How Much Bang Can You Get For Your COE Bucks?


AS car buyers and sellers in Singapore reel from yet another spectacular step up in certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums, those who are thinking to stump up in excess of S$100,000 for an approval to purchase a car — without actually owning it yet! — must surely be thinking again.

Add to that, all the other taxes and fees slapped on in association with car ownership, and the only one laughing to the bank is the government. This must be the most profitable way to manage the vehicle population.

Is there a good time to buy a car in Singapore?

With the COE* in some cases being multiples more than the nett price of a cheaper car (and a significant portion of a luxury car’s price), maybe you should ask yourself: How much fun can you wring out of your car, especially since the COE is only valid for 10 years?

If you’re looking for a bigger bang for your buck, get something else, like a killer audio system or even a new house. If you have the desire and means to get a car, then consider what you’re paying for and ask yourself if what you’re getting back in return is of a satisfyingly appreciable value.

For those with the shiny coin, this could just be spare change; though the idea that you would pay a fraction of the cost in other countries must rankle. Well, if it bothers you that much, you can take public transport.

Yes, even the rich and powerful can ride a train or board a bus.

As many of the peripheral buyers are falling off and hopping onto public transport, the richer few are left standing, willing and able to buy a new set of wheels.

Moaning aside, what you desire in a car is something that will carry your needs while giving you lots of bang for your buck. German marques still hold sway for me. Especially if you want to enjoy your drive. Here are a few recent offerings.

And while you’re weighing your options, you might as well get something that’s not going to be too common.

Audi SQ8

Audi SQ8

The Audi SQ8 does tick many of the boxes in finding that balance between practicality and entertainment.

This SUV when suited in all black looks stealthy, until you fire up the engine, when you’re met with a delightful roar. The four-litre V8 is bi-turbocharged, delivering a healthy 373kW of energy and 770Nm of torque. On the road, that translates into a 0-100kmh sprint in just over 4 seconds.

Audi SQ8

There are 7 drive options, including off-road, but even in the basic mode it handles nimbly, given its size, just over 5 metres in length, and weight, 2.3 tonnes. Of course, in sport mode the engine roar is great accompaniment to gobble up the road.

Audi SQ8

While it may not be much to look at, in terms of flourishes and embellishment, the SQ8 does possess character. The clean exterior lines carry into the interior, with minimal protuberances. A gear shifter is still in evidence, but most other controls are via a touchscreen or the multifunction steering wheel.

But, for the close to *$600K you’ll pay for this, you don’t get a wireless charger! 

Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e 4MATIC AMG Line

For something smooth and electric (though not electrifying), the new line of rounded SUVs from Mercedes brings together form factor and comfortable performance across the model range.

Mercedes GLC 300e

The Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e 4MATIC AMG Line combines a 4-cylinder, 2-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, delivering 230kW of power and 550Nm of torque. They work to help propel this 2.3 tonne 5-seater from standstill to 100kmh in just over 6 seconds. 

The soft lines of the rounded design edges echo the exterior, and also creates a comfortable space, contrasted by touches of carbon fibre.

In electric mode, this becomes a silent space which is great to showcase a fine sound system. Just be careful where you place your hands on the steering wheel as the music tracks will skip at the mere brush of a hand over the sensor.

Mercedes GLC 300e

The vertical format of the centre console display touchscreen makes for slightly easier navigation though you still have to hunt around a bit when getting to the desired setting. The new second-generation MBUX (user experience) infotainment system offers information over and above what’s needed.

A range of drive options — from Classic to Sporty and Off-Road, among others — is on hand for you to experiment with. But they are all quite smooth and not too demarcated. With a drag coefficient of 0.29, this SUV delivers a calming drive.

On the move, this top-of-the-line model, which is shy of $460K*, presents a smooth, comfortable, albeit slightly spongy, ride.

Mercedes GLC 300e

BMW 330i M Sport Pro Touring

The form factor of the estate is one that appeals to me, especially when loaded up with a powerful engine.

The BMW 330i Sport Pro Touring is a shadow of its M3 brother, but still has appeal for its versatility. The low lines make for a more aerodynamic form, with loads of room in the ample boot. But for all that, it’s the comfort of the ride, and the fun factor that help to carry this BMW model across the line.

BMW 330i touring

Whether you want a sporty ride — along with sputtering and moans from the exhaust and long holding of gears before changing up — or a comfortable run around town, this Touring is quite adept at delivering the goods.

Its wedge profile is fronted by a more proportionate grille, which adds to its appeal factor and a gentle slope to the rear to cut down on the bulkiness. Beneath the hood of this nearly $400K* car is a 4-cylinder 2-litre twinpower turbocharged engine that dishes out 180kW of power and 400Nm of torque, able to move it from 0-100kmh in just over six seconds.

BMW 330i touring

A clear head up display and paddle shifters allow for good visibility of core functions and greater control of gears changes offered by this 8-speed transmission.

A large curved touchscreen presents options for changing the environment to suit your needs, but the new operating system 8 is still a bit buggy, prone to go black just when you’re trying to find your way using the onboard navigation system! But that’s okay, and should be fixed with upcoming over-the-air upgrades. Minor discomforts can be tolerated as long as the drive is enjoyable.

Looks like even as the cost of car ownership continues rising, the tempting new models from car manufacturers will always serve as objects of desire, no matter how forbidding the price may be.

*Please reconfirm price with dealer.

Read more STORM-ASIA car reviews HERE.

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