Singapore Motorshow 2019: Weird and Wonderful


  • Jan 13, 2019

Here you’ll find the cars and other stuff which we couldn’t quite pigeonhole neatly into other categories, but which are still plenty intriguing nonetheless.

 

Text: Derryn Wong and Jon Lim

SINGAPORE

Cars come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes they just don’t conform to any moulds. Here’s our roundup of the most unconventional cars of the the show, either because they’ll always be a rare sight on our roads, or because they pack some pretty unusual tech beneath the skin.

Honda Sensing VR Demo

Okay this is not even a car that’s there in the physical sense, but it is something rather significant from Honda – it’s a virtual reality demo of the brand’s new suite of advanced safety features, which it dubs ‘Honda Sensing’.

Just like Toyota’s Safety Sense, Honda Sensing is already standard issue on most of its cars in other markets such as the USA, and has begun its roll out as standard on newer models in Singapore – Honda Sensing first saw introduction here in the facelifted Honda Odyssey (naturally we’ve test driven that already) and it’ll be found on most, if not all, Hondas in future, including the all-new 2019 Honda Accord.

Honda Sensing comprises of:

Collision Mitigation Braking System – The autonomous emergency braking (AEB) feature is now more widespread on many cars, and this is Honda’s version. Not just useful in helping you avoid fender-benders, it’s also an unmissable part of a Euro NCAP five-star rating these days.

Adaptive Cruise Control – The system we all know and love now, it follows the car in front at a safe speed and distance, or behaves like normal cruise control when it’s the open road ahead.

Lane Keeping Assist System – A great leap forward, especially for many local drivers who exhibit signs of ‘lane creep’, or simply forget to do other road users the basic courtesy of using their signals.

Road Departure Mitigation – But seriously, LKAS, along with RDM keeps you in lane, and intact, should you happen to wander out of the lines for whatever reason.

 

Ducati Multistrada Enduro and Hypermotard 950

$39,900 and $63,700 

Ducati was the sole two-wheeled presence at the Singapore Motorshow as part of the Wearnes Automotive agglomeration, and it introduced two new members of the line-up, the Hypermotard 950 and Multistrada Enduro 1260.

The Hypermotard is, like many big supermotos, a large, playful puppy made into motorcycle form, but without the drooling. This model is all-new, but retains the upright stance and L-twin engine of its ancestors, in this case the power unit is the 937cc with 114hp previously seen on the Multistrada 950, and it’s also more tiptoe friendly with a 53mm lower leg-to-ground height.

There’s also a hugely improved safety package, with the latest Bosch IMU enabling everything from cornering ABS, to anti-wheelie control and more. Obviously as a supermotard-style bike though, you can turn that down, or completely off. There’s also the requisite ‘SP’ version with nicer graphics, a flat seat, Ohlins front and rear suspension, forged Marchesini wheels, and an up-down quickshifter.

The standard bike goes for $39,900, and the SP for $50,900, including COE, one year’s road tax, with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty.

The Multistrada Enduro 1260 is an even more focused version of the Multistrada adventure bike, it has the latest 1,262cc L-twin engine with variable desmodromic valve timing, along with Ducati’s newest version of its active Skyhook suspension system. We’re just scratching the surface here, but it has a stronger frame, double-sided swingarm, higher suspension travel, and electronics all optimised for the dirty, rough stuff its riders will intend to tackle. The Multistrada 1260 Enduro goes for $63,700.   

 

Alpine A110
From S$285,000 with COE

For many an enthusiast, the star among the more than two dozen cars launched at the show in 2019 would certainly be this, the Alpine A110.

Marking the revival of the Renault-owned sports and racing car company (which clinched the first ever World Rally Championship in 1973, and the Le Mans 24h win in 1978), the modern A110 is a lightweight, focused Porsche Cayman competitor.

And when we say light, we mean really light. A final kerbweight of under 1100kg is the result of a comprehensive weight-saving regime, which includes all-aluminium construction and numerous other individual measures that border on the obsessive.

With so little mass to move around, the A110 doesn’t need a lot of power; motion is provided by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder, the differently-tuned version of the same engine as in the Megane RS. Despite only having 252hp and 320Nm of torque (a Cayman has 295 and 380Nm), the A110 will still beat its German rival in a sprint, hitting 100km/h in 4.5 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster than the Porsche.

It’ll cost about the same too, although the final price is to be confirmed, subject to the outcome of the Land Transport Authority’s homologation process.

 

Infiniti QX50
From S$189,800 with COE

It’s been quite a long time coming, but Infiniti’s first mid-sized crossover is finally here, and it’s packing some fascinating tech under its bonnet.

The QX50 is the first production car in the world with an engine that can actively alter its compression ratio, depending on speed and throttle loads. So, its compression ratio can vary between a low 8:1 for high performance and a high 14:1 for economy.

According to Infiniti, this means its 2.0-litre VC-Turbo engine can provide the power and response of a petrol, as well as the high torque and efficiency of a diesel. Its outputs of 268hp and 380Nm of torque are significantly higher than its competitors around the same price point, such as the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC, and Volvo XC60.

Additionally, due partly to the way the system operates, as well as the fitment of an active engine mount, Infiniti also claims the four-cylinder VC-Turbo to be almost as smooth and quiet as a conventional V6 engine.

 

Jeep Wrangler
From S$229,888 with COE

Could this finally be a Jeep that makes sense for Singapore? The Wrangler may be a top contender for most iconic American car, but it’s always been held back here by exclusively thirsty, large-capacity engine options – but not for much longer.

Although the new Jeep Wrangler launches initially with the same 3.6-litre V6 as before (this time paired to an 8-speed auto), come March, an all-new 2.0-litre four-cylinder variant will join the range – the smallest engine ever in the Wrangler’s history – which should make the Wrangler more appealing here. Claimed fuel economy for the 2.0 is 8.6L/100km (V6: 9.7L/100kim), yet its performance is just as good, with 268hp and 400Nm of torque (-12hp/+53Nm compared to the V6).

In addition to better economy, the new platform is also claimed to bring big improvements to refinement, comfort, safety and tech.

 

Subaru Forester e-Boxer
$TBA (expected Q4 2019 launch)

How the mighty have fallen? To petrolheads perhaps; a turbocharged Forester used to be the wheels of choice for grown-up boy racers, but now all pretext of performance has been removed from the model.

Instead, responsibility is now the operative word. The Forester e-Boxer will be the first hybrid Subaru on sale in Singapore, towards the end of the year. It packs a 14hp electric motor together with the drivetrain, along with a 4.8Ah battery below the boot. Total system output is 156hp and 188Nm of torque, or +3hp/-7Nm compared to the regular Forester with which it shares its 2.0-litre ‘boxer’ engine.

Because the motor and battery pack are so small, the hybrid system assists primarily with away-from-traffic-lights acceleration, as well as overtaking at city speeds – Subaru’s own testing has shown that the e-Boxer picks up noticeably quicker than a regular Forester between 40-60km/h.

The only differentiator between the two are badges on the doors and boot, but the e-Boxer is also likely to debut driver monitoring system (DMS), which, in addition to detecting the attention levels of the driver, also uses face recognition technology to identify who’s driving the car and move the seats and mirrors to their personal settings, for example in the case of multiple people sharing the same family car.

 

about the author

Jon Lim
CarBuyer's latest addition is its fourth historical Jonathan. Old-fashioned in all but body, he thinks car design peaked in the '90s. He also strongly believes any car can be a race car if you have a sufficient lack of self-preservation, which explains why he nearly flipped a Chinese van while racing it.
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