The year 2014 was quite a spectacle on its own, especially in the car scene – local and international – where its injected with a considerable dose of vibrancy and competition.
We here at Autobuzz.my have worked long and hard to bring you the latest buzzes of the industry. From text to pictures and videos (as we have come to be known for), we’ve stepped into uncharted waters to bring you what we think is the best and most enjoyable way to consume information.
So, to bring 2014 to a close, we have decided to handpick the best all-rounding vehicle by segment (not necessarily chosen by sheer sales volume), just to give you an idea of which car we think is leading its pack. Do note that our picks are based on models sold in Malaysia only, and excludes the grey market. Now, without further ado, we present to you, our top picks for the year.
A-Segment – Perodua Axia 1.0L (from RM24,600)
In this segment, we were torn between the Axia and the Kia Picanto, simply because the latter excels in many different ways, as reviewed by our fellow writer KY Looi. However, we thought that the Axia (pronounced A-zee-ah) made a huge leap forward by designing a car that caters to the Malaysian taste, and we’re further convinced that it should be named the best A-segmenter simply because of its affordability.
The Axia is Perodua’s tenth model to roll out the production line, and about 90 percent of its design is Malaysian. We chose the Axia not because it’s the only A-Segment car introduced to the market this year, but also because it’s almost as big as the Myvi in terms of dimensions. Practicality ahoy! Its starting price is even cheaper than the base model Viva during its heyday – at RM24,600, with the SE and Advanced model offering projector headlamps and front parking sensors. Need we say more?
B-Segment – Ford Fiesta EcoBoost 1.0L (RM93,888)
This segment is easily the most competitive of the lot, with the top six nominees comprising of the Proton Iriz, Citroen DS3, Peugeot 208, Honda City, Ford Fiesta EcoBoost and Volkswagen Polo CKD. Who takes the cake? We picked, after much deliberation, the Fiesta EcoBoost.
Regardless of what we drive, there will always be that day or two where you just feel like unleashing your inner boy racer. Whether you’re overtaking a reckless ah-beng on the speedway or driving down your favourite trunk roads, the Fiesta EcoBoost provides just about all the right moves in all the right places. It handles like nothing else in its class (except its steroidal RM150k ST sibling and the likes of it) and punches better than most of its rivals. The only downside we can think of is the slightly cramped rear space, and that an all-new model is somewhere down the pipeline.
C-Segment – Mazda3 Sedan (RM138,935.50 – OTR with insurance)
Ah, if it isn’t one of the most hair-pulling experiences when it comes to purchasing your first, proper family car. It’s definitely not an easy one, we’ll give you that. Especially when you have the Ford Focus (sedan and hatchback), Toyota Altis, Honda Civic facelift, Volkswagen Jetta CKD, Proton Preve, Nissan Sylphy, Renault Fluence; you get the idea.
But if you’re all about style without compromise, the Mazda3 is exactly the car we think you should get. In the words of our very own Chief Editor, GC Mah, “The all-new Mazda3 with KODO design language is by far the best looking C-segment sedan in the market right now.” Well, it’s not just pleasing to the eyes, but it drives well, rides well, comes very well equipped, gets Mazda’s full range of Skyactiv technology and feels like you’re paying less for more. In Najdi’s review of the CBU 3, he said it’s one of those cars to demand a second look even after you’ve parked it and walked away. On the plus side, the CKD units will be making their way here early next year, so expect a healthy cut of its current asking price of RM139k.
D-Segment – Hyundai Sonata 2.0L (from RM143,163.30)
This list is comprised of several popular models like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Teana, Chevrolet Malibu, Volkswagen Passat CKD, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai i40, Kia Optima and the Mazda6 sedan. The Accord remains as one of our favourites in this segment thanks to its great value for money, and is probably the most well received vehicle of its segment this year.
Despite favouring the Accord, this choice wasn’t a shot in the dark, just so you know. We were contemplating our pick between the Accord, Mazda6 and the Passat CKD. But it ultimately went to the Sonata, because no other manufacturer grants an 8-year warranty programme, even if it only covers the engine and transmission. On top of that, the Sonata is said to drive better, and is the first D-Segment sedan to come with a full-flat underbody cover that reduces turbulence and drag. If you’re thinking of getting one, Hyundai is also giving you a 2-year free membership of their concierge service, The Leader.
