Super Saloons

7 min read
Today’s sedans come in all shapes and sizes. Here are three to lookout for that meet different budgets.

1. AUDI A7 SPORTBACK 2.0 TFSI QUATTRO S TRONIC

Its name may be a mouthful, but it pretty much describes the full-fledged performance features present in Audi’s latest saloon.

Audi claims that it is their first variant to embrace the essence of the Grand Turismo, and who are we to argue. A quick glance at the new A7 and you can imagine yourself cruising the winding roads of Cap D’Antibes on the way to a champagne brunch by the sea. You wouldn’t want to get there too quickly, though, because it’s in the driving where the pleasure of this car is derived.

First off, the new quattro system is the latest all-wheel drive with ultra-technology that allows all the advantages of front-wheel drive when the car is driven moderately. All-wheel drive remains permanently available, however, and is there immediately when needed. The control system for the quattro powertrain is comprehensively networked. It acquires and evaluates, in 10 millisecond cycles, data such as the steering angle, transverse and longitudinal acceleration, and engine torque.

The dual clutch system is key to the ultra-technology quattro system here. When the system changes to front-wheel drive, the front clutch — a multi-plate clutch at the transmission output — disconnects the propshaft. A decoupling clutch also opens in the rear differential. It shuts down the rotating components that cause the most drag losses here, such as the large crown wheel running in the oil bath. Despite the additional components, the quattro with ultra-technology is nearly 4kg lighter than the traditional system.

Inside, the A7 oozes all the luxury and tech accents that have become synonymous with the four-ringed brand. The interiors project a “futuristic lounge atmosphere”, with the centre console and the 10.1-inch upper display (in combination with MMI navigation plus) oriented towards the driver, in a nod to its Grand Turismo tag. With its black panel optics framed in a graphite-grey aluminium clasp, it almost disappears into the dashboard when switched off.

The Gran Turismo features the same infotainment and connectivity range as the Audi A8. Up to seven drivers can store their preferred settings in individual user profiles. As many as 400 parameters can be personalised. The online services from Audi Connect have been expanded. The car also comes standard with the MMI navigation plus for Singapore.

Of course, you would expect that the new A7 would look the part on the outside as well. It has all the spaciousness and stateliness of a sedan and the flexibility in spatial configuration as an Avant. Compared with the previous model, interior length has increased 21mm, resulting in more rear knee room. Rear passengers also enjoy more head room.

The boot has a base capacity of 535 litres, expandable to 1,390 litres with the rear seats down. The luggage compartment has space for two golf bags, which makes this car the perfect vehicle to take on a driving trip to a golf resort. The only risk is that you may find the drive so enjoyable that golf takes a back seat on your holiday!

PRICE  S$316,700 WITH COE
ENGINE  1,984 CC INLINE 4 CYLINDER, TFSI QUATTRO
TRANSMISSION  7-SPEED DUAL CLUTCH S TRONIC
POWER  245HP @ 5,000–6,500RPM
TORQUE  370NM @ 1,600–4,300 RPM
0–100KM/H  6.2 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  AUDI SINGAPORE (Tel: 6836 2223)

2. HONDA ACCORD 1.5 VTEC TURBO

Honda is into the 10th generation of its ever-popular Accord. This speaks highly of both the ability of the carmaker to keep reinventing its flagship sedan, and the long-lasting popularity among its loyal market.

This new model is a step in a new direction, especially from design and construction perspectives. To summarise the many technological advancements in the body of the new Accord, it’s safe to say that, with the use of 54.2% of high-strength steel, the car is now lighter and more rigid than ever before.

Apart from added safety, this contributes to the driveability of the car. The Accord’s lighter chassis features a new Macpherson strut front suspension with L- shaped aluminium control arms mounted to an all-aluminium front subframe. The new set-up better isolates and manages varying road inputs, improving handling precision, ride quality, and cabin quietness, along with better high-speed stability and control. The new, more space-efficient rear suspension is a multi-link design mounted to a more rigid, floating rear subframe. Fluid-filled compliance bushings at all four corners further improve ride comfort and absorption of road irregularities.

