Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Opinion: Those C segment features in your B segment car may cost you an arm and a leg later on

One of the latest marketing statement from Honda Malaysia made during the launch of their facelifted Honda City sedan is that it now provides "....Malaysians with A New City that has C-segment features at B-segment price". What this basically means is that with nearly the same amount of money as the pre-facelift model, you get more equipment. Or so it seems.

When the City was first launched in 2014, prices for the base 'S' model started at RM76,000 and the top spec model cost RM90,800. Now, it costs RM76,000+ and RM90,000+ before insurance. So even with the Energy Efficient Vehicle government tax incentives it costs the same. Not much real savings (the S and S+ variants may have a slight drop - RM1,000) have been passed on to the consumers because Honda Malaysia has decided to throw in a lot more stuff into the facelifted City. 

All variants get some VSC (Stability Control) systems which is a good thing but the top spec model adds LED headlights and driving lights aside from LED daytime running lights on all three variants. These are the most costly upgrades that have basically kept the prices of the new City the same as previously even though it has that EEV rating. But I somehow think that with the new safety features and even the headlights the price is kept artificially high. If you don't believe me just wait till end of the year and you will see cash rebates thrown to entice you to buy the car. 

VSC is good to have. But you'd have to be a nutter with total disregard of road safety and road regulations to actually lose control of the 1.5liter City in most situations. I say this because the City is quite a nice car to drive in terms of its handling. Hate the lack of soundproofing though. Tyre roar was prevalent in the pre-facelift model and I don't see Honda really adding stuff like soundproofing and other real refinements to make the car actually feel like a C segment car instead of just having equipment like a C segment car. 

And now the main point of this article. Those LED headlights do not increase your social standing actually. The top specced Honda City V spec gets the LED headlights and driving lights. Do note that the use of production LED headlights have just trickled down from the larger cars into these smaller cars and the costs are still quite high. Aftermarket retrofitted LED headlights cost RM1,000 or there abouts. These look like torchlights that can replace your car's halogen bulbs. However, these new built-in ones that you'd now find in your facelifted Honda City and the current Mazda 2 compact sedans are usually fixed into the headlight casings. What this usually means is that it would cost quite a penny at the authorised service centre. And since the car is new with a 5 year warranty, you most probably would go the to get it fixed. 

This is fine if there is a fault and it is under warranty, but what may happen is the fact that you end up in an accident and whilst the damage to the car isn't bad, both headlights get killed. Imagine you get hit in one side by one of those Mat Rempit motorcyclists who accidently hits your car right in the headlight and somehow managed to run away. You may not be able to even claim from his insurance as you did not get to catch his number plate. Or you park your car and suddenly the lights are busted due to some vehicle reversing into you. When this happens you may have to claim from your own insurance or fork out the sum from your pocket which I doubt. 

Why so? Well, since your car is under warranty you head to the authorised dealer to get it fixed (Honda Malaysia is pretty strict about warranty as I see notices that tinting done at a shop not approved by them may cause warranty to be void). But authorised centers usually charge an arm and a leg. LED headlights may require a kidney. So it would be wiser to claim for insurance if you damage the lights in your car. Of course when this happens, say goodbye to your NCB. Insurance for the City V spec costs RM2,700+ annually. This probably is the cost of the LED headlight cluster. 

What I am saying is that when you buy a car fully equipped with the kitchen sink is that you should be prepared for contingencies and other out of pocket costs. The LED headlights are fantastically bright yet are not dazzling to other road users. But do note that C segment features most likely means C segment maintenance. A lot of Malaysian car buyers tend to forget about this - Note the Volkswagen owners, they forgot the high tech nature of the car itself and see what happened? 

So there are going to be some of you that say that this isn't true. Look, I know that 60% of the people who want to buy the City or the Mazda2 because it is priced at between RM70-90,000. This obviously means that you are still a lowly paper pusher thinking that buying an entry level Honda or Mazda means that you've made it in life. You've made it in life if you bought an Accord or a Mazda 6 okay? The other 40% may be people who are buying for themselves as they're downgrading after they've retired or those that are buying for their wife, children and/or mistresses. But the rest of you are 'upgrading' from your Myvi, Viva, Kancil, Saga, Persona and other A and B segment cars. You still got a way to go before you've actually bloody made it in life. Trust me. 

And why can't car manufacturers give us a base car without all these gimmicks in the first place? When can we see someone coming up with a statement that says "C segment car for B segment prices"? Oh, wait, Hyundai has the current Elantra at these B segment prices but no one seems to be buying them. 


  1. Totally agree. Would rather get a c segment with good safety spec at sub 100k price rather than fully loaded b segment at that price. Problem with Elantra is probably 1)the badge and 2) perceived lower reliability compare to jap counterpart 3) higher spare part prices. Waiting for the new Elantra soon. Hope they price it right else people would rather get a Civic instead.

    1. Hello,

      Thank you for reading. I think resale value is the most important factor why people are not buying Korean cars. Spare parts for Japanese cars are not as cheap as most think. These days some parts are comparable and especially when most cars are now serviced at the authorised centers because of long warranty periods the price of spares dont really come to play for a long time.

      The new 'elantra' in Malaysia is actually the IONIQ. It is Hyundai Sime Darby's latest C segment car (the Elantra soldiers on till CKD stocks last). It is a hybrid with full EEV status - this means that a 260Nm super torquey car can be sold at RM100,000 for the base model. I have driven the IONIQ and it could be the best C segment car when it comes to bang for buck. Its the electric motor that astounds you. So much more linear even if compared to that 1.5liter VTEC turbo. And it has a Dual clutch gearbox which is sporty instead of that droney sounding CVT.


    2. My understanding was Ioniq and new Elantra share the same front look but different powertrain/gearbox.

    3. You are correct. But I believe Hyundai Sime Darby brought in the Ioniq as a more affordable C segment car. That Elantra turbo is going to be priced close to the Civic Turbo. It will not be affordable as this 100% EEV car. The Elantra turbo may get the same status...may. But it will not be affordable as the Ioniq.

      Let's just wait and see. I do not like speculating as you can leave that to all the other automotive websites around. CKD kits mean a lot of planning. How many units. How much to sell. What to do with the stock ordered. Etc.

  2. Just want you to know that I really like your writing style. Succinct. And you tell it like it is. Keep it up!

  3. Never really cross my mind, but what you said makes a lot of sense.

    Will really like to see your write up and opinions on why Malaysians are quite "patang" towards korean brands.

    1. Hello Uncle,

      Thank you for reading. The only real reason why Korean brands are not as well received as the Japanese is because of resale value. If somehow the resale value jumped up I can bet you there would be no more pantang of any sort la. The Korean cars these days, especially the latest Hyundais are actually very good to drive. They feel much closer to something from Europe than something from Asia. Resale value, resale value and resale value. The three most important factor why these people so pantang one.



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