Jacks Of All Trade

7 min read
These three crossover vehicles defy categorisation, covering all the bases of today’s urban demands.

1. SUZUKI JIMNY 

To say that the Jimny is one of the coolest looking, two-door, small SUVs out there is understating the obvious. It makes a statement about whoever sits behind the wheel: fun-loving, confident, and sensible enough not to have splurged a fortune for a highly competent car.

Truth be told, Suzuki hasn’t done all that much to the lines of a car that they first introduced in 1970. But after half a century, the latest model exudes modernity while holding on to the DNA that has made this car legendary among fans.

The boxy exterior may tie the Jimny to its predecessors, but look closely and you’ll notice that the upgrades are palpable. Headlamps are LED and come with washers. The 15-inch alloy wheel exudes stature, and the upright windshield and longer roof helps keep the sun off the eyes.

Inside, the current version is packed with contemporary finishes and technological improvements that make it a totally new proposition. If you think this is just a poser vehicle, think again. Four new features in the body construction allow the Jimny to hit the off-road and come back to civilisation in one-piece. These include:

  • a three-link rigid axle suspension with coil spring for more flexural strength and less body roll;
  • a ladder frame that increases torsional rigidity;
  • three body angles (approach, ramp breakover, and departure) that help the car climb obstacles and steep hills without scraping the underside; and
  • increased ground clearance to 210mm.

Naturally, the engine of the new Jimny has been upgraded for better performance. The lightweight 1.5-litre K15B puts out higher torque than the previous version, notably at lower revolution. And this being a functional crossover off-roader, the variations of transmission are impressive. There is a 2H (two-wheel drive, high gear) mode, a 4H (4WD, high gear) and a 4L (4WD, low gear) to cover all the terrain variations you’ll ever face.Despite its rugged exterior, the interior of the Jimny does not leave much to be desired. Everything is where it should be:

  • controls are intuitively designed;
  • the circular steering wheel with multi-purpose controls allows for great mobility in tight driving conditions; and
  • the black colour scheme is a no-nonsense nod to appease buyers who prefer sensibility over frivolity.

This being 2020, the Jimny doesn’t shy away from putting in a suite of safety features that will make higher-priced SUVs blush. From the front bumper to the bonnet to the windshield wipers, the car offers impact-absorbing parts to mitigate injuries to pedestrians. The Dual Sensor Brake Support (DSBS) uses a monocular camera sensor and laser sensor to evaluate the risk of an impending collision before taking one of three different actions: warning, brake assist, or automatic brake.

After taking the 2018 Good Design Gold Award, the Jimny was named the 2019 World Urban Car of the Year, the “Top 3 In The World” of the World Car Design of the Year in the 2019 World Car Awards.

PRICE  $99,900 (WITH COE)
ENGINE  1.5 LITRE VVT PETROL, ALLGRIP PRO 4WD
TRANSMISSION  4-SPEED AUTOMATIC
POWER  100BHP @ 6,000RPM
TORQUE  130NM @ 4,000RPM
0–100KM/H  UNAVAILABLE
DISTRIBUTOR  SUZUKI SINGAPORE (Tel: 6631 1118)

2. CUPRA ATECA

Uniqueness, sophistication, and performance: these are the tenets on which SEAT’s special brand CUPRA claims to be built. Never heard of the name? Not to worry — the Ateca is the first model to be launched under the moniker.

CUPRA is borne of SEAT’s award-winning motorsport division in an attempt to bring out the best of the company’s competencies, capabilities, and potential. The Ateca is a sensible entry into the crowded fray that is the automobile industry, tapping on the popular SUV segment with a powerful car that also looks sharp.

As performance is one of the key features that CUPRA focuses on, the engine under the Ateca’s hood is no pushover. The 1,984cc direct-injection, turbocharged, four-cylinder TSI engine churns out 300PS of power and 400Nm of torque. With its low weight (1,540kg), the car can hit 247km/h without breaking a sweat. This is mated to a seven-speed DSG transmission with 4Drive all-wheel drive suspension that ensures smooth transition and a steady, sturdy drive.

Ride quality is enhanced by MacPherson struts in the front and a multilink rear, plus the adaptive Dynamic Chassis Control that can be adjusted to the driver’s needs. The 4Drive traction system makes this one of the world’s most advanced integrated traction systems that can analyse road conditions in real time, including the speed of the car, speed of each wheel, the steering wheel position, and the driving style or mode to quickly and progressively deliver power at each moment to the necessary wheels.

