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Is a car more than its badge? What exactly lies behind the numbers, and underneath the sheet metal of the thousands of cars you view weekly on sgCarMart?

14 Oct 2021

We've taken stock of countless new car listings on sgCarMart, and are putting the single cheapest and most expensive cars right now against each other. The only limiting criteria we've slapped on this time round is that the cars need to have four proper doors at the very least.

That's led us to the two following candidates: The Perodua Bezza, a run-of-the-mill, typically scowl-inducing but actually capable enough sub-subcompact sedan from our neighbours, and the Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase, magnum opus of the German-owned, British ultra-luxury carmaker.

Our two competitors in October 2021 of Cheapest vs Most Expensive
Before anyone starts threatening to burn our houses down, here's a friendly disclaimer that this is by no means an objective assessment. The Phantom transcends comparison. It is obviously on a different level altogether even from Luxury Sedan Supreme, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, let alone a Perodua Bezza. Still, that isn't stopping us from having fun with this comparo.

In tribute to the sublime comedy/musical duo, The Ann and Ben Show's recently-released, show-stopping ode to the wonders of cai fan (and cai fan uncles and aunties), we're also putting an extra spin on the comparison...

Cost of the car in equivalent plates of cai fan, assuming 2 veg, 1 meat ($3.50):

"Zhe ge na ge zhe ge na ge zhe ge na ge" (Kheng and Lee, 2021)
Bezza: At $75,999, the Bezza is the cheapest car you can get right now locally. Its retail price is equivalent to 21,429 plates of cai fan, meaning 19 and a half years worth. If you have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 365 days a year. Is that something worth sacrificing for this P badge?

Phantom: At a towering $2,330,000, the Phantom is the most expensive four-doored luxury saloon you can buy in Singapore right now. 665,714 plates of cai fan equal close to 608 years worth if you have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 365 days a year. That's more than a lifetime's supply for a small three-gen household. I mean, were we expecting any less from Roll's biggest baby?

How many packets of cai fan could you dabao in the boot (although yes, we know no one does that)?

The Phantom's 548-litre boot isn't small - it's the 508-litres boot (pictured) in the Bezza that's huge
This foam box we found on Shopee looks quite identical to what you'd find at a cai fan store, and measures 19cm by 13cm. Factoring in the tapering at the edges, we’ll round it down to the nearest whole number and venture that one cai fan Styrofoam box is approximately two litres.

With a 508-litre boot - very, very impressive for its class actually - the Bezza can help you dabao 254 packets of cai fan at one go. Not bad.

On the other hand, the Phantom's humongous size doesn’t extend to its boot. With 548-litres, it one-ups the Bezza by an extra 18 packets of cai fan. Neither impressive nor disappointing, but still - huat ah!

Drive-ability to cai fan areas:

The puny Bezza would make light of parking with its highly chuckable size anywhere, anytime 
Bezza: The Bezza is one of those happy-go-lucky cars that would look right at home being punished and chucked around a driving school track. At only 4,150mm long, it's just slightly longer than the Honda Jazz (the epitome of 'easy-to-drive'), and significantly shorter than Toyota's subcompact sedan, the Vios (measuring 4,410mm). It's also only 1,670mm wide, with a teeny-tiny minimum turning radius of 4,500mm.

Let's not even talk about carparks near hawker centres - this would have been among the least stressful cars to take into the old, winding Liang Court carpark.

-- Drive-ability for cai fan outings: 5/5 -- 

The Phantom is best enjoyed on the move - and on large open roads - not in tight carparks
Phantom: The term 'limousine' has been used very liberally in recent times - attached to Mercedes E-Class taxis, as well as the chauffeuring services we used to see plastered around Changi Airport pre-COVID (and maybe very soon again).

But watch all those puny luxury sedans whimper and lower their heads in fearful reverence when the Phantom rolls up. The ultra-Rolls stakes its claim on the crown indisputably, with the extended wheelbase version measuring 5,982mm long - nearly six metres! - and 2,018mm wide.

In other words, parking is at best, a barely survivable nightmare at open air carparks near hawker centres. If it's a multi-storey carpark you’re looking at though... don't even try. Now this is a proper limousine.

-- Drive-ability for cai fan outings: 0/5 --

If you want to eat cai fan in your car’s backseats...

The only okay-ish suspension means eating on the move is not encouraged, but you do get useful plastic hooks and an industrial interior
Bezza: The Bezza's rear seats actually offer up quite a good amount of space for a car of its size. But that's about it - there is no central armrest, although you do get a few hooks that seem to have been built exactly for food plastic bags. While we noted suspension to be decent enough during our drive, this was assessed only by plebeian car standards.

