One of the most hard fought segments in Malaysia is for family sedans and thanks to the influx of new entrants, it’s getting crowded in there. If you’re in the market for one then take a look at our guide to what is available and what we think of them.
Chevrolet Cruze (1.8, 1.8LT Sport)
Price: RM104,716.40 – RM121,716.40
The brand with the bow tie is GM’s vehicle for world markets and the Cruze is their main weapon in South East Asia. Handsome with a spacious interior and decent driving dynamics it’s a good alternative to Japanese and Korean competitors especially when you consider it comes with a 6-speed auto. The Sport version gets a body-kit and huge 18-inch wheels so if you want your car to look like Chevrolet’s WTCC racers, it’s the one to go for.
Citroen C4 1.6 THP EGS
Technically, it’s a five-door hatch and not a sedan but it serves the same role with a large slice of French style thrown into the mix. As part of the PSA group, most of the C4’s mechanical package is shared with the Peugeot 308 and that includes the 1.6 THP engine. Good for 156bhp and 240Nm and mated to an automated manual six-speed ‘box it makes the C4 one of the better family cars to drive. You get an extensive spec-list too so it could be worth a try.
Ford Focus (2.0 Sport, Sport+, Titanium, Titanium+)
Price: RM120,000 – RM135,000 (estd.)
Due to arrive at the end of Q3 2012, Ford’s 3rd-Generation Focus is now very much a ‘world car’. To be built at the new plant in Thailand, this is Ford’s attempt to regain a foothold in the family car market. Available as both a hatchback and sedan the only engine for now is the 2.0-litre inine-4 with 170bhp and 202Nm mated to the 6-speed Powershift dual-clutch ‘box. This should be the car with the best chassis so if you value dynamics it’s the one to go for.
Honda Civic (1.8S, 2.0S, 2.0 Navi, Hybrid)
Price: RM112,790.80 – 133,244.80
The new 9th-Generation Civic has big shoes to fill. Its predecessor was the undoubted segment leader so this is a very important car for Honda Malaysia. The new looks are not to everyone’s taste but there are four different models available including the Hybrid. Regular cars get 140bhp and 155bhp motors with 5-speed autos while the Hybrid uses a CVT with the engine from the CR-Z sports car with new higher capacity Li-Ion batteries.
Hyundai Elantra (1.6 MT, 1.6 AT Std, 1.6 AT High spec, 1.8 AT Premium)
Price: RM84,455.00 – RM108,802.80
Sexy, slinky and spacious, the new Elantra offers high style to family sedan buyers but at prices that won’t break the bank. It carries an Innokom badge in Malaysia but that’s the only bit of the car that isn’t from Hyundai. Specs are generous especially for the 1.8 Premium while the engines produce 128bhp and 148bhp respectively. Both the MT and AT option use a 6-speed ‘box so you won’t be left behind for technical excellence. A serious contender for class honours.
Mazda3 (1.6, 2.0)
Price: RM101,374.00 – RM125,949.50
A bit forgotten recently but still a nice to drive Japanese option, the 3 is available with both engines as a sedan or hatchback. Pricing is very competitive since they started CKD operations and the styling has aged well. The 1.6-litre option is a little anaemic with only 103bhp and a 4-speed auto but the 2.0-litre version is better equipped with 145bhp and 5-speed auto. Buyers who like the looks will be impressed so there is still a hard-core base of buyers.
Mitsubishi Lancer (2.0GT, 2.4 Sportback)
Price: RM122,546.10 – RM131,331.80
The Lancer took the class by storm when it was introduced back in 2007 but now has gradually faded into a comfortable niche. Ultra sporty looks, 18-inch wheels and a body kit mean the GT is the more exciting option but the Sportback gets a bigger engine and a unique body style. Power is rated at 153bhp and 168bhp respectively with both using Mitsubishi’s CVT ‘box. Very nice to drive and still great to look so it’s a worthy option for racer boys.
Nissan Sylphy (2.0 Comfort, Luxury Navi, Premium, Impul)
Price: RM111,742.80 – RM135,998.00
The family sedan with limo rear seats, the Sylphy focuses on space and comfort, especially in the rear where it gets more legroom than much bigger cars. A former Autocar ASEAN COTY overall winner, it just received a facelift and now all spec levels of the car can get the Impul treatment if you want. Deceptively quick and very practical, this is the family car to get if you spend lots of time in the back seat.
Peugeot 408 (2.0L, 1.6 Turbo)
Price: RM106,864.80 – RM122,493.00
Derived from the excellent 308 hatchback, the 408 is built by Naza in Malaysia for the ASEAN market. Unusually, the 1.6 Turbo is more expensive than the 2.0-litre version, but then it does use the THP engine and in this instance, it gets 163bhp as well as 240Nm. The 1.6T gets a 6-speed auto as well as a comprehensive list of standard equipment, but the 2.0-litre has to make do with a 4-speed ‘box. Definitely deserves a closer look and is excellent value for money.
Proton Inspira (1.8MT, 1.8 CVT Exec, 2.0 CVT Premium)
Price: RM76,735.10 – RM89,397.10
A rebadged version of the Mitsubishi Lancer, the Inspira has been fettled by Proton’s ride and handling engineers. Because of this, it drives even better than the car on which it’s based though it doesn’t get the sporty looks of the Lancer GT. Still, for the price, you really can’t do better than this so maybe it’s time to buy local?
Toyota Corolla Altis (1.6E, 1.8E, 1.8G, 2.0V)
Price: RM103,676.50 – RM128,427.10
From the undoubted non-national segment leader, the Altis comes in four variants to suit your pocket. The 1.6 gets a healthy 120bhp but makes do with a 4-speed auto. The 1.8 and 2.0-litre variants get 138bhp and 144bhp respectively with both matched to Toyota Super CVT ‘box. Yes, the looks are beginning to age but overall, it’s tough to beat the Toyota experience.
Volkswagen Jetta 1.4TSI
Based on the Golf Mk6 platform and using the same mechanicals, the Jetta is the most expensive car in the segment but arguably comes from the most premium brand. The twincharger engine is good for 158bhp and 240Nm while the gearbox is Volkswagen’s legendary 7-speed DSG, meaning it will drive fast and slow equally well. You pay for the privilege and the looks can be boring in the wrong colour but overall, this is the car for you if image counts above everything else.