BEST FAMILY SALOON
The 10th generation of Honda’s signature model is available with a choice of two 4-cylinder engines – 173bhp turbo 1.5-litre or 125bhp 1.6-litre, both hooked up to a continuously variable transmission with 7-speed override.
On our score sheets, the Civic is on a par with the Lexus GS F in ride comfort and handling capability, and second only to the Volvo S90 in user-friendliness and bang for the buck. The Lexus and Volvo cost considerably more than the honest-to-goodness Honda family car and are far more complicated.
Our editor, David Ting, likes the new Civic. “It’s not only far more driveable and desirable than its mediocre predecessor, but also a better all-rounder than its key competitors – the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sylphy and Mazda 3 – and it has striking styling to boot. The Civic is now the benchmark in the segment.”
BEST FAMILY HATCHBACK
General Motors’ convincing counterpoint to the Volkswagen Golf is offered with two turbocharged drivetrains (1-litre 3-cylinder with 5-speed automated manual and 1.4-litre 4-cylinder with 6-speed automatic) and two bodystyles (five-door hatch and Sports Tourer station wagon).
On our score sheets, the Astra does well in Economy/Efficiency and Styling, and does very well in Value For Money. It doesn’t do well in the X Factor category, but this is perhaps expected, because the Opel is a sensible vehicle with no surprises or unseen delights.
Our senior writer, Jeremy Chua, admires the new-age Astra. “It’s my favourite hatchback of 2016 hands down.”
Engineer, Shreejit Changaroth, is also full of admiration for the Astra. “The standard equipment isn’t the only desirable aspect. Good looks, gutsy performance even in 1-litre guise, a premium feel inside and a fine drive. It is the best Astra ever.”
BEST 4-CYLINDER REAR-DRIVE LUXURY SALOON
The E200’s full model change from W212 to W213 made the tristar saloon even more attractive to towkays, even though the main upgrade to the carried-over turbo 2-litre powerplant is a 9-speed automatic transmission, in place of the previous 7-speeder.
On our score sheets, the E-Class is parked comfortably within the top three rankings for Ride and Economy/Efficiency. But it is 75 points away from the COTY winner at the top of the chart, which is also a 2-litre European saloon with the works.
The ST-Torque team doesn’t have any businessmen wearing Rolex gold watches, but we do know a thing or two about business class travel.
Edric said: “The new E-Class is unimpeachable. It cossets and pampers its occupants, and is whisper quiet.”
Jeremy concluded by saying: “It’s a smaller S-Class, with impressive levels of space, technology and refinement. Mind you, that’s just the entry-level E200.”