ARF Wiedersehen : Fund-Friendly Fun & Funky Cars
Singapore - Everybody's still shell-shocked after the Budget 2023 impact on new car registrations, particularly relating to high-luxury cars in the S$600k and up segment.
As if it wasn't expensive enough to buy a car in Singapore, the powers-that-be have modified the progressive tax system to target high OMV cars in the luxury, sportscar and super-sportscar segments.
This means that cars like the S-Class, 296 GTB and Cullinan will attract anything from an additional $50k to a mega $375k in ARF compared to just a month ago (or if you’re holding on to the coveted ‘old-scheme’ Open Cat COEs that have been trading for a tidy premium).
If you're already comfortably dabbling in the >S$1m segment, the increase isn't likely to be a deal-breaker, although what's arguably more painful is the S$60k cap on PARF rebate, because this is irrespective of the car’s ARF paid.
Of course, in the super-luxury league (S$1m and up), it’s unlikely to affect consumption, but it will hit the buyers in the aspirational S$500k-S$800k segment.
The TL;DR version is assuming you’re keeping the car to 10yrs (early de-reg gives you a higher percentage rebate, BUT it’s still capped to S$60k regardless) – or whoever you’re selling it to is – the ARF shouldn’t exceed S$120k, ergo the OMV of the car cannot be more than S$73+k – well, it can, but anything in excess of the capped S$60k rebate will be forfeited.
For everyone else, we’ve compiled several ‘fun and funky’ cars that aren’t affected (much, if at all) by the new changes to the ARF tiered-taxation and most of all, the S$60k capped rebate, so you don't have to bid farewell to your dosh.
P.S. COE prices are correct at date of writing (20th Feb 2023)
Mazda MX-30 (S$184,888 with COE / OMV S$45,000)
Mazda’s all-electric city runabout features uber-cool coach-style opening doors (yes, just like the RX-8 sportscar), as well as a host of Nordic chic aesthetic elements in the cabin.
It is cool, minimalist, yet recognisably Mazda in terms of both interface and drive.
At time of writing, there’s a very marginal S$2.8k impact upfront (negligible when amortised over 10 years, and you technically take back S$1.4k), which allows the Made-in-Japan EV to sit pretty in a class of its own.
MG4 (S$82,888 without COE / OMV under S$40k)
The all-electric hatchback wows on several fronts: sporty styling, rear-drive, 400+km range and a nicely appointed cabin.
We received a nice mix of responses to the car, with half turning to take a second look and the other half marvelling it’s a MG.
The MG4 isn’t just practical, it’s zippy and fun to drive as well, with a series of quick-keys within finger-reach without having to take one’s hands off the steering wheel.
Most importantly, the key controls to toggle demister, hi-fi volume and climate control on/off have physical buttons.
MINI Cooper SE (S$223,888 with COE / OMV ~S$40k)
Like the other two EVs in this list, the all-electric Cooper SE enjoys a rebate (or discount, if you will) to its ARF, thanks to the government's EV Early Adoption Incentive (or EEAI for short), which ends end 2023. Combined with the enhanced VES rebate and ARF floor reduction, this can work out to a massive S$45k off mass market EVs.
The Cooper SE enjoys all the familiar cherubic cuteness of the MINI range, but boasts a mean streak, because it is endowed with seriously nippy and nimble reflexes that help it live up to its legendary Cooper S credentials.
It has cool details that differentiate it from its petrol-chugging brethren, including a rim design reminiscent of a three-pin plug, as well as little 'E' emblems on the charging cover and tailgate.
Skoda Octavia Combi RS (S$229,900 with COE / est. S$33k OMV)
Our Everyday Specials winner ‘wins’ again after the dust from the ARF revisions settles down.
There aren’t many sporty wagons in the Octavia Combi RS’s price point with its perky 245hp/370Nm, which gives it a decent pace to go with the space.
It boasts a tasteful, sporty spice cabin with nice touches of diamond-quilting and Alcantara, with an accompanying 15-stages of variable damping to suit any drive situation.
The striking silhouette cuts a distinctive profile on the mean streets to striking effect.
(Click HERE to read our full review of the Skoda Octavia Combi RS 2.0 TFSI)
Subaru WRX tS Wagon tS (S$266,800 with COE / under S$40k OMV)
Hot on the heels of the Octavia Combi RS is the Subaru WRX Wagon, which is animated by a turbo’d 2.4-litre flat4 that punches hard to the tune of 275hp/350Nm.
The torsional rigidity is satisfyingly stiff, with fluidly organic responses to helm inputs.
What’s surprising is the WRX’s 8spd Lineartronic CVT, which delivers snappy shifts and the AWD drivetrain, which makes for delightfully playful reactions, especially in the performance-oriented tS (for tuned by STI) guise.
Suzuki Jimny (S$158,900 with COE / OMV S$17,500)
This tiny tyke turns heads with its funky chunky styling that is so anti-cool it is cool.
Brands can only dream of the type of image the Jimny effortlessly manages without coming across as ‘trying too hard’.
There’s a rugged aesthetic both inside and out to the Jimny that gives the impression it’ll just as gladly bulldoze its way down to the shops as it will attempting to stomp mountains into molehills.
It isn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination, but it’ll put a big smile on both its occupants, as well as passers-by as it, erm, passes by…
(Click HERE to read about the time the Suzuki Jimny hung out with the Rolls-Royce Cullinan)
Toyota GR86 (S$138,888 without COE / OMV S$32,080)
Now nestled under the Gazoo Racing umbrella, the GR86 (or 86) is Toyota’s iconic front-engined, rear-drive coupe that places an emphasis on driving fun over outright power.
It may have ‘rear seats’, but we reckon this is a good differentiator from the Supra…
Besides, we’re told it’ll gamely accommodate a full set of track tyres with the seats folded down, which further reinforces its credentials as a serious driving instrument.
Slick-shifting manual gearbox, full-bodied nat-asp 2.4-litre and the chassis’ playful dynamics create an engaging and entertaining package for the avid driver.
VW Golf GTI (S$253,400 with COE / OMV S$38,496)
The People’s favourite hot-hatch is now in its eighth incarnation and not just brings all the fun and function many have come to associate with the ‘GTI’ badge, but also includes posh features that elevate its standing.
With 245hp/370Nm, it’s true to every hot-hatch’s point-and-squirt form – it’s fun for the winding roads, but also a capable cruiser that will appeal to both the boy-racers and the businessmen.