The Malaysian b-segment market is never short of drama. Manufacturers are consistently trying to outdo each other, but amidst all of that outdoing, it is the consumer that always wins. The segment consists of big names like the Honda City, Toyota Vios, Nissan Almera and even the Proton Persona.

But it is fair to say that the most popular are the City and the Vios. While Honda and Toyota are always outdoing each other, we are getting ever better cars.

The Vios is currently in its fourth-generation while the City has been around since the early 80s and is currently in its seventh generation. Over all that time, both have evolved to be mighty fine cars.

UMW Toyota Motors introduced the new Vios earlier this year to much fanfare. Sales have been brisk, but that’s unsurprising considering its popularity.

The City too is the other de facto go to model for those who want practicality and reliability. It is now bigger than ever, and with a recently introduced facelift, it may not be an all-new model like the Vios, but it has everything the Vios has and is arguably better to drive.

In terms of pricing, the Honda City RS petrol costs RM99,900 while the Toyota Vios is priced at RM95,500. However, Honda provides free labour up to five times within 100,00km or five years[NTSF(1] , while Toyota charges an additional RM3,220 for a five-year or 100,000km free service package. If you opt for the service package, that would bring the price of the Toyota close to the City.

So, which should you spend your money on? We dissect the two cars and bring you our opinion on which would be worth your money:


Beginning with what matters most, both cars are powered by a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine. The Honda has offers its i-VTEC technology to make accessible power, while Toyota has its D-VVTi.

However, the Vios is down on power as compared to the City. The Vios produces 106PS and 138Nm, while the City offers 121PS and 145Nm. The difference may not seem that much but this is felt the most during acceleration where the City feels more eager to get up to speed.

As far as efficiency goes, both cars have 40-litre fuel tanks and are capable of providing about 500km of range on a full tank.


Again, both cars ride on identical suspension set ups, MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear.

Both do excellent jobs at keeping occupants detached from the horrors of the roads underneath them. However, in terms of handling, the City feels more alive and is quicker to oblige every turn of the steering wheel. The steering feel of the Vios feels more muted and heavy. If you are into keen on more agile and responsive handling, you will appreciate the City.

In terms of braking, both also have the same set up – solid discs all around.


This is always subjective, but it is the Vios that has the freshest design between the two. The City has gone through several facelifts and now offers a bolder grille and sportier bumpers. However, the overall silhouette remains the same.

Toyota was keen to talk about the sportback design of the Vios when it was launched early this year. It adds character to the Toyota whose designs have always been safe and unadventurous (remember the dugong?).

But the sportback design comes at a price. Because the rear of the roofline drops dramatically into the a-pillar, this ultimately sacrifices headroom for rear passengers. Anyone above 180cm will be scrapping the top of his head against the roof liner. This ultimately results in the City having a more spacious interior.


Building on the topic of interior spaciousness, the City does it better again. This time, the culprit is the centre console, where the gear lever and handbrake are placed.

The centre console of the Vios is simply too high as compared to the City. This results in narrower foot wells for the driver and front passenger, so you sit with your legs closer together than you would in the City. This may not affect shorter people, but if you’re tall, you may find that this limits legroom.

The taller shoulder line of the Vios also makes the windows smaller, especially at the rear. This means that there is not as much light that is fed back into the cabin, making it seem as if it were smaller than the City.

Both cars offer leather clad interiors while the seats in the Honda offer better padding, making them more comfortable, especially over longer distances.

There are no complaints about quality though as both have impressive interior builds.

Rear passengers will appreciate the fact that they have their own air-conditioning vents, as well as two USB ports.


Both cars are also almost identical in terms of the tech and features they have to offer.

Inside, both come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. For audiophiles, there are six speakers in the Vios and eight in the Honda. However, it is the Vios that has a bigger infotainment system, but at nine inches, it is only an inch bigger and not quite a deal breaker.

As for booth space, the Vios has a surprisingly smaller booth. At 470-litres, it is down on the Honda’s 519-litres. Before you begin to think that the difference is minuscule, that 49 litres makes the difference between space for a backpack or none.

