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Analysis: What are the ‘premium’ cars in Cat A?

CarBuyer Temporary Admin
31/08/2014

CarBuyer’s very own article recently caused quite a bit of a stir, by once again reigniting the debate over whether the re-categorised COE system has worked as intended in keeping ‘premium’ cars out of the supposedly ‘mainstream’ Cat A segment. The conclusion was that the revised system hasn’t worked, but here, we take a closer look at some of the so-called ‘premium’ models that has managed to slip under the radar and continue to sneak into Cat A.

READ MORE: Car Industry: COE re-cat is a failure

Of course, as the article has depicted, the defining line between ‘premium’ and ‘mainstream’ has blurred increasingly in recent times. But if you regard all Continental brands as ‘premium’, then, using your very loose definition of the term, you’ll find a whole host of them all residing in the segment. Brands like Volkswagen, Volvo, Citroen and Peugeot all have sub-1,600cc and 130bhp cars available. Volkswagen notably has several, ranging from a 1.2-litre Golf hatchback to a full-sized 1.4-litre Passat executive sedan. The others, meanwhile, offers diesel power in order to circumvent the 130bhp ruling, with models such as the Volvo S60 D2, Citroen C4 Picasso and Peugeot 5008 all making do with oil-burners that produce less than 130 horses to enable them to snare a Cat A COE.

READ MORE: Volkswagen Golf 1.2 review

Peugeot 5008 1.6 Diesel review

But if your idea of ‘premium’ means the Big 3 German luxury brands, i.e. Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, then you’ll be surprised that they, too, have cars that qualify for so-called ‘mainstream’ COE. Audi fired the first shot when it released the A3 Sedan earlier this year, equipped with a 1.4-litre petrol engine that produces 122bhp, and Mercedes-Benz quickly followed suit by launching no less than three models, namely the A 180 hatchback, the CLA 180 compact sedan, and the B 180 crossover, all of which have a 1.6-litre engine producing around 120bhp. It’s therefore no surprise that these models have become strong sellers since their introduction, and have certainly made a mockery of the re-categorisation exercise.

READ MORE: Audi A3 Sedan 1.4 TFSI review

BMW themselves currently have no Cat A models in their line-up, but they are not completely off-the-grid. Through their MINI brand, the German giant still maintains a presence, by proxy, in the segment, chiefly via their MINI One model, which has a 1.2-litre powerplant producing 102bhp. The brand is considering whether to introduce more such Cat A models into its line-up, such as the diesel-powered Cooper D (watch out for a special drive feature in CarBuyer very soon), but we won’t be surprised if BMW joins the fray themselves sooner rather than later.

READ MORE: MINI One review

In sum, if you do want a ‘premium’ car tagged with a Cat A COE here in Singapore, you certainly aren’t short of options, which once again proves that using horsepower to determine a car’s status is as logical as using a person’s hairstyle to determine his salary.

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CarBuyer Cat A coe models premium Singapore

About the Author

CarBuyer Temporary Admin

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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