Premium hatchback war heats up

BMW and Volvo are countering the Mercedes-Benz A-class with the 1-series and V40.

BMW 116i M Sport

PRICE: 2 million baht (est)
POWER: 136hp 1.6-litre inline-4 petrol-turbo
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic

Instead of utilising performance, BMW will use pricing to lure young buyers to its entry-level 1-series. A raft of exterior and interior accessories from M Sport is made standard in the 116i, which stands out in its class with rear-wheel drive dynamics.

Mercedes-Benz E200/E300 Hybrid

PRICE: 3.49 million/3.99-4.49 million baht
POWER: 184hp 2.0-litre inline-4 petrol-turbo/204hp 2.1-litre inline-4 diesel-turbo-electric
GEARBOX: 7-speed automatic

Mercedes' popular executive saloon gets a mid-life update which sees a more conventional headlamp design. New to the range is a 2.0-litre petrol-turbo replacing the older 1.8-litre variation. Diesel-electric hybrid was first previewed in last year's pre-facelift E-class.

Lexus IS250 F-Sport/IS300h

PRICE: 3.99 million/2.99-3.49 million baht
POWER: 204hp 2.5-litre V6 petrol/223hp 2.5-litre inline-4 petrol-electric
GEARBOX: 6-speed automatic/CVT automatic

The third-generation IS gets a more voluptuous appearance and is now available with a hybrid engine for the first time. An upgraded version of that used in the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the IS300h's engine gets direct-injection. The IS300h is an alternative to the likes of the diesel-powered BMW 320d.

Volvo V40 T5

PRICE: 1.68-1.79 million baht
POWER: 213hp 2.0-litre inline-5 petrol-turbo
GEARBOX: 6-speed automatic

Volvo is taking the fight straight to the Mercedes-Benz A250 with the all-new V40 in T5 form. The Swedish five-door hatchback sports a stylish body, safety gimmicks and comfort-oriented cabin.

Hyundai Veloster

PRICE: 1.299 million/1.739 million baht
POWER: 130hp 1.6-litre inline-4 petrol/186hp 1.6-litre inline-4 petrol-turbo
GEARBOX: 6-speed automatic

After surveying the Thai market last year, Hyundai has finally decided to make official imports of the Veloster. The coupe has asymmetrical door openings and a naughty rear design to sway punters needing something different.

BMW ActiveHybrid 7

PRICE: 8.299-8.999 million baht
POWER: 320hp 3.0-litre inline-6 petrol-turbo-electric
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic

BMW is continuing its hybrid offensive with the ActiveHybrid 7. It shares the same drivetrain with the ActiveHybrid 5 but with a lesser 20hp. The semi-electric 7-series comes with the model's recent mid-life cosmetic upgrade.

BMW ActiveHybrid 3

PRICE: 4.199-4.499 million baht
POWER: 340hp 3.0-litre inline-6 petrol-turbo-electric
GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic

The 3-series becomes the third BMW in Thailand to go hybrid by employing the same technical credentials of the ActiveHybrid 5 albeit a more efficient packaging of the lithium-ion batteries in the boot.

Mini Paceman Cooper S

PRICE: 3 million baht (est)
POWER: 184hp 1.6-litre petrol-turbo
GEARBOX: 6-speed automatic

The final body silhouette of today's Mini comes in the guise of a three-door SUV fashioned with a more sloping roofline than in the five-door Countryman. Unique for a Mini is the large Paceman badge on the boot.

Carlsson ML CD25

PRICE: 5.99-6.99 million baht
POWER: 242hp 2.1-litre inline-4 diesel-turbo
GEARBOX: 7-speed automatic

Carlsson has taken the latest ML250 from Mercedes-Benz and tuned the engine by another 38hp. The German car tuner is also offering a host of exterior and interior appointments depending on buyers' requirements.

Techart 981

PRICE: 7.75 million bahtPOWER:  265hp 3.4-litre flat-six petrol
GEARBOX: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic

German after-market firm Techart is dressing up Porsche's latest generation Boxster with bespoke details such as aerodynamic add-ons, wheels, sport seats and steering wheel, as such.