A-Segment Cars: Which Should You Get?

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In Malaysia, we as car buyers always have a specific mindset. When buying a car, there is always the list of questions that will determine whether or not the car in question is suitable for the buyer. For this article, we will be talking about a few cars in the A-segment category. Cars which are commonly bought by those who are looking for the basic means of transportation. But most importantly, these are cars which come with an inexpensive price tag. As such, the subjects for this article are the Kia Picanto GT-Line, Perodua Axia Advance, Proton Saga Premium and Perodua Bezza Advance. Two sedans and two hatchbacks from different carmakers, all of which are in their highest trim.


The Price


Each of the cars here have price tags which dip below the RM60k price mark. In case you’re wondering, I’m referring to the Kia Picanto which starts at RM47k and tops off at RM58k. But there is a reason for the high price. More on that later. The other contenders are the Perodua Axia which now starts at RM23k and tops off at RM40k, the Perodua Bezza goes for RM34k and peaks at RM48k and the latest Proton Saga which has a starting price of RM33k and peaks at RM40k. 

Looking at the prices alone, if you’re looking for the best value for money, the honour for best hatchback in this group goes to the Kia Picanto despite its high price tag. As for the sedan contender, the winner of the value for money price tag goes to the Proton Saga. Now, some of you may already have some questions as to why are the aforementioned cars the best value for money and not the Perodua Axia and Bezza? The answer is rather interesting. Read on to find out why.


The Space


For each of the cars here, they all have their own pros and cons. However, if we were to pass the wooden spoon to one of the cars here based on the amount of space and price, the inglorious honour goes to the Kia Picanto. Not only is it the most expensive car in the group, it also has the least amount of space for rear occupants. Adding to the downsides, it has the smallest amount of boot space in the hatchback group, at 255 liters.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Perodua Axia also has its own pros and cons. The overall amount of space is rather commendable. Rear space is pretty abundant especially for the price. But the boot space isn’t on par with the Picanto. With the capacity of 260 liters, it is marginally larger than the Picanto.

As for the sedans, the Proton Saga and Perodua Bezza both excel in rear seat space and boot space. However, both cars come with their own pros and cons. The Saga comes with slightly more room in the back seats compared to the Perodua Bezza, but the boot space is somewhat smaller. At 480 liters, it loses out to the Perodua Bezza’s boot space capacity at 508 liters.


The Safety


When it comes to safety, all car brands do excel in this department. The Perodua Bezza and Kia Picanto scores a total of five stars in the ASEAN NCAP crash tests. Fun fact, the Bezza was the first Perodua to ever score full marks in the crash tests. Even the Picanto does well with the inclusion of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).

Proton Saga scores a total of four stars in the ASEAN NCAP crash rating. As does the Perodua Axia which also scores four stars. However, the number of stars don’t tell the whole story. Body rigidity is also an important factor in the safety of cars. The Picanto body is made with Advanced High Strength Steel and Hot Stamping. This makes the Kia’s body the strongest in the bunch. 

As for our Malaysian offerings? The Saga makes do without any form of high strength steel. But each Saga comes with a stabilizer bar as standard. This improves on high speed driving and cornering. Now we go into the depths of abbreviations. ESC, EBD, BA, ABS and TC, what? It stands for Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, Anti-lock Braking System and Traction Control. All of these functions further improve on the safety of the car and its occupants. In this group, all cars come with most of the safety nets apart from the Perodua Axia which loses out on the ESC and TC. But at least all cars come with a minimum of two airbags. The Picanto trumps the group with a total of six airbags.


The Design


Design is of course subjective. Different people have different tastes in cars. But if the budget caps out at RM60k, then these A-segment offerings will definitely be suitable for you. We’ll start with the hatchbacks. The Perodua Axia and Kia Picanto both come with modern and aggressive front ends, which does give the cars a more youthful appearance. The front bumpers are both designed to attract the younger crowd. That is if you do spec for the high end models of the Perodua Axia and Kia Picanto. Both come with halogen projector headlights but the Picanto ups its ante with LED daytime running lights (DRL). 

Moving down to the side, the Axia comes with clean lines moving towards the rear. The Picanto on the other hand, gets a sporty red stripe running across the sides of the car. Both cars come with alloy wheels with two-tone finishes. The Picanto rides on 16 inch alloys while the Axia makes do with 14 inches. Not the largest size, but it does aid on ride comfort. At the rear, both cars come with LED rear lights. The bumpers also receive a diffuser-like treatment for that added sporty look. 

Now onto the Proton Saga and Perodua Bezza. Both sedans are priced below RM50k with the Bezza being the priciest. The designs are more toned down than the hatchbacks, but for good reason. Sedans usually attract family oriented buyers. The Saga and Bezza receives halogen reflector headlights, whereas the bumper treatments are more distinctive. The Proton gets LED DRLs on the highest model while the Perodua gets incandescent front fog lights. Moving down to the side, both cars get sleek and clean character lines. As for the wheels, both cars gets two-tone finishings on the alloys. However, the Saga rides on 15 inch wheels while the Bezza rides on 14 inch wheels instead.


The Interior


The most important bit of any new car is the interior and how it makes you feel. The important touch points like the steering wheel and buttons all add to the overall impression. All cars in this group receives leather wraps on the steering wheel barring the Proton Saga, which uses a polyurethane (PU) finish on the steering wheel. Other than that, all but the Saga comes with leather upholstery. The latter makes do with fabric seats instead. 

As for the infotainment system, both the Saga and Picanto receives its own smart infotainment system. The Proton runs on a watered down version of the infamous GKUI system that was first introduced on the large X70. The Kia meanwhile, has its own infotainment system but has the added advantage to attract the younger crowd with the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

The Perodua's on the other hand, comes with a basic touchscreen system. However, it does also have a smartphone mirroring function. Meaning you can mirror whatever’s on your phone to the screen in the cars. As for added convenience, all but the Axia comes with a reversing camera with guidance lines. 



So you’ve gone through the overall features of each car. Overall, all cars come with pros and cons. But if you were to choose between the four, which would it be? Let us know in the comments below.

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