The Company Car - issue 09/1971
Five-door hatchback cars with FWD and a lenght of approx. 3,8 meters and a weight of under a ton are the future, at least it looks that way studying the manufacter’s portfolio. So why shouldn’t they find their way into your fleet? Their practicality is definitely a pro, as well as their rather economical size. Today we compare the
FAAL Mesaia 1.6 CL,
not even half a year available at your local dealership in its MK3 version, to the
CMT Nexus 1.4 C,
not even officially on sale yet, although we managed to get a dealer’s car today, so production must have started some days ago. GL means a mid-trim Mesaia, while the C is the entry-level Nexus model.
The Faal is some 20 kilogram heavier (921) and a few centimeters longer than the CMT, but significantly wider. A fact you acutally can not notice in the interior, strange as both are five-seaters. The CMT feels less cramped in the rear seats, as the cargo area is real short, the body is more wagon-like than the FAAL.
The interior in the FAAL has a standard level with a basic AM radio that sounds not that good, luckily you do not have to turn the volume up that much, as the engine is very quiet. In the CMT you will find exactly the same, with the difference that its engine is much louder and dominates the cabin noise.
The CMT carries respectable 344 Liters cargo (total volume: 1260L), but 308 kg load capacity are not impressive. The FAAL is able to handle 700 kg, a very impressive amount, and 587 liter cargo, but sacrificing rear seating room.
A good reason for both cars is the standard power steering, increasing the driving safety as well as their dashboards using soft materials. The steering wheels are designed to bend in case of an accident, and sharp plastic parts that cut your skin in half are eleminated where it is possible by todays standards. Both cars even offer layered crumble-glass.
DRIVE & FEEL
Although both offer the same performance on the paper (14 seconds to 100 kph, 150 kph top speed) the CMT feels a lot faster than it is. The reason is the impressive throttle response, especially compared to the FAAL the CMT feels like it can read your mind even before you press the pedal. It is not even nervous - just responsive. This can not be said for the FAAL that feels like a tired senior. On a twisty road the FAAL reveals its terrible understeering. dangerous in wide and fast corners that become suddenly narrow. We even refuse to call this an actual handling. The CMT tends to understeer as well, but behaves much more neutral, controllable even in difficult corners without needing to brake - it is often enough to lift the gas. The difference is not comprehensible as both share the same contemporary suspension layout and even having the same weight distribution 63/37.
Even the brake layout is the same, but here the cars recieve almost identical results on a pretty good level, with a slight advantage for the CMT.
When it comes to effortless commuting, the FAAL sets itself apart from the CMT. The engine is overall more quiet, and the gearing of the transmission (both come with standard four-speed manual) is longer, revving less than 3000 rpm at 100 kph highway speed.
COST & ECONOMY
The CMT needs even the same amount of fuel per 100 kilometers, being thrifty with a consumption of 10,5 liter, but annual maintenance costs are $ 30 higher, mainly the fault of its complex mechanical fuel injection system while FAAL uses a rather simple carburetor system. As these cars are contemporary in many ways, they manage to run on 91 RON unleaded fuel, although it is not mandatory yet. But it is hard to understand why the CMT with a 200ccm smaller engine and injection accellerating the same mass is not thriftier. Yes, the basic engine design is a 1964 carryover while FAAL uses a completely new engine, but the variant is all-new for 1971.
So far, so good - looks like there is no real winner - until you calculate the price. Fleet purchases are mainly a question of the price tag, and the FAAL is yours for a 7.666 $ - not too much for a city car with decent utility. The CMT requires a hefty 10.000 $ to add your company’s fleet - too much even for a modern hatchback, mainly a fault of the use of fuel injection and rust-resistant materials both for chassis and sheetmetal. Those engineer’s quirks are a boon for enthusiasts, but for a preferably as-cheap-and-simple-as-possible fleet car that needs to last at maximum five years until it’s written off those things are a rather unpopular choice.
If you plan to keep your car as long as possible AND you put emphasis on fun and handling, the CMT Nexus 1.4 C is definitely the better choice. The rest may be better off with the new FAAL Mesaia 1.6 GL.