Top-selling cars in Malaysia are really the same few models every year. Manufacturers have done such a good job with marketing, that when the majority of the working class starts look for a B-Segment car below RM100k, Toyota Vios and Honda City seem to be the go-to choice. Similar to many Asian countries, the Malaysian market has a longstanding penchant towards sedans, but the market seems to be trending towards Crossovers in the near future. With that in mind, we have chosen some of the most excitable cars coming to Malaysian shores in 2016!
HONDA CIVIC 2016
The Honda Civic is an iconic C-Segment sedan, and its 10th generation has recently been unveiled in September 2015. Throughout its 9 generations, 20 million Honda Civics have been sold, making it the 5th most popular car in the world – of all time. The Civic has a rich history; Honda was the first to introduce double-wishbone suspension to economic consumer cars with the Civic in 1987. The suspension offers superior ride stability and handling unlike any other mass-marketed consumer car at the time, and back then it was the technology used only in prestige cars and Formula 1 racing. It quickly became a popular platform for modifications and, the Honda being the first to bring it to the masses was truly something. Today, to many enthusiasts’ delight, Honda’s 10th iteration of the Civic model is indeed the most ambitious and radical redesign throughout its considerable heritage.
The Civic has experienced changes to its exterior received some European styling cues which left the car longer, lower, and wider. Aesthetically, the Honda Civic 2016 does not disappoint. The 10th-Gen stands out from the current designing plateau with a sloping coupe-like roofline, which flows into the rear deck into its radical tail lights.
At the front, the design accents are more sculpted which saw to the addition of a bar of chrome, framed by slender headlights. Front indication lights are now detached from the headlamp unit, and front air intakes are also more prominent. The rear C-shaped taillights are sculpted, and looks a lot like a boomerang to me. The 8th-Gen Civic introduced the two-tiered dashboard, which caused sharp opinions among enthusiasts. Having removed said dashboard, Honda now with the 10th-Gen Civic once again forces you to love it or hate it.
Previously, the Civic’s dashboard is what “make or break” the car for a lot of people. Some can’t stand the futuristic, cluttery design, while others fell in love with it. For better or worse, Honda has decided to drop the two-tiered dash in favor of a simpler design. Without the extra tier, forward vision has been improved due to slimmer A-pillars, as well as better ergonomics when using side windows. Rear-view usability however, has been reduced to a slit; one would have to pretty much rely on the rear-view cameras for tight parking.
Interior space is very generous as wheelbase length is increased by 30mm and width by 50mm. The impressive engineers at Honda managed to gain an impressive 105L of volume, 50mm of rear legroom, and 74 litres of boot space compared to its predecessor. Ride comfort is further secured with Triple-sealed doors and an acoustic glass windscreen is used to minimize clunkiness.
UNDER THE HOOD
For the US market, two choices are offered by Honda when it comes to the drivetrain. The first is an uninspiring, 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine capable of 158 bhp @ 6,500 RPM; whereas the second is a 1.5-litre turbocharged unit packing 174 bhp @5,500 RPM. The turbo unit comes exclusively in CVT transmission only, whereas the N/A models come with a six-speed manual. Honda identifies the drivetrains that a sensible driver would want, and a punchier turbo which is just absolute value horsepower for money.
On the other hand, software engineers have tweaked Econ Mode and it is now touted to be much more usable compared to equivalents offered by competitors. At the push of a button, Civic transforms to a respectably fuel-efficient machine, with a mixed consumption rate of 14.8km/L. Its new full-length underbody covers has served to improve aerodynamics substantially, whilst securing the drivetrain as well.
Other versions of the Civic would also be offered in the near future, as Honda promises a coupe, a 5-door, a high-performance Si model and a Type-R! With that said, most of the models are developed for the North American markets, which might prove troublesome or unfitting for the Malaysian climate or market.
Honda Malaysia has announced that they will be increasing the prices of their products by 2-3% across the range effective January 2016, due to the recently weakened Ringgit. As for the 10th-Gen coming to our shores, one can typically expect a 1-year wait before it reaches ASEAN showrooms. When it eventually reaches our shores though, the Civic looks promising against the lineup amongst others within the C segment. In the US, sale of the Civic went up by 8.6% after the 2016 model was introduced; it is clear that consumers are liking what they see with the remake.
PROTON PERDANA 2016
Another car that we feel worthy of our attention – is the Proton P4-90B, more affectionately known as the Accordana. It is publicly known that Proton’s flagship is to be developed strategically together with Honda. For better or worse, it is one of the most anticipated launches as Proton have not historically worked on many D-segment automobiles. Consumers are keeping an eye on this luxury sedan, which might come at a lower pricetag because of the Proton badge benefiting from exempted import duties compared with the original.