All of this means that eating in the car is probably a no-no - unless you enjoy the feeling of having food randomly shoved into your mouth by the forces of physics, rather than at your own desired pace. Still, the unforgivingly utilitarian and black interior (lots of hard plastics) means that you could have the messiest meal and not worry too much about cleaning up after anyway, since a proper wipe-down would suffice.

"Black isn't really your colour", is what anyone with a head properly screwed on would say to the Phantom's interior
Phantom: You probably wouldn't want to eat cai fan in the Phantom for a very different reason - it would be too risky, considering all that milky, hand-stitched leather and gorgeous carpeting (going with a full-black interior would be tantamount to crime of the highest order, seeing the infinite options available).

But the fact is, you could. The backseats feature sturdy, fold-down tables, and with its unbelievable Magic Carpet Ride suspension - it deceives you into thinking that any road you’re on has been paved by angels - you probably won't be involuntarily dropping grains of rice or chunks of chicken cutlet because of a jerky ride.

Beyond the badge and beneath the hood:

Your attitude towards the Bezza's engine: A tug-of-war between Toyota's hard-earned goodwill or long-standing distrust in Perodua's badge
Bezza: Ignoring the Perodua badge on the hood and boot, you may be surprised to learn that the Bezza's engine is closely related to one of Singapore's (and the world's) most beloved and trusted.

While Perodua does manufacture its engines in-house, they are built under license from Daihatsu, which as you know, is owned by Toyota: The Bezza runs on a 1.3-litre Dual-VVTi 1NRVE engine. No wonder, then, that it clocked in a remarkable 18km/L during our test drive (not far off a declared figure of 21km/L).

Phantom: While Rolls-Royce may develop powerful engines for the real giants - Airbuses and Boeings - its own large limousines are actually driven by engines from somewhere else. A very affluent place in Germany, in fact...

The mega-Rolls gets a tweaked mega-engine from a mega-brand
Yes, underneath the Rolls-Royce Phantom's hood is none other than a BMW engine - Bavaria's top-of-the-line, V12 twin-turbo N74 engine, albeit an augmented, thirstier 6.75-litre version. The N74 is also famously used in the flagship variant for the BMW 7 Series, the M760Li, which you would have to squint your eyes to find in Singapore, especially because Performance Motors Limited doesn't sell it anymore.

This means performance that matches its size and weight - and a century sprint timing of 5.1 seconds - which, as has been noted, actually is less counterintuitive than you imagine once you're behind the wheel.

Something extra you’re getting at this price...

The Bezza offers sensors on the front as well
Bezza: For all our joking about the Malaysian marque, Perodua has actually made an effort to step it up with the safety features of the Bezza.

One particular goodie it boasts that you don't find very commonly in its segment is the presence of all-round parking sensors. Even the Mazda3 Sedan doesn't get these until you step up to the Astina trim, for instance; they are also absent on closest rival, Mitsubishi Attrage.

Phantom: With a price tag like the Phantom's, it's honestly difficult to unequivocally determine what's extra. How does one justify a seven-figure sum in any objective manner, anyway?

Underneath the Starlight Headliner is a most wonderful place to be
Still, let's just dive into a select number of things you can get on the Phantom; Magic Carpet Ride aside, you could opt for lamb wool carpets for your precious feet, a Starlight Headliner with fibre optic lights (in essence a car ceiling that gorgeously brings various vast, starry night skies of your choice to life), carefully put into place by "skilled craftspeople" over at least nine hours, and a bespoke sound system crafted with the help of actual musicians riding in the car.

With the Phantom, everything and nothing (because of its price point) is extra.

Something you shouldn't be missing at this price...

Singaporean Bezzas get an infotainment cluster instead of a screen
Bezza: All-round parking sensors are great but then here's the huge, huge catch: The Bezza variant we have in Singapore has no reverse camera.

Seriously? What era are we living in? (Our eyes are similarly trained pointedly on other competitors who still don't provide reverse cameras as standard.) When we said the Bezza feels like a learner's car, we didn't mean to this extent...

Phantom: The YouTube comments section of this video diving into the Phantom's options list is a riot, with people going off about the price tags slapped onto some items.

An endless list of options for the Rolls - and why not, since cash is never going to be an issue?
Since we're not Rolls-Royce clientele, we're not privy to the price list for options in Singapore. But a small fridge to store champagne bottles, for instance - because that's the only acceptable drink to enjoy in the back of a Phantom - apparently can cost upwards of USD$5,000.

We love this comment, by the user Ivo Ivan, "I'm selling my car and I'm buying a RR steering wheel and a clock". When you're that rich, we guess you just add on whatever you want first and pay later on - it's not that much money anyway.

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