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MOTORING: Uganda top car in 2019

Race between Rav4, Subaru Forester, Kluger, Harrier

Kampala, Uganda | MOTORING GURU | When The Independent’s motoring guru did a column in December 2017 predicting the popular car of 2018, the focus was on the evergreen compact SUV; the Toyota RAV4.

Buried deep in that review was mention of an emerging competitor in that segment on the Uganda market; the Toyota Kluger. As 2018 ends, it is clear that a year is a long time in the car business. Apparently, and without official statistics, it looks like it is the Kluger and not the Rav4 that has ruled 2018. In fact, the competition appears to have been between the Kluger, mainly its Third Generation models, stretching from 2014,  and the Subaru Forester models of the same period.

The shift is interesting because in terms of looks, the latest Rav4 models on the Ugandan market – which means Second and Third Generation models (2000 – 2012) still boast better looks and the Fourth and Fifth Generation (2012 – to date) Rav4 look even better. The Rav4 also makes a greater attempt than Subaru and Kluger at updating its technology and entertainment package of touchscreen multimedia and sound system, smartphone integration, and safety.

But it appears the Forester is loved because it’s compact enough to pass for a small car when it’s necessary yet its interior is larger than the Rav4 and ideal for whole family comfortably. It also has the power of its permanent AWD system and the X for off-road driving. It is a high quality car, with a good safety record, and robust suspension suited to Uganda’s often tough driving conditions.

The Kluger is favoured mainly because of its larger external frame matched with high ground clearance which give it a more commanding presence on the road than even its clone; the Toyota Harrier – which is also quite well-liked. In fact, Harrier would have more appeal if it did not guzzle so much fuel. That has left the Kluger commanding a higher price – model year for model engine – than the Harrier.

It will, however, be interesting to watch the completion between these four SUVs in 2019; the Subaru, Kluger, Rav4, and Harrier.

Toyota unleashed a Fifth Generation Rav4 in 2018 that looks quite exciting. However, locally, the focus will be on the Fourth Generation (2013 -2018) which could become more common especially because of new import restrictions on cars older than 15 years since production.  In March 2018, Subaru released its Fifth Generation Forester which appears to break with the past in the looks department and offers an impressive array of safety and driving technology and gizmos. But it will be interesting to watch if the Fourth Generation Forester models (2012-2018) hit our market. If that happens, the Kluger – which has not had a major model upgrade since its 2013 Third Generation offerings, could be in real appeal trouble. The same goes for the Harrier.

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