SG Motorshow 2023: The Best Non-EV/ Petrol Cars 

Derryn Wong

Despite an EV blitz, cars like the BMW 3 Series and Toyota Corolla Cross could be the strong sellers for Singapore in 2023


The Singapore Motorshow is back, and it’s electrifying, since there are at least 10 brand new EVs launching at the event, but Petrol Ain’t Dead, and this story proves it. Read our full All You Need To Know story, which also covers mainstream EV launches, and luxury/sporty EV debuts, for the fully skinny, but right here we list the best of cars powered (mostly) by liquefied dinosaur.

If you’d rather be watching the video, it’s right here!

BMW 3 Series facelift

The refreshed BMW 3 Series has made its debut at the show – it’s big news because the 3 Series is still a very popular model for BMW, and the brand which most embodies the German luxury marque.

We’re still in the seventh-generation of the 3 Series, the G20, which launched in 2018 – CarBuyer has of course tested this car extensively. Check out our reviews of the 330i M Sport, M340i, the main sellers, the 318i, and 320i. 

Check out our news of the facelift for in-depth info, but in short, Singapore will get the bookends of the 3 Series range at launch, namely the entry-level 318i and the hottest 3 Series that’s not an M3, the M340i sedan. The Touring wagon version of the 3 Series will debut later in 2023.

2023 BMW M340i xDrive

Biggest update to the interior is the BMW Curved Display, which debuted on the iX – big 12.3-inch driver’s display and 14.9-inch infotainment display, accompanied by fewer buttons and controls, with more touch and more voice orientation to the human-machine interface.

New colour choices include Skyscraper Grey metallic, M Brooklyn Grey metallic, Frozen Pure Grey metallic and Frozen Tanzanite Blue metallic.

BMW 318i M Sport

BMW 318i sedan 
Standard S$268,888 with COE 
M sport S$276,888 with OCOE 
Category B COE, VES B, 6.5L/100km
2.0-litre turbocharged engine, 156hp / 250Nm
0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds, top speed 223km/h
Sadly, there’s no mild hybrid tech on the normal 318i, it’s only the diesels (not available here) that have it. The M Sport variant includes M Kidney Grilles with mesh, 18-inch M design wheels, trapezoidal tailpipes, and dark mirror caps.

BMW M340i

BMW M340i xDrive sedan  S$411,888 with COE
Category B COE, VES C2, 8.8L/100km
3.0-litre turbocharged engine, 374hp / 500Nm
0-100km/h 4.4 seconds, top speed 250km/h

BMW’s mega-saloon has the same horsepower and key stats, and that’s because it was the first of the 3er range to get a mild-hybrid boost, as detailed in our test drive of the current M340i. Still, it looks sharper now, and the advancements in the cabin keep it very contemporary. 

Honda Freed

Honda Freed from S$149,999 with COE
Category A COE, VES B, 5.9L/100km
1.5-litre engine, 130hp / 155Nm
0-100km/h 11.9 seconds, top speed 178km/h

Check out our exclusive first drive review of the Honda Freed on CarBuyer!

Honda’s small multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) has waxed and waned in the past, but it looks like it’s on a course for proper freedom now, since it’s debuted in Singapore with a Category A engine.

As mentioned in our preview of the car from a month or two back, the Freed launches with a 1.5-litre 130hp engine, but the important thing is it’s of the less expensive COE variety, and comes with crowd-favourite features such as dual sliding doors, lots of headroom, and a very flexible interior.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Toyota Corolla Cross S$174,988 with COE
Category B COE, VES A2, 5.3L/100km
2.0-litre engine, 150hp / system power 196hp
0-100km/h 7.7 seconds, top speed 180km/h 

The Toyota Corolla Cross has been on the horizon for some time, with our first reports dating back to late 2020. Our intuition on this small SUV, already launched in Thailand and Malaysia, was right though, because it’s launched at the Motorshow now.

But it is different from the Asean versions mentioned, as those have a 1.8-litre hybrid or 1.8-litre gasoline drivetrain. Singapore’s debuts as a hybrid, albeit a rather powerful one with 200hp total, and a 2.0-litre engine, which makes it a COE Category B car and also a surprisingly fast one too. That could limit its appeal to the mass market crowd, but it’s still quite saintly in consumption terms, its official LTA FC rating being 5.3L/100km, and it’s good for a VES A2 rebate (S$-15,000). 

Toyota already has a small SUV in the form of the Yaris Cross, but the Corolla Cross is a little larger, and roomier. It’s the kind of car that SUV buyers love, because although it’s a small SUV on paper, in person it looks much larger and close to its big brother, the RAV4. 

Peugeot 408

Peugeot 408 $109,888 without COE
Category A COE, VES C1, 5.8L/100km
1.2-litre turbo engine, 130hp / 230Nm
0-100km/h 11.5 seconds, top speed 210km/h

Peugeot’s new 408 is cool because it’s not an SUV, rather it’s a sort of crossover-y, hatch-y, estate-y thing, but the exact nomenclature isn’t important because it looks pretty cool. The fanged maw, integrated grille, and sculpted flanks start the design strong, and taper off with a shapely fastback rear end.

According to our colleagues at Top Gear, it also drives better than an SUV. In Singapore, the 408 has 130hp from a 1.2-litre turbo engine, which means it’s quite well placed in terms of road tax and affordability.

Nissan X-Trail E-Power

Nissan X-Trail E-Power E 4ORCE S$240k with COE (est.)
Category B COE, VES B,6.7L/100km
1.5-litre engine hybrid, 200hp / 330Nm0-100km/h 7.2 seconds, top speed 200km/h (estimated)

Nissan’s expanding its E-Power hybrid car range with its largest E-Power car to date, the form of the seven-seat, large SUV, the X-Trail. This is the fourth-gen model, which finally replaces the long-lived third-gen’s eight-year reign. 

There’s new styling match the new platform, but the draw is under the bonnet, where a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine (as seen on the Qashqai E-Power) is the prime motivator, though not directly: Like all E-Power models, it generates electricity to run the motors, two in this case, with a total of 200hp. That’s good enough for a VES B rating, and a relatively efficient 6.7L/100km.

In Europe, Nissan’s lost ground to Skoda’s cost-effective Kodiaq, while in Asia, the seven-seat SUV fight is even tougher with the recent Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe deployed with hybrid versions and generous spec.  


3 Series 408 bmw corolla cross honda nissan peugeot Toyota x-trail

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's former chief editor was previously the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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