According to Proton’s official plans, there are to be two phases to this strategic collaboration between Honda and Proton. Phase one involves rebadging 3,000 Accords to replace the ageing fleet of Perdanas previously in civil service, which was carried out in 2013. Phase two is slated for January of 2016, which is the release of P4-90B for sale to the public. As phase one of the Proton Perdana is only available for civil servants and government officials, little is known about the details of these rebadged models.
As part of the strategic collaboration, Honda would be providing the platform, whilst Proton is able to tinker with the interior and exterior in alignment with it marketing strategy. The 2016 Perdana would be based on the 8th-Generation platform of Honda Accord; given that the 9th generation has been unveiled in Sept 2013, one might expect to be acquainted with the kit that’s on the 2016 Perdana. However, the teasers have suggested the 2016 Perdana might come with keyless entry, a feature not offered its donor model. Under the hood, we expect to be greeted with the very familiar 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre i-VTEC engine which is tried and tested by many, and known to be reliable competent engines.
At Alami Proton held in October 2015, Tun Mahathir half-unveiled the prototype as part of a public event at Shah Alam. The front and rear corners of the car were briefly shown to the media, and Theophillus has made a 3-D rendering of the car for Paultan.com based on what was revealed. Certain features in the design stood out; first of which is the exhaust which is integrated into the bumper. This is a trending design cue from foreign makes such as the Ford Fusion and the Lexus LS offered in the North American markets. The rear of the car would be adopting a fastback design, and a lot of the overall appearance reminds us very much of the Jaguar XF. Would Proton be able to grab a chunk of D-segment with this upmarket offering?
After making its debut in 2014 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the CX-3 was well-received by the local markets. In December 2015, Bermaz brought in 2,000 units of CX-3, CBU (Completely-Built-Up) and imported directly from Japan. Response towards these 2,000 vehicles would help Bermaz who are considering if they should bring in a CKD model. The CX-3 is late to the Crossover party currently dominated by Honda’s HR-V, which comes priced well below the Mazda when fully specced! The Mazda can easily stand its ground in contest, with plenty of cards to play such as its SkyActiv technology, very fetching Kodo design elements, and the Mazda branding.
Step inside and you will find a very familiar sight, if you are familiar with the Mazda 2. A MZD Connect 7-inch touchscreen takes front and centre on the dash, which gives access to the system controllable via the touchscreen or Commander Control dial. Bermaz will also fit it out with navigation capabilities, which is offered as an extra.Kit inside includes Mazda’s very own Active Driving Display, cruise control, leather steering wheel with paddle shifters, reverse cameras and keyless operation.
UNDER THE HOOD
The car is offered by Bermaz on our shores in only one variant, which is the SkyActiv-G 2.0L, which outputs an impressive 154 [email protected] 6,000 RPM, and 204 Nm of torque at 2,800 RPM. These impressive engine figures are achieved with Mazda’s SkyActiv tech which pushes compression ratios to 14:1, which is unprecedented in mass-production consumer cars. This helped to make this really punchy car, where most of its power is available in the low ranges below 1,800 RPM. Drive selection on the car also offer Sports mode which tweaks with the ECU, tightening engine performance for a zippier ride, for when you feel like having some fun.
Mazda’s signature Kodo design never gets old, and never quite ceases to be appealing aesthetically. These particular CBU models also come with a gunmetal trimming pieces located on the front, sides and rear, which only comes as a premium option for Thai models. Kit found on the outside of the CX-3 includes automatic DRL LED headlights,which are auto-levelling. The rear tail lights and front fog lamps are LED as well, leaving the rear fog lamps as halogen bulbs. Other bits of tech found include automatic wipers, electronic side mirrors and a sun roof to boot!
Safety one of the main tenets in the development of the SkyActiv chassis, which gives considerable savings in weight reduction and overall rigidity. The Mazda CX-3 is a relatively safe car, with a 4-star EURO NCAP rating. It is widely speculated that the CX-3 was unable to score higher because the safety tech was not standard equipment on all models. Thankfully, the only variant we have on sale over here comes loaded with safety features. Stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, brake assist are considered basic kit in modern automobiles. Hill launch assist, six airbags and Mazda’s own i-ActivSense suite is some extra kit thrown in by Bermaz to complete the package.
Competitors already slugging it out in the Crossover segment are priced well below the CX-3. The Ford equivalent, Ecoport comes in a really competitive package with comparable features, priced lower by 20-25%. Peugeot’s 2008 crossover is also competing in the same segment, differentiating themselves with turbo drivetrains. Consumer preference is going to play a big role in deciding value for money. The CX-3 then, stands out with appealing aesthetics, solid safety features and a peppy, naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine for occasionaly spirited drives. Bermaz offers a three-year warranty and free service with every CX-3 purchase, and in 5 colors. And that concludes our article on three of the most excitable cars coming to Malaysia!