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The crossovers to consider
WANDER the halls at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre this weekend and you might notice one thing: for a car show, the Singapore Motorshow is awfully short on regular cars, especially if your idea of the quintessential car is one with four doors. Instead, crossovers and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) rule the show this year, and make up the majority of new models that car brands are either launching or previewing to the public. Over the long term, will they also rule the streets?
Audi Q3 1.4 TFSI
Audi formally launched its new Q3 at Suntec, with the 1.4-litre turbocharged crossover designed to appeal to the tech-savvy. Its infotainment system has live search results powered by Google (you can search for "laksa" and the car will offer suggestions on where to go), and the Audi can tell you about traffic conditions on your route as well as parking rates and availability at your destination. The revamped Q3 has more to offer in the physical world, too. Its body is larger than before and offers more space.
VW says its T-Cross is compact but not small. Designed for active people, it has rear seats that slide on rails by up to 14cm, which makes the boot adjustable between 385 and 455 litres in size. Folding the seats takes that to 1,281 litres, a class-leading figure according to Volkswagen. That's precisely the sort of versatility that draws buyers to SUVs, and when launched here in the middle of the year, the T-Cross could cost around S$130,000 with certificate of entitlement with a 1.0-litre turbo engine.
The Seltos reflects Kia's ongoing push to make its cars feel more upmarket, with sharp design and a long list of features, many usually seen in more expensive cars, such as the head-up display system. The mid-sized SUV also has an infotainment system with a freestanding 10.25-inch touchscreen, which is large enough to allow drivers to control the car's features while using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in a split-screen. A 1.4-litre turbo engine gives it 138 horsepower.
Mini John Cooper Works Countryman
Mini reserves its "John Cooper Works" badge for its fastest cars, and an updated Countryman crossover gets both the label and the high performance upgrades it entails. A new engine with 306 horsepower gives it the ability to scamper to 100km/h in just 5.1 seconds. It has a stiffer bodyshell, stronger brakes and firmer suspension to cope with all that power, along with wings and racy stripes to make it look the part. With the body of a crossover, the JCW Countryman can take the family along for the wild ride.
Land Rover Defender
While SUVs continue to supplant traditional cars, one famously rugged model is shedding some of its rougher edges to become more car-like. The all-new Land Rover Defender is making its Asia debut at the Singapore Motorshow, and it's clear that it has left its workhorse roots behind. No longer built on a truck-like ladder chassis, it should be less bouncy on the move than the original, with tauter handling, while a new cabin promises more comfort. It's expected to cost more than S$300,000 when launched in the middle of the year.