European makes in Singapore used to “play” in COE Category B (engines above 1.6 litres in capacity), but their “playground” now extends to Category A (below 1.6-litre) at the expense of Japanese brands. Volkswagen is increasingly dominant with its popular 1.4-litre models, and Mercedes-Benz is doing brisk business with its 1.6-litre C-Class. Now, Volvo has entered the fray with its S60 T4, competing against fellow “downsized” 1.6-litre turbo saloons from Peugeot and Citroen.
Upgraded earlier this year, the C5 continues to be one of the best-value propositions in the continental sector. Apart from sporting a smaller, more powerful yet more frugal drivetrain compared to its 2-litre predecessor, this Frenchie also offers improved interior quality while keeping its fluid ride and quirky qualities intact. It is the least-new model here, so the C5 needs every trick it can muster to do well in this comparison test.
A close rival to the Citroen, not only in the marketplace but also in their shared mechanicals, is the newly launched Peugeot 508. This belated successor to the old 407 and 607 is a good-looking machine with a host of standard features more commonly present in upmarket luxury cars. Both the dealership and the principal want their newcomer to be a winner, and are therefore pushing it aggressively.
Another potential champ is Volvo’s latest T4 version of the S60. Its trump cards include a handsome design, squeaky clean ergonomics and outstanding safety credentials. The S60 1.6 also produces more power than the rest and puts it through a dual-clutch transmission, which is sexier and potentially speedier than the 6-speed automatics of the French duo. The pricing of the new Swedish number is on the high side, so it must drive home every advantage it has to justify the premium.
The successful white-collar exec is spoilt for choice, then. But his managerial pay cheque can only finance one of these three cars, so to help him decide, we hereby pen “in black and white” their relative strengths and weaknesses. Which vehicle has what it takes to win this contest?