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Goodbye electric vehicle tax waiver, hello petrol burners; five options for Hong Kong’s drivers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 9:31am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 9:31am

Electric cars became more expensive in Hong Kong on April 1, giving car buyers cause for a rethink. When the government capped first registration tax waivers on EVs, at HK$97,000, (US$12,484) it arguably gave local drivers a licence to guzzle gas, guilt-free, and in less expensive cars. So, here are five fossil-fuelled alternatives you can rev instead.

Decision to cut Hong Kong’s electric vehicle tax waiver is ‘backwards’ and sends wrong message, critics say

Due to the new tax system, the option-free price of the new Tesla X SUV has risen from HK$700,000 to over HK$1.2 million, which is enough to send EV refugees across Queen’s Road East to the comfort of Infiniti Hong Kong. Its plush QX70S 3.7 AWD (HK$569,800) is one of the most opulent crossovers in town, with black lacquer or maple trim and a neat eight-inch colour touch screen. It also has a paddle shift, a power tailgate; lane departure, stability and drift warning electronics, and an around-view monitor for parking.

The QX70S 3.7 AWD also brings you back to big pistons, with a seductive 315hp V6 that has been one of Ward’s Best 10 engines for 14 consecutive years. The V6 consumes 12.1 litres per 100km and emits 282g/km in CO2, with a seven-speed automatic transmission. You look and feel rich in the stylish QX70S, and its doors are less flashy than the Tesla’s.

The cost of the popular Tesla Model S has also risen, from HK$620,000 to about HK$1.03 million. The new sticker makes the Tesla seem expensive and boosts the appeal of the new BMW 5 Series 530iA. Available in Sport (HK$739,000) and Luxury (HK$789,000) versions, the 530iA looks sleeker than ever with sharp LED headlights on 17-inch wheels. The Bavarian saloon also has the vroom of a 252-horsepower, two-litre engine that produces 350 Newton metres of torque for sprints to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h. Its four-cylinder engine consumes 5.5 litres per 100km on combined runs or about 4.7 litres per 100km in town on a 68-litre tank, however, and the marque says its carbon dioxide emissions range between 136-126g/km.

The plug-in Tesla Model S 75D, on the other hand, tonnes in 5.4 seconds and is theoretically “emissions free”, but the seventh-generation 5 Series reminds EV lovers of three traditional driving pleasures: of a car that goes “vroom”; of the cachet of saying: “I drive a 5 Series BMW”; and of stepping into a cabin that is built around the driver’s “head-up” view of the road, not an “head across or down” 17-inch touch screen.

The BMW 13 94Ah was arguably the finest EV in town. Unfortunately, the 170hp Bavarian plug-in’s local price has rocketed from a subsidised “try-me-and-see” HK$451,000 to a potentially prohibitive HK$677,000. There is consolation in the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, however, which is as comfortable, stylish and more affordable at HK$399,900.

The front-wheel-drive e-tron is also a sophisticated hybrid car with a fabulous downsized 150hp 1.4-litre TFSI engine and a combined petrol-electric power of 204hp. It tonnes in 7.6 seconds and tops at 222km/h via a six-speed Stronic transmission on petrol and electric. On electric alone it tops at 130km/h and ranges for about 25km (say from Fo Tan to Central via Route 3). Comfy inside with Audi Drive Select, lots of safety electronics and a seven-inch MMI display. Audi Hong Kong says it averages 1.7 litres per 100km. If so, then Audi introduces Hongkongers gently into plug-in driving at a more affordable price.

Renault Hong Kong has sold its 240km-range Zoe ZE compacts, and lists – but does not present – its latest 400km-range replacement. This was stickered at HK$360,000 but is now hiked to “about HK$400,000” – if one exists in Hong Kong. In the meantime, Mazda dealers Vang Iek Motors offers the 155hp, two-litre Mazda CX-3 i-Plus, which has fine all-round views and lots of space for fat and tall people. It also seems one of the best-value cars on Gloucester Road, this week. For HK$274,900, the i-Plus has the marque’s I-Activesense active safety electronics and lots of extras such as a power sunroof, paddle shifts and a Bose sound system. Its two-litre engine consumes 6.1 litres per 100km and thrusts 204Nm.

The Volkswagen e-Golf also starred at October’s Hong Kong ePrix and is still listed by the marque at HK$369,980, but the dealer has “no further information” on its post-April 1 price. Instead, have a look at the Honda Jazz 1.5 RS (HK$200,880), with a seven-speed continuous variable transmission, lots of safety and hill start assist, rear-parking camera and sensors.

The interior is also roomy and with variable seating space for a bike or lie-down space for two. This 130hp Jazz looks ideal for people who make sales calls or show flats in Hong Kong. A similar car in Singaporeemits 127g/km, according to SGCarmart.com. It might be fuggier than the late e-Golf, but in Hong Kong, these days, it’s cheaper to spew.

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