Unbeatable bargains

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The Motor Show in Bangkok showed just what incredible bargains there are in the automotive sector at present.  The government’s pushing of the ‘eco-car’ category has made it such that some very inexpensive new cars can be bought for around 400,000 THB, and if this is your first car, you can knock another 100,000 THB off the sticker price as well with the government’s rebate program.

Newcomers to the category are the Mitsubishi Mirage and the Suzuki Swift which will compete against each other as well as against the Nissan March and the Honda Brio (now that Honda has resumed production after the factory was flooded).

Suzuki Swift eco-car. Suzuki Swift eco-car.

Suzuki executives said they initially expected about 2,000 orders at the show, but after the Swift was launched, more than 4,000 orders have already been placed, and motor show sales were higher than expected.

The Mitsubishi Mirage is built on the Mitsubishi Global Small platform and features a high tensile steel body that is lighter and more rigid than regular steel.  The engine is a four valves three cylinder unit with the 1.2 liter engine developing 78 bhp.  It comes with a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) and has Mitsubishi is claiming a fuel economy of 22 kilometers per liter.

With all the other offerings in this category, Mitsubishi offered free insurance and a cash rebate of 10,000 THB for the first 9,000 Mirage customers.  The Mirage range runs from 388,000 to 546,000 THB.

The Suzuki Swift eco-car variant appears to have caught the imagination of the public.  Now built in Thailand to comply with the eco-car requirements, it is a down market version of the imported 1.5 liter Swift.  This new version has a 1.2 liter, 4 cylinder 12 valve engine with a claimed output of 91 bhp.  The Swift also comes with a CVT and is priced from 469,000 to 559,000 THB.

Praphat Choeychom, senior vice president at Nissan Motor (Thailand), said the small-car segment was very competitive; however, Nissan’s March has had a great year.  “Nissan was the first company to introduce the eco-car and we were highly successful.  This year we also have a special model in the lineup and expect the same level of success,” he said.

Honda had six months to forget with the flooding of the Ayutthaya factory, but now up and running, the stylish little Honda Brio could garner a good foothold in the eco-car category.