Singapore Motor Show 2015: Two Japanese cars to watch



 

Could these two Motor Show debutantes help 2015 get off to a strong start for newly-resurgent Japanese brands?

SINGAPORE — One theme emerging for the Singapore Motor Show 2015 is that Japanese brands are beginning to re-enter the budget end of the car market, and go after buyers who want a small car from a familiar brand.

Here are two worth watching at Suntec.

HONDA MOBILIO
Honda’s small not-a-Freed not-a-Stream multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) makes its official debut at Suntec on Thursday. 

Honda will announce the official launch of the all-new Mobilio RS at the Singapore Motor Show, making it the first time that the model will be offered through official channels here.

It’s been priced at $121,999 with COE.

The Mobilio, which is a compact budget MPV that goes head to head with the likes of the Toyota Avanza. Kah Motor, the official dealer for Honda in Singapore, has decided to bring the latest version in to supplement its line-up, and add an extra MPV to its range alongside the full-size Odyssey.

In terms of size the Mobilio actually sits in between the Freed and the Stream, two MPV models that Kah Motor used to offer. Despite its compact dimensions, Honda says the Mobilio can seat seven comfortably, and the interior has been designed for simplicity and ease of use for the everyday family.

Locally, Kah Motor will offer just one engine option for the Mobilio for now, with a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine producing 120bhp and 145Nm of torque. The power output means that the Mobilio joins only a handful of other seven-seater MPVs in Category A, such as the aforementioned Avanza and diesel models like the Volkswagen Touran and Renault Grand Scenic.

Although the Mobilio is positioned as an affordable people carrier, Kah Motor will offer a fairly comprehensive range of standard equipment for the car. They include halogen headlights, electric door mirrors, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and keyless entry, among others.

MAZDA 2

Mazda kicks off the year with the arrival of its all new Mazda2 compact hatch

2014 proved to be a busy and productive year for Mazda in Singapore, with the new 3 proving to be a major hit for the brand, and other models like the Biante and 6 Wagon being launched to bolster the line-up. And Trans Eurokars, Mazda’s distributor in Singapore, is wasting no time in 2015, by pushing the all-new Mazda2 compact hatchback through the doors at the Singapore Motor Show.

The new 2 carries a familiar look, featuring the Kodo design language already seen on recent Mazda models like the 3, 6 and CX-5. Indeed, the sharp new looks are designed to turn heads and make it stand out in the face of increased competition in this segment, given the number of such small hatches being launched here in Singapore in recent months.

Cars like the revised Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta, as well as the new Honda Jazz all give the Mazda 2 a stiff fight in the compact hatchback market.

Like the outgoing Mazda 2, the new car will have a 1.5-litre petrol engine, but this particular unit is a new Skyactiv-G four-cylinder engine that produces 115bhp and 148Nm of torque, thereby ensuring that it fits comfortably in Cat A.

It also marks an increase of about 12bhp over the outgoing model, while at the same time the Skyactiv-G unit is also more efficient, with a quoted average fuel consumption figure of 5.1 litres per 100km, as compared to 6.8 litres per 100km for the old car. It also puts out a measly 119g/km of CO2 from its exhausts, thereby qualifying it for a $10,000 rebate with CEVS.

Overall, the new Mazda 2 has also grown in size in every dimension. Length and wheelbase has gone up by 162mm and 80mm respectively, ensuring greater interior room for occupants, while the car is also taller by 20mm for more headroom. Despite the marked increase in size, the new car gains just 14kg over its predecessor, and with more power this translates into better acceleration, with 0-100km/h coming in just 10 seconds compared to 12.5 seconds from before.

Top speed is rated at 184km/h, while the new Mazda 2 will also have a brand new six-speed automatic gearbox with manual shift, replacing the four-speed auto from the old car.

At launch, Mazda will offer two trim levels for the new 2. The Core trim will come with features such as Mazda’s i-Stop stop-start system, keyless go with engine push start button, and a selectable drive system with Sport mode. The higher-specced Hi trim level comes with the above, and adds automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, a 7-inch touchscreen with Mazda’s MZD Connect infotainment system, a reverse camera, sat-nav, and LED headlights.

The deluxe Hi model costs $122,088 with COE, with pricing for the basic model to be confirmed when it has undergone homologation (or local type-approval) by the Land Transport Authority.

Like all car brands, Mazda will be hoping that a potential dip in COE premiums in the coming year will help drive sales in Singapore, but given the success of the 3 even in difficult market conditions, it looks like Mazda’s new offering might not face such a tough time after all.

Text by Benjamin Chia

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