by James Siddall
Let's leave aside politics and religion for a moment. After these two perennially contentious topics, few things engender as much animated debate as cars.
Most of it is good-natured – you know, braai-side banter about the merits of various machines, with brand allegiance playing a major role. Much of it is amusingly ill-informed – and few individuals, particularly South African males, will own to the fact that their automotive knowledge is anything less than encyclopaedic. And some of it is rather rancorous – especially when it comes to issues such as parts and service prices and, of course, resale values.
Indeed, get a group of car owners chatting and almost invariably you'll hear tell of the horrific drop in value that some have had with their vehicles. This is not without substance.
Here in South Africa the average car depreciates by a little under 32 percent per annum. For certain marques – and one or two luxury and Indian brands come to mind – the figure is over 40 percent per annum.
Over a five-year period depreciation can be catastrophic. Over in the US, for instance, spare a thought for owners of the likes of the Mercury Grand Marquis. When it comes to selling their cars they'll get back less than 20 percent of what they paid.
And yet other brands hold their value brilliantly. Now you obviously know where this is going – and you obviously know that one of those brands is going to be Suzuki. But even I'm quite astounded at how well these plucky little cars – well, Suzuki's forte remains small cars, although they do build some superb larger models – retain resale value.
Industry doyen and all-round good ou Meyer Benjamin, who helms Suzuki Johannesburg South, explains why:
“We've always got a waiting list for second-hand Suzukis. The market just can't get enough of them.”
As Meyer adds, he'll happily sell some second-hand Suzukis with mileage of the sort that would leave cars from other, lesser manufacturers distinctly tired and tatty.
“Even after all these years in this game I'm still astounded at how durable these cars are. I just recently had a Suzuki Alto on our floor with almost 200 000km on the clock. Now normally I wouldn't want to sell a car with that sort of mileage, but this little machine still ran like clockwork,” he says. “Personally I'd have been happy to get into it for a long journey, and I knew that the next owner would still have years of trouble-free motoring.”
What this all translates into is that if you buy a new Suzuki from Meyer and his merry men at Suzuki Johannesburg South during October, November or December this year, they'll buy it back after a year – for 80 percent of the purchase price. Guaranteed.
Indeed, when Meyer told me this over the phone I had to double and triple check that figure. It's that unprecedented. That astounding.
And while there are a couple of terms and conditions attached, this 80 percent buyback isn't linked to impossibly, ridiculously low mileage. Oh no. It's linked to a maximum mileage of 25 000km in a year. Which translates into quite a lot of driving.
“You know,” says Meyer, “we can offer this sort of deal only because these vehicles are utterly bullet-proof and highly sought after.”
So you might want to pop into Suzuki Johannesburg South for one of these sterling machines – or contact Meyer and his men if you have a Swift, or indeed any Suzuki, you want to sell.
You can get them on 011 210 1300 or visit
iX Online Motoring