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COTY 2015: A peek down executive alley

POSTED BY Dinesh Appavu ON 13 October 2015

Mercedes-Benz C200 CKD

The next three categories being put under the spotlight in the review of NST COTY 2015 groupings are the Premium Family Car, Executive Car and Executive Estate classes; the last of which is a brand new category for 2015.

At first glance, the Premium Family Car category would appear to be lopsided with the inclusion of a premium carmaker in the form of the Mercedes-Benz C200 CKD but that should not lead to discounting of the other two nominees; the Ford Mondeo and Peugeot 508 GT.

Firstly though, we need to address the primary criteria that lead to this unlikely grouping. As with all other categories, the word ‘premium’ denotes a much dearer pricing over the regular models that would otherwise populate the same segment.

In the case of the Premium Family Car, the cut-off point for pricing was set at RM200,000 and the result was the three nominees here.

The Ford Mondeo may lack the luxuries and refinement of the Mercedes-Benz but it does have an upper hand with advanced active safety such as lane keeping assist and active cruise control while the Peugeot plays the wildcard with a turbo-diesel mill that is frugal and torquey.

Moving on, we touch the Executive Car category with four nominees this year; the Toyota Camry 2.0, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Peugeot 508 THP and the Hyundai Sonata.

Toyota seemed to be falling behind in the D-segment game following the launch of the Honda Accord but the new Camry has proven once again why the marque is a force to be reckoned with and is akin to a fuel tanker vessel in that it may be slow to change direction but once it does, it is virtually unstoppable.

An all new 2.0-litre engine in the base model was the reason behind the inclusion of two Camry variants. Toyota has shared a wealth of information regarding this new powerplant and the picture painted is promising.

On the other hand, the Camry Hybrid has been a long time coming following incentives under the NAP. Even though it is the most expensive variant, Toyota’s move paid off as the number of Camry Hybrids plying the roads proves that it is something the people want.

It is quite a stark contrast having the two variants of the same model but on opposite ends of their pricing spectrum competing against each other but do not overlook the Camry 2.0G yet.

The last two nominees are the turbocharged petrol variant of the Peugeot 508 and the Hyundai Sonata that was launched at the end of last year.

Japanese domination in the D-segment is a given but the 508 THP can certainly lay claim to the underdog title given its more refined ride and interior. The sole Korean entrant plays the value-for-money card with a ton of features and the longest warranty period among its peers.

Lastly, have the Executive Estate category. Traditionally, the estate or station wagon body style has played second fiddle to SUVs for those that require more space in their vehicles.

This is the cardinal reason behind the lack of availability of estates in the country but this time we have two new models launched within the same timeframe to justify an individual category catering just for estates.

For the third time in the same category, the Peugeot 508 makes an appearance albeit with an elongated rear end sans hatch. In its previous iteration, the 508 SW was only available with a diesel mill but given the aversion of local buyers towards the fuel, the decision was made to offer an estate body style with a turbocharged petrol engine instead.

Accounting for the other half of the category is the Subaru Outback 2.5i-S. Once again, this is an unlikely pairing given the Subaru’s more elevated ride height and all-wheel drive that lend it some formidable off-road credibility but the most likely scenario here would be buyers appraising it as an estate and comparing it against models like the Peugeot.

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