2013 was indeed a tough year for the local industry, but that aside, some very stylish cars still manage to make their way here.
Photos: Joel Tam, Azfar Hashim, Jonathan Lim
Despite 2013 being the year that saw some of the most significant changes in policies that affected the general automotive industry in Singapore, new car dealers went ahead strongly to introduce new models for local buyers. And by that, it shows how confident dealers are with their products, at the same time giving a variety for the diverse group of buyers; after all, Singapore consumers are well known to be among the fussiest despite the small market.
Aesthetic obviously plays a big part in every car buyer’s list, even if it’s a simple bread-and-butter car that’s built entirely for the typical family-oriented person. To see how such cars rate however, you have to look elsewhere.
Because what we have here are an extensive list of cars, introduced in 2013 itself, that we feel will never go out of style; those that will remain on our roads even in the distant future all thanks to their stylish exterior that will never, well, get out of style. However, as this is Burnpavement and we take performance seriously, we have picked a total of nine (yes nine, your eyes aren’t playing any tricks) different cars that drives admirably well AND looks oh-so-beautiful. So let’s not delay any further and let us introduce to you: The Fashionable Cars of 2013. Meet (clockwise from left to right) the Peugeot RCZ, BMW 435i, Jaguar F-Type S V8, BMW M6 Gran Coupe, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz E250 Cabriolet, Volkswagen CC R-Line, Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet and MINI Cooper S Paceman.
Peugeot understands the importance of keeping up with the times, so much so they had given their beautifully crafted RCZ coupe a facelift even ahead of it’s German rival, Volkswagen’s Scirocco. A simple facial change and… tadaa… the RCZ becomes highly desirable. In fact, it gets more attention even when driven next to other pricier competitors in this group. If you’re a single male, get ready for the sudden interest from the opposite gender. If you’re a single female, we can bet with you others will give you the right of way in a traffic jam. But this car isn’t all show and no go: powering it is a 1.6-litre 156 bhp turbocharged lump mated to an efficient 6-speed automatic transmission. It runs from standstill to 100 km/h in 9 seconds, reaches a top speed of 212 km/h and the best surprise? It has the capability to handle corners and bends with finesse, without breaking a sweat. Positive steering feedback is another plus point. Asking price? $189,900 with COE.
“It's a stylish and comfortable coupe that handles brilliantly with excellent dynamics, and it will bring a big smile on your face overtime you decide to dance with it.” Those were the exact words of our Managing Editor in his review of the BMW 435i. Indeed, there isn’t any way to disagree with those words as the 435i has one of the neatest package: sexy coupe exterior, solidly put together cabin and a potent heart. In fact, it looks so beautiful you will not even suspect that under that body-shell lies a six-cylinder 3.0-liter turbocharged heart matched to an 8-speed transmission good for 306 bhp and 400 Nm of torque. It goes from 0 to 100km/h in five seconds flat; now that’s another definition of going fast in class. Asking price? $315,800 with COE.
Jaguar F-Type S V8
This cat is a cabriolet you should buy. It is the sort that gets deep - very deep - down into your soul after setting your eyes onto one. Jaguar obviously put so much attention into giving it a flawless exterior, finished off with a lovely set of intricate rims. It’s a hoot to drive the F-Type, particularly this V8 variant. It is properly quick, the engine screaming and sports exhaust shrieking when you gun down the CTE, KPE and MCE tunnels. Lovely stuff, this one. Powering it is a muscular 5.0-litre supercharged V8 lump and matched to a smooth shifting 8-speed auto ‘box, there is some serious 488 bhp and 625 Nm of torque waiting to be unleashed. In fact, there’s so much power being delivered to the rear wheels, Jaguar’s product manager reminded us to ‘try not switching off the traction control system’. Truth be told, we did switch it off briefly; we’re just glad to come out alive and still kicking. Super powerful, so beautiful, the F-Type is one timeless car that will surely appreciate in value for the next generation of car nuts to love. Asking price? $520,000.
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
If there is one beautiful car BMW has gotten spot-on, the 6 Series is it. Which then makes the M6 a beautiful killer; unassuming, sleek and capably quick. This is one car that, as onlookers are busy admiring, you blow them away with the lovely exhaust growl — but they will still not get offended. The M6 Gran Coupe gets all of its power courtesy of a stonking 4.4-litre V8 twin turbo’d heart that’s mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch ‘box (DCT in BMW speak). The result is a potent 560 bhp and 680 Nm available from the moment you stomp the accelerator pedal all the way to 6,800 rpm; oh yes, and it gets from 0 to 100 km/h in only 4.2 seconds. The interior is your typical premium German stuff, but with comfy seats that hugs you very well. The carbon-fibre roof is standard, shedding some kilograms to keep the M6 Gran Coupe’s weight in check for those supercar-chasing days; or to just make sure you are right on time for that social dinner, or fashion show. Asking price? $601,800 with COE.
