Singapore’s best new cars of 2016, including the newly crowned Straits Times Car of the Year, have crossed our finish line as winners.
PHOTO: DAVID TING, Editor
There were 10 contenders on the final shortlist for 2016, whittled down from over 50 newcomers in Singapore which were launched in the 12-month qualification period between 2015 November and 2016 November.
PHOTO: EDRIC PAN, Contributing Editor
Performance cars dominate the latest lineup, whose brand mix comprises four German, four Japanese, one Swedish and one American.
PHOTO: LYNN TAN, Contributing Editor
As always, only cars brought in by authorised agents were considered.
PHOTO: SHREEJIT CHANGAROTH, Contributing Editor
We have also imposed a $750,000 price cap, so as to remain relevant to as many readers as possible, but all 10 nominees for 2016 were each priced well below $500,000.
PHOTO: TOH YONG CHUAN, Contributing Editor
There are currently 10 judges on the ST-Torque panel, who debate vigorously with one another before voting wisely through our robust ballot system.
PHOTO: DR ANDRE LAM, Contributing Editor
The cars are rated against their typical rivals and score points on nine criteria – performance, handling, ride, build quality, economy/efficiency, ergonomics, styling, value for money and the X factor.
PHOTO: LIONEL SEAH, Contributing Editor
The results are revealed in the following eight pages.
PHOTO: TONY TAN, Contributing Editor
The STTorque editorial team members congratulate the respective automakers and distributors on receiving Singapore’s most prestigious accolades in the motor trade.
PHOTO: JEREMY CHUA, Senior Writer
BEST 6-CYLINDER COUPE
“THE M2 IS THE PUREST M CAR I’VE DRIVEN IN A WHILE. IT’S THE MODERN-DAY E30 M3.” TONY TAN
BMW M2 COUPE
The muscular successor to the 1 Series M Coupe is powered by a punchy turbo 3-litre straight-6 with 370bhp and 465Nm, sent to the rear wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
On our score sheets, the M2 is tops in Handling and shares pole position in the X Factor category with the Ford Mustang. And the BMW’s total points make it the runner-up behind the eventual Straits Times Car of the Year 2016.
Tony Tan loves the Bimmer. “The M2 is the purest M car I’ve driven in a while. Excellent engine with a sonorous exhaust note; steering so full of feedback. It feels so planted while cornering and it wriggles its tail ever so lightly. The M2 is the modernday E30 M3.”
BEST FAMILY HATCHBACK
“GOOD LOOKS, GUTSY PERFORMANCE, A PREMIUM FEEL INSIDE AND A FINE DRIVE. IT IS THE BEST ASTRA EVER.” SHREEJIT CHANGAROTH
General Motors’ convincing counterpoint to the Volkswagen Golf is offered with two turbocharged drivetrains (1-litre 3-cylinder with 6-speed automatic and 1.4-litre 4-cylinder with 5-speed automated manual) and two bodystyles (five-door hatch and Sports Tourer station wagon).
On our score sheets, the Opel does well in Economy/Efficiency and Styling, and does very well in Value For Money. It doesn’t do well in the X Factor category, but this is perhaps expected, because the Opel is a sensible vehicle with no surprises or unseen delights.
Our senior writer, Jeremy Chua, admires the new-age Astra. “It’s my favourite hatchback of 2016 hands down.”
Engineer, Shreejit Changaroth, is also full of admiration for the Astra. “The standard equipment isn’t the only desirable aspect. Good looks, gutsy performance even in 1-litre guise, a premium feel inside and a fine drive. It is the best Astra ever.”
BEST 6-CYLINDER HYBRID
“THE LEGEND IS A SERIOUSLY QUICK HONDA, YET IT ALSO OFFERS LEXUS- LIKE COMFORT AND ODYSSEY-RIVALLING LEGROOM.” TOH YONG CHUAN
The Japanese automaker’s flagship saloon is a hightech 3.5-litre V6 hybrid notchback with all-wheeldrive and every amenity in Honda’s inventory.
On our score sheets, the Legend achieves top marks in ride quality to tie with the Volvo S90 and finishes just behind the petrol-sipping Toyota Prius in fuel efficiency, which is remarkable considering the Legend’s performance and equipment.
But with a price of around $350,000 in Singapore, the Honda limo isn’t very cost-effective, and its 10th place in our Value For Money standings reflects this disadvantage.
COTY juror, Toh Yong Chuan, commented: “The Legend is a seriously quick Honda, losing only to the NSX in the century sprint, yet it also offers Lexus-like comfort and Odyssey-rivalling legroom. It is huge and heavy, 5m long and nearly 2 tonnes, yet it drives with the eagerness and agility of a Honda Civic.”
BEST 4-CYLINDER COUPE
“THE MUSTANG IS THE ICONIC AMERICAN MUSCLE CAR. EVERY DETAIL OF ITS APPEARANCE SUGGESTS SPEED AND RAW POWER.” LYNN TAN
The sixth-generation American stallion has 317 ponies in its 2.3-litre EcoBoost 4-pot stable (the version tested) and 441 stronger ponies in its 5-litre V8 GT stable. It’s the first right-hand-drive Mustang to gallop into Singapore.
On our score sheets, Ford’s racehorse for the road is ahead of the rest in Styling and alongside the BMW M2 Coupe as joint X Factor winners. But the Mustang is the lowest scorer in our criteria of Ride, Build Quality and Ergonomics, and its total score is at the bottom of the board.
