Cape Town - Post Report Question and Answers
What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
I’d recommend a high clearance vehicle for trips outside the city. A surprising number of roads are unpaved. - Apr 2021
If you're sticking to the city, you can drive anything at all - 95% of cars on the road are half the size of US cars! We like camping, and have found loads of beautiful places that are 4x4 only, but you can manage most places with a small hatchback. Chevrolet is leaving South Africa, which might impact Americans bringing a car, but we are right-hand drive here anyway, so perhaps not. Japanese and German cars dominate.
Carjacking happens, but usually in a few hotspots, which can be avoided or driven with extra awareness. A new crime trend is jamming of remote locking keys, which means you have hit the lock button and left, but your car is unlocked and cleaned out when you return. - Feb 2018
You cannot bring a left-hand drive car to South Africa. If purchasing a car here, unless you are very comfortable driving a manual transmission, suggest buying an automatic as Cape Town's many hills make it a not-so-great place to learn to drive a stick. Automatics are a little harder to find than manuals locally but are available. Plan to spend a few weeks car-shopping -- because everything here closes at 6-7 pm on weekdays and noon-1 pm on Saturdays, you'll probably need a few weekends to find something you like. When shopping, ask specifically about how many airbags the car has -- some only have driver-side (not passenger-side). Suggest purchasing an inconspicuous car -- a Toyota or Honda sedan or something smaller, an SUV if you plan to do self-drive safaris or off-roading -- and for what it's worth, a large majority of cars in Cape Town are white. - Oct 2017
Gas is expensive and cars cost more in Cape Town than they would in the U.S. Everyone coming here dreams of getting a Land Rover for their "African" experience but SUVs are impractical on Cape Town's well paved urban roads and tiny parking places especially when you factor in gas costs. - May 2014
If you plan on going out "in the bush", get a high-clearance cross-over or SUV. Otherwise, South Africa has an excellent road system and a regular sedan is fine. - Aug 2013