Small is beautiful: Subcompact rundown

Rising gas prices, bumper-to-bumper traffic – it’s no wonder that people are now taking subcompact sedans seriously. This segment used to cater to buyers on a very tight budget, hence the label “tin cans on wheels.” Now, subcompact sedans are highly stylized, packed with cutting-edge features, and advanced safety — certainly worthy of your hard-earned peso. Here’s a rundown on the available subcompact sedans currently on sale.

Kia Soluto

Mechanically indistinguishable from the Hyundai Reina (see below), Kia has gone for value rather than outright low prices. The large footprint offers great space while its proven platform makes it more comfortable and zippier than other sub-B segment cars. Plus, safety and convenience doesn’t take a backseat with features such as dual SRS airbags, ABS with EBD, and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay as standard equipment.

Suzuki Dzire

Suzuki’s continued rise in the Philippine automotive market can be attributable to its solid, well-designed vehicles. One such offering is the Suzuki Dzire — a car that defies convention. Priced like a sub-B segment car, the Dzire is underpinned by a lightweight, yet rigid HEARTECT platform. Suzuki’s focus on weight reduction means engineers afforded the use of smaller components, contributing to its affordable price. The 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine is available with a standard five-speed manual or a unique AGS or Auto Gear Shift technology.


Mazda concentrates its “zoom-zoom” formula into the Mazda2, creating a design and experience of dynamism and sportiness. The Mazda2 is bold, bright, and sporty with exquisite lines and high equipment levels. Powered by a 1.5-liter engine across the line, there’s lots of pep, too. Inside, it’s all sporty, yet premium with various soft-touch materials and features such as heads-up display, automatic climate control, and a high-resolution center display. Above all, it’s the best handling in the bunch making it a great “bang for the buck” buy.

MG 5

The newest entry into the fray, the MG 5 is MG Philippines’s second vehicle with true mass market appeal (the first being the subcompact crossover MG ZS). The MG 5 features class-leading size and packs class-exclusive features that don’t break the bank. Features include LED headlights, a 10-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, 16-inch wheels, push-button start/stop, and a sunroof. Powering the MG 5 is a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making a good 112 horsepower and 150Nm of torque. While it’s now available at all MG dealerships nationwide, its official Manila launch comes this October.

Chevrolet Sail

Developed primarily for developing countries, the Chevrolet Sail is built on the company’s new-generation small-car architecture and contains a bevy of family design cues such as the dual-port front grille. Apart from being stylish, it’s also roomy inside. Ensuring a peppy yet efficient drive, the Sail is powered by a 1.3-liter engine mated to a five-speed manual while the 1.5-liter engine comes with a four-speed automatic. The Sail is designed, developed, and manufactured leveraging GM’s global processes meeting the highest levels of quality.

Volkswagen Santana

Everyone aspires to own a German car, but only Volkswagen can give you a truly attainable means to do so. The Santana is timelessly handsome, crafted to the same Teutonic levels known the world over. Inside, it has an ergonomically simple cabin filled with all sorts of niceties. What sets the Santana apart though are the things you don’t see: a sturdy laser-welded body and a choice between two robust drivetrains: a 1.4-liter MPI for the manual, and a 1.5-liter MPI with BlueMotion for the automatics. Its German quality made affordable that its PMS is just once a year (or every 10,000 kilometers).

Toyota Vios

The Toyota Vios is the undisputed leader in the subcompact car segment, and is actually the bestselling passenger car, period. The newest iteration trades the angular styling for more organic ones, resulting in one of the happiest front ends in the segment. The interior is quintessential Toyota — solid and well-built. Power comes from a choice between a 1.3- or 1.5-liter engine, both of which are well-suited to the Vios’s role as a dutiful Point A to Point B commuter. Aside from practicality, the Vios also ups its safety: it’s the only vehicle available with standard seven airbags, ABS with EBD, and stability control all as standard equipment across the line.

Mitsubishi Mirage G4

As one of the few locally produced cars left, the Mirage G4 addresses the need for a practical yet stylish sedan to suit typical urban lifestyles. The G4 comes with a fuel-efficient 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine, an aerodynamically honed body, and a modernly executed interior. Despite its low price tag, the Mirage G4 is well-equipped with features that include automatic climate control, push-button keyless entry, and even offline GPS navigation.

Nissan Almera

“Almera,” derived from the Spanish word, “Almendra” which means a large diamond, has been a Nissan nameplate since 1995 and has been through five design generations. The Almera is certainly timeless, while its interior is well-finished and features the largest rear seat space in its class. It also provides a rear comfort fan for improved air cabin circulation. The Almera is available with two engines — a 1.2- and a 1.5-liter — and two transmissions, depending on the variant: a five-speed manual or Nissan’s Xtronic CVT.

Hyundai Accent

The bestselling vehicle in Hyundai’s Philippine line-up, the Accent is underpinned by a strong platform made of 54.5 percent Advanced High-Strength Steel. This enables Hyundai’s subcompact to improve its driving dynamics and comfort, without the added weight. The Fluidic Sculpture design is also in full display here, while the interior is modern and sophisticated. Aside from a typical 1.4-liter gasoline engine, the Accent comes with an atypical 1.6-liter turbodiesel engine.

Hyundai Reina

Tracing its roots to the previous-generation Accent, the Hyundai Reina is actually the mechanical twin of the Kia Soluto. Yet, because locally Hyundai and Kia are handled by different distributors, it’s going to be a battle of which Korean brand can do better. Slotting below its Accent in terms of price, the Reina brings a reputable list of specs for such an affordable price tag. The 1.4-liter Dual CVVT engine makes around 95 horsepower, enough for a daily runabout.

Honda City Often regarded as the technology leader of the segment, Honda’s bestselling nameplate is reflective of the company’s quest for continuous improvement. After a redesign, the new City receives a face-lifted front fascia with available LED lighting. Inside, it gets new paneling and even the convenience of cruise control on higher-end variants. Power remains from Honda’s tried-and-tested 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine mated to a CVT. Along the way, Honda’s keeping its offering fresh coming up with special limited-edition variants including the Honda City Sport.

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