Gorgeous. That is Maserati’s Quattroporte for you. Just one glimpse is all it takes to tell you that this is an Italian machine. The exterior craftsmanship is worthy of praise, the interior a lovely place to be in and that exhaust note as you floor the accelerator is sublime yet inoffensive. Under the bonnet of this Italian beauty lies a 3.8-litre V8 powerplant. Paired to an 8-speed transmission, the Quattroporte is potent enough for some serious action: 530 bhp and 710 Nm, plus the ability to accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds. Surprisingly, it exhibits a rather enthusiastic side too: besides the steering that responds positively, body movement is constantly kept in check. Brilliant chassis here, that is something for the Germans to think about. Well, the Quattroporte will surely be a future classic for sure. If you want a large luxury sedan that stands out from the crowd, you won’t go wrong with this one. Asking price? $694,000 without COE.
Mercedes-Benz E250 Cabriolet
When it comes to building cabriolets, Mercedes-Benz is among the best in the business. This E-Class Cabriolet is no different: it oozes style everywhere you look at it from. Better still, despite the canvas roof, the cabin is very well insulated from the outside world; perfect for that post work cruise down the expressway. But that’s not saying it’s a slouch; in fact, far from it as the E250 Cabriolet gets power courtesy of the new generation 2.0-litre turbocharged lump. Mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission (G-tronic Plus in Mercedes speak), it is capable of whipping out 208 bhp and 350 Nm of torque. Oh, and also doing the century sprint in a respectable 7.5 seconds. For an open top for four, the E250 Cabriolet handles rather well, with positive steering feedback and also body movements that are predictable. Well, the discontinued CLK Cabriolet and then previous E-Class Cabriolet were more popular among female motorists but this latest version should go down well with both genders; all of us at the Burnpavement office like it so much, especially in this particular colour with the AMG kit. Asking price? $298,888 with COE.
Volkswagen CC R-Line
If you have been aspiring for those big-engined German muscle cars (M5, E63 AMG and RS6) but have a bank account that allows for only anything half that price, fret not as you may find your answer in Volkswagen’s CC R-Line. In a nutshell, it’s a Golf GTI in a CC body; which means it’s fast and it handles brilliantly. Yours truly have had the opportunity to drive the CC R-Line up and down Malaysia’s North-South Highway a few occasions, and what was discovered was how confidently it drives at three figure speeds. The Dynamic Chassis Control allows you to choose the suspension setting: Auto, Sport and Comfort. That means it can be driven like a hot-hatch one moment, and then like your typical family sedan the next. Under the bonnet lies the EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged TSI engine, and matched to a 6-speed DSG, there’s 210 bhp and 280 Nm of torque at your perusal. Best of all, it won’t look out of place parked at the hotel lobby. Asking price? $202,800 with COE.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet
A Golf GTI that allows you to drive it as either a three-door hatchback or a three-door cabriolet. If that does not sound like good value-for-money to you, we do not know what will. Ok, so the canvas roof compromises the overall structural rigidity a little (really little), but the Golf GTI Cabriolet still delivers the goods by the buckets. It manages to out-run, out-corner and out-brake many other performance cars, but at the same time when doing all that with the roof down, in style. There is surprisingly enough room for four adults in the cabin, and solid build quality ensures this car is dependable. The canvas roof keeps the car’s weight in check: it does the century sprint in 7.3 seconds, a negligible 0.8 seconds slower than it’s fixed roof Mark 7 brethren. There is no fancy bodywork besides the sporty front and rear bumpers, but hey, it’s good enough (read: subtle). Asking price? $206,300 with COE.
MINI Cooper S Paceman
The world is still wondering what on earth MINI were thinking when they decided to go ahead and produce this car, but to some, it shouts style, individuality and uniqueness in one package. We brought it around during our time with the car; those with an artistic background really adore this car, but your typical executives-in-suits-daily types were either (a) on the fence or (b) passionately dislike the Paceman. Here at the Burnpavement office, we are still equally divided about how it looks; but the way it drives and the fact that you can still flick it into tight corners, execute handbrake turns - just for the hell of it — safely and have 184 bhp and 260 Nm to play around with, this Paceman can still impress. It still turns heads everywhere it goes: proof that some good things do come in small packages. Asking price? $212,800 with COE.