Earlier in March it was reported in The Economist that Singapore is the most expensive city in the world. The news didn't exactly come as a big surprise, with both property prices and car prices rising even further in 2013, the latter as a result of high Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices and increased Additional Registration Fee (tax) on expensive cars.
But just how much more costly is it to own a car in Singapore? The Economist has had its own Big Mac Index around for some time now, so we decided to scour the Internet and assemble our own automotive version.
The car we used was a natural choice: The world's best-selling nameplate, with more than 40-million units shifted globally, and the closest thing to an automotive white good there is - the Toyota Corolla Altis.
With the launch of the new model globally, and it's now the same model sold everywhere else, it's the perfect choice for a study like this.
Earlier in the year another Yahoo story did something broadly similar, but our Toyota Corolla Global Price Index (TCGPI) compares the same good across borders with a much wider scope.
Toyota Corolla Global Price Index**
Country/ Variant /Trim /Local Price SGD Price
Australia 1.8L 7CVT ‘Ascent 4D’ A$25,812 - $30,143.51
Brazil 1.8l 4AT ? R 79,990 - $45,388.09
China* 1.6 4AT ‘G’ RMB 140,800 - $28,582.54
Cuba ??? ? USD40,000 (est) - $50,440.00
Germany 1.6L 7CVT ‘Life’ EUR22,500- $38,949.53
Indonesia 1.6L 7CVT ‘G’ Rp410,000,000 - $45,510.00
Japan* 1.5L 7CVT ‘G’ ¥1,697,143 - $20,741.46
Malaysia 1.8L 7CVT ‘G’ RM 114,015.30 - $43,954.26
Nigeria 1.8L 7CVT ? ₦ 6,000,000 - $46,110.00
USA 1.8L 4AT ‘L’ USD$18,210 - $22,962.81
Singapore 1.6L 7CVT STD - $135,988.00
South Africa 1.6L 7CVT Prestige R252,900 - $30,302.73
Taiwan 1.8L 7CVT Deluxe NT7,260,000 - $30,247.00
Thailand 1.8L 7CVT G B829,000 - $32,147.00
It's no surprise Singapore is still the most expensive place to buy a Toyota Corolla, after all we've been the subject of other stories on our huge car prices. It's enough to buy you a lovely Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG 4MATIC, or half of an SLS AMG Coupe, in the cheapest market, the USA.
Even the strongest contender, Cuba, which according to this Reuters report sees taxes of up to 400 percent on some goods, doesn't come close. According to that story, a second-hand Corolla could cost you $50,440 - in Singapore a six-year old Corolla Altis would cost you the same, and only for four more years at that.
Interestingly, some of the less-developed countries on the list feature higher prices, which is likely due to tax structures and the lack of local production, although Indonesia does have a Toyota factory.
Which brings us back to the fact that the astronomical price hasn't stopped the Corolla from being a strong seller here - CarBuyer understands that at least 400 units have found homes here, which is impressive for a non-premium brand in this sort of climate.
* For China, only the previous model was available. For Japan, the model sold is the Corolla Axio 1.5.
**A few things to note about the TCGPI: This is obviously not meant as a definitive price study. We used prices obtained from official Toyota sites where available, prices quoted differ from country to country as some include insurance, road tax, registration fees etc, and some don't. The same model as Singapore (1.6L CVT) was chosen as far as possible, but not all markets have this model, so the next smallest-capacity engine was chosen. If a 7CVT automatic wasn't available, an equivalent automatic was chosen.