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Thursday, August 18, 2022
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People’s Choice

8 min read
Coupe-style SUVs off the right blend of looks, practicality and performance. These three new models highlight a trend that seems to be growing.

Audi Q5 Sportback

Call it a full SUV with an aggressively raked back line, a crossover utility, or a practical car with a touch of panache. Whatever you call it, the Audi Q5 Sportback captivates with its progressive design, matching the usability of a mid-size SUV with the premium touches that Audi is known to provide.

The most obvious feature of the Q5 Sportback is the sweeping shoulder line, which emphasises the wheels. Side sill trim on what Audi calls their “crossover utility vehicle” enhances this look, drawing your eyes to the sleek accents on the side of the car.

The rear lights feature innovative digital OLED technology and comes standard. Drivers can be assured that they will be noticed with each LED divided into six segments, which can be controlled individually. On top of that, you can customise the rear light configuration with one of the three signatures available.

The Audi Q5 Sportback comes in two different exterior lines: Advanced and S. Side frame nuances of the side air inlets and rear bumper differentiate the two. There are also 11 paint finishes and a variety of trims for the add-on parts to choose from; this includes the Carbon Style package, and both full and contrasting paint finishes.

Despite the severely sloped back, the Q5 Sportback still offers luggage space of 510 litres. This expands to 1,480 litres with the rear seats folded. The power tailgate comes standard and may be opened with a kick under the rear bumper. Interior upholstery comes in several options, including top-of-the-line Nappa leather for a touch of luxury. The ambient lighting package plus lighting effects may be controlled to match with whatever trim you decide on.

While these cosmetic and structural enhancements may be the key features of the Q5 Sportback, the engine under the hood continues to be a powerful workhorse that has proven its pedigree. The 2.0 TFSi four-cylinder engine churns out 249PS of power and 370Nm of torque. The car is also fuel-efficient, given its 12V mild hybrid system (MHEV), with a belt-driven starter-alternator that can recover energy when decelerating and store it in the lithium-ion battery. The seven-speed S tronic and efficient quattro drive with ultra technology direct torque to the front wheels in normal conditions; when conditions call for it, two clutches activate the rear axle and all-wheel drive is engaged, ready for action.

PRICE  $302,167 (WITH COE)

ENGINE  1,984CC INLINE 4-CYLINDER 2.0 TFSI PETROL WITH MILD HYBRID SYSTEM, WITH TURBOCHARGING AND INTERCEDING

TRANSMISSION  7-SPEED S TRONIC AUTOMATIC, QUATTRO WITH ULTRA TECHNOLOGY

POWER  249PS @ 5,000–6,000RPM

TORQUE  370NM @ 1,600–4,500RPM

0–100KM/H  6.3 SECONDS

DISTRIBUTOR  PREMIUM AUTOMOBILES (Tel: 6836 2223)

Honda Hr-V

When it comes to offering drivers a practical, fuss-free drive with a classy look, the Honda HR-V is perhaps the car that would tick all your boxes.

Regardless of its ubiquity, the HR-V is still one of the smartest looking mid-size SUVs on the roads. And the all-new version further expands on this popularity with two variants: hybrid and petrol. Honda claims that the new version is more than a full model change, and that the car is a representation of the brand’s urban SUV Coupe line that blends design with great fuel efficiently and practicality.

Out of the box, the new HR-V is larger with a width of 1,790mm, and has a new powertrain and electronic platform. With Honda’s advanced e:HEV powertrain, the hybrid variant offers greatly improved fuel economy, with the added torque that this genre tends to offer. The coupe styling further adds pizzazz to the package.

Certainly, looking at the car, you won’t mistake it for any Grab vehicle. Honda has gone for the minimalist, clean look, and the HR-V’s success in putting this philosophy into action is a clear indication that they’ve hit on something right. The bold grille and LED headlight gives the car a forward-leaning front, which integrates flawlessly with the smooth side lines, culminating in a raked rear line that finishes the aerodynamic silhouette. In fact, if you blink quickly, you may mistake it for a Porsche Macan!

Much thought has been put into the cabin of the new HR-V. Honda’s Man-Maximum, Machine-Minimum principle pervades, in that steps were taken to ensure that passenger comfort is well attended to. For one, the Air Diffusion System is a new feature that directs air along the front door windows to the roof, creating a vortex that mimics natural wind.

Legroom for rear passengers has been increased by 35mm, and several cupholders, USB ports and pockets installed for better practicality. Hands-free power tailgate is convenient when your hands are full, and the walk-away close switch with the smart key proximity function even prompts the tailgate to close automatically when you move away from the car.

The Honda HR-V DX, the petrol variant, comes with a 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, while the HR-V e:HEV offers a lithium-ion battery and three interchangeable drive systems — Engine, Hybrid and Electric — that switches automatically, depending on driving conditions. Like in the new Civic, the HR-V also offers three performance modes: Sport, Normal, Econ.

