Do I need a 4x4 in South Africa for getting around and exploring the country? This is one of the questions we are often asked. Here we will provide you with some insights into driving in South Africa to help you decide on which car to get and how to insure your car properly. Depending on the locations you are intending to visit during your stay in South Africa, you might need to consider driving a 4x4 car or SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle).
The roads outside the major towns and cities in South Africa can quickly turn to patched stretches of tar, potholed, sandy or gravel roads and driving a 4x4 is thus often a necessity in more rural areas. Also for a longer stay in the country, we recommend getting a 4x4, especially if you have to work in remote areas or plan to explore the countryside. And with the right insurance for your 4x4, you can feel safe in the knowledge that you are covered well for all eventualities as driving in South Africa can often be described as more dangerous than in many other parts of the world.
Certainly, new 4x4s or off-road cars are expensive, but considering that in South Africa, second hand cars and older cars are very valuable, you might want to consider investing in a new car and selling it at a good price before you leave the country. And remember, importing a car is really costly, and only recommended for returning South Africans who stayed in the UK as permanent residents but decide to relocate for good to South Africa or if you are coming to South Africa on a temporary permit for less than 12 months - as then you will not pay import duty. However, the import process is tedious and lengthy.
Cape Town is pretty easy to drive with any car, but should you need to venture out into the South African ‘bushveld’, even just to explore the scenic Cederberg Wilderness Area, a three hours drive from Cape Town, or experience the splendid landscape of the Augrabies Falls National Park in the Northern Cape, a 4x4 is highly recommended. We have worked in and explored many wonderful places in South Africa and many of the places we visited are off the beaten track and so much more manageable in a 4x4. Well, an off-road car is not exactly what one needs for the daily school-run in Cape Town, but so wonderful to have when work calls in remote corners of this beautiful country or when going on a holiday in Southern Africa.
If you would like to know which 4x4s are highly rated in South Africa, refer to the most recent statistics by NAAMSA (National Association of Automobile Manufacturers in South Africa).
The 8 top selling SUVs in South Africa are these:
Landrovers and Jeeps are not among the top selling new cars, which certainly is due to their high price tag's for these cars (roughly starting around R700,000) and thus much lower sales volumes. But these brands are popular in South Africa as well, especially older and second hand 4x4s are rated highly.
Safety is paramount when on the road. Getting the right insurance for your car is a must when driving in South Africa. The theft rate is high in Cape Town and the risk of being involved in an accident with an uninsured counterpart is even higher. You should know that taking out car insurance when driving in South Africa is not compulsory. In South Africa more than 60% of all cars are uninsured which is a really scary thought! Being involved in an accident, which is always bad enough, might leave you completely out of pocket, if you are not covered correctly. It is highly recommended to take out compulsory car insurance, as then you will also have cover for damages to your car caused by the third party involved.
Comprehensive car insurance will usually cover theft and hijacking incidents, accidental damage to your car and accidental third party damages. There is also specific off-road car insurance offered by Dialdirect, which you might consider taking out. Dialdirect is one of South Africa's major insurance providers and offers a wide range of insurance options.
We hope this article helped you decide on the right car for driving in South Africa or when going on a cross country adventure. Make sure to share your stories and tips on our ExpatCapeTown Facebook Forum or pop us a line with your queries. Enjoy your South African holidays. Be safe, be insured and drive smart!
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