Nowadays car ownership in Singapore has gotten a little more expensive due to the Certificate Of Entitlement (COE) fee moving slightly upwards. Those that wanted a S$60,000 car may find that it costs S$70,000. Add this fact with rising ERP charges, the parking charges and an economy that is still reeling from a global meltdown the total cost of owning a car has risen. Some would walk, take public transport but to those who still yearn to own their personal set of transport would still browse through car magazines, internet motoring portals (like this one) and push their faces into the glass in front of a car showroom. Drooling at that car that they could afford a few months ago but cannot afford it with the jump in car prices.
But of course this occasionally happens. So those that remember or those that keep track of COE fluctuations just say that it is a fact of life in the Lion City. But to those that need a car to purchase in the near future, the increase in price would have to be overcome regardless of the price hike. So what are your options then?
You buy the cheapest car in the market. This may mean that you end up buying a car that is made in China. This is actually a bad thing in my opinion. The reason is that the cars are really what they are. Cheap cars. I recently sat in a Chana (one of those million or so Made in China brands around) and I have to say that the plastics were all hard, switches have the tactile feel of something from the mid80s, the fittings are slightly crude and it looks unbalanced with a large body on caster wheels. So its not worth it to rush out and go crazy about owning one.
Of course a Chery sports (or coupe as Chery says) hatch looks its part but it ain't there yet. Now it has a small 1.6liter engine, with a heavy 1300kg body to move. This actually does nothing to help fuel economy and handling. You get a 'coupe' that isn't fast too. And add the fact that you want something cheap but actually isn't in the long run it would be a bad purchase. Unless you just buy it for the looks that is.
So you now jump to a Malaysian car. You look at a Proton Saga. I suggest you don't look at a Saga. It looks dumpy with its funny proportions and high roof line for a sedan. While it is cheap, spacious for its price you need a bit of looks to at least feel good about yourself when you're driving it. And if you're driving it you have to look at that drab looking hard plastic dashboard and steering wheel. You also have to sit on seats that are flatter than the runway at Seletar airport.
What you do need to consider in the budget car range is a Perodua Myvi. Of course it has been around for a while and that its cousins the Toyota Passo and the Daihatsu Sirion/Boon has recently been upgraded in Japan. And the point that it is a cousin of the Passo and the Sirion means that it is actually a Japanese car built in a factory in Rawang, Malaysia. This is a good thing. You get the same people in charge of quality handing down the operating procedure on how a car should be made. The fittings in a Myvi is pretty good and panel gaps are decent too. The quality of the dashboard (slightly redesigned from the Passo), while slightly thin to the touch is surprisingly good. The switchgear feels tactile (for its price) and everything is within reach.
As you get into a Myvi you find that it has a high hip point. This means that you just step in and out of the car with ease. The doors are big and open wide, the hatch is easy to use and rear seats fold down making space for you to go shopping at IKEA and load up those large items. Oh yeah. The dash looks good when its lighted up at night.
When you look at the design of the Myvi you find that it has more rounded front and rear bumpers that actually make it look less chunky than the Passo or the Sirion. It looks better in my opinion. In fact the Myvi looks like the newer generation of the cars mentioned due to this so if you buy one it is still contemporary looking.
As for ride and handling, it is pretty good. The car is naturally light (sub 1000kg) and this shows in its nippy handling. Don't treat it like a Honda Civic Type R though, as it isn't. It would understeer early due to its 175/65/14 sized tires and that slightly too tall body (somehow all new hatchbacks seem to be a little MPV like). But it is nimble and easy to maneuver on city streets. However hustle it around corners and you will find out that the seats are flat and you have to hold on to the steering wheel for dear life. Do not put leather or those P.U seat covers as this would make it worse.
The 1.3liter engine it comes with has 85bhp or so and it adequate to get you places. Crusing at 110-120km/h is very possible and still economical. The brakes are on the spongy side and lacks feel but does its job. This is the only real gripe I have with the Myvi as I do a lot of highway driving and it isn't that confidence inspiring for me. But it would do okay for a city car.
I think the Perodua Myvi is worth the purchase as you get Japanese engineering, good build quality (if not fantastic material quality), reliability and unlike the other cars mentioned above, it feels more sorted out. It is a cut price Toyota or a cut price Daihatsu. And this is a good thing if you want something cheap and something decent to own for the next 5 years. Just don't listen to that guy called Clarkson in that BBC TV program where he rants and complains about the Myvi. That guy does not have to suffer with COE and ERP like you do.