Which of these Thai-made basic saloons can throw a knockout punch in value for money?
Story Jeremy Chua Photos Tan Meng Choon Art Direction Sean Lee
THE image of a muay thai fighter is that of a combatant with an array of deadly moves. The three contenders we’ve gathered here have unique skills, too, which they will employ in an attempt to defeat their opponents in this “ring”.
One of the newest entrants in Singapore’s cheap-and-good- saloon segment is the Suzuki Ciaz RS. It is not big on looks, but it’s bigger than its rivals and sports a standard bodykit that will interest boyracer fathers.
The Mitsubishi Attrage may be the smallest contender in this boxing contest, but it off ers a reasonably roomy interior and is equipped with an efficient powertrain to help lower running costs.
Facing off against the Attrage and Ciaz is the Mazda 2 Sedan. Tested here in Premium guise, the 2 Sedan aims to impress with its well-equipped cabin, and promises to “fight” as dynamically as it looks.
Which of these saloons from Thailand will emerge victorious in this three-way match? Keep reading to find out.
MAZDA 2 SEDAN 1.5 "Most responsive drivetrain"
ENGINE Mazda’s 1.5-litre 4-cylinder with 115bhp and 148Nm is the most powerful and forthcoming of the trio.
Mazda’s 6-speed automatic is the quickest gearbox here.
COCKPIT Sportiest cockpit has the coolest gauges and faux carbon fibre trimmings. It feels the most upmarket, too, thanks to its nifty infotainment system.
BACKSEAT Smallest backseat has the least legroom, lowest headroom and shortest backrests, so it’s limited to “2” petite passengers.
BOOT Mazda’s 414-litre boot is the most flexible, as it’s the only one with 60/40 split-folding rear seats and backrest release levers. (The boots of the other two cars cannot be expanded at all.)
MITSUBISHI ATTRAGE 1.2 "Most fuel-efficent engine"
ENGINE Mitsubishi’s 1.2-litre 3-cylinder with 78bhp and 100Nm is the most frugal motor in this comparo.
Mitsubishi’s CVT is the most relaxed transmission of the three.
COCKPIT Most driver-friendly, with the best overall visibility and the largest meters. It’s also the group’s only car with digital climate control.
BACKSEAT Matches the Ciaz for legroom, but the narrow bench is better for two adults instead of three. Like in the 2, there are no doorbins at all.
BOOT Attrage’s 450-litre capacity has the lowest loading height, making it ideal for heavy items. The boot lid is also the lightest and easiest to open/close.
SUZUKI CIAZ RS 1.4 "Most polished motor"
ENGINE Suzuki’s 1.4-litre 4-cylinder with 91bhp and 130Nm is the most refined of the bunch.
Suzuki’s 4-speed automatic is pretty dated, but more animated than the Attrage’s CVT.
COCKPIT Most spacious and practical cockpit, with a branded hi-fi system that sounds the best and offers the most connections.
BACKSEAT Comfiest backseat can accommodate occupants up to 1.8m tall, but the lap belt for the middle occupant is too deep a cost cut.
BOOT Ciaz’s 495-litre volume has the largest aperture and caters well to bulky items, such as golf bags. The boot light is the smallest, though.
The Ciaz is the roomiest, the 2 sedan is the most energetic, while the attrage is the most comfortable.
It may not punch as hard as its rivals, but the Mitsubishi Attrage will go the distance in a drawn-out fight thanks to its frugality. Without trying to drive gently, we recorded over 15km per litre in mixed conditions, as compared to the 12km/L we saw in the 2 Sedan and Ciaz RS.
The Attrage’s other two attractive aspects are its 10-year engine warranty (as long as the vehicle is serviced at Cycle & Carriage) and list price. At $85,999, it costs $14.8k and $9.9k less than the 2 Sedan and Ciaz RS respectively, making it the most affordable vehicle here.
In terms of fighting ability, the Mazda 2 Sedan is second to none. Its well-tuned suspension gives it superior balance, while its muscular powertrain enables it to hit harder and faster than its opponents can.
The 2 Sedan also offers nifty features not found in its two rivals, such as a manual override for its gearbox, slick infotainment and a fuel-saving stop/start function. Its main drawbacks are its comparatively tight cabin and higher asking price.
The Suzuki Ciaz RS emerges ahead in this three-way “muay thai” match. It doesn’t drive as well as the Mazda or sip fuel like the Attrage, but it makes up for these by having the most capacious cabin, most commodious boot and most refined powertrain, thus delivering the feel of a biggish saloon in a compact, well-priced package.
KEYS (From left) The Attrage key feels the most solid, the buttons on the 2’s fob are the nicest to press, while the Ciaz’s oval device is the most pocket-friendly.
+ Keenest handling, quickest acceleration, most immediate gearbox
- Least spacious interior, poorest practicality, highest sticker price
Best in performance
+ Cushiest ride, most efficient drive, cheapest pricing by quite a margin
- Lackadaisical performance, least refined engine, slowest transmission
Best in efficiency
+ Roomiest interior, quietest engine, excellent audio entertainment
- Outmoded gearbox, relatively inefficient drivetrain, inadequate rear seatbelts
Best in spaciousness