Honda Sensing is available in the car, using the wide-angle camera and Honda’s high-speed imaging processing chip. Safety features include Hill Descent Control — a first in the HR-V.

The HR-V is built in Japan and comes in six colours: Premium Opal White Silver (pearl), Platinum White (pearl), Meteoroid Grey (metallic), Crystal Black (pearl), Premium Crystal Red (metallic) and Sand Khaki (pearl). There is also an exclusive five-year unlimited mileage warranty, and a five-year hybrid battery warranty provided by Kah Motor.

PRICE  FROM $127,999 (WITH COE) FOR DX
FROM $165,999 (WITH COE) FOR E:HEV

ENGINE  1,498CC DOHC-I-VTEC WATER-COOLED, IN-LINE 4-CYLINDER PETROL

TRANSMISSION  CONTINUOUSLY VARIABLE TRANSMISSION (CVT FOR DX; E-CVT FOR E:HEV)

POWER  118PS @ 6,600RPM (DX)

106PS @ 6,000–6,400RPM / 131PS @ 4,000–8,000RPM (HYBRID BATTERY, E:HEV)

TORQUE  142NM @ 4,300RPM (DX)
127NM @ 4,500–5,000RPM / 253NM @ 0–3,500RPM (HYBRID BATTERY, E:HEV)

0–100KM/H  12.1 SECONDS (DX)
10.7 SECONDS (E:HEV)

DISTRIBUTOR  KAH MOTOR (Tel: 6840 6888)

Renault Arkana Fastback

We don’t see the French carmaker dipping their toes into the SUV pond very often, but when they do, you can expect that they’ll cause more than a few ripples. The all-new Renault ARKANA Fastback SUV coupe will certainly turn heads on the roads, not to mention perk up a market that has a perennial love affair with SUVs.

Built from the same platform as the CLIO and the quirky CAPTUR, the ARKANA is the latest addition to the Renault line, and combines the sleek silhouette of a coupe with the practicality of an SUV. Wide shoulders and a muscular beltline atop a 200mm ground clearance offer a sporty, agile stance. Front and rear sport skirting with skid plates, side steps, and a rear spoiler further hint of the car’s athletic intentions.

The C-shaped LED daytime-running lights are typically Renault. This is replicated in the rear, with C-shaped LED lights extending across the entire width of the tailgate for a sense of distinction when viewed from behind.

Renault’s E-TECH Hybrid technology — found in the CLIO, CAPTUR and MEGANE — is also found in the ARKANA. The full-hybrid engine’s E-TECH Hybrid powertrain can provide up to 80% of city drive time with electric power, enhancing fuel consumption by up to 40% over a combustion engine. The hybrid system employs two electric motors: an e-engine (36kW) and a 15kW High-Voltage Starter Generator (HSG). Renault’s expertise in Formula 1 racing is telling in the architecture of a clutchless multi-mode dogbox transmission with the powertrain, which smoothens and optimises gear shifts.

MULTI-SENSE settings further let drivers choose different driving modes, such as ‘ECO’ for fuel economy, ‘My Sense’ for daily driving, and ‘Sport’ for that extra punch in performance.

From a user-experience perspective, Renault’s EASY LINK multimedia system is ergonomically designed to integrate drivers’ preferences with the connected ecosystem. Home pages on the infotainment system are customisable through the seven-inch touchscreen display, and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto provides familiarity where needed.

In the Renault ARKANA Fastback BOSE Edition, the 9.3-inch capacitive portrait coloured touchscreen multimedia and navigation system provides users with intuitive smartphone technologies, such as click-and-drag movements, in addition to two-finger pinch-and-zoom abilities for simplified usage. The slight curve of the modern screen is angled towards the driver, improving readability.

The SUV’s internal cabin space and storage capacity leave little to be desired. The rear knee room of 211mm is the highest in its category, while the 305mm foot space and 862mm headroom offer significant comfort for passengers in the back. The 480-litre boot (seats up) also has a raised floor that can be lowered to increase storage. When lowered, the passenger bench seat can be folded to create a flat floor.

The All New Renault ARKANA Fastback comes in five colours: Pearl White, Metal Black, Metallic Grey, Flame Red and Zanzibar Blue.

PRICE  $187,999 (WITH COE)

ENGINE  1,598CC 4-CYLINDER PETROL ENGINE WITH MULTI-POINT INDIRECT INJECTION, AND E-TECH HYBRID TECHNOLOGY

TRANSMISSION  E-TECH HYBRID, DOG CLUTCH MULTI-MODE AUTOMATIC

POWER  141HP @ 5,000RPM

TORQUE  148NM @ 3,600 / 250NM (PETROL/ELECTRIC MOTOR)

0–100KM/H  10.8 SECONDS

DISTRIBUTOR  RENAULT SINGAPORE (Tel: 6471 3313)