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Prior to 2013, Cat A COE did not have a power limit. These are the cars that make well over 130bhp and are still eligible for a Cat A COE.

19 Sep 2022

Not too long ago, the COE categories in Singapore were determined solely by engine capacity. Manufacturers then started offering cars with downsized, turbocharged engines that made a fair bit more power. This meant that premium cars such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class which produced almost 160bhp were eligible for the cheapest Cat A COE - quite an unfair advantage.

In 2013, the COE categories were revised and the Cat A COE now has a power ceiling of 130bhp (97kW). Thankfully, if the car was initially registered as a Cat A car, it will still be eligible for a Cat A PQP when you choose to renew its COE. If you want a powerful car without paying through your nose for the crazy Cat B COE prices, you can always opt for a pre-2013 example.

Here's a list of Cat A COE cars that produce more than 20bhp over the limit. Shhh... don't let LTA know.

Honda Civic EG VTI 1.6
The Civic EG in three-door guise is a really sleek hatchback

Typical depreciation: $11,000 - $13,500
Power: 170bhp
Annual road tax: $1,110 (150%)

Why you should buy one:

The Honda Civic EG is much older than the other cars in this list and, unlike the others, it has a naturally aspirated engine. 

This makes it all the more amazing because without forced-induction, this 1.6-litre engine was able to produce 170bhp! There's no wonder that these Hondas are the favourite amongst so many car enthusiasts.

Honda Civic EK SiR 1.6
The EK Civic is an iconic enthusiast favourite that packs quite a fair bit of power

Typical depreciation: $11,500 - $18,000
Power: 170bhp
Annual road tax: $1,110 (150%)

Why you should buy one:

The Civic EK is the generation after the EG, and in the SiR trim level, it also gets the powerful B16A engine which produces 170bhp.

While the interior of the EG was clearly the product of the early 90s, the facelifted EKs get an updated interior that looks almost modern.

Mazda RX-8 1.3
Equipped with a rotary engine, the RX-8 makes over 200bhp despite its tiny 1.3-litre engine capacity

Typical depreciation: $11,000 - $16,500
Power: 206bhp/211bhp/231bhp/246bhp (depending on variant and transmission)
Annual road tax: $572 - $858 (150%)

Why you should buy one:

The Mazda RX-8 is available in various different specifications, but every single one of them still makes the most power in this list, thanks to the unconventional rotary engine. With just a mere 1.3-litre capacity, these cars not only make power, but also get to enjoy a really affordable road tax.

The older RX-7 models that are turbocharged, make even more power and have even more potential. However, most of those cars are selling for crazy prices. Perhaps being Cat A doesn't really mean anything as their prices are still prohibitive.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class C180/C180K 1.6

A Mercedes-Benz sedan with Cat A COE!

Typical depreciation: $9,500 - $13,000
Power: 154bhp
Annual road tax: $740 - $1,110 (C180), $742 - $1,114 (C180K)

Why you should buy one:

Rumours have it that the Mercedes-Benz C180 was one of the cars that prompted the revamp of the COE category system to include a power limit. Yes, you can actually get a Mercedes-Benz that belongs to the Cat A COE at one point of time! And it even produces a respectable 154bhp.

There are also supercharged and turbocharged variants to choose from, which will likely drive quite differently. That said, the word out there is that the turbocharged ones are the one to go for as they offer more potential for upgrades and are considered to be the more reliable of the two.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class B200 1.6
The B200 is powered by the same engine you'll find in the C180, but it offers more space for a comfortable ride

Typical depreciation: $10,000 - $13,500
Power: 154bhp
Annual road tax: $740 - $1,110 (150%)

Why you should buy one:

Like the C180, the B200 hatch produces 154bhp, which is quite a fair bit over the Cat A COE horsepower limit.

This is a well-equipped hatchback that offers a fair bit of space and a comfortable drive. While its tall roof line is reminiscent of an MPV, it also means that there is plenty of headroom within.

MINI Cooper S 1.6A (and its variants)
A powerful MINI Cooper S without the burden of a Cat B COE!

Typical depreciation: $9,500 - $14,500
Power: 181bhp
Annual road tax: $742 - $1,114 (150%)

Why you should buy one:

The MINI Cooper is quite a unique offering with a cult following. While many would have been satisfied with having a cool MINI One to drive about, the Cooper S is the one for people who enjoy fast hatches. Producing a stout 181bhp, the various Cooper S are some of the most powerful cars in this list.

Yes, we mentioned variants - you can take your pick from the Cooper S, Cooper S Clubman, Cooper S Countryman or the Cooper S Cabriolet should you choose to get one. All of them make the same amount of power and are eligible for Cat A COE renewal!

Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart Turbo 1.5
This pocket rocket has plenty of untapped potential!

Typical depreciation: $10,000 - $11,000
Power: 151bhp
Annual road tax: $666 - $1,000 (150%)

Why you should buy one:

The Colt Ralliart Turbo is a plucky little hatch from Mitsubishi that has been coined as the baby Evo. Equipped with a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, there are apparently people who managed to double the power output of it with aftermarket upgrades.

Available in both automatic and manual, this is a fun hatch with plenty of potential - though you should try to look for a manual one if you intend to make big power. If you require more space, you can also consider the Colt Plus Ralliart Turbo, which is a stretched version that makes it more of an MPV, but do note that it also produces less power, at 142bhp.

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI (Twin-charged)
You don't really need a GTI to have plenty of fun, the 1.4 TSI is plenty powerful, and it's a Cat A car

Typical depreciation: $9,000 - $13,000
Power: 158bhp
Annual road tax: $620 - $930 (150%)

Why you should buy one:

While a 1.4-litre TSI base Golf isn't exactly the GTI hot hatch, it is already pretty quick. With a powerful Twin-charged engine that produces around 160 horsepower and equipped with the quick-shifting DSG gearbox, these will surely be quicker than many other cars on the roads.

With forced-induction, you would be able to wring more power out of these engines with some simple tweaks if you want even more performance out of them.

Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI (Twin-charged)
Find the Golf's looks too common? You can always opt for the sleek Scirocco

Typical depreciation: $8,500 - $13,000
Power: 158bhp
Annual road tax: $620 - $930 (150%)

Why you should buy one:

The Scirocco shares its engine with the Golf 1.4 TSI, but what makes it different, is its sleeker body.

Unlike the Golf which comes in three and five-door variants, the Scirocco is strictly a three-door hatch, and it also has beautiful proportions with a low slung roof line. It isn't difficult to understand why so many car enthusiasts are in love with the Scirocco.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI (Twin-charged)
Want the entire family to experience the 1.4TSI engine's performance? The Jetta's the perfect choice!

Typical depreciation: $9,000 - $12,000
Power: 158bhp
Annual road tax: $620 - $930 (150%)

Why you should buy one:

If you want the same level of performance as the Golf and Scirocco warm hatches, but prefer a sedan due to family commitments, the Jetta will be the perfect choice for you.

With the same drivetrain, you'll get to enjoy the same options should you wish to aim for more performance.
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