As 2011 is approaching, I will list down a few cars that I wouldn't mind paying for if I had the cash. Note that the choices below are not a comparison with my Subaru Impreza, it is true that I love speed and performance, but the choices below are mostly based on what I'd own as a daily driver.
1) Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSi - RM155,888
If you're going, 1.4L engine? Is it really worth the price tag? My answer is yes. Although it is a hatchback, it's just the perfect car to drive around the city. Boot space isn't one of it's best features but the seats still fold down so you get alot of space if you need to transport something bigger. The moment you get in the driver seat you'll be greeted with a whole load of buttons, but I assure you that they are all positioned in the proper place for ease of use. Material of the dashboard and everything else in the car is superb, a true continental feel. Driving on highways isn't a problem as the sound proofing is excellent, although the standard tires might be a little noisy, but I can live with that.
Alot of people don't believe that the 1.4 liter engine would be powerful enough for the 1361kg weight of the car. Yes that is true, but the people at VW added a super and turbo charger to assist the small little engine to propel the car from 0-100km/h in 8+ seconds. So does this mean the engine will drink more petrol? Well that depends on how you drive the car, a heavy foot on the accelerator pedal isn't going to help with that right? If you were to drive the car within the engine's full capability you'd be doing something like 6.0 l/100km (this is based on specs from VW). So yes it's quite a fuel economical car, couple this with the new 7-speed DSG gearbox driving on the highway is super smooth and you have power when you need it. Just to shed a little light on the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) gearbox, this 7-speed version is a dry gearbox which means it does not use any lubrication at all. Google DSG gearbox if you would like to learn more. In term of the performance, top speed of 225km/h and being able to run away or keep up with bigger cars blew me away. Overall handling was good and I liked the comfort level of the suspension.
2) Peugeot 308 1.6L Turbo - RM118,888
Looks and performance alone sells this car. Interior comes with a panoramic roof which is impressive and gives the car an even more classy look. All I can say is that this car is an alternative to owning a Mini Cooper S and much much cheaper too. Although it is a hatchback, the boot space is big enough to fit in what you'd need for a family road trip.
Powered by a 1.6L turbocharged engine and a 6-speed gearbox is enough for spirited driving and driving around. For it's price, it's a really good deal.
3) Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSi - RM108,888
Here's a car which I think is the perfect for driving around with ease. But take everything that I mentioned on the VW Golf and drop it 1 level down and you get the Polo. Let me just warn you that once you drive a Golf you'd think the Polo is such a cheap car with cheaper materials. So let's NOT compare this with the Golf, just because you can't compare them side by side. For instance, some of the buttons found in the Golf won't be in the Polo, like the pedal shifters or even the steering buttons for the dashboard information isn't available on the Polo. I'd love this car as a daily driver just because it is so so sooo easy to drive and not to mention parking! Still it is a hatchback, so boot space, isn't impressive.
Engine performance isn't as impressive as the 1.4L twincharger, but it still packs a punch! Let's just say that it can keep up with my Subaru Impreza in short drag, now that's something. With a top speed of 215km/h it is a fast car and doing 5.3 l/100km is impressive. Coupled with a 7-speed DSG dry gearbox this gives the Polo a little more oomph when changing gears. Handling is superb for such a small and compact car. The Polo is nothing short on performance and looks.
4) Mazda 3 2.0L Hatchback - RM135,999
Getting into the drivers seat in the Mazda 3 is comparison to getting in an F1 car, with the amount of buttons on the steering it is enough for the average consumer to go bonkers. But it isn't as bad as it sounds, ergonomics of all the buttons are well placed for ease of use which I think is a superb point. Interior is good and looks sleek, seats are sporty but comfy.
One thing that I didn't really like is how Mazda decided to have the Thumb and Finger pedal shifters, which means, to shift up you use your fingers and to shift down you use your thumb. Maybe it's just me but I am more used to using my fingers to do all the pedal shifting.
5) Kia Forte 1.6L - Rm75,800
A Korean car? Yup indeed....don't be surprised if you like the car after you test drive one. Looks alone is sleek and nice. Interior is huge! Lots of head room and leg room. Nothing much to shout about on the dashboard but everything looks good where it is.
One of the downsides I'd say is the car only comes with a 4-speed gearbox. Driving around town and short distances with a 4-speed gearbox is just enough, but I still feel that a 5-speed would have made better impression. But then again, if you're skeptical of the brand you should go check it out.