Sub $100,000 SUVs at the Singapore Motorshow

Oneshift Editorial Team
13 Jan 2018

Worried that your little sedan or hatchback would stall in some flash flood and turn the average bus riding aunties into Stomp Spielbergs?

As the cloud cover and cold weather attract shopaholic Thai tourists to contribute to excellent Charles & Keith January profits, well-proven amphibious Vezels and C-HRs are set to enjoy superb taxi surge prices for some time. That means, if you are the average post-bonus commuter who seeks to impress in the new job and/or workplace – getting to office on time without wet shoes or clothes is going to be a costly affair.

Here are 3 compact SUVs you should seriously consider without breaking the bank.

Hyundai Kona 1.0T – from $89,999

VES? Still an absolute bargain

The Hyundai Kona might not set itself apart as loudly as the other compact SUVs simply because there is no automatic option on the 1.0T. However, attracting an additional $10,000 rebate even in the new VES scheme, the Kona is the cheapest compact SUV in the market starting at under $90,000 in Singapore. Oh yes, and the yearly road tax is under $400.

3-cylinder turbo-nator

Without the cluttered dash that was on the Ford Fiesta, the Kona’s well-designed cockpit is perfect to downshift, mash the paddle and enjoy the full 172Nm of seat-suck torque capable from the 1000cc turbocharged powerplant. Paddles are well spaced apart. The gear shifter is an absolute delight to hold and there are no fancy electronic park brake buttons – just a nicely placed old school handbrake. A test drive is strongly recommended to get a good feel of its driving prowess.

It doesn’t feel cheap            

When you pay so little, you don’t get much – as with most carmakers. Instead of playing the typical “add-on options” game, Hyundai is one of the few automakers to really spoil market. Even at this trim, the Kona is heartily equipped with steering wheel controls, stability control, Apple CarPlay and a decent leather interior. It just doesn’t make sense. Even the forward collision warning serves to improve the clutch biting point hold instead of letting you jerk into backs of other cars.  

Cladding at the right places

Instead of the typical circumferential plastic cladding on most compact SUVs, the Kona’s cladding tapers the 4 corners up to the wheel height – further saving you from body dings and repairs. It extends into the front headlamps and rear indicators, 2 of the most common damage areas in manual cars – providing a complete peace of mind should you be a P-plate holder or not used to driving manual.

The Kona starts at $89,999. A diesel option is available with an automatic gearbox, but that is beyond the sub 100k bracket.

Seat Arona – from $98,400

As the Ateca’s little brother, the Arona is built around a perky 1.0T that aims to provide the highest driving pleasure amongst the 3 cars featured.

Pronounced “SEE YAT”

In time for CNY with its perfect metallic red CNY livery (See… Huat ahh). Besides LED running lights capsulating the headlamp housing in lightsabre fashion for the FR line, dual trapezoid exhaust pipes and perhaps the most interesting edgy side mirrors gives the Arona a chance to blend in with loose Huracans. Its Spanish roots and Lamborghini’s affinity towards naming after bulls could hint at the similarity in their design cues. That should give you the bragging power for a relatively new brand that hit our shores.

Most drive-able

The single litre turbocharged engine has a higher output vs the Kona with 115hp and 200Nm of Torque. Mated to the same 7-speed DSG that VW Golf owners enjoyed, it provides all the capability of little traffic light launches and overtaking sprints. Hill Assists also do away with the annoying slide back when in inclined situations. The Steering Wheel and instrument display again seem heavily Lamborghini inspired in shape and positioning and they add up to provide uncompromised driving pleasure. Did we mention that you could also switch between Eco and Sport driving modes? To make matters more interesting, there is even an individual configurable driving mode.

Complimenting the whole drivability package, Park assist makes up the biggest bonus for a car in this price bracket as it is able to steer itself into parallel lots.

Spain Tech > Japanese Simplicity

Borrowing some of the Volkswagen tech such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even Wireless charging, the Arona makes up for muted interiors with essentials to keep it ahead of its Japanese budget rivals. Rain sensor – yes! When you’re too busy enjoying a fun drive, there is no time to waste fidgeting with rain controls.

Given the perky engine would keep the driver at a higher temperature profile than his co-passenger, Dual-air con steps in to provide individualized comfort. The presence of a tiredness detection reminder is actually a testament to how often drivers wouldn’t stop driving the Arona.

The Arona starts at $98,400.

Pronounce “ci-tro-en”


Besides Hossan Leong, there aren’t many people here who can pronounce Citroën as perfectly and as passionately as the French. Oh wait, there is Celine from one-Michelin starred Jaan restaurant. She could pronounce it perfectly but she was also French. For a brand well renowned for excellent suspensions and riding comfort, pronunciation should be least of your concerns for buying the C3 Aircross. Nobody really minds if you confuse it with the Gong Cha Citron tea.

Powered by a nifty award winning 1.2 PureTech Turbo mated to a 6-speed automatic that offers the highest torque in the market for its engine size (205Nm), the C3 Aircross may not be missile-esque as the neighbouring Kim Jong-un loving Stinger GT. However, the $508 yearly road tax and 18km/l fuel economy make smarter financial sense than getting robbed by peak hour surcharges.

Your very own ducktour

The C3 Aircross with improved ground clearance and ride height cleverly wins with a high air intake placement, perfect for wading around in unexpected ponds. An encapsulating cladding from bumper to side skirts protects against stone chippings and improves the car’s aerodynamics – further improving its formerly outstanding fuel economy.

The Japanese love Citroëns

Spaciousness is a huge plus for the C3 Aircross. Unlike other compact SUVs with small sedan spaces, sloped rooflines and fixed rear seats – there is plenty of space to adjust, use and breathe in. 

Large windows and even an uninterrupted moonroof in the shine trim offer excellent visibility all-round. Such glassiousness remain forte to the Aircross despite the ongoing trend of over-celebrated coupe-like silhouettes that downsize rear windows. Comfortably reclining rear seats, retractable sunshades and a dash of venetian blind films in the C Pillar rear windows are both aesthetic and purposeful to mitigate any greenhouse affinity. In fact, despite the numerous box car options by the domestic Japanese brands, the Japanese loved to buy Citroëns for such a “glass-leading” reputation.

Head held high               

LED Dynamic running lights masquerade as the main headlamps while the real ones pretend to be foglamps – allowing the lighting contingent to sit higher on the Aircross front fascia and contributing to improved parking distance judging. A trend that you would have seen catching on from the Kona, but pretty sure Citroën got it first. Automatic headlamps dip high beams courteously without dazzling rear view mirrors of vehicles in front. 

The C3 Aircross starts at $98,999

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