Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Naza Forza

Discuss Naza Forza at SingaporeDrift.com

The Naza Forza is Naza’s latest foray into the high-volume A-segment market and they obviously hope to reverse their fortunes after the ill-fated Sutera failed to get into 5-digit sales after 18 months on the market. But what is it exactly?

First of all, it’s got an Italian name, unlike the rest of Naza’s offerings which have had specifically Malaysian names in the past. It’ll be launched today but Shannon Teoh was part of a media sneak to Port Dickson recently to find out exactly what sort of pizza Naza is baking with their latest car.

More after the jump, including the new price and warranty/service package.

Naza Forza

Once you see it, it’ll definitely look familiar and Naza made no secret of the fact that the Naza Forza is basically a Sutera facelift. The highlighted exterior changes include an even weirder front signal lamp but better looking rear bumper, front and rear lamps.

Inside, the Naza Forza has a new colour scheme, meter panel and seat trim and the first technical change you’ll notice is a Blaupunkt CD/MP3 unit instead of the integrated audio on the Sutera. Simply put, it’s a better unit.

This is the first step in what Naza hopes will rebrand the sedate Naza Sutera into the funky Naza Forza. The new target market is a buyer who is young with a low-income, looking for a first car or a mature buyer getting a second car for the kids. Hence, Naza’s tagline, ‘the fun car for fun people’.

But sound system aside, it’s hard to get away from the thought that “it’s the same bloody car.” And it is the same. Which unfortunately includes the same seating position which always leaves you either too close to the pedals or too far from the gearstick, the same shaky fitment and the same engine.

Naza Forza

Which wasn’t bad at all for a 1,075cc unit. Mated to the 5-speed manual ‘box, it gave the same elasticity in torque as the Naza Sutera, with 88Nm coming in between 3,000-3,500rpm. The result was that 3rd gear was a comfortable ratio once above 20km/h, making this a very capable city car, what with its small dimensions (only 3,633mm long and 1,563mm wide not including wing mirrors – which are electrical but slightly wonky) and 50km/h is good enough to engage 5th, so you can cruise comfortably on the trunk roads too.

Which is relevant since Naza thinks you might want to take this to balik kampung once in awhile. So it was a pleasant surprise to see the Naza Sutera hitting 170km/h on the highway with just 64hp - albeit downhill - but on my car, the area between 100-110 produced a juddering steering wheel.

The ride feels better than on the Sutera, if not the handling, as on some twisty trunk roads on the Sepang-Lukut trunk road, the only way it could keep up with a 206 Bestari filled with four passengers was to cut into the opposing lane.

Naza Forza

There’s exciting and then there’s frightening. The skinny tyres on new six-spoke 14” rims can hardly keep itself planted on the road as the car leans out at corners although, I’m not sure if I could tell how far the tyres were giving way since the steering wasn’t exactly the most conversant on earth.

Yet despite this, the car feels better put together – better NVH for sure. Information on technical changes to the internal workings were not given to us, although the question was asked by yours truly.

Perhaps they just want to keep it simple, like how they’re naming the colours. No more two word names like Fusion Green and Onyx Black, the colour words have been dropped, leaving us with names like Amber, Satin and Atlantic, although the exception to the rule is Gun Metal, which is as expected a kind of grey.

But in fact, it just complicates things, because I’m sure that at the showroom, they’re just going to say green, or black or blue. But let’s give Naza the benefit of the doubt and say that they can pull off this rebranding exercise. Then at least, the choice of changing the marketing base colour from blue to, uhh, Fusion, at least gives the Naza Forza a sprightlier outlook. This shade of green, Naza claims, represents the young and growing consumer and also an environmentally conscious one, as they claim the Naza Forza is very fuel efficient. Once again, no technicals were given but on our roughly 200km drive, less than half the 40-litre tank was used, which is good given the pace we were driving at and the jams we had to contend with in KL and Lukut but still, not astounding.

Forza means forward but whether that’ll be the case for Naza depends on the pricing which should be released during the launch. As of now, the RM36,218 OTR figure for the Sutera is the mark to beat. If that price couldn’t sway customers then, it probably won’t now, despite overall improvements. It’s a lot to ask, but dipping below the RM35,000 mark will probably eat significantly into the Perodua Viva’s sales performance.

UPDATE: The new OTR price for the Naza Forza is RM37,999 OTR with insurance. It comes with a 3-year warranty along with 2 years of free service.

Naza Forza

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