Monday, January 21, 2008

Proton Saga 2008 Review

Twenty-two years, by any measure, is a pretty long time, especially for the Internet generation. Now, if you consider that timeframe to be a saleable lifespan of a vehicle, then that duration becomes nothing short of phenomenal.

A new saga begins.Good or bad depends on how you look at it, but there’s no denying one thing – 22 years of producing a car, with little in the way of change through the years, is an achievement.

That, of course, is how long (well, 23 years, if you want to count the prototype) the original national car, the Proton Saga, has been around in the market.

Sterling in silver.This then, is the one that started it all, the car that put Malaysia on the roadmap as a country that manufactures automobiles.

Good, clean lines, indeed.When it arrived in the showrooms on July 9, 1985 in its initial four-door sedan guise, the Saga became the centre of motoring attention in the country.

People swamped all over the first examples on the road, intrigued and curious at the new offering, and despite the fact that under all the marketing hype the vehicle was essentially a redressed Mitsubishi Lancer F, there was no shortage of pride, of achievement, of having arrived.

There's gonna be plenty on the roads.A car for the people, for everyone, so it went. And the marketing played that aspect to the hilt. One of the more vivid memories I have of the car at that time was the TV commercial made in Cantonese of the "people’s hero car."
The Saga sold, and did it ever. In no time at all, Proton had captured 43% of the market share in its debut year. The following year, the car accounted for 60% of sales in the domestic passenger car sales.

Tail's nice and tight too.For the next two decades, the pioneer continued to ply its trade, from flag-bearer to workhorse, selling more than one million examples along the way.
It soldiered on, at times valiantly, through all its inherent limitations and flaws that were exposed and amplified by time and by newer cars, simply because it offered the buying public a car – with a boot – on the cheap. That it has until today continued to sell around 4,000 examples a month says it all.

Quite capable of gymnastics. Somewhat.Now, it’s time to say goodbye to a national icon. Yes, say farewell to the Proton Saga, and wave hello to its replacement, the Proton Saga.
Launched by the Prime Minister earlier today, the new entry-level offering is aimed at first-time buyers and customers looking for a replacement or additional car.

Unfettered interior doesn't look cheap.In short, it is very much a people’s car, like its predecessor. Developed in a record time of 17 months, this is the vehicle that Proton is looking at to regain ground in the marketplace, particularly in the B-segment area.
The four-door sedan can be considered a handsome replacement, displaying clean, unfettered lines; it’s a conventional enough, simple looking design that should stand up to time (and no, it isn’t expected to serve for two decades, so says its maker) and enjoy wide, mass market appeal.

Yes, plenty clean enough.In terms of overall size, it’s shorter, but wider and taller than the outgoing car, but there are key areas in which space is gained and efficiently mustered.
This, of course, would be in the interior, which measures in at 1947mm long, 1355mm wide and 1210mm tall, making it marginally wider, longer and infinitely taller than its predecessor.

What's to be found on the driver's side door card ... The cabin features class leading front headroom and legroom, ahead even of the immediate competition (the Myvi and Viva), though these nick the figures game from the Saga in the area of rear headroom (the Myvi) and rear legroom (the Viva).
Still, when it comes to boot space, the new Saga is well ahead of everything else in its price segment, offering a very healthy 413l of luggage volume capacity.

Now with IAFM ...As for interior trim and quality, the plastics are as good as can be expected of an entry-level offering. It isn’t completely tactile to the touch, but it isn't cheap looking; visually, there is nothing to complain about for this price.
The dashboard and console is efficient in presentation, and there’s no shortage of cubby holes and storage compartments, especially drink holders – two cup holders at the front and one at the rear, along with two rear bottle holders means everyone gets a slot.

Alloys come only with the M-Line.Three model lines make up the new Saga range, these being the entry level E-Line, base B-Line and M-Line, which despite its medium underpinnings, offers the highest level of specification and trim available. For the E-Line, only a manual drivetrain is available, but the rest of the line-up feature auto and manual variants.
Some quick notes on equipment levels. Power steering is standard across the entire model range, as is a two-speaker, single-disc Clarion CD receiver audio system (the M-Line gets an additional two front speakers). An alarm system is standard issue on B- and M-Line variants, but there's none to be had with the E-Line.

Automatic for the people.The entry and base line models come shod with 13-inch steel wheels and 175/70 R13 tyres, while the medium line version gets alloy wheels and 185/60 R14 rubbers. The car sits on front MacPherson struts and a torsion beam axle rear, and brakes are front discs and rear drums.
In terms of safety features, only the M-Line variant gets a single driver’s side airbag and seatbelt pretensioner. It would have been nice to see ABS available in the higher spec’d models across the range; while not anywhere close to being a deal clincher, it's still a bit of a contentious point for the safety conscious.

Quite the trick, the centre console.A single powerplant is featured throughout the range, and this is the 1.3l CAMPRO twin-cam block, though here it is fitted with a new Intake Air-Fuel Module (IAFM), which eliminates the torque dip that is common to the CAMPRO engine in the 3,500-4,000rpm range.

The result is a more linear and progressive power delivery, and in use, this also translates to improved pick-up and feel, smoother low-to-mid-speed transitions and crisper gear changes, among others.

Available in manual form too, of course.Output figures on call are 94bhp at 6,000rpm and a maximum torque of 120Nm at 4,000rpm, with the rated maximum speed listed as 160kmh for the manual and 155kmh for the auto.
As for the fuel consumption figures, something that is coming into great importance these days, the claimed figures are 6.0l for