THE JOY OF GENERICS
by James Siddall
So you walk into the pharmacy. Now it might so happen that they don't stock the exact product you're after. Or it just might be that the pharmacist wants to save you a few rand. So he or she recommends a generic.
The generic, of course, does precisely the same thing that the original does. Except...well...except it almost invariably costs quite a bit less.
It's a lot like that in the car game. And if you stroll into Suzuki Jhb South and the model you're set on isn't available, industry doyen Meyer Benjamin – along with his merry men – will draw on his decades of experience and recommend a vehicle for you that essentially does precisely the same thing. Except in many cases it's going to cost less. A whole lot less.
Now say it's a well-known brand of Japanese bakkie you're after. If Suzuki Jhb South doesn't stock it among their vast array of excellent new and used metal, they may well point you towards, say, a GWM Steed 5.
And forgive me while I interject a personal note here...over the past few years I've driven much of the GWM range, and a while ago when I came to write about a Steed 5 model in Autodealer KZN I wrote thus:
“The days when Chinese cars had ropey reputations are fading faster than an ice-block in the Durban summer sun. And leading the vanguard is Great Wall Motors with a range of offerings that are no longer just good by Chinese car standards, but good by world standards.”
And let's not forget that in 2.2-litre guise, the Steed 5 uses a Toyota engine made under license. Just like the legendary motor that powered previous Hiluxes. Should you want one, Meyer has these vehicles available for just R144 900. Still not satisfied? He will offer you an optional Service Plan or a Guaranteed Buy Back.
On a similar note if it's a little Toyota Aygo or Citroen C1 you're after, well, Meyer and his super-efficient staff might not have one among their vast stock. But you might very well be guided to a Peugeot 107 – which is essentially the third part of the Aygo/C1 trio.
Now it's always a foolhardy affair to take bets, but if it's an energetic terrier of a town tot you're after, I'm fairly sure you're going to be beguiled by one of these machines. After all, the 107 packs a three-cylinder, one-litre motor making an energetic 50kW. Plus its modest dimensions make docking it in even the tightest parking bays the very opposite of the squeezing-an-oyster-into-a-parking-bay-meter business that is so often the case with large barges.
As an added bonus, it sounds simply great, with that little triple singing a thrummy song.
But what's essential to note is that the 107 doesn't compromise on safety – unlike a certain other, recently launched, budget car.
As Meyer expounds, “If you're going to buy one of these for, say, your little princess who's off to university, it's good to know that this great little car comes standard with four airbags, ABS, and EBD, as well as a four-star safety rating. It also sips fuel like a sparrow....figure on a consumption of 4.3 litres per 100km.” Open the bonnet and you will notice the Toyota emblem on the engine casing. This is as good a generic as you will ever find.
And get this: Suzuki Jhb South is offering new Peugeot 107s at a massive 25 percent off the list price. A mere R95 000 (VAT inclusive) will get you one of these sassy little French cars, and that includes a set of genuine alloy wheels valued at R5000-00.
As Meyer says, “That's a lot of high-quality metal for very little money.”