1. Perodua Ativa
Perodua’s latest compact SUV is great value. The option of 4WD aside, it offers practically everything you can hope to get in a Daihatsu Rocky or Toyota Raize in Japan, for comparable or even slightly lower prices after factoring in exchange rates. This is partly due to Perodua’s new sustainable blueprint that drives a more efficient local supply chain. And with a 95 per cent localisation rate at launch, the Ativa qualifies for full sales tax exemption until the end of the year, giving Malaysians six additional months to stay on the waiting list before prices go up in 2022.
2. Toyota Corolla Cross
Another crossover that’s in demand, the Toyota Corolla Cross was initially launched in Malaysia as a CBU but is expected to roll off local assembly lines later this year. If things go as planned, a more affordable CKD model topped with SST savings will be an end-of-the-year possibility. Prices currently range from RM124,000 to RM134,000, but a sub-RM120k Toyota crossover will really put the strain on favourites in the price bracket such as the Honda HR-V and Proton X70.
3. Honda Civic
We’ve already seen pictures of the next-gen HR-V. But the brand-new Honda that seems destined for Malaysian shores first is the 11th-generation Civic. Honda Malaysia president and COO Sarly Adle Sarkum hinted that Malaysians might see the new sedan before the end of the year. Whether it will go on sale here while SST exemptions stay in effect remain a mystery. But at least fans of the nameplate (who remain divided over the latest design) have over half a year to keep their fingers crossed; will it be cheaper or costlier than the existing Civic ‘Ketam’? Only time will tell.
4. Volkswagen Golf Mk8
Spyshots from as early as last year have given Malaysians a glimpse of the Mk8 Golf on local roads, and the word on the street is that the German hatchback might finally be locally-assembled in Pekan, Pahang this time around. Volkswagen Passenger Car Malaysia (VPCM) limited line-up no longer includes any CBUs after all – the Mk7 Golf is no longer listed on the website. Rumours suggest that a GTI model is also part of these supposed CKD plans. And a 2021 launch date would be the cherry on this unconfirmed cake. Can you imagine how well a sub-RM200k Golf GTI or sub-RM150k Golf TSI will do in our market?
5. Mazda CX-5 Turbo
SUVs are all the rage at the moment. But they're not always the most exciting things to be seen in. However, optics matter little when you're behind the wheel of something so unassumingly good to drive like the range-topping variant of Mazda's exceedingly popular CX-5. Priced at RM174,852 after SST deductions, the CX-5 Turbo is easily the most affordable car that you can buy new in Malaysia with over 200 horses from the factory. In fact, the spec sheet reads 228bhp, with maximum torque rated at a whopping 420Nm, making it a delightfully engaging drive you don't typically expect from a car that rides so high off the ground.
6. Mini Electric
It didn’t take Mini Malaysia long to sell out the first shipment of Mini Cooper SEs last year and an update to the dinky EV has already landed barely 10 months on. At RM217,471 on-the-road with SST exemptions, the 2021 Mini Electric is the most affordable entry in Mini’s local line-up, but it’s certainly not for the lack of trying. Sure, its 232-km range limits it from long-distance road-trips (ah, the good old days…), but the battery can be topped up from flat to 80 percent in just 36 minutes at a DC charging station. It’s also a pretty well-equipped premium compact with Concierge Services, Apple Carplay, Harman Kardon audio and camera-based driver aids all listed in the catalogue.
7. Volvo XC40 T5 Recharge
Volvo Car Malaysia certainly took its time to electrify its most accessible offering, the XC40. And when it finally did, the cheapest PHEV in the Swedish carmaker’s portfolio was quickly snapped up. Now that the tax break is extended to December, those on the waiting list might just be able to get their XC40 T5 Recharge at the SST-exempted price of RM241,997, which is nearly RM14k off the full figure. The 1.5-litre three-pot turbo it shares with the Proton X50 (kinda) might be a turn-off for some, but the plug-in XC40 is a properly refined crossover that has up to 44km of electric range to offer, making full-EV trips within the district perfectly doable.
8. BMW 330Li M Sport
Ever walk into a BMW showroom to test drive a 3 Series only to find it has a smaller cabin than the Camry you’re thinking of trading in? Initially envisioned for the Chinese market, the Li-spec 3er is Munich’s answer to legroom-conscious customers. And you can now buy it in Malaysia in a tastefully sporty 330Li M Sport trim. When it was launched in April, BMW Malaysia quoted an estimated price of RM300,800 on-the-road with SST for the CKD saloon, probably because deliveries weren’t expected till the second half of the year. Expect lower retail prices on your next visit – you can even save a bit more by knocking off the Extended Warranty & Service if you’re willing to forgo five years of official coverage.
9. Mercedes-Benz GLE450 4Matic AMG Line
The only way to get your hands on a new, luxury continental SUV in the mould of the BMW X5 or Volvo XC90 for under RM500k in Malaysia was to go through the heavily-subsidised PHEV route… until the Mercedes GLE 450 4Matic AMG Line came along. Astonishingly, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia managed to slash nearly RM110k off the CBU price tag through local assembly and SST exemptions. RM475,401 for an SUV of the GLE’s size and calibre, with a 367PS/500Nm straight-six mill, seven seats and the famed three-pointed star will surely give the electrified alternatives in its price segment a sweaty run for their money.
10. Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
Will the utilitarian off-shoot of the Taycan be launched in Malaysia by the end of the year? We’re certainly keeping our fingers crossed. The four-door coupe that’s currently on sale is already proving to be a hit amongst first-time Porsche owners with its RM585k starting price (RM725k-RM1.2m for the dual-motor AWD variants), and the Cross Turismo should help the brand tap into a wider audience with its added versatility. In Europe, the base Taycan 4 Cross Turismo is priced between the RWD Taycan and the Taycan 4S, which realistically puts it in the sub-RM700k ballpark with SST exemptions factored in. Tempting, no?