Which of these Asian saloons will prove the most appealing to buyers with a $100,000 budget?
SPORTS utility vehicles (SUVs) have replaced saloons as the most popular type of car in Singapore. But if you’re one of the few motorists who have refused to jump on the SUV bandwagon, the three contenders we’ve gathered here are definitely worthy of your consideration.
The Toyota Vios is the oldest model in this story, but its design hasn’t really aged. Beneath its sheet metal, the Vios has received improvements to its powertrain. Its engine is now more frugal than before, and the previous 4-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox has been replaced by a more efficient CVT (continuously variable transmission).
Also not showing its age is the Honda City, which was launched here three years ago. In this contest, the City will aim to woo buyers with its combination of roominess and sportiness.
The newest competitor in this story is the Suzuki Ciaz RS, which only hit our roads last year. Apart from its size (it’s the largest car in this story), the Ciaz’s standard bodykit will also make an impact on family men who used to be boyracers.
Which of these saloons will appeal most strongly to a saloon buyer with $100k to spend? Read on and find out.
HONDA CITY 1.5
Honda’s 1.5-litre 4-cylinder with 120bhp and 145Nm is the most powerful engine of this group, and it gives the fastest acceleration.
Most practical and comfortable for the driver, with the largest doorbins and softest seats. The angled dashboard and handy paddle- shifters make it the most driver- oriented, too.
Most spacious and family-friendly rear bench has the most legroom, biggest seat pockets and a pair of 12-volt outlets for recharging gadgets on the go.
The coolest dials of the group have LED rings that turn green when the City is being driven in an economical way.
City’s 536-litre boot is the only one here with backrest release levers. And it has the brightest interior light, for easier loading/unloading in the dark.
TOYOTA VIOS G 1.5
Toyota’s 1.5-litre 4-pot with 105bhp and 140Nm has the most linear power delivery.
Controls in here are the most intuitive of the group, but the relatively limited space and lack of keyless entry/ ignition make this cockpit feel dated.
Great for lanky passengers as the backrests are the tallest and most supportive. The rearward protruding centre console reduces legroom for the middle occupant, though.
Largest digits and oversized fuel gauge make everything easy for the Vios driver to read, but the background design will polarise opinions.
Vios’s 506-litre cargo volume is the most versatile, as it’s the only one with anchoring points. But the tiny boot light means any tethering can only be done in well-lit places.
SUZUKI CIAZ RS 1.4
Suzuki’s 1.4-litre 4-cylinder with 94bhp and 130Nm is the sweetest and most frugal motor.
The least plasticky and the most sturdy. But like the Vios, the Ciaz is not ideal for road trips as there’s no footrest and the steering is only adjustable for rake.
Ideal for passengers with big feet as the footwell space is the most generous. But the two-point lap belt for the middle occupant means this backseat is the least secure.
Chrome accents make the Ciaz’s gauges look the classiest, but the smaller digits on the secondary display are the least legible.
Ciaz’s 495-litre boot is the best-prepared for emergencies, thanks to its full- sized spare tyre and well-organised toolkit. The lack of split-folding rear seats makes this trunk the least flexible, though.
The updates to the Toyota Vios’ 1.5-litre drivetrain have paid off. Apart from being smoother and quieter than before, the engine and gearbox have also improved the Vios’ fuel efficiency from 15.9km/L to 17.8km/L.
Although user-friendly, the Vios would benefit from having more amenities, such as keyless entry/ ignition (standard on most new cars today) and a footrest. But the biggest obstacle to would-be Vios owners is the price – at $105,988, it costs $7.9k and $11k more than the Honda City and Suzuki Ciaz respectively. Every $1000 counts for cars like these.
The Suzuki Ciaz has the lowest price of the trio, but you’re literally getting the most metal for your money, since it is physically the largest contender in this comparison test. Even more impressive is the fact that the Ciaz’s cabin feels the most upmarket, thanks to its surprisingly nice fit and finish.
Ciaz owners will also enjoy lower running costs, thanks to the smaller-capacity engine which is also the most fuel-efficient here. If only the Ciaz had a bigger boot and a full set of three-point seatbelts for three backseat occupants.
Even more appealing than the Ciaz and Vios is the Honda City. The City’s cabin is the roomiest and most practical, while its spacious boot easily accommodates bulky and long items alike.
And thanks to its pretty muscular powertrain, the City also has the edge when it comes to performance. If you have $100k to spend on a new saloon, this one will be hard to resist.
PHOTOS TAN MENG CHOON
ART DIRECTION MICHAEL CHIAN