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SINGAPORE MOTORSHOW 2019

Hidden gems at the Singapore Motorshow 2019

Glitzy launches are one thing, but people on the lookout for their next car should also check out these models.

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BMW 3 SERIES: The new model has not been approved for sale in Singapore yet, so motorshow visitors will not be able to find out how much it costs or make bookings, but the official launch will take place in the first half of the year. Performance junkies should note that BMW will launch a high performance M340i model closer to the end of 2019 or possibly in early 2020.

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MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS: A mild redesign last year brought a new 1.5-litre turbo engine tuned for fuel efficiency, along with facelifted styling. The C-Class was actually launched here last year, but the brand traditionally uses the Singapore Motorshow to woo buyers with special deals. This year, Mercedes is offering various incentives.

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SKODA OCTAVIA 1.4 TSI: One of Skoda's core values is to deliver value for money. At the motorshow the brand is showcasing a newly available 1.4-litre turbo model with 150 horsepower that replaces the 114hp, 1.0-litre version.

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TOYOTA CAMRY: One car fighting the good fight for sedans is the Toyota Camry. The all-new model has sportier styling and an enlarged body. Toyota stretched its wheelbase by all of 5cm to create an enormous cabin, especially in the back.

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VOLVO S60: Volvo's new S60 is making an appearance at the motorshow nearly half a year ahead of its planned launch here. It's built on the same bones as Volvo's larger "90" series of cars, and makes use of the same design aesthetic.

Singapore

THE doors to the Singapore Motorshow open to the public today at Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, with the usual promise of flashy new cars to see.

Some 140 vehicles are on display from 31 different brands, and among them are 25 new models appearing in Singapore for the first time.

But beyond the glitzy launches of the industry's latest and greatest, there are other worthy cars to consider, especially for people looking for a bargain, or who have an eye on upcoming models that are worth waiting for.

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Here are some of the hidden gems you should really look for at the weeklong motorshow.

BMW 3 Series

BMW may be putting an all-new X5 (a seven-seat SUV) on sale today, but the redesigned 3 Series is by far the more important car for the Munich-based company.

For one thing, it's a volume seller, and for another, its sporty characteristics have helped to shape the BMW brand itself for decades.

The new model has not been approved for sale in Singapore yet, so motorshow visitors will not be able to find out how much it costs or make bookings, but the official launch will take place in the first half of the year.

Performance junkies should note that BMW will launch a high performance M340i model closer to the end of 2019 or possibly in early 2020.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

What corporate climber isn't tempted by a Mercedes-Benz somewhere along the way? The C-Class, for now the brand's smallest sedan here, represents much of what makes its maker great. It's refined, lovely to look at inside, and the styling exudes the sort of timeless elegance that seems to escape its rivals.

A mild redesign last year brought a new 1.5-litre turbo engine tuned for fuel efficiency, along with facelifted styling. The C-Class was actually launched here last year, but the brand traditionally uses the Singapore Motorshow to woo buyers with special deals. This year, Mercedes is offering various incentives that could lead to around S$20,000 in savings off the C 180 Avantgarde's list price of S$182,888.

Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI

One of Skoda's core values is to deliver value for money, and the Octavia embodies that. It's roomy inside, has an enormous boot and you can buy one for S$100 under a hundred grand. At the motorshow the brand is showcasing a newly available 1.4-litre turbo model with 150 horsepower that replaces the 114hp, 1.0-litre version. Escaping a pollution surcharge means that despite being faster and more powerful, the Octavia 1.4 TSI doesn't cost more than the 1.0 TSI. How's that for value?

Toyota Camry

Crossovers and Sport Utility Vehicles are all the rage now, but one car fighting the good fight for sedans is the Toyota Camry. "There will always be sedan lovers," Jasmmine Wong, the managing director of Borneo Motors, told The Business Times.

The all-new model has sportier styling and an enlarged body. Toyota stretched its wheelbase by all of 5cm to create an enormous cabin, especially in the back. Two versions go on sale today, with a 2.0 model priced at S$141,988 with COE for people who want the size without the frills, and a 2.5 (S$149,988 with COE) that has a highly efficient new engine with an eight-speed transmission.

Tauter handling should be on the cards, too, now that the Camry is built on an updated platform that also supports the fine new Lexus ES. Ms Wong said the Camry has a deeply loyal following, with many buyers willing to purchase a new one without even seeing it first. Even gems are usually inspected first.

Volvo S60

Volvo's new S60 is making an appearance at the motorshow nearly half a year ahead of its planned launch here. It's built on the same bones as Volvo's larger "90" series of cars, and makes use of the same design aesthetic to create a sense of sleek, understated luxury, especially on the inside.

Volvo distributor Wearnes expects the 254 horsepower T5 versions to be available first, so the S60 will be one of the fastest cars in its segment here.

Some buyers have been wary of Volvo's decision to build the flagship S90 in China for our market, and if you're one of them, the S60 is a good way to experience what the Swedish brand has to offer: it's made in the United States.

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