The Hunt For A New Car

So after nine years and a bit, my Little Red Riding Hood, aka Honda Civic FD, is coming to the end of its life. Well the end of it's COE anyway, which means I can either cough up the money to renew this little piece of paper or explore new cars.

Given that I can get back almost 10k for this baby, it's really been giving me sterling service, and I should try to get another car.

So here comes the hunt:

I have set myself a budget of around 130k but if I can spend less, that will be even better. i.e, with my car thrown in, my outlay should not extend 120k.

First decision was to forgo renewing the COE.
Second one was whether I should go for a 2nd hand one. Given the high prices I see for 2nd hand examples, a first hand car seems to be the way to go.

What are the things I really need, and what are the niceties then?

Reliability is paramount. No 'characterful' cars, a euphemism for unreliable. So most likely a Jap car, that is actually made in Japan, maybe a Korean one, or perhaps a Merc if they are made in Germany and not somewhere else.

Not too low slung - I need easy enter and egress for my mum.

Versatile seats:
Folding rear seats, the ability to carry large objects will be very good.

Fuel economy:
Given the high oil prices, this will be a good thing.

Enough power to merge with traffic. I don't need a speedster, but I don't really want to worry about having a heart attack every time I need to join traffic and there's a rather steep slope outside my home and I need to merge with fast moving traffic there.

I also go on the North South Highway every now and then, so something that doesn't struggle on it will be nice.


Original leather seats
Red color
Quick turning radius
Low turn to turn ratio
SUV - high sitting position and hey, I haven't owned one before, but it was fun to drive

Front and back cameras
BT capability

So what have I identified:

Right at the top of my list right now is the Honda HRV, the authorised dealer (AD) version of the Vezel that has been taking the local market by storm.

What are the plus points:

- Jap made
- very creative interior
- SUV style
- low FC
- smart interior with decent soft touch materials abounding
- many charging points, USB and other touches

- not as solid feel as a conti car
- 130hp might not be enough compared to my older FD
- CVT transmission

So moving on, I have also tried a whole bunch of other cars. The main issue is that none, yes, none of the cars have everything I want. Each has their own pros and cons..

Mazda 3 & 6:

- nice Conti feel
- good handling
- conventional 6 speed auto
- soft touch materials abound
- Jap made

Heavy 3 combined with a 1.5l engine in the 3 doesn't help
can't help comfy in the 6 somehow
servicing can be an issue given that the new dealers aren't really setup for so many new customers
US long snout styling
? reliability
a little low slung
rear legroom

Corolla Altis

- Proven track record
- Borneo servicing
- Good FC
- Improved looks compared to the older one
- decent legroom
- solid bidding process

still looks bleah..
plastics aren't in the same league as the Mazda or Golf
not too many nice features inside

Hyundai Elantra

- sleek looks
- plenty of soft touch materials
- decent legroom
- lower price

- bidding tiers means you aren't so sure if you will get your car

Conti offers:



Solid build, lots of soft touch materials in the cabin
Good acceleration

Tight legroom at the back
Suspect gearbox

Audi A3 Sportback

An expensive version of the Golf, with similar pros and cons


The sedan is made in Hungary, and the Merc CLA is also made in the same country, and will cost 30-40k more than a Golf. It's hard to see how one can opt for this, even though most conti cars, especially the bigger brands are known for safety, and a solid metalwork. But servicing is not as easy, since these companies are much smaller than Borneo Motor or Kah, and the cost of repairs, spares and even basic servicing might be more.
The A3 is a value for money car. The A4 is significantly more costly. Almost got this car. The build quality is very solid, the engine is quite powerful, rear legroom is actually quite impressive.
It uses a more powerful 1.4t, has a bit more room and is made in Germany. It uses a wet clutch design.
The cabin has more features but it's about 20k more. The soft touch materials, the gear shift knob, oh so wonderful..
It's the cheapest of the three marques. A Merc Cla will cost another 20k more for example.

The big German brands are now more vague on the origin of their cars. For example, the popular C class Merc is made in South Africa, and not long ago, the previous model gave more issues than expect for this marquee brand.

BMW 216:
The 216d was IMO a better drive, more torque and instant response, greater urgency and the rear seats were sliding with a three fold capability. The cabin soft touch materials were also better.
The diesel is noisier but inside you hardly hear it.
The view out of the cabin was nice too as you sit higher.

But the 216d is about 10k more and I wonder about the reliability?

The CLA is made in Hungary, and the BMW 3 series is also made in South Africa.

The B Class was a solid build car with space, ergonomic and good safety features. The engine specs are also impressive, but it's about 30k more than the HRV.

Ideally a Honda HRV with a nice 1.8l engine or maybe that new 1.5 turbo will be superb! Even the hybrid version has enough ommph. Pity the authorised dealers aren't bringing it in.


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