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Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Two’s Company

8 min read
The cool zippiness of a two-door coupe can’t be beat when all you want is to scoot around town on your own (or with a significant other).


Thirteen years since the A5 was launched and the model from the four rings brand still forges new headways. The latest rendition introduced earlier this year includes a Sportback, Cabriolet, and the two-door Coupe. The latter is arguably one of the smartest-looking two-door cars on the road, particularly with the enhanced lines from Audi.

The honeycomb grille is now flatter and wider. Ventilation slits above the grille are throwbacks from the 1984 classic Audi Sport Quattro. Large air inlets accentuate the blade design on the lower edge of the bumper. A new sill provides for a slimmer appearance when viewed from the side, while a diffuser insert with trapezoidal tailpipes gives the rear end a wider look.

Although the Audi A5 is priced from a shade under S$200,000, it comes with the unique mild hybrid system (MHEV). The updated 2.0 TFSI engine offers a choice of 150hp or 190hp; whichever you choose, it will be paired with the seven-speed S tronic transmission. The MHEV system is integrated into the 12V electrical system and has a belt alternator starter (BAS) that is connected to the crankshaft.

With the MHEV, the A5 switches from the petrol engine to the lithium battery-powered electrical consumers when coasting between 55 and 160km/h. The start-stop range operates from as low as 22km/h. When the accelerator is depressed, the BAS restarts the engine quickly and smoothly. When stopped, this happens while the brake pedal is still depressed as soon as the vehicle in front begins to move. In real-world, everyday operation, the MHEV system can reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.3 litres per 100km, according to Audi measurements.

Inside, the A5 continues Audi’s trademark luxury and technologically enhanced driver and passenger experience. The new MMI touch system provides users with a smartphone-like UI, with its 10.1-inch display with acoustic feedback that replaces the rotary pushbutton of the previous iteration. The search function is based on free text input, and the natural language voice control is able to understand many formulations of casual speech. In Singapore, the range comes standard with the top-of-the-line MMI navigation plus infotainment control centre.

The myAudi app connects the car with the customer’s smartphone. The standard personalisation allows the creation of as many as seven different user profiles for storing personal settings and preferences. With functions on demand, the customer will be able to access the car functions at any time using the myAudi app.

POWER  150PS @ 4,000–6,000RPM
TORQUE  270NM @ 1,300–3,850RPM
0–100KM/H  8.9 SECONDS


The new MX-5 RF is Mazda’s gift to the driver who enjoys a touch of style and flamboyance in the driving experience. The RF, so you know, stands for ‘retractable roof’, which already hints at the market segment Mazda is targeting.

Gone are the days of stopping your car by the road to put the top up every time the weather turns inclement. Mazda has refined its technological philosophy and introduces KODO — Soul of Motion design that provides an entirely new way of managing the hard top roof. Flick a button and the boot opens up, allowing the top section of the roof to slide in. With the top down, the MX-5 RF mimics a targa, with the benefits of added rigidity compared to a totally open-top car.

Press a button on the console, and the rear section of the roof opens up to allow the front and middle part to slide into the boot. This may be done even when the car is in motion (up to 10km/h). You can watch the operation via the five-step animation in the multi-information display in the meter cluster.

Of course, the pleasures of driving go beyond having the wind in your hair. Mazda’s Jinba-ittai — being one with the car — means that its engineers have taken a holistic approach to putting together weight and the elements of SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY — suspension, powertrain — working together in harmony.

The MX-5’s front-midship engine, which features 50/50 split front-rear weight distribution, has been a trademark of this lightweight sportster. In the latest fifth edition, the engine is moved rearward. Combined with the aluminium and boot lid, a lowered engine mounting and seats, this creates a lower yaw moment of inertia, which results in improved response and handling.

The seats are worth further discussion here. Featuring Mazda’s S-fit Structure, these are made with newly developed net material and urethane pads instead of the conventional metal springs/urethane pad construction. This reduces weight and thickness of the seats while providing support and holding capability when the car is driven hard through curves.

SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY is the manifestation of Mazda’s ‘gram strategy’ philosophy that results in overall weight reduction in cars. This is achieved through optimal distribution of functions, introduction of compact components, structural innovations, and wider use of aluminium and other lightweight materials. SKYACTIV-BODY is an extrapolation built on the concept of a continuous framework that reduces weight even further with added rigidity. Measures taken include optimising the framework, larger cross-sections and straighter lines for the high-mount backbone frame, and more extensive use of high-tensile sheet steel, as well as integrating the chassis and the body.

Under the hood, the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 direct injection petrol engine is the main performer, with its lightweight pistons and connecting rods. The new intake system features a common-type intake port to maximise air intake volume, while the 4-2-1 exhaust system, with redesigned exhaust port, greatly reduces pumping loss.

Even the combustion characteristics of the engine have been enhanced to reduce wastage. High-diffusion fuel injectors now introduce a three-stage split fuel injection control that minimises waste while promoting secure fuel vapourisation. What this means is that torque is increased from low to high engine speeds, and fuel efficiency and environmental performance are improved.Despite its size and stature, the MX-5 RF boasts a large suite of safety features through Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE technologies. These include Blind Spot Monitoring, and Lane Departure Warning System. Advanced Smart City Brake Support and Smart City Rear Brake Support apply the brakes when the system detects vehicles and pedestrians in the way when the car is in motion.

One unique safety feature is the Active Bonnet. When impact with a pedestrian is anticipated, the bonnet is released to create a space between it and the rigid parts of the engine. The bonnet itself is also constructed to absorb energy. Like many aspects of the MX-5 RF, this is a great example of having form and function simultaneously.

PRICE  S$179,388 (WITH COE)
POWER  184PS @ 7,000RPM
TORQUE  205NM @ 4,000RPM
0–100KM/H  7.9 SECONDS (AT); 6.8 SECONDS (MT)
DISTRIBUTOR  MAZDA SINGAPORE (Tel: 6603 6618, 6395 8888)


For those in search of unique compact cars for urban use, MINI offers this bespoke three-door model that oozes luxuriant charm and character (it also comes in a five-door version). The Rosewood Edition comes only in Indian Summer Red (and otherwise only available in the MINI Clubman), blisteringly noticeable with its black-tinged roof and wing mirrors. Adding sophisticated touches are the headlight and tail light trims, Piano Black finishes in the grille, one-piece surround and door handles.

The car comes with 17-inch Cosmos Spoke Light Alloy wheels and run-flat tyres. The floating hubcap is an interesting detail that ensures the MINI logo stays upright as the car is in motion.

Luxurious touches appear inside as well. The 3D-printed dashboard panel is accented by the Rosewood pinstriped motif etched in Jet Black. The steering wheel is wrapped with nappa leather, and the seat upholstery is in Leather Lounge Carbon Black, with the front sports seats boasting a Union Jack motif on the headrest.

The engine powering the Rosewood Edition is the same in the Cooper variant — a 1.5-litre TwinPower Turbo that churns out 136bhp of power and 220Nm of torque. Dual clutch technology helps you get through the seven available gears with smooth ease. There are also three driving modes — Green, Mid and Sport — with the first two offering coasting function through the Steptronic transmission, and auto stop/start function for added fuel efficiency.

To match the classy elegance of this model, the MINI Connected system has been redesigned with a minimalist and more contemporary look. The infotainment system is a peek to the future as it facilitates News and Weather vehicle apps, Natural Language Understanding (where drivers can activate aspects of the car through speaking), and Teleservices by MINI (where service-related data is automatically transferred to the MINI Centre via the Automatic Teleservice Call).

The Remote Services function is particularly useful to check on the status of the car through the MINI Connected app on your smartphone. Drivers can check if the windows are closed, and lock or unlock their cars with a few taps on their mobile phones. On hot days, they can even turn the air-conditioning on before they get into their cars — adding an aspect to the Rosewood Edition that is cool in more ways than one!

PRICE  S$146,888  (WITH COE)
POWER  136HP @ 4,500–6,500RPM
TORQUE  220NM @ 1,480–4,200RPM
0–100KM/H  7.8 SECONDS

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