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With high price tags on cars today, should buyers go for the badge or should they go for what's underneath? Find out what Julian and Nicholas have to say.

21 Jun 2012

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Yellow Yellow ain't a Dirty Fellow

I'm not going to tell you how unfair it is that Yellow is always related to Ah Bengs. I'm also not going to touch on the fact that Yellow has been long associated with the lack of cleanliness, no thanks to some nursery school rhymes ("Yellow Yellow dirty Fel...", you get my point).

What I'm going to say, though, is that the extravagant COE prices have brought upon a dire impact on fun and good cars such as the Suzuki Swift Sport (let's just affectionately dub it SSS) and have led to people choosing continental brands over carmakers that have brought you Ramen and Kim Chi. It's true we should all pay for a quality product (since price is inevitably important) but are Japanese cars not comparable to continental ones or have our COE prices moulded us into brand whores?

Before I attempt to taint the rest of the compact hatches (other than the SSS) verbally, let's get something polite out of the way: I could be wrong. I mean, I love the buttless cars rolling out of Volkswagen, I really do. But when we pitch the Swift Sport against the Polo 1.2, and decide to support the latter, it constitutes the greatest act of brand favouritism or a declaration of war against my general principle.
The red stitching in the cabin of the SSS uplifts its sporty atmosphere while the Polo 1.2 appears rather dull with a one-coloured cabin

Ok, I may have exaggerated a tad, but this is, nonetheless, a thinking exercise.

Thinking caps on or off, the Yellow Fellow holds a few surprises over the White Horse. No doubt that it loses to the Polo off the line, the Swift Sport feels more refined and enthusiastic when thrown around. Of course, it's no hot hatch, but having a six-speed manual (previously a five-speed) gearbox allows it to move more comfortably over its predecessor and reasonably quiet at 3,000rpm at highway speeds.

More relevantly, the manual gearbox is a joy to behold, especially to purists. The throws are pleasingly short and it shifts in a mechanical manner, giving them the feel of a sportier nature. Its stimulating character allows it to rev freely and wildly, yet keeping to the reasonable 15.3km/L. The Polo, on the other hand, has an impressive DSG gearbox, but it doesn't encourage fun 'hooliganism' and 'connection' between driver and car.
The SSS is equipped with a Start/Stop button while the Polo 1.2 still requires the conventional twist from the driver

At around $8,000 lesser, the SSS is equipped with a pair of sports bucket seats to match up to the sportier handling. Even the red stitching on the seats and steering wheel uplifts the already sporty atmosphere by a couple of notches. The Polo? Not that exciting. It fits the bill perfectly as a base model in the Polo line-up but for the fact that it doesn't come equipped with a push start button, disappoints.

Where both hatches are concerned, they're sure as hell durable. They're strong, solid and even spacious because they were built that way. Volkswagen may be the inventor of the cult car, GTI - one that requires a fair bit of dough to purchase and a hell lot more to maintain - and may, thus, hold an impeccable reputation for hatchback cars such as the Polo 1.2. But Suzuki's proposition reaches out to humble individuals with its potent combination of performance and handling that can be exploited to its full capability without having the need to fork out tons of cash to buy and maintain.

Cars aren't cheap now. When it comes down to a good car, there are so many to choose from. But let's get one thing straight. Driving a car with a continental badge doesn't mean it's the right one. With enough research, you could make the right buying choice, without compromising on looks, handling and fuel consumption figures. You just need to open up to the Japanese.

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