Following the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2015, manufacturers revised the pricing of their products with most of them having price increment. Despite being a challenging year, 2016 has been an attractive year for the automotive industry in Malaysia.
It has seen premium carmaker Mercedes-Benz bump its total sales figure about 9 percent over the 10,845 units sold in 2015. Honda launched the new Civic, available with the revolutionary VTEC Turbo engine as one of the option.
As for the national carmakers, Proton has worked tirelessly to introduce not two, not three, but four new models - Perdana, Persona, Saga and Ertiga – in less than six months. The introduction of the new models is also part of their turnover plan. Perodua on the other hand has unveiled their first ever sedan, the Bezza which is based on its A-segment hatchback, the Axia. The car is said to be developed in-house by Perodua.
Listed below are the five launches in 2016 that we think are the most important and carry its own significance:
The introduction of the Volkswagen Vento has effectively replaced the Polo sedan, and as stated by Volkswagen, the name ‘Vento’ has been widely used in other markets outside Malaysia. Apart from the nomenclature change, the B-segment sedan is one of the most capable of its kind in its segment. Some components in the DSG gearbox (on 1.2-litre TSI turbocharged engine) is said to have been improved to elevate its durability.
Available in three variants- Trendline, Comfortline and Highline- the price of the new Vento starts at RM80,646 all the way to RM94,461. The base Trendline and mid Comfortline are powered by a 1.6-litre MPI naturally-aspirated engine that kicks out 104 hp and 153 Nm of torque. The range-topping Highline also produces the same 104 hp from its 1.2-litre TSI engine, but its torque figure has been bumped to 175 Nm.
The Vento gets new exterior styling cues such as a larger grille with chrome slats, a redesigned front bumper and bonnet, rectangular fog lights, new tail light graphics, a re-profiled rear bumper and chrome bars on the rear bumper and bootlid. The variants can be differentiated by the different wheel designs; 15-inch ‘Riverside’ alloys or 16-inch ‘Syenit’ alloys. Standard safety features on the Vento include ABS, Brake Assist, ISOFIX child seat anchors and an Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS).
In its 10th generation now, the new Civic will arrive in Malaysia with a pretty ambitious mission, “to be a game-changer in C-segment market”. And Honda kind of nailed it, we would say. Pairing a turbocharger to the company’s famous VTEC for the first time, the new Civic has so many reasons to be accounted for.
Compared to its rivals such as the Corolla Altis and the Volkswagen Jetta, the much-awaited Civic features a rather bold and fresh exterior styling, although it may look busy on some parts. In terms of equipment, the 1.8-litre i-VTEC and ≈ 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo mid-variant share the same halogen projector headlights, but the range-topping 1.5-litre turbo will get you full LED headlights and LED fog lights.
The Civic gets plenty of kits like multi-function three-spoke leather steering wheel, eight-way powered seat, rear air-con, full-colour LCD instrument cluster, Eco button, reverse camera, remote engine start and electric parking brake, all equipped as standard across the range. At RM109,744.31 base price, the Honda Civic is RM11k cheaper than the base Toyota Corolla and is, interestingly, equal to the base Volkswagen Jetta.
Next on the list is not a single model, but a pair of vehicle – Mazda CX-5 and Mazda6 – that are powered by the same 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel. With the current Mazda models that have been well-received by the Malaysian consumers, Mazda has made a brilliant step to add the turbodiesel models in their lineup. This also makes Mazda the first Japanese brand to bring turbo diesel passenger cars to Malaysia.
The exterior and interior kit for both cars are nearly identical to their petrol-powered counterparts. The CX-5 is equipped with auto headlights with auto-levelling and LED DRLs, engine Start-Stop button, dual-zone climate control air-con, auto-dimming rearview mirror and adjustable steering with tilt and telescopic function. As for the sedan, the car gets LED DRLs, Mazda Active Driving Display, engine Start-Stop button, electronic cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror and adjustable steering, similar to the petrol-engined Mazda6. The only difference one can tell that the cars are the oil burner is by the ‘SkyActiv-D’ letterings on their tail gate and boot lid.
The SkyActiv-D engine is fitted with a two-stage turbocharger for smooth and linear response. The 14.0:1 compression ratio is pretty high for petrol engines, but comparatively low for an oil burner. This low figure allows for lightweight engine construction, which contributes to reduced friction and improved fuel economy. Power output is rated at 173 hp and an enormous 420 Nm of torque; the twisting power that is on par to a naturally-aspirated V8 ones.
After years of producing hatchbacks (mostly), Perodua has launched their first ever sedan - the Bezza. Perodua has been quite secretive with the development of the sedan and rumours said that the car will be based on the Myvi. It has now been revealed that the car shares its footprint with the company’s smallest model, the Axia.
According to Perodua, the Bezza is the model in which their engineers got the most technical involvement, with development and testing done in-house. The company also managed to provide a class-leading 508 litres of boot space on such a compact package.
Buyers of the Bezza will get to choose between the 1.0-litre VVT-I engine or the 1.3-litre Dual VVT-I engine, making 67 hp/91 Nm and 94 hp/121 Nm respectively. The engines can be paired by either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission, with the range-topping Advance variant to be paired by the sole automatic unit.
Among the four new models introduced by Proton in 2016, the Saga is the most important one to us. It may not be as luxurious as the Perdana or as capable as the Persona, but the Saga carries rather heavy task under its name; to be the kereta rakyat, or the People’s Car.
The 2016 Saga is recognized as an all-new car, although it is built on the previous car’s platform but with numerous changes inside out. The styling of the car is not just limited to the reprofiled front and rear fascias, but also includes longer and wider opening rear doors, resculpted rear three-quarter panels, and Pagoda-style roof or bubble roof. On the inside, the steering has a faster rate of 16:1 degree of steering to wheel turning ratio compared to 21:1 degree on the previous Saga while the 1.3-litre VVT engine now uses three-point mounts for better NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels.
In the cabin, the front and rear fabric seats feature new textures depending on the variant; plain black for Standard, mesh pattern for Executive and wavy pattern for Premium. All variants get Ecodrive Assist, tilt-adjustable steering, ISOFIX child seat anchors, folding rear bench seats and 4-star ASEAN NCAP rating. Sadly though, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist are absent on the Standard variant. Really, Proton? The Premium is further added with ESC and Hill-Hold Assist.