With the pandemic still in full swing, personal mobility has become important to people who would otherwise not even consider getting a car. Today, cars have become a personal bubble where one can feel safe and secure, especially as they go about their daily routine.
Despite their moniker as “entry-level” cars, subcompact sedans aren’t as no-frills anymore. They’re highly styled and packed with cutting-edge features that make them worthy of your hard-earned peso. Here’s a rundown on the available choices in the market today.
With a starting price of just P539,000, the Changan Alsvin is one of the most affordable new cars now. Don’t let the low barrier to entry fool you—it scores extremely high in the value quotient. Under the hood, it uses either a 1.4-liter four-cylinder (for the manual) or a 1.5-liter four-cylinder (for the DCT) version. It also has a floating seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, flat-bottom steering wheel, leather seats, and even a sunroof.
The Chevrolet Sail is built on the company’s new-generation small car architecture and contains a bevy of Bowtie design cues like 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.
Affordable, yet feature-rich, the GAC GA4 is representative of a new breed of Chinese cars. Contemporary in its looks and finely crafted inside, it comes not just with a “regular” 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, but even a 136hp 1.3-liter turbo motor. It even proved itself a winner by bagging the Manufacturer’s Class trophy at the 12-hour Kalayaan Cup Endurance Challenge.
Reaffirming Honda’s engineering leadership, the City doesn’t just bring smart style and outstanding interior space, it also gives class-leading performance, thanks to its 121hp/145Nm 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. With regards to advanced convenience features, it has a push-start system and even an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system as standard. It’s even rated with a perfect five-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating, thanks to its dual and side airbags, ABS with EBD, and even Vehicle Stability Assist.
One of the vehicles that made Hyundai Philippines, 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.
Tracing its roots to the previous-generation Accent, the Hyundai Reina is actually the mechanical twin of the Kia Soluto (see below). 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 95hp, enough for a daily runabout.
Mechanically identical to the Hyundai Reina, Kia’s 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. Safety and convenience don’t take a backseat with features such as dual SRS airbags, ABS with EBD, and a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay as standard equipment.
Mazda adds finesse to the 2020 Mazda2 evolving this “zoom-zoom” machine into one that expresses dynamism and elegance. 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 class-above features. Above all, it’s the best handling in the bunch making it a great “bang for the buck” buy.
The newest entry in this 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 four-cylinder engine making a good 112hp and 150Nm.
MITSUBISHI MIRAGE G4
Only one of two vehicles in this list that’s made in the Philippines (the other being the Toyota Vios), the Mirage G4 boasts of style and value for money as its two key selling points. The straightforward design is backed by fuel-efficient performance and a solid list of standard features such as keyless operation, coming-home lights, and a 6.75-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
The Almera 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.
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. The 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine is available with a standard five-speed manual or a unique AGS or Auto Gear Shift technology. Refreshed for 2021, it boasts of a larger grille and re-shaped bumpers outside, an improved infotainment system and added convenience features inside, and the addition of Electronic Stability Control.
The Toyota Vios is the undisputed leader in the subcompact car segment, and is actually the best-selling passenger car in the country—period. The newest iteration trades the “happy face” for something that’s more aggressive. Power comes from a choice between 1.3- or 1.5-liter four-cylinder engines, both of which are well-suited to the Vios’s role as a dutiful Point A to Point B commuter.
Everyone aspires to own a car from a German brand, 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).