Mazda 6 2.2D
Starting with the priciest option here, the Mazda 6 2.2D. The price may be steep but its interior feels the most premium here.
Like all Mazdas, the Mazda 6 drives well. Everything from the steering, brake and accelerator response are perfectly calibrated to feel natural and linear. Some cars require a bit of time to get used to, but not the Mazda 6. You can get in it and feel right at home.
The 2.2-litre turbodiesel is impressively refined and to the unaware, it might be mistaken for a petrol engine. Downside is the engine isn’t as efficient as one might expect from a diesel.
Also, the cabin isn’t particularly spacious in comparison to the rest here. It’s a common Mazda trait. And there’s no adaptive cruise control.
But if you love driving, then the Mazda 6 should be at the top of your list. Or if you don’t fancy a diesel, there’s the 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine option.
Honda Accord 1.5 TC-P
We have yet to get our hands on the new Honda Accord but feedback from Thai motoring publications, which have more or less similar expectations to us Malaysians, have been very positive.
The Honda Accord has a comfort-oriented feel, a cruiser so to speak. So it isn’t as engaging to drive as the Mazda 6. Although being a large sedan, some may appreciate its relaxed nature.
Inside, the Accord is far more spacious than any of its rivals with class-leading legroom. Material quality is average for its segment and the seats fall a little short in terms of back and thigh support.
Crucially, it features the full suite of Honda Sensing ADAS, which bundles AEB, BSM, LKA, RCTA, as well as ACC with low speed follow. In terms of active safety features, the Honda Accord is the most complete here.
Volkswagen Passat R-Line
When the Volkswagen Passat Elegance was launched, some lamented about the omission of a few features like the Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) and electronic differential lock (XDS).
Well now they are present in the Volkswagen Passat R-Line. Powertrain identical to the Elegance, which has outputs of 190 PS and 320 Nm of torque, mated to a 7-speed wet type dual-clutch transmission.
Moving into the interior, it looks modern with the digital instrument display, named Digital Cockpit. Colour and contrast on the screen are perfectly calibrated, as is the 9.2-inch Discover Pro infotainment system. It supports wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto still requires cabled connection.
In terms of space, the Passat is actually one of the most spacious in class, second best to only the Honda Accord. At 587 litres, boot space is massive with an impressive depth. Downside is the lack of ADAS such as AEB or ACC.
The Mazda 6 appeals to those who love driving, the 2.2-litre diesel engine is refined and its torque makes overtaking a breeze. And the interior feels the most premium in class.
The Honda Accord is an all-rounder for those who prefer a more relaxed driving experience and a vast interior. Plus, it is the only one here with the full suite of ADAS.
The Volkswagen Passat falls somewhere in between with a decently spacious interior and relatively agile handling. Where it really comes into its own is on the highway. It’s an excellent cruiser and munches the kilometers effortlessly.
My pick would be the Mazda 6 for its cabin and driving experience. So, which one would you pick?
Up to 20% higher than average trade-in price
2018 Volkswagen Passat 1.8 TSI Trendline
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