The Ford’s character and charisma are obvious, though. Our chief judge and consulting editor, Christopher Tan, remarked that “it feels special and has an old-school charm, it is different from what Singapore drivers are used to and it is more interesting than many cars today.”
Even our supercar expert, dentis Even our supercar expert, dentist Dr Andre Lam, is impressed. “The Mustang may not have scored well in the cold light of COTY analysis, but it just makes me smile to see and drive it.”
BEST 4-CYLINDER HYBRID
“OVER THE FOUR GENERATIONS, THE PRIUS SLOWLY BECAME MORE ENJOYABLE TO DRIVE AND PLEASANT TO LOOK AT” DR ANDRE LAM
The 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid liftback looks dramatically different from its predecessor, but continues to be green and clean.
On our score sheets, the latest Prius has the best Economy/Efficiency score – even better than that of the Honda Legend, the other Japanese hybrid in our COTY finals. However, Toyota’s most popular ecocar earned precious few points under Performance and Handling.
Andre shared his opinion: “The fourth-generation Prius is no firebrand for sure, but that has never been its raison d’etre. It has always championed fuel efficiency through hybrid technology. In the beginning, that seemed to be all the Prius could do, but over the four generations, it slowly became more enjoyable to drive and pleasant to look at.”
BEST 4-CYLINDER REAR-DRIVE LUXURY SALOON
“IT’S A SMALLER S-CLASS, WITH IMPRESSIVE LEVELS OF SPACE, TECHNOLOGY AND REFINEMENT.” JEREMY CHUA
The E200’s full model change from W212 to W213 made the tristar saloon even more attractive to towkays, even though the main upgrade to the carried-over turbo 2-litre powerplant is a 9-speed automatic transmission, in place of the previous 7-speeder.
On our score sheets, the E-Class is parked comfortably within the top three rankings for Ride and Economy/ Efficiency. But it is 75 points away from the COTY winner at the top of the chart, which is also a 2-litre European saloon with the works.
The ST-Torque team doesn’t have any businessmen wearing Rolex gold watches, but we do know a thing or two about business class travel.
Edric said: “The new E-Class is unimpeachable. It cossets and pampers its occupants, and is whisper quiet.”
Jeremy concluded by saying: “It’s a smaller S-Class, with impressive levels of space, technology and refinement. Mind you, that’s just the entry-level E200.”
BEST FAMILY SALOON
“THE NEW CIVIC IS FAR MORE DRIVEABLE AND DESIRABLE THAN ITS MEDIOCRE PREDECESSOR, AND A BETTER ALL-ROUNDER THAN ITS KEY COMPETITORS.” DAVID TING
The 10th generation of Honda’s signature model is available with a choice of two 4-cylinder engines– 173bhp turbo 1.5-litre or 125bhp 1.6-litre, both hooked up to a continuously variable transmissionwith 7-speed override.
On our score sheets, the Civic is on a par with the Lexus GS F in ride comfort and handling capability, and second only to the Volvo S90 in user-friendliness and bang for the buck. The Lexus and Volvo cost considerably more than the honest-to-goodness Honda family car and are far more complicated.
Our editor, David Ting, likes the new Civic. “It’s not only far more driveable and desirable than its mediocre predecessor, but also a better all-rounder than its key competitors from Toyota (Corolla), Nissan (Sylphy) and Mazda (3), with striking styling to boot. It’s now the benchmark in the segment.” ature model inder engines-litre, both transmission a par with andling vo S90 buck. y more a family w Civic. esirable so a better rom Toyota 3), with enchmark
BEST 8-CYLINDER SPORTS SALOON
“THE GS F IS A MODERN AND LUXURIOUS JAPANESE MUSCLE CAR THAT RAISES BOTH MY PULSE RATE AND THE HAIR ON THE BACK OF MY NECK.” JEREMY CHUA
LEXUS GS F
This is the fastest GS variant, powered by a naturally aspirated 470bhp/530Nm 5-litre V8. It does the century sprint in 4.6 seconds and reaches a scorching top speed of 270km/h.
On our score sheets, the Lexus ties with the Volvo S90 in first position for Build Quality and lies third behind the Audi RS3 and BMW M2 for Performance. In the overall tally, the Lexus is also in third spot.
Torque’s Jeremy is a fan. “The GS F is a modern and luxurious Japanese muscle car that raises both my pulse rate and the hair on the back of my neck.”
BEST HOT HATCH
“THE AUDI IS A STUNNING B-ROAD MISSILE.” EDRIC PAN
AUDI RS3 SPORTBACK
Audi’s audacious pocket rocket packs a turbocharged 2.5-litre 5-cylinder with 367bhp, 465Nm and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
On our score sheets, the RS3 is the highest scorer in Performance (1 point ahead of the BMW M2) and the second-highest scorer in Handling (5 points behind the M2). The Audi’s icing on the cake is its high score in Build Quality.
One of our Car of the Year (COTY) judges, Edric Pan, said: “The RS3 was the biggest eye-opener. More sonorous than its M2 rival, and with lightningquick steering, puppy-eager handling and searing grip through fast corners, the Audi is a stunning B-road missile.”
Another of our COTY judges, Lionel Seah, added: “The RS3 is an outstanding all-rounder. Not only is it a hoot to pilot, it doubles as a daily ride with practical utility.”
Story DAVID TING, CHRISTOPHER TAN