Published on March 11th, 2016 | by Subhash Nair0
Thinking of Getting a Modern, Practical Car? Here are our Recommendations.
Crossovers are everywhere nowadays, but despite the trend, there’s still plenty of demand for hatchbacks and more conventional body styles in the market, especially for those looking for something lean, headache-free to own, and with a well integrated infotainment system. We’ve decided to round up a few recommendations to suite budgets between RM40,000 and RM200,000 to help those looking for a modern runabout vehicle that the modern car buyer will surely appreciate.
For just over RM41,000 the Proton Iriz is our top pick. Yes, Proton does have its flaws, but ever since DRB-Hicom took over, the company has made some changes. The Iriz best represents this change, as it offers quality and fun in an affordable package better than any of their previous products.
Whether you’re a fresh grad or a retiree, the Iriz manages to be one of the most compelling cars in its price range and segment. The base model is our favourite, as it comes with a manual gearbox and an extremely economical 1.3-litre engine with variable valve timing.
Mechanically, this is perhaps Proton’s best vehicle yet. The ZF-sourced electric power steering is light enough to operate with just a finger at slow speeds, but stiffens up once you get going. Even though a touchscreen and DVD playback are absent on the base model, the Proton Infotainment system is still Bluetooth-enabled, making it very relevant to buyers on a budget.
Best of all, the Iriz has a reinforced cabin structure which uses technology commonly found in European cars. This, plus the fact that Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, ABS and Electronic Brake force Distribution with Brake Assist come as standard make the Iriz one of the smartest options to go for, regardless of what you think of the brand.
For those looking to sink close to RM90,000, there’s the beautifully crafted Mazda2. Not only is it one of the best looking hatches in the market, it’s also one of the best to drive. The 6-speed SkyActiv transmission is the best automatic gearbox we’ve seen (especially in when manual mode). Most important of all, MZDCONNECT is present in all its glory. This infotainment system combines the aesthetics of something you’d find in a premium continental car with simple, easy-to-read animations. It also feels like a natural extension of the car itself, having none of the aftermarket feel that some similar systems are plagued with.
Finally, for those with an RM200,000+ budget in mind, look no further than the Mercedes-Benz A200. The 2016 model brings COMAND to a new height, making things more fluid than ever for the driver. At this price point, the A-Class is pretty much unbeatable – though the C-Class continues to take on stiff competition from BMW, Audi and even Lexus. By combining more common under the hood elements with modern Benz styling, the company has managed to bring us a desirable hatch that has none of the softness of the first ‘A’.
The price gap between the Mazda 2 and the Mercedes-Benz A200 is pretty large though, and there’s plenty of room for another recommendation. For the RM115-150,000 price bracket, the Toyota Corolla Altis is worth a look.
Yes, the Corolla is a sedan, but its good looks manage to give it some youthful appeal. It’s also worth noting that the base model comes with a full 7” touch-enabled display with the works – Bluetooth, Navigation, DVD and MP3 playback. The Corolla Altis 1.8E embodies everything Toyota stands for as a brand – reliability, good value for money, and quality.
Resale value and upkeep costs will put a smile on your face even after a decade of ownership. But unlike the Toyotas of the mid-2000s, this Corolla Altis is genuinely good looking. It’s got a sporty exterior and a bold, stylish interior that really puts it in a league of its own.