Under the hood, the Accord further impresses. The new 1.5-litre, 16-valve DOHC direct-injected turbo with dual Variable Timing Control (dual VTC) shares much of its design with the race-bred 2017 Civic Type R. High-efficiency low-inertia turbos, variable valve timing, low-pressure-loss air intake and high-accuracy direct injection help to pump out 201PS of power and 260Nm of torque.

You’ll notice a significant shift in exterior design. Viewed head-on, the new Accord is angled more dramatically from the window sills to the roof, while the seats have been moved slightly inward to improve hip, shoulder and head room while enhancing occupants’ freedom of movement. The longer wheelbase gives the Accord almost two extra inches of rear leg room to offer one of the most spacious rear seating areas in its class. Trunk space has also been increased to 570 litres.

Inside, the Accord has nearly everything you’d expect of a leading saloon. The all-new HMI includes an ultra-slim 7-inch TFT driver’s metre and a new, premium eight-inch display that enables customisable app tiles and home-screen shortcuts, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Wireless device charging, Bluetooth connectivity, and two 2.5amp USB charging ports further help keep you connected.

When it comes to safety features, Honda ups the ante with Honda Sensing, which includes Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Following. Throw in a 360-degree camera with Smart Parking Assist System, Cross Traffic Monitor, Lanewatch, and a Driver Attention Monitor, and you have one of the best-kitted, technologically competent, and value-for-money sedans money can buy on Singapore roads today.

PRICE  S$156,999 WITH COE
ENGINE  1,498CC DOHC VTEC TURBO
TRANSMISSION  CONTINUOUSLY VARIABLE TRANSMISSION (CVT)
POWER  201PS @ 5,500RPM
TORQUE  260NM @ 1,600–5,000RPM
0–100KM/H  9.1 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  KAH MOTOR CO SDN BHD (Tel: 6840 6888)

3. MERCEDES-BENZ A 200 SALOON

The A-Class has always been deemed Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level model. Now that they’ve rolled out the new four-door saloon, its profile is raised considerably, entering the realm of larger sedans on the road.

The new wheelbase of 2,729mm gives the car a stature previously missing in the hatchback version. The space inside has expanded, providing above-average shoulder, elbow, and headroom that’s top of its segment at 944mm. The 950mm boot opening is a welcome introduction, as is the 420 litres of boot capacity.

What the new, lengthened A-Class provides is improved aerodynamics. The car has a drag coefficient of just 0.22, equalling the original world record of the CLA Coupe. Furthermore, owing to the frontal area of 2.19m2, the A-Class Saloon has the lowest aerodynamic drag of all production vehicles worldwide.

Driveability is geometrically enhanced with Mercedes-Benz’s latest driving assistance systems with cooperative support, and functions adopted from the S-Class. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, available as an option with the Driving Assistance package, helps driving by automatically maintaining the correct distance from the car ahead, and gives the driver noticeable steering assistance even on bends.

Other safety features include Active Emergency Stop Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Steering Assist, and Active Braking Assist with cross-traffic function. The A-Class also features Mercedes-Benz’s PRE-SAFE Plus, which recognises imminent rear-end collision and firmly applies the brakes of the stationary vehicle to minimise injuries from forward jolt caused by impact from the rear.

As you can expect from Mercedes-Benz, the driving experience in the cockpit is hard to beat. The A-Class features the completely new MBUX, Mercedes-Benz User Experience multimedia system. MBUX has the ability to learn through artificial intelligence, is customisable, and can adapt to the user. Intelligent voice control enables you to pull up the navigation display by saying “Hey, Mercedes”. Naturally, touch still reigns, and the touch-control concept integrates a triad consisting of the touchscreen, touchpad on the centre console, and touch controls on the steering wheel.

Inside and out, the A-Class makes a quantum leap with the new sedan version. And Mercedes-Benz proudly says that the new saloon is “hot and cool at the same time”. We can’t argue with that.

PRICE  S$256,888 (PROGRESSIVE MODEL) WITH COE
ENGINE  1,332CC INLINE 4 CYLINDER
TRANSMISSION  7G-DCT
POWER  163HP @ 5,500RPM
TORQUE  250NM @ 1,620–4,000RPM
0–100KM/H  8.1 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  CYCLE & CARRIAGE (Tel: 6298 1818)