Visually, the CUPRA Ateca strikes an athletic pose that shouts “performance!” The honeycomb grille, black brake callipers, sporty rear bumper, 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, and the statement-making four exhaust pipes all combine to boost the car’s motorsport stature. And to help you stand apart, there are six exterior body colours to choose from: Energy Blue, Velvet Red, Brilliant Silver, Rodium Grey, Magic Black and Nevada White.Luxurious Alcantara leather adorns the seats, complete with copper stitching and a carbon-fibre effect along the sides. Much effort has been put into upping the premium factor of the Ateca, and all this is obvious when you take in the flow of the silver air vent frames as it blends ergonomically with the central console and the eight-inch touchscreen navigation system plus.

Infotainment and connectivity is provided by the latest version of Full Link (AndroidAuto and Apple CarPlay) and the SEAT DriveApp with the most advanced digital displays in the segment. On top of that, keyless entry and start, wireless charger, GSM signal booster, 360º top view camera, eight-inch touchscreen navigation system plus, digital cockpit, and park assist all come standard.

All considered, and at this price point, the CUPRA Ateca is one crossover SUV that will be hard to ignore — regardless of whether you know the name or not!

PRICE  $177,999 (WITH COE)
ENGINE  1,984CC DIRECT-INJECTION, 4-CYLINDER, TURBOCHARGED TSI PETROL
TRANSMISSION  7-SPEED AUTOMATIC DSG
POWER  300HP @ 5,300–6,500RPM
TORQUE  400NM @ 2,000–5,200RPM
0–100KM/H  5.2 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  SEAT CENTRE (Tel: 6970 7889)

3. HYUNDAI VENUE

The Venue is Hyundai’s seventh in a range of SUV models that keep going from strength to strength. The car boasts a bold design template that reflects modern styling and a uniqueness that is sure to resonate with those not wanting to follow the herd.

The quirky, boxy silhouette of the Venue showcases a design language that exhibits non-conformity and style. The cascading grille juxtaposes well with the composite LED lights and cube-shaped headlamps. The 17-inch alloy wheels with the 15-inch wheels are both striking and sensible.

The 1.6-litre, four-cylinder SmartStream Gamma engine is all you need in an urban environment, and the car works its paces around town effortlessly, made even more enjoyable to drive with the Dual Port Fuel Injection (DPFI) paired with Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) automatic.

Several design improvements contribute to the Venue’s fuel economy. A High Tumble Combustion System optimises the port and valve shapes, and Maximised Thermal Efficiency is achieved by reducing the surface-to-volume ratio. The Integrated Thermal Management System (ITMS), featuring a two-way rotary control valve, distributes engine coolant to the radiator, transmission warmer and heater core module along with a six-phase control strategy to prioritise coolant and heat flow for passenger comfort in hot weather.

One additional fuel-saving feature to note is Hyundai’s first, internally developed IVT that enhances shift response through a continuous range of effective gear ratios. This not only provides smooth transitions through the drive, but also enhances fuel efficiency.

The Venue offers an ample 355 litres of cargo capacity with the rear seats up. The cargo space features a rear covering shelf for added privacy, and can be conveniently stowed along the rear seatback when not in use. In addition, dual level cargo floor feature provides flexibility to have the floor of the cargo area in either the top position (level with the seats when folded down) or at a lower position (to accommodate taller cargo).

Functionally, drivers have all they need to make their journeys comfortable and enjoyable. Dual USBs, a 3.5-inch TFT instrument cluster display, rear-view camera and Bluetooth hands-free phone function provides all the connected convenience needed.

In step with the offbeat attractiveness of the Venue, Hyundai offers eight exterior colours — Ceramic White, Black Noir, Steller Silver, Galactic Grey, Scarlet Red, Intense Blue, Green Apple, Denim — that can be matched with denim cloth and leatherette interior and a white contrasting roof.

PRICE  FROM $80,999 (WITH COE)
ENGINE  1,598CC SMARTSTREAM GAMMA MPI PETROL
TRANSMISSION  INTELLIGENT VARIABLE TRANSMISSION
POWER  121HP @ 6,300RPM
TORQUE  154NM @ 4,500RPM
0–100KM/H  11.2 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  KOMOCO MOTORS PTE LTD (Tel: 6475 8888)