VW up!

“…the unique design does make you stand up and take notice.”

The up! looks unlike anything we’ve ever driven before. It has sleek curves in the front with a cute, yet aggressive look to it. The back of the up! is oddly boxy and doesn’t seem like it fits on the rear of the VW, but the unique design does make you stand up and take notice. There is plenty of space in the front for the driver and passenger, but the rear seats did prove to be a tight squeeze for an adult. The back seat actually made for rather effective luggage space as the shoebox-sized boot couldn’t cope with more than one carry-on bag and a laptop. Besides the lack of space inside the up!, everything else was pretty good considering the R147 000 base price tag. The 1.0 litre engine delivered a respectable 55 kW and was comfortable on the open road and around the city. Getting up a steep hill with the air-conditioning on was an interesting experience that required high engine revs but, in the end, the up! got the job done.

As little as ten years ago, if anyone had offered you a car with a 1.0 litre engine, you would have laughed at them. But as technology advances and the demand for more economical, environmentally friendly cars increases, it seems every manufacturer is clamouring to produce the best small car on the road.

 The Kia Picanto

“It blends modern and distinctive exterior styling with a fresh, trendy interior that very much speaks to the needs of its customers.”


The all-new Picanto is one of the standout small hatches on the market. It blends modern and distinctive exterior styling with a fresh, trendy interior that very much speaks to the needs of its customers. The 1.0 litre manual we tested pumped out 51 kW of power, it may seem like a very small number, but considering the size and weight of a Picanto, it’s more than ample. Interior space is, once again, a concern in the Kia, so we aren’t recommending this car for a growing family. The fact that the Picanto has four doors, unlike the up!, does mean that it’s possible to share the car with some younger members of the family, but with an equally small boot, there will come a time when you may consider an upgrade. The interior of the Kia is superb because everything comes standard. There is no need to cough up too much extra to get the best possible car you can. The Picanto starts at around R125 000 and goes up slightly from there.

 The Suzuki Celerio

“The Celerio is a comfortable, smooth cruiser and given the low price you would struggle to find something to compete with it.”

The Celerio is Suzuki’s replacement for the popular Alto. The Celerio, like the Picanto, also has four doors. Back seat space in the Celerio is much bigger than the other two cars on this list – possibly an illusion or just clever design! The boot also seems to be a little bigger and better than the VW and Kia but at the same time; the 50 kWs you get from the 1.0 litre Celerio engine is a tad behind the other two. That doesn’t mean it feels like it needs help, it drives perfectly fine, it just sometimes needs a small kick. The Celerio is a comfortable, smooth cruiser and given the low price, starting at under R120 000; you would struggle to find something to compete with it.

SIZE ISN’T EVERYTHING!

These small hatchbacks come with a few handicaps to allow them to fit into the market, but these handicaps are by no means a compromise. When you consider bang for buck, these little pocket rockets are the David’s of the motoring world.