Onto the safety front, where both cars are once again nearly identical. The City comes packed with Honda’s SENSING while the Vios features Toyota’s Safety Suite.

Building on that is the fact that both cars are also evenly matched when it comes to active safety systems as both have six airbags, vehicle stability assist, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist and more.


The fact that both cars are so evenly matched makes it difficult to choose one or another. At this point, it is just a matter of branding, which brand are you fonder of? But if there is one thing that truly makes a difference, it is interior space.

Hoping from the Vios into the City, the difference is jarring. The interior of the City feels a lot more bigger than the Vios and the seats are more comfortable as well. That point alone would have done it for us, but the City also runs on smaller 16-inch wheels as compared to the 17-inch wheels on the Vios.

A quick check online revealed that cheapest 16-inch tyre from Goodyear costs RM262 per piece, while 17-inch tyres cost RM351. Assuming you will need to change all four tyres, the tyres for the Honda will cost you RM1,048 while the Vios will set you back RM1,404. The savings of RM356 will give you about four full tanks of petrol.

But that aside, the interior spaciousness, comfort, and the fact that it has a bigger booth makes the Honda City our choice between the two.

Honda Specifications:

Engine: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC, i-VTEC

Power: 121PS@6600rpm

Torque: 145Nm @ 4300rpm

Gearbox: CVT

Suspension: MacPherson strut (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)

We like: Interior spaciousness and comfort

We don’t like: Hard to fault

Toyota Specifications:

Engine: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, 1r6-valve, DOHC, VVT-i

Power: 106PS@6000rpm

Torque: 138Nm@4200rpm

Gearbox: CVT

Suspension: MacPherson strut (Front) Torsion Beam (Rear)

We like: Fresh new design

We don’t like: Interior can be cramped

What do you get when you cross the comfort and spaciousness of a KIA Sorento with the athleticism of a Mazda CX-5? If you guessed the Honda CRV, you would have guessed right.

Honda’s C-Segment SUV contender has always been the go-to model that offered all the right things at the right price.

The CRV has been locally-assembled in Melaka since 2003 and it has been one of Honda Malaysia’s most successful model with close to 130,000 units sold.

But while the fifth-generation model was big and spacious and had all the right reasons to continue attracting buyers, it was becoming dated with an interior design that was getting tired and in need of an urgent update.

The fifth-generation CRV was so complete as a family focused CRV, that Honda could have simply given it a new body, a refreshed interior and called it a day. But no, Honda went to town with it and came up with a new model that will give the competitors a proper headache for years to come.

The new CRV is the biggest (in size) there has ever been, and it has all the right moves when the roads demand it. For a lack of a better word, the new CRV has evolved into the perfect package.

In terms of sizing, the new body is 10mm wider, 80mm longer with a 40mm longer wheelbase. It is difficult to explain how big it is here, but you will notice the sheer size of the new CRV as soon as you see it. Honda did not try very hard to hide the bulk of the car but has embraced it instead.

The size is most apparent from the side of the car where the shoulder line stretches across the length of the car. This immediately catches your eye and accentuates the length of the car.

The front quarter of the car also seems longer, achieved by moving the A-pillar slightly back and giving it a steeper rake. This makes the bonnet look longer where else the previous fifth-generation CRV had a short bonnet and an A-pillar that raised dramatically to meet the roof of the car.

The front fascia mimics the new Honda Accord, which has sadly been discontinued in the Malaysian market, effectively making the CRV the new flagship Honda for the Malaysian market.

The rear of the car is all new but there are hints of other marques. Some say that the vertical light panel looks like it came off a Volvo, perhaps they are forgetting that it has always been there, starting from the first generation CRV.

The way the rear lights edge towards the centre though, now that looks like it has been inspired by BMW. But design is always subjective, though we all can agree that the new CRV does not have an ugly panel to it.

Step inside and this is where the sheer size of the car is most apparent. The interior acreage has increased, and it is not just on paper, you feel it as soon as you step inside. Whether you are seated at the front or at the back, the new CRV offers plenty of room, once again making it ideal for families.