Compact Executive – Mercedes-Benz W205 C-Class (from RM286k)
Here, the fifth-generation C-Class takes on the likes of BMW’s F30 3 Series and the 4 Series, the ageing Audi A4 (B8), Infiniti Q50 and even the Volvo S60. But let’s face it. If you take an S-Class, shrink it down in size and price it right in the sweet spot, you’ve found the secret recipe for success.
Much is to be praised about the new C-Class, because it looks like nothing else in its class, both inside and out. Now offered as CBU trim, the C-Class can be had in three flavours – C200 Avantgarde, C250 Executive and C250 AMG Line. And it’s priced well for a fully imported unit too, with an asking price from RM286k to RM340k for the AMG Line. If you think the price is too high for your liking, fret not, because the CKD version of this baby S-Class is scheduled for delivery sometime between Q2 and Q3 of next year. As we’re made to believe, we can expect more goodies to be thrown into the car along with an attractive price cut. This C-Class is way ahead in its segment, we reckon.
Things get a little more subjective in the executive segment, because the badge, the style, the look, the image; everything matters more. Life cycles of cars in this segment is far longer too, usually around seven years (as is the trend of late) before a completely new model takes the stage. This year saw the introduction of a sexy Italian icon, the Maserati Ghibli, and that’s our pick of the lot.
The executive segment in Malaysia is very evidently dominated by the German likes of Mercedes-Benz E Class, Audi A6 Hybrid and the BMW 5 Series. Then there’s the less prominent Jaguar XF and the also ageing Lexus GS in the foray. But if we are to be honest, it’s all about personal preference here. And if you’re all about making a statement, the Ghibli is the car you should consider getting. Why is it our choice, you ask? Well, its bold and sultry curves are an instant eye catcher, and on top of that it gets a tyre shredding 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 that makes 410 hp and 550 Nm of torque. On the normal Ghibli, you get 330 hp and 500 Nm of torque, both paired to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Now that’s a car that will get you places with speed and style.
You know you’ve made it when you start looking into this segment for a car to be chauffeured around town. It’s also the segment where you see carmakers dumping every possible state-of-the-art technology into a four-wheel platform for you to lug around or be driven in what is essentially a two-tonne vehicle.
Be that as it may, the W222 S400L Hybrid is the winner here for a number of reasons, but by and large is due to its incredibly attractive price tag of RM587,888. The guys at Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) have outdone themselves this year by giving Malaysians truly value for money deals, yet that very intent is seemingly intensifying. The ‘Sonderklasse’ or ‘Special Class’ boasts a number of world’s firsts features, especially with its LED-only lighting system. Not a single light bulb is used here, befitting its Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) status. We had the opportunity to drive the S400L Hybrid to the Mercedes production plant in Pekan earlier in the year, and we were instantly fond of its ride (or glide, rather) and cabin insulation. There’s no complaining even when you’re in the backseat, but we’d like ours with a massage function, please. Friends at MBM, yes? :)
So there you have it, folks! The Top 6 picks of Autobuzz’s segments of choice for the year 2014.
What the Editor has to say: GC’s wrap up for 2014
The year of horse, 2014 has been an exciting yet crazy year for all of us auto journalists, especially with the overwhelming launches locally and abroad. We have been working our bottoms off to bring you the latest local launch coverage, international news, and car reviews the way you want it. The team at AutoBuzz.my, both web and video production divisions genuinely hope you like our work thus far.
And as what Matthew gathered above, our favourites in 2014, as voted by the team. I’m sure you’ll agree with me, it’s one hell of a line-up!
Now we can all look forward to many highly anticipated car launches next year. Mazda will be introducing the really pretty Mazda2 and CX-3 SUV, Honda can’t wait to launch the affordable compact SUV, the HR-V, Volvo will be assembling locally and introducing the XC90 T8, the really exciting Volkswagen Golf GTE will be plugging-in soon, the handsome Passat B8 will be roaming our roads too, some rugged yet good-looking trucks like the new Ranger and Triton; and many, many, many more.
We Malaysians have gone through tremendous pain and tragedies in 2014, from missing planes to massive flood, all in one year. 2015 will be better. I’m sure.
Happy New Year, Malaysia.