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HomeCar TalkSize Isn't Everything

Size Isn’t Everything

7 min read
These three urban compacts prove that you don’t have to be hefty to pack a punch.


Few small cars on the road combine sporty sleekness with urban sensibility the way the Swift does. Already into the fourth generation since production for the Swift began in 2004, Suzuki proudly says that they pushed out over one million of these cars in under four years from that time.

The design of the latest version of the Swift offers a bold transformation in looks and performance. Powered by a 1.0-litre BoosterJet engine, direct fuel injection and a turbocharger enable the car to pump out 109bhp despite its downsized displacement. And unlike punchy compacts, the Swift boasts good Noise, Vibration and Harness (NVH) performance from the three-cylinder engine. The six-speed automatic transmission provides quick acceleration and smooth highway cruising, while the front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam suspensions add to the driving pleasure.

Safety is not compromised in any way with the Swift. The ABS comes standard, which helps prevent wheel lock in times of emergency braking. Other safety features include occupant-protective SRS airbags, front passenger airbag deactivation system, and hill hold control. The sophisticated Electronic Stability Program (ESP) automatically applies control over engine torque when negotiating a sharp turn, and Emergency Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) assures optimum braking in times of need.

Inside the Swift, Suzuki has made sure that performance of the car is met with ergonomic styling and comfort, not to mention practicality. The multi-information LCD display has a sporty flair, and cruise control allows you to hit the highways with confidence. The 60:40 split seating options further lets you configure the cargo space for any of your transportation or recreational desires. A USB port and accessory socket make sure you stay connected — and your smartphone charged — when you’re on the road.

All combined, it is no surprise that the Swift has won 188 awards across 34 countries and regions, and was ranked Top 3 World Urban Car in 2018.

PRICE   From $75,900
POWER   109BHP @ 5,500RPM
TORQUE   160NM @ 1,700–4,000RPM
0–100KM/H   10 SECONDS

*Information accurate as at time of publishing.


You may think that the four-door Kia Cerato sedan doesn’t quite fit into this group of cars but, at just 600mm longer than the A1 Citycarver, it boasts all the physical advantages of driving a smaller vehicle on Singapore roads. But just focusing on size would lead you to neglect the many top-notch features of this sedan.

Kia has been making great inroads into a youthful market that demands stylish exteriors, reliable performance, and a price tag that won’t break the bank. It’s current stable of cars — from the Cerato to the Santa Fe — turns heads while providing all the modern features found in luxury brands.

Kia’s bestselling urban sedan continues this trend with its stylish silhouette boosted by a spacious cabin, thanks to a gentle sweep of the roofline. Legroom is surprisingly ample as well.

The Korean brand’s tagline of “Power to Surprise” strikes the right note when you look at the Cerato’s dashboard. The “floating centre monitor” offers a clean façade throughout the dash while the metallic trim gives a sophisticated accent.

There is little left to be desired when it comes to technology inside the car. The eight-inch infotainment system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and also offers the view from the rear view camera, whose dynamic guidelines help you back into the tightest of parking spaces.

If the handy USB chargers in the console box don’t fit your bill, the wireless smartphone charger should be a great backup. The orange (indicating that charging is ongoing) and green lights (indicating a full charge) are useful features.

The GT Line model offers a plethora of added features that you won’t be able to do without in a short time. These include the one-touch power sunroof; Integrated Memory System for you to present two personalised driver seating positions as well as cluster display information; and the Smart Trunk, which enables the boot to unlock and open when the car detects that they key is in the proximity.

The Cerato’s 1.6-litre petrol engine, with Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) and electronic fuel injection, provides more than sufficient smooth power for Singapore’s roads and highways. And the safety elements offered mirror higher-end models. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) optimises braking performance and directional control through the delivery of the right amount of brake force based on driving conditions, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) prevents wheel lock on emergency braking, and the Hill-Start Assist Control lets drivers move from an inclined position without the threat of rolling backwards.

Performance, the onboard experience, and safety offerings ultimately make the Kia Cerato GT Line one of the most value-for-money four-door compact sedans in the market.

PRICE   From $77,999
POWER   128PS @ 6,300RPM
TORQUE   155NM @ 4,850RPM
0–100KM/H   12 SECONDS

*Information accurate as at time of publishing.


Audi’s A1 citycarver is one fine alternative if you want a European-made compact for Singapore’s city traffic. This “most progressive model in the new A1 product line” ticks all the boxes when comes to that perfect urban vehicle, while providing the performance required anytime you want to hit the highway or country road.

Off the bat, the new A1 — modelled on the A1 Sportback — offers 4cm extra ground clearance from the previous model. Higher ride height and larger wheels (starting at 16cm) further add to the car’s stature.

Looking at the citycarver, the large, octagonal Singleframe suggests a scaled-down version of the Q models. Other smart exterior features include underbody protection painted in stainless steel hints, and wheel arches in contrasting colour. The A1 citycarver also comes in nine exterior colours, including a contrast roof in either Mythos black metallic or Manhattan grey metallic.

While the exterior catches your eye, the interior details will grab your imagination. Sitting in the cockpit will give you a sense that what is in front of you has been designed in a stylish and integrated approach. The digital instrument cluster and air vents form a compact unit, while the vents, centre tunnel console, and doors offer accent surfaces in mint, copper, orange or silver grey. Of course, given that this is an Audi, you can choose from three equipment lines: advanced, design selection, and S line. The S line offers customers the choice between seat covers in cloth/synthetic leather or Alcantara/synthetic leather.

While the Audi A1 may be a compact car, the experience is still big when it comes to providing infotainment and connectivity. Audi’s virtual cockpit and MMI navigation is a given, and the 10.1-inch touch display allows for wonderful visuals. Voice control and free text search for navigating destinations make for easy access to Audi’s powerful onboard features. Of these, navigation with Google Earth, traffic information online, parking information, and a Wi-Fi hotspot for mobile devices will capture any technophile’s interest. And for those who enjoy music on the go, the 560-watt Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium Sound System turns the car into a high-fidelity boom box on wheels.

Of course, performance and safety are at the fore with the A1 citycarver. Audi Pre Sense front (pedestrian and cyclist detection) and lane departure warning are standard. And the optional Dynamic Package upgrade includes brake disks with red calipers, Audi drive select dynamic handling system, a sound actuator, and suspension with adjustable dampers — turning the A1 citycarver into arguably the sub-compact with the highest specs in town.

POWER   85KW @ 5,000–5,500RPM
TORQUE   200NM @ 2,000–3,500RPM
0–100KM/H   11.2 SECONDS

*Information accurate as at time of publishing.