Just like before though, Malaysia is getting the five-seater variant rather than the seven-seater which is for the Thai and Indonesian markets. This is fine though because the third-row seats substantially sacrifice boot space, which is a pity because at 589 litres, it is a full 67 litres bigger than before.

And if you are keen on an SUV, then boot space is important. And just for reference’s sake, the Mazda CX-5 has 445-litres of storage space while the Proton X70 has 512 litres. So it does not make sense to lose out on all that space.

The second-row passengers will appreciate the additional leg and shoulder space. They also get two USB Type-C ports and their own air-conditioning vents. On the topic of the vents, we feel that Honda missed an opportunity to also add vents onto the B-Pillars. This vent placement makes the most sense since it blows cool air directly to a passenger’s face rather than to the knees. But it is not a deal breaker.

The real action though is up front where the new dashboard is entirely new, and a mirror image of that in the Civic. Though a little elongated in the CRV since it is 64mm wider than the Civic.

It is important to note that the CRV we drove recently was the Thai spec, so it may be a little different than the Malaysian models.

The trimming for one may be different. The Turbo and Hybrid variants we drove both had wood-grain trimming which looked expensive and felt more authentic than the interior trimming of some of the continental cars.

Malaysian’s will be getting two models – the 2.0 e:HEV, which is basically a hybrid variant, and a 1.5 Turbo. Both these powertrains are already in the Malaysian market, the hybrid made its debut in the Civic while the 1.5 Turbo has been around for a while and was even powering the fifth generation CRV. So both powertrains have been tried and tested for a while already.

In usual Honda Malaysia fashion, each of these will have their own sub-variants, perhaps three variants for the 1.5 Turbo including one with all-wheel-drive, and one flagship hybrid variant with power sent to the front wheels exclusively.

This article though will focus on the Hybrid variant and with a separate review of the Turbo variant to follow.

During the drive in Thailand, there was little that distinguished both models from the outside. Both cars had the same body kit and had the same 18-inch wheels.

You can also expect some other features to distinguish the flagship model from the others, but there is no telling what that will be, and we are not about to speculate.

Having driven both the Hybrid and the Turbo models back-to-back, the former feels more polished and better to drive for several reasons.

The Hybrid model utilizes Honda’s e:HEV technology which includes twin motors up front – one to drive the wheels, and another that acts as a generator to power all of the onboard systems.

Power is sent directly from the engine to the electric motor through Honda’s e-CVT transmission, which basically means the CRV makes do without a gearbox. So that means there are fewer moving parts in this model and there is no propellor shaft either to send power to the rear wheels.

This then means there are fewer vibrations and random noises that intrude back into the cabin, making the car feel incredibly smooth, quiet and serene even.

Power for Hybrid variant is rated at 184PS and 335Nm of torque. This may seem quite decent, but the car does not seem to want to go anywhere in a hurry when you floor the accelerator pedal.

At 1,743kg, the CRV e:HEV is not exactly light, but the powertrain is more than up to propelling the car up to speed. It just does not feel very urgent. But that should not be too surprising though since the hybrid model is designed for efficiency, and with an official fuel consumption rating of an impressive 20.8-km per litre, efficiency is quite surely the name of the game for this model.

It achieves its impressive efficiency through a combination of technologies that go past the slick powertrain. The new Civic also has something called an Active Shutter Grille located at the bottom of the front bumper. This works by opening to let in air to cool the engine, and it shuts again so that air can flow around the car rather than through it, all in the name of aerodynamics and thus improved efficiency.  

There is much to like about the new Honda CRV, and we ended up preferring it over the Turbo model due to its smoothness and better noise and vibration levels. But it also has new and improved seats for the front passengers which is a much welcomed addition.

The Malaysian model will also come with a 12-speaker Bose sound system, making it the first time that Honda Malaysia will offer a premium sound system for its locally-assembled model.

Buyers will also appreciate that the new CRV also comes with a new 360-degree camera that makes driving the big SUV a simpler task. Then there is also the new Honda Sensing suite that includes a new wide-angle radar, camera and a sonar sensor for low speed braking control.

