The first thing to remember, says Jeff Osborne of Gumtree Automotive South Africa, is that there are no bad cars anymore.
“It is so easy to be seduced by all the glamour at the Johannesburg International Motor Show. And indeed, that’s a huge part of the fun. But there’s a very real, practical aspect to the show that motor enthusiasts can tap into. So, when you are done drooling over the latest concept and super cars, take the time out to look at the so-called ordinary cars on display.
‘ Even the entry-level models are well worth spending time over, because it is here that you will see some of the biggest changes in the motor industry from a global perspective, as small, low-cost cars are increasingly being equipped with features that were the preserve of the luxury models, even the futuristic concept cars, just a few short years ago.
“The biggest real-world attraction, for both manufacturers and show-goers alike, is that within the radius of a few city blocks you can see and compare just about every single car of note available for sale on the South African market. And cars that will go on sale in the next six to 12 months!
“So if you are in the market for a new car – now, or even in a few years’ time – the show is a must for your diary between October 18 to 27, held at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec, which is south-west of Johannesburg’s city centre. Here you can hop from one car to another, compare apples with apples so to speak. And pick out the real plumbs on offer too.
“One of the aspects that will amaze you, if you step back from the show stands for a spell and contemplate what you have been exposed to, is that in late 2013 there is now a car for just about every single use, or market niche imaginable.
“To use one manufacturer as an example, just a few short years ago if you wanted a Mercedes-Benz, you had the choice between a big, large luxury sedan, and a medium-sized luxury sedan. And that was it!
“Now, you can have a Mercedes to suit just about any need you have, from a relatively affordable hatch to a people-moving MPV, a soft-road SUV, through hard-core off-roaders, to super-performance sedans and two-seater sports models.
“And Mercedes is not alone here. Its chief rivals, BMW and Audi, have followed suit, while just about every other major manufacturer has similarly created specialised models for the various market niches that have presented themselves.
“I personally find the entry-level models most interesting, because they have different sets of parameters to work with. Clever occupant space, luggage space, stowage innovations, abnd of course, an array of comfort and safety features that are now considered par for the course on many of the smaller models. And it hasn’t gone un-noticed that the A and B-Segment cars at the bottom end of the market represent the fastest growing segments of the new car market, as so many people are buying down.
“So, if you are visiting the show with a purchase in mind,, my advice would be to check out all the wow show cars and exotics first, and get those out of your system first.
“Then check out the various types of vehicles on offer. For instance, you might have been focussing on a hatchback, whereas an SUV might suit your needs better.
Once you have homed in the type of vehicle you really want and need, speak to the hosts and hostesses at the show to get an idea of pricing and whether it fits your ball park. Then do a hop from one model to another, checking out trim levels, space, legroom, special features, and of course, pick up brochures detailing those cars’ performance.
“You should now have narrowed your choice down to two or three vehicles. The next step is, arrange with one of the stand representatives to put you in touch with your nearest dealer. And a few days after your show visit, test those two or three cars, because they might feel very different to the way they look.
“In this way, you are getting the very best out of the Johannesburg Motor Show. You’ve given your dreams full reign amongst the exotics and the concept models, you’ve followed your heart and your head as far as refining your choice is concerned. And when you’ve come up with a budget, you can make that all-at-once-realistic dream a reality.”