A brace of eco-friendly and electrified vehicles previews a changing spectrum for Singapore in 2019
Singapore’s definitely going greener when it comes to cars, and the Singapore Motorshow 2019 proves that with a healthy spread of hybrids and electrified cars.
The electrification of automobiles is slowly ramping up in Singapore, and 2018 was a big turning point with mainstream electric vehicles (EVs) going on sale here for the first time.
Also there have been big comforting noises when it comes to charging networks, most recently yesterday when SP Group rolled out its first public chargers, including for the first time in Singapore 50kW DC fast-chargers.
No coincidence these same chargers were on display next to some of these cars at the show, then.
Not counting the models we already saw launched in 2018 that were at the show – all that was summarised in our Dummies Guide To Buying An EV in Singapore 2018 on CarBuyer.com.sg – there were just three of them in our 2018 edition, 2019 looks like another concrete, though small, step towards a motoring future with cleaner air.
What’s better than owning and driving a BMW 5 Series? Owning and driving a BMW 5 Series that you don’t have to fill up as often. That’s the premise and promise of the plug-in hybrid version of BMW’s best-selling luxury sedan, the 530e.
Our own test drive calculations show a judicious driver should be able to wrangle 1,600km out of a single tank of fuel and top it up once a month. Even so, it’s still a 5 Series through and through, with 252hp and a the sort of poise and handling you’d expect as well. A plug-in hybrid can be the best of both worlds, or the combination of the worst of them, and no surprises that this is one of the former.
Hyundai’s really flexing its technological muscle, after launching the Ioniq Electric at last year’s show, and displaying the Nexo hydrogen fuel-cell SUV in Singapore in late 2018 (it’s also at the show), it’s announced the battery-powered electric version of its Kona crossover, priced at $131,999 with COE.
That pretty much makes it the first relatively affordable EV SUV here, a precedent laid down by Singapore’s first mainstream electric car, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, which we tested and found rather impressive in range terms – we found a driver will pay only $0.02 per km, compared to $0.13 per km in an equivalent petrol car.
The Kona EV has two models: A more powerful model with an extended battery ‘Long Range’, having a grunty 204hp with a 64kWh battery, delivering a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds, top speed of 167km/h, and 482km of range on a single charge. The lesser model has 134hp, with a 39.2kWh battery and 312km range. The Long Range model costs $146,999 with COE, and $152,999 with COE for the SR (Sunroof) model.
While affordable EVs are still rather expensive, the luxury SUV EV segment is hotting up and there will be three luxury, electrically-powered SUVs on sale here in 2019. The first is already here, the Tesla Model X, available as a parallel import from Hong Seh Motors, from $528k with COE. There will also be the Audi E-Tron later this year, but the Motorshow saw Jaguar come in first with its i-Pace BEV SUV.
Your first thought might be, what does Jaguar know about electrifying things? But we’ve tested the i-Pace and found it rather convincing, thanks to a marathon 480km battery range, ultra-torquey driving experience and rapid 0-100km/h acceleration of just 4.8 seconds. Some Singaporean buyers agree with us too – dealer Wearnes Automotive says the car has already found ‘a handful’ of buyers so far.
The HSE variant is $346,999 with COE, with the higher spec First Edition going for $369,999 with COE.
This isn’t a new car, but rather the Kia Niro has made a triumphant return. The SUV, which is the Korean brand’s first hybrid car on sale here in Singapore, actually debuted almost exactly two years ago. We found it a sterling first effort from Kia, but the car was hampered by a bad VES score (C1), which drove the price up and sales down.
The Niro returns with a VES score of A2 – the $10k rebate – which makes its sticker price of $109,999 with COE much more tenable.
Hey we’ve seen you here before, right? The Leaf was on show last year as well, and it’s previewed at the show in 2019 as you can see here, but the difference is that the Leaf will be going on sale in Q2 this year.
What we said, spec-wise, last time around still stands: It’s all new, and has a 40kWh lithium-ion battery pack with a quoted range of 400km, as well as a more powerful electric motor with 150hp and 320Nm.
Besides being a practical five-door hatchback, the Leaf also has Nissan’s new ProPilot assist system, which like many semi-autonomous systems will help the driver steer, brake and accelerate under certain conditions (though it’s not fully autonomous).
Like the Nissan Pulsar, oldtime Nissan fans will recognise the Serena name from its multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) of the recent past, but this Serena aims at shaking things up considerably.
The cool thing is Nissan says it’ll be selling the Serena e-Power here in Singapore come the second half of 2019, and that all Nissans will eventually have an E-Power variant.
The car, first announced at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2017, has only been sold in Japan thus far. It has a 136hp motor with a 1.8kWh battery pack, and the petrol engine is good for 84hp.
It’s a hybrid, but it’s neither a conventional petrol-electric hybrid, nor is it a plug-in hybrid, E-Power is Nissan’s own unique take on hybrids/EVs.
Instead, the Serena e-Power has a battery that can be charged by its ultra-efficient 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine – the engine itself doesn’t turn the car’s wheels, it only charges the battery pack.
How does that make sense? By having an engine that only adds range and doesn’t need to operate over a range of revs – it’s constant, like a generator – it operates more efficiently.
Nissan says the car will do 4.0L/100km, so it’s on par with existing hybrids, though the fact that you can’t charge it at all for short range work, like a PHEV, hobbles it a little.
Ju-Len test drove the Note e-Power, the first Nissan e-Power car, and said, “The Note E-Power does deliver much of what EVs do, with delightfully zippy acceleration
and (when the generator isn’t operating) blissful silence. The relatively low cost and the fact that you don’t need charging stations mean it could be the car that breaks down the barrier between drivers and widespread acceptance of EV technology here.”
Motoring journalists are genetically-programmed to be predisposed towards wagons at an almost instinctual level, so a wagon ahem sorry, Sport Turismo, with all the usual Porsche points of excellent drivability, practicality and usefulness plus eco-friendliness is an instant hit for us.
The PHEV version of the Panamera Sport Turismo is exactly that, since we’ve tested the Panamera Sport Turismo and found it one of the best cars around, while the regular Panamera PHEV is no slouch either. The only thing better? The electric/V8 rocketship that is the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo with 680hp.
Porsche’s forthcoming, fully-electric four-door GT, the Taycan was at the Singapore Motorshow too…sort of. We were disappointed a full scale model wasn’t there at least, but hey, at least we can share with you all there is to about it at this point.