The new Honda CRV is going to be another sales success especially among those looking for something big and spacious. But don’t expect it to be cheap though, with price of goods increasing globally and the value of the Ringgit dropping drastically for the past couple of years, the price of raw materials is surely going to increase production cost.

But with top notch quality and comfort and safety levels that can match some of its European counterparts, the Honda CRV will find its way into the hearts of plenty. That is for sure.


Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, DOHC

Power: 184PS @ 5,000rpm

Torque: 335Nm @ 2000rpm

Gearbox: e-CVT

Battery: Lithium-ion

Suspension: Independent MacPherson Strut with Stabiliser Bar (Front) / Independent Multi-Link with Stabiliser Bar (Rear)

We like: Interior space, good looks, efficiency

We don’t like: Hard to fault, we love it!

The world of tyres is a dynamic one and probably more fiercely contested than the automotive industry it operates within.

Tyre manufacturers rely on multitudes of platforms to prove the worthiness of their product. Motorsports is one of the best and the most commonly used platforms to showcase the abilities of any tyre. But every once in a while, a tyre maker will organize a mega event and invite customers, dealers, business partners and members of the press to try out their product.

The latter is exactly what happened recently when American tyre maker BFGoodrich invited guests from far and wide for a rare “familiarisation” event in Thailand aptly called the BFGoodrich Day. The inaugural event saw visitors from eight countries congregate to experience the abilities of BFGoodrich tyres at the Khao Yai National Park, which is about a three hour drive north-east of Bangkok.

BFGoodrich has been around since the 1870s and marks several notable achievements. Some online research revealed that the company supplied tyres to the first car to cross the United States in 1903, and was also the tyre of choice for the Columbia space shuttle which flew 28 missions to space.

BFGoodrich was later bought by French rubber conglomerate Michelin, and thrived. It made a name for itself in motorsports exploits where it competed and won in several series such as the prestigious Indianapolis 500, the Baja 1000, the iconic Paris-Dakar rally, several world rally championships as well as the legendary 24 hours of Le Mans.

However, BFGoodrich is probably most well-known for its off-road tyres, making some of the toughest known tyres for the most demanding terrains whether to be used by the general public or professionally in a race.

Closer to home though, the company is well known but has not been very active in recent years. Due to taxation, high cost of transportation and other related factors, BFGoodrich has operated at the background of the Malaysian tyre scene, until now.

The company is making a resurgence of sorts, not only in Malaysia but in neighboring markets as well, and the recent ‘BFGoodrich Days’ is one of their first big projects.

The event allowed members of the press to experience four tyres from the current range in the BFGoodrich stable.

  1. BFGoodrich Mud Terrain

The ultimate off-road tyre in the BFGoodrich product range, the Mud Terrain tyre has a notable achievement in that it was the same tyre that won the grueling Baja 1000 off-road race which takes place annually at the Mexico-California peninsular and is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious off-road races in the world.

Our day at the BFGoodrich Days started off with this tyre that were fitted to a purpose-built off-road buggy’s that look like they belong in a mission to the moon.

The Mud Terrain tyres feature an aggressive tread-design that allows the vehicle fitted with it to power through just about any type of soil. It features some purpose-built technologies such as Mud-Phobic bars that can off-load compacted mud for better traction.

The compound used to make the tyre is also unique. Called the Krawl-Tech compound, it is specially designed to crawl over rock and slippery surfaces.

We experienced this firsthand on a specially designed track that featured timber that looked like it had been soaked in water for a week and mud that had not seen sunshine for a month.

It was heaven for dirt-lovers, for us it was the perfect place to get dirty with the buggy’s. BFGoodrich expected us to get dirty too and handed us ponchos to wear during the drive stint. Try as we could to get stuck but the buggy simply did not relent and would roll, climb and dig itself out of everything that the track threw at it.

At some points, the sideways incline was so steep that our heads were just about two feet off the mud, but the buggy kept going as the tyres worked like shovels to pull us through.

