What are the prettiest common cars ever sold in Malaysia?
CY Foong · Nov 29, 2020 12:00 PM
Eye candies are usually exquisite works of art that seem to be out of reach for many of us. Whether they’re models, artworks, or even cars, these beauties can’t be experienced by many of us regular folk.
But hang on, as the overused saying goes: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Calling something pretty or beautiful is purely subjective. For some of us, we enjoy the beauty in what some might consider the mundane.
Let’s face it, some of us would much rather get the girl next door than a supermodel or a simple watch than a fancy Rolex (or Apple Watch). The same goes for cars, some just want a car to get from A to B, while others treat it as a passion.
But when it comes to pretty cars, it’s not just reserved for expensive cars. There have been some common cars out there that can be considered beautiful. Some of which you might have overlooked because of how popular they are.
For this week's Top Rank, we'll focus on 11 of the prettiest common cars ever sold in Malaysia. The cars that will be covered here consist of a mix of new and old cars, some of which you might be familiar with.
For those of you too young to remember or probably didn't read our Top Rank list on failed brands in Malaysia, Fiat was mainly known for producing cheap Italian hatchbacks.
Then the nineties came along and Fiat introduced one of the most daring-looking sports cars with the Fiat Coupe. It was designed by Chris Bangle, who is notorious for shaping BMWs in the 2000s.
The Coupe has Bangle's design hallmarks with sharp lines all over but maintains a look that is simply extraordinarily beautiful. It has a dedicated fanbase in Malaysia too and is quite possibly the last affordable Italian sports car sold here.
Honda Civic EF
Next up, we’re heading back to the 1980s, and matching with the outrageous hairstyles is hands down the best-looking Honda Civic.
The fourth-generation Civic, which is more known by its chassis code, EF, has a very low and sleek design. The design is an improvement over the previous generation's "Crouching form" design.
While the sedan looks good, we’d rather give a shoutout to the hatchback which goes down as a legend among Malaysian car enthusiasts. Even if it was given the morbid nickname of "Civic Mayat".
Mazda 323 Astina
When you think of a cool eighties design aesthetic, chances are you’re imagining a car with a sharp wedge design and more importantly pop-up headlights.
While Mazda has incorporated the fabulously fun headlights aesthetic onto the NA MX-5, that’s a sports car that costs a bit too much for regular Malaysians. It’s a good thing that the boys from Hiroshima applied the cool look onto a sporty fastback that most Malaysians can somewhat afford.
The 323 Astina was the sporty version of the mundane-looking 323. It had a sleek, slippery design, and did I mention it came with lights that can be popped up and down? The good news is that the Astina can be yours for cheap, but granted they are a little over 30 years old, so parts can be difficult to find.
Kia Picanto (Third-gen)
Usually, when it comes to entry-level (A-segment) cars, they’re basic and are not meant to be pretty but Kia somehow knocked it out of the park with the Picanto.
Compared to the previous generations, the third-gen Kia Picanto adds more style to the A-segment a lot better than the Perodua Axia Style. Even the base KX looks great even if it's on plastic hubcaps.
Sadly, despite the pretty looks, it wasn’t enough for Kia. With the Korean brand’s future in Malaysia up in the air, you would be lucky if you managed to find one brand-new but for now, the used car market is a safer bet.
Mazda 3 Hatchback
The Mazda 3 Hatchback instantly won over our hearts over its beauty. Mazda has been on a roll when it comes to pretty-looking cars that don't cost a bomb. The Mazda 3 Sedan also looks good but the Hatchback is on another level.
Even my friends who aren’t into cars admit how pretty the Mazda 3 Hatchback is, and you know that’s a win when it attracts even the non-car group.
The Mazda 3 Hatchback’s design is based on the Mazda Kai Concept from the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Good thing Mazda decided to retain most of the design in the production Mazda 3. There's the premium-looking interior, which compliments the beautiful exterior.
Nissan Almera Turbo
The previous-gen Nissan Almera was, how do I put it nicely, not a pretty sight. It might have garnered a lot of attention from Malaysians but that's due to its low price, not because of its frankly, ugly looks.
The latest Almera on the other hand is not only a massive improvement in terms of features but also looks. If there ever was a car equivalent of the story of the ugly duckling, it’s easily the all-new Almera.
The V-motion grille, the coupe-like styling, and the floating roof element. The Almera is a pretty car and dare I say, it looks prettier than the Honda City. The Almera is priced dearer but that’s the price you pay for beauty (and better safety features).
Nissan Cefiro A31
The Cefiro name had two different sides. Later models were seen as a comfortable cruiser that was favoured by middle-aged men; it became the “Unclemobile” alongside the Toyota Camry.
But the first-generation Cefiro wasn’t only meant to be a comfortable cruiser, it was supposed to be Nissan’s flagship. This was before drifters realised the sideways potential these cars offered.
The design of the A31 was based on a concept car, the ARC-X from the 1987 Tokyo Motor Show. It’s a good thing Nissan retained most of the sleek, curvy lines because let’s face it, the A31 looked like a spaceship on wheels 30 years ago and still looks like one today.
The French have always been great at designing some of the prettiest cars in the market. Looking back, some of the prettiest cars have always been French like the Citroen DS and the Peugeot 504.
So imagine our delight when Nasim brought over the pretty 208 hatchback into Malaysia. Priced below RM 100,000 when it was launched in 2013, it brought European chic and coolness to the masses.
Being a French car comes with a higher maintenance cost than normal Japanese cars. But hey, what’s a bit of mechanical issue stopping you and your pretty hatchback?
It’s not an original Proton design, but Proton’s only coupe model to date has a very simple, round, and pretty design similar to the Wira and Satria.
But what makes the Putra on this list and not its sedan, aeroback, or hatchback siblings is its rarity. It’s not very often you see a clean example on the road with many examples of the Putra being modified with wings and body kits.
As the Putra was marketed as a sports car of sorts, Proton equipped the interior with all the goodies that make it just a wee bit of a racer including Recaro seats and a Momo four-spoke steering wheel. No wonder clean ones are highly sought after by fans.
Toyota Corolla Altis
It’s amazing how Toyota, a brand that is widely known for producing some of the most reliable but also the most boring-looking cars is starting to get its groove back in recent years.
The current Camry looks nice, but we’ll have to give the current 12th-gen Corolla Altis the attention it deserves. Compared to its rivals (apart from the Mazda 3), the Corolla Altis is a stunner for sure. Not the quickest, but still pretty.
Calling the Corolla a pretty car isn’t something that is considered possible (apart from the KE70 Liftback which is rare) but the current ‘Rolla proves that even one of the most popular cars in the world needs some time to grow into a beautiful flower.
When Volkswagen launched the CC (then with the Passat name) back in 2008, many people were wondering why would the people's car want to compete against the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Then, the Arteon swooped in to replace the CC and it seems that Volkswagen has beaten the three-pointed star.
At least in terms of looks. The long-awaited Arteon was finally launched in Malaysia this year but with a facelift on the horizon, we thought about how pretty Volkswagen's 4-door coupe looks.