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Ask the Mechanic: Which car is best for a new driver?

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The Toyota Sienta mini passenger van has a smaller and fuel-efficient 1NZ-FE 1.5 litre engine which will give you about 16 kilometres per litre of petrol on the highway.

Hello Paul, I am thinking of buying a car but I am still puzzled about which brand and type to buy as a beginner. I need one that is fuel-efficient but at the same time can help me carry cargo.

Johnson Mugume.

Hello Johnson, it must be a daunting task setting off to buy your first car. Believe me, you are not alone. Your car buying needs seem to be fuel economy and some engine power, passenger and cargo space. I recommend you consider a Multi-Purpose Vehicle or MPV. This is a flexible car option that comes with a small efficient engine that gives you good fuel economy with reasonable engine power. The MPV also provides ample seating and loading space and you can ramp up cargo space by folding down the passenger seats.

The most popular used MPV Toyota choices for the entry-level are the Sienta, Fun Cargo or Yaris and the Ractis. The three Toyota options have the efficient 1.5 Litre 1NZFE petrol engine. This engine gives you a reasonable performance of 108 horsepower and a highway fuel consumption of 16 -18 km/litre depending on how you drive or the maintenance condition of the car engine and tyres.

The Yaris Fun Cargo and Ractis Toyotas offer the smaller 1.3 litre engines which will give you a smaller performance of 87 and 88 horsepower respectively but much better fuel economy of 20-22 km/litre on the highway. These statistics are subject to sensible driving, good tyres and engine maintenance conditions. The Sienta is more spacious with slightly better ground clearance, followed by the Ractis and Fun cargo respectively.


Hello Paul, I recently got backed into by another car and as a result, have a bent number plate. There was no point in going through insurance because of the small cost but was wondering where I can go in Uganda to get a replacement plate.


Hello Justus, a good starting point is the police station to report when your number plate got damaged. This report may be required when you apply for new number plates. You can get replacement car registration or number plates from the Ministry of Works and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). You will have to visit their Nakawa car registration and licensing department or any other car licensing and registration centre near you.

The officers at the car registration department will repossess the old number plates after verifying your police report, ownership details and identity.

Thereafter, they will process your application for new number plates and issue payment advice. After paying, permission will be granted to collect the replacement number plates from approved number plate manufacturers GM Tumpeco or Arnold Brooklyn.

For more details concerning the replacement of number plates and fees required, check on the URA or Ministry of Works websites or visit their nearest offices.

It is important to confirm the authenticity of the replacement number plate and confirm they are issued by the Ministry of Works and URA through authorised outlets.

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