These specially made off-road tyres are available in Malaysia and range in price from RM1,662 to RM3,827 depending on size.

  • BFGoodrich Trail Terrain

A tyre specially built for on and off-roading, the Trail Terrain is said to be excellent on soft and hard surfaces including light off-road use.

The Trail Terrain offers a robust sidewall, staggered shoulder blocks and a tread design that focuses on durability over long periods of time. This extends the life of the tyre but also ensures that it can perform at its most optimum for a longer time.

We tried these tyres on a different track, one that was longer but not as hardcore as the first one. The tyres were fitted to familiar pick-up trucks such as the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and the Toyota Hilux. There were even a few Ford Everests and Toyota Fortuners fitted with these dual-purpose tyres.

Even thought it was a sun-kissed morning, it had been raining the night before so there were pockets of mud and puddles that threatened to break traction if a corner was taken too fast or if anyone misjudged the braking point. But it was a tyre test, so we deliberately accelerated and braked where we should not have. What’s the point of a slow drive when testing a tyre?

But just like the Mud Terrain, the Trail Terrain too offers technology to maximise traction and longevity. For these tyres, BFGoodrich developed 3D sipes that create traction on and off-road and also resist chipping and tearing, thus increasing the life of the tyre.

So, during the test, there was little to no sliding around except when deliberately accelerating out of a corner, where the rear broke loose from the sudden surge of power. No tyre tech will save you from that, some drivers call it drifting out of a corner and do it for fun.

The Trail Terrain is in Malaysia and priced from RM984 to RM1690.

  • All-Terrain KO2

This was the hardest challenge of them all and was specially designed to rip a tyre of an unsuspecting driver. It involved driving about 30km on some of Thailand’s famous concrete surfaced highways and then uphill to a scenic mountain lookout.  But this involved crawling over jagged rocks that would break an axle should the tyre lose grip or worse.

But BFGoodrich was keen to show off the noise suppression of the tyre, hence the highway drive. We were in a Hilux which is not exactly known for its interior comfort compared to a Ranger. We were not allowed to drive on the highway, which turned out to be a good thing because our assigned Thai driver knew the roads and the local driving culture. To put it politely, he put some of the other Thai drivers to shame with his antics. We suspect he was told to drive hard because it was a good opportunity to show off the road noise levels of the KO2, which was impressive for an all-terrain tyre which tend to hum and drone when on regular roads.

Then came the crawling part and we took over the wheel. And though it was one of the most stressful drives since the driver turned instructor kept barking orders at every given opportunity which was every other second, it was also great to feel the tyre cling on to a rock and not break grip.

BFGoodrich says the KO2’s are the toughest all-terrain tyres ever made and offer aggressive traction for on and off-road adventures. The KO2’s also have tougher than usual sidewalls that are designed to resists splitting. After what we experienced up on that mountain, we believe these claims.

The All-Terrain KO2’s are also available in Malaysia and are priced at RM930 to RM2,398.

  • G-Force Phenom

To test out these tyres, our drive took us to a small race track that allowed us to try out the high speed cornering. The G-Force Phenom tyres are BFGoodrich’s ultra-high performance that are specially designed for acceleration, tight cornering and hard braking.

We were handed a BMW 330i to test the claim and told to speed into corners, not brake and steer towards some cones and then stand on the brakes to come to a complete stop.

As you probably would expect, there were no dramas. There may be better high-performance tyres out there which we will never know about without a proper tyre test, but for what they can do, the G-Force Phenom’s are remarkable.

To achieve this, BFGoodrich uses Performance Racing Core construction that reduces flex in corners so the tyres respond immediately to every turn of the steering wheel. And there is also the Ulti-Grip Technology that evacuates water from the tyre to improve wet weather grip.

The G-Force Phenom’s are priced at RM438 to RM1,241.

In the near two decades of writing about cars, motorcycles and everything that is related, this was the first time this writer experienced BFGoodrich tyres and their capabilities. Every tyre maker will say their product is the best, but few will let you push them to the breaking point, and that no tyre was permanently destroyed that day is a proper testament to BFGoodrich tyres.


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