Ah… the B-Segment - always filled with choices, always so hard to decide on the right one for you. From the obvious leaders to dark-horse chances, we wouldn't blame you for feeling spoilt for choice to the point of no resolve in sight.
To sort of help you run through your options, we’ve come up with a few of our favourite sedans that are priced under the RM100k mark right now, and ranked them leading up to our No.1 with the bullet. But before we start, just a reminder that this isn’t a list we’ve limited to just what was launched in 2014, and is instead extended to what’s available and hot in the market right now.
So let’s get at it…
No.8: 2014 Mitsubishi Attrage: RM60,980 to RM77,980 (with insurance)
Officially, the Mitsubishi Attrage is a B-segmenter, but with the smallest engine displacement and fewest cylinders in the group (1.2-litre, 3 cylinder), many may overlook the Attrage’s qualities. Naturally, power is down to just 78hp and 100Nm torque, against the typical 100hp and 130Nm of torque found in the segment. That said, there is some very impressive fuel economy to be had if you can be patient enough with the throttle: 4.0-litres/100km was achieved on an eco-challenge we participated in earlier this year.
Elsewhere, the Attrage fares pretty well, offering good cabin spaciousness and comfort, a good list of equipment (dependant on how high-up the spec range you’d be willing to go), and overall practicality. Where the CBU Attrage hurts solely stems from its powertrain department, because for roughly the same money, you could be driving a 1.5 or 1.6-litre engine, with a lot more power.
No.7: 2014 Kia Cerato KX – RM89,888
A sheep in wolves’ clothing? Yes, the Kia Cerato was originally positioned as a C-segment competitor meant to fight off the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis. We even specifically recall Kia Malaysia insisting that while the previous B-segment Kia Forte was discontinued, the Cerato’s arrival wasn’t to directly replace the Forte.
However, in July 2014, Naza Kia Malaysia decided to introduce another variant of the Cerato, dubbed the KX. No changes in dimensions or design were involved, which doesn’t quite take it out of the C-segment category, but its price was significantly reduced – so much so that it became cheaper than almost every other top-spec B-segmenter in Malaysia. And that’s not to say that Kia Malaysia stripped the car of too many creature comforts either.
How the official math adds up where the Kia’s pricing is concerned, we can’t say for sure. But if you’re looking for a sedan with a budget enough only for a B-segmenter, you may as well check out the Kia Cerato KX and score some excellent value for money. Still, it gets penalised and sent further up the list for being a C-segmenter sneaking its way into a B-segment list.
No.6 2014 Ford Fiesta Sedan – RM87,001 (with insurance)
The limelight where Fiestas are concerned is undoubtedly stolen by the sportier hatchback, but let’s not forget that the sedan version of the Fiesta (Titanium) has just as much to offer as its smaller sibling does, plus a bigger boot.
Having driven the hatch on several occasions this year, there’s no denying just how involving and fun it is to drive hard. And you can count on the thrills being replicated in the sedan. For equipment and features, there are a few hits and misses to note: such as the benefit of full leather seats, keyless entry + push start button, Electronic Stability Control; or the lack of a trendy large touch-screen display, a more ergonomic and spacious interior, etc.
Speaking of the Fiesta’s space, we’re reminded also of a point that cripples the Sedan’s appeal, and that’s to do with the snug fit of the Fiesta. It’s tolerable in a small, sporty hatchback, but on a four-door sedan? The competition is quite fierce here.
No.5: 2014 Proton Saga: RM33,488 to RM53,458
It may seem a bit unfair to include the Proton Saga into our list because of how low their prices are compared to the rest of the foreign brands here, but there’s really no denying their affordability and practicality. Argue what you like about the Saga’s quality, but the simple fact is that they provide a four-door, four-wheel option to those of us that just can’t afford RM500 or more a month. Likewise, expecting luxuries like seven airbags and an electronic stability program would be stretching it, but at least you’d be getting a car with four seats, a boot, and relatively safe mobility for your family – no need to worry about being knocked off your motorcycle or getting caught in the rain.
No. 4: 2014 Nissan Almera – RM66,827 to RM79,827
One of the key selling points of the Nissan Almera when it was launched here in Malaysia was its very low base price – considering that even its prime rivals start from RM73k (Vios) and RM76k (City) today. Arriving in Malaysia late 2012, the Almera also took its chances against the then aging second-gen Vios and fifth-gen City.
