Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

How To Choose The Right Car For Your Trip

A trip around sunny South Africa can take months of meticulous planning, but the three most important ingredients for the best possible trip are simple: good company, a great route and… the right car for your needs. 

But, knowing how to choose the right rental car can be difficult when you realise how many choices are available to you. Below we provide a rental car guide for choosing the right car for your trip.


There are some simple steps you can start with that will make renting a car in South Africa easier and will help you to receive a more accurate quote from the car hire company.

Count Your Passengers

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

Before you look for a possible car hire in South Africa, you should start by counting the number of passengers you will need to carry. If you are visiting family or friends and you will be riding together with them, you will need extra seating. Think about both the children and the adults you might be riding with and how comfortable they will need to be.

Look At Your Luggage

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

Take out all of the items you are planning to take with you, including the suitcases. This will show you how much luggage you will be taking with you when renting a car in South Africa. Many car rental websites will tell you how many and what size of suitcase a car can carry, but might not account for oversized or irregularly shaped items.

Don’t Forget Fuel Economy

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

Fuel economy is an important consideration for any trip around a country. Research what the fuel economy is of the various models of cars, from SUVs to hatchbacks. Some websites for car hire in South Africa will have the fuel economy listed, which can help to find a model that best suits your requirements.

Ensure You Understand Insurance

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

One important tip to remember for how to choose the right rental car is to ask about and understand the insurance. Remember that full cover car rental insurance does not always mean full cover. For example, If you were to have an accident or incident, where no other vehicle, pedestrian or animal was involved, you may not be covered at all.

Think of reversing into your gate pillar, suffering trolley damage in a supermarket parking lot, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as common examples. Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions before signing anything. Tyre and windscreen damages are always excluded unless specifically included in the quotation. Extra cover can be obtained for windscreen and tyres, on request, at a very low daily cost.

Considerations Before Renting A Car

After following the steps above, there are some considerations to take into account when it comes to car rental in South Africa.

Boot Or Trunk Size

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

The size of the boot or trunk of the car will have a direct impact on how much luggage you can take with you. The option to have roof bars on a rental car is not common, so you will need to carefully consider what boot or trunk size you need. A hatchback rental or sedan rental is an ideal option for those doing town driving who need a larger boot, while an SUV rental might be better suited for trips with less luggage.

Transmission Type

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

Renting a car in South Africa means that the most commonly rented vehicles have manual transmission, as this is the most commonly used in the country.  Rule of thumb is that vehicle groups A to C are always manual and the larger vehicles from D upwards are mostly automatic transmissions, Check with the rental company if unsure.

Extra Additions

Star Car Blog on how to choose the right car for a trip in Cape Town, South Africa

If you need any extra additions, such as a car seat for a child or a GPS system, be sure to book these at the same time you are booking your car. This will ensure you have all the necessary extras when the day comes to pick up your rental car. Some more specific extras might not be available, but you can remedy this by packing your own or hiring them while you are in the country.

What Type Of Car Do I Need?

Now that you have considered all of your options, you can think about the type of car you will need to make your adventure comfortable and enjoyable.


Hatchback rental with Cape Town Car Hire

Hatchback rental is a great idea if you are doing mostly town driving. They are generally the more affordable car rental options, are compact, economical, and can seat four people. However, the legroom and luggage capacity is limited.

Family Sedan

Family Sedan rental with Cape Town Car Hire

A family sedan rental can seat four to five passengers and are best suited to small groups. There is sufficient luggage space, both manual and automatic transmission, and are economical, too.

Luxury Sedan

Luxury Sedan rental with Cape Town Car Hire

Luxury sedan rental is ideal for those who want a little something extra for their trip.They have advanced features, lavish interiors with all the comforts you could want, and offer both manual and automatic transmission models. They are best suited to long distance business trips or international holidaymakers.

SUV And 4x4

SUV and 4x4 rental with Cape Town Car Hire

An SUV rental or 4×4 rental are perfect choices for the more adventurous journey. They offer comfort and ruggedness, and the ability to drive through the difficult South African terrain with ease. However, they are heavier on fuel consumption, which is an important factor to consider.

Passenger Vans

Passenger van rental with Cape Town Car Hire

A passenger van rental option is able to seat eight to ten people easily, ideal for large family or friend groups. They offer both comfort and space for passengers and luggage. These vehicles can be more difficult to drive than smaller cars, so remember this for any town driving.

Final Verdict

Choosing the right car for your trip does not have to be a daunting prospect. Start with the simple step-by-step process, look at all elements that are important to you, and remember to think about what the different car models offer.

 Start your South African adventure off in the right gear.  If you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to ask us.  Contact Star Car Rental for an accurate quote.