When it comes to family cars, most people in our country tend to go for the Toyota Allion and Premio that have now saturated our market. But is that all? Is there no competitor that can possibly outshine our national daily drivers at their own game? Let’s find out.
In this comparison, we have our ever popular daily driver for Bangladesh, the Toyota Premio. We are featuring a Premio, but both the Allion and Premio are exactly the same cars minus the looks, mainly the front end and rear end. Other than that, mechanically, they are exactly identical. Think Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86. On the other side, we have the Mazda Axela, a global favorite when it comes to being a daily driver, and can be found for a similar price range to the Premio. So then, both are priced near about the same, but they are vastly different. Can the Axela prove to be better than the tried and tested Premio/Allions that have gained the trust of local consumers throughout Bangladesh?
The Customer Base
The two cars compete almost directly as midsize family sedans. 4 doors, front wheel drive and provide good fuel economy. It is meant for being a good, daily commuter people who have to commute to and from different places in the city regularly, but can also perform well in out of city journeys, i.e. on the highway. The cars have adequate space, good storage and are relatively fuel efficient. The Mazda is more stylish, and will cater to younger buyers who want to look hip. The Allion and Premio goes with everyone, and is a more “mature” look if you will. Regardless, if you are a car buyer looking for options that are under or around 30 lacs, these should be your top contenders in the reconditioned market.
The Allion/Premio (NZT260)
Tried and tested, these cars can be found everywhere around Dhaka. This generation has been around since 2007, and has gone through two facelifts, one in 2011 and another in 2016 where both cars (Premio/Allion) received an overall front end and rear end, as well as interior makeover. For this test, we will be referring to the 2016 and newer models, to match our price range most realistically. These cars have been around for ages, and have sold in boatloads. Parts are available, and most local mechanics, at this point, know the ins and outs of how to work on one of these. Now, let’s go on with the specs.
These cars come with a 1500cc 4-cylinder engine, with a CVT transmission which makes 109 horsepower and 110lb/ft of torque. The new facelift comes with a better interior, and is overall a much safer car with the introduction of “Safety Sense C”, Toyotas new collision avoiding system. The styling is much improved as well, taking inspiration from the S210 Toyota Crown
The Mazda 3/Axela
The Mazda Axela, known as the Mazda 3 in other parts of the world and sold as the Axela in Japan, has been a world favorite for being a realiable and comfortable daily driver. The generation in question has been in production since 2013 until 2018, when a new generation was adopted. Two engine variants are readily available in our market, the 1500cc SkyActiv engine and the 2000cc SkyActiv-G Hybrid Engine. Both are priced around the same mark, but an equivalent Hybrid unit will be more expensive. Thanks to the tax structure for Hybrid cars, the 2.0 Hybrid is comparatively much more affordable compared to other 2000cc cars. The 1.5 litre engine makes about 99horsepowers, and the more powerful hybrid engine makes 134 horsepower. Both engines are very fuel efficient, making them great offerings for our country.
The most important aspect of having a daily driver is interior space. Now, it comes down to the individual and what suits their needs. The Allion/Premio duo is arguably roomier compared to the Axela, with much better leg room and head room for the rear passengers. Getting in and out of the car is easier too if you are on the bigger side. For the people on the taller side, say above 6 feet, the rear seats are quite a tight fit, but the front driver’s and passenger seats have ample room. That is not to say the Axela is bad, however. It has a very nicely laid out interior, and has more options such as cruise control, lane departure warning and blind spot assistance. The infotainment system is also far better than its competitor, with really good speakers from factory and a smooth and responsive unit, as well as an easy navigation layout and Bluetooth connectivity. The interior of the Axela is more driver focused, which does make it more cramped than its competitor. The Premio is more consumer focused, i.e catered more towards passenger comfort than driving dynamics.
In terms of driving dynamics, the Axela is superior. Which car suits your needs most depends entirely on the type of commuting you do. If you drive the car yourself, the Axela is the one to have. Like most people in Dhaka, if you are chauffeured around for the most part, it makes sense to opt for the Allion and Premio duo, as the rear seats are roomier. The Axela 1.5 and the Allion Premio, in terms of acceleration are pretty similar, both taking around 11 seconds to reach 100km/h from 0, although the Premio outshines the lower displacement Axela after a certain speed. But a 1.5 Axela is also significantly cheaper than a Premio/Allion. Better matching with the price is the 2 litre hybrid option (pictured), and a 2015 model can be had for around the same price as a 2016 Allion. The hybrid option is quite fuel efficient, averaging around 12 km/l inside Dhaka City. The Allion Premio duo gets slightly less than that in real terms, around 8/9 km/l. Although there are different people who claim to get more or less mileage on average, these numbers are derived from multiple people who drive these cars daily. The Axela hybrid accelerates from 0-100km/h in slightly over 8.5 seconds, which is quicker than its competitor. In terms of handling and being fun to drive, the Axela far outshines the Premio with a much better steering feel; light, but agile and accurate and significantly less body roll than an Allion or Premio. What you get in driving dynamics, you give up in comfort, and although the Allion/Premio duo has a much more comfortable ride, the Axela is far more fun to drive which allows us to justify this small sacrifice.
Depending on what you need, and what you want out of a car, both are awesome vehicles to choose. The Axela looks better with sharper styling, and it also grabs your attention as Allions and Premios are dime a dozen and can be seen everywhere. The Axela is monumentally more fun to drive, and the hybrid version does well in city traffic with its fuel efficiency and punchy torque on the low end. However, the Allion Premio is also a great buy if you need a dependable daily driver to be chauffeured around in as the interior comfort is far better, even though the design is very rudimentary both inside and out. Pick your poison, but given the choice, I would take an Axela any day of the week.