With comparable performance under the hood, the Almera was flaunted to offer “Surprisingly More,” particularly with its interior and cargo space. However, the general consensus from many was that the Almera came to the party with an exterior design that wasn’t as aggressive as it needed to be for the times, but nevertheless, remained a sensible vehicle to buy.
Since then, however, industry titans Toyota and Honda have both launched their B-segment assaults with a bucket-load of new tricks and trendy designs, resigning the Nissan Almera to a bit of a back seat. Still, you won’t find a lower B-segment entry price point (with a 1.5-litre engine) anywhere else in the country. Also, we hear that a facelifted Nissan Almera is bound for Malaysia sometime in Q1 2015 – could the new boy strike back? We’ll see.
No.3: 2014 Volkswagen Polo Sedan – RM89,888 (without insurance)
Locally-assembled since July 2014, the Volkswagen Polo Sedan is offered in just one singular variant that’s competitively priced against the B-segment’s range toppers. Offering a 1.6-litre MPI engine and a six-speed torque converter automatic, Germany’s entry sets itself apart from the traditional 1.5-litre mills paired with four-speeders. Sadly, this doesn’t translate to any big advantage over the competition in the real world.
Undeniably, there’s a very decent overall package here: sharp handling, conservative looks and all. Where the Volkswagen lets us down is with its price, and what that price offers in terms of specifications. The top of the range City gets you a swanky 7-inch audio display screen, keyless entry with push-start button, Vehicle Stability Control and more. Apart from its German engineering, the Polo Sedan has no answer to these. Still, 3rd place here means that it remains a force to be reckoned with.
No. 2: 2014 Toyota Vios – RM73,213 to RM93,213
The local success alone of the Toyota Vios has guaranteed its inclusion to any popular “top B-segment” lists you could make up. Today, it isn’t the latest compact sedan in town, having gotten a proper head start on the newer Honda City when it was launched October 2013. Make no mistake, though; the Vios is still every bit relevant today as it was a year ago.
In its third generation now since its introduction in 2002, many disapproved of the Vios’ familiar powertrain: a 1.5-litre 1NZ-FE VVT-i engine and four-speed Super-ECT torque converter auto which has been in service for some 13 years. In Toyota’s defence, the combination is a tried and tested formula which begged no change – and if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Elsewhere, yes, the Vios you see in showrooms today is a whole new aggressive assault on the B-segment: sharp looks, a reworked interior, lots of newfound spaciousness, and overall great driveability.
No.1: 2014 Honda City – RM75,800 to RM90,800 (with insurance)
And so we arrive at the very top of this list, where we find the Honda City: all-new, priced very competitively, and packaged far better than anything we’ve seen in the segment. Even at its very base, the Honda City has so much to offer: more legroom than a Toyota Camry, a very ergonomic interior with lots of storage compartments, a proven and updated powertrain with good acceleration and better fuel consumption, an extremely safe G-CON body structure… we could go on.
Make your way higher up the variants, and you get fancy 16-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen audio display with eight speakers and voice recognition, keyless entry with engine push-start button, a full suite of safety systems that include Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill-Start Assist, ABS + EBD + BA, rear air-conditioning – top-spec vs. top spec, it’s equipment levels almost has no equal.
Design wise, there’s no faulting the City either: it’s exterior styling makes it a handsome car that reflects the times, and it’s interior is as ever cleverly packaged to offer best-in-class spaciousness. Don't forget, the City's also a Five-Star ASEAN NCAP safety rating winner, and was also picked recently as NST's Car Of The Year for 2014.
Looking ahead to 2015
And there you have it, our favourite B-segmenters today, with the Honda City stealing the top spot as our favourite B-segment sedan that money can buy in today’s market. So if you’re looking to take advantage of some year-end sale on a B-segmenter to drive into next year, hope this helps!
But… what if you waited a little longer into 2015? Well, we hear that the B-segment is due for quite few exciting sedan models to come – one specific entry being the all-new Mazda 2 Sedan, due to launch in January 2015. Elsewhere, we know that the Nissan Almera is due a facelift, while we also hear that a few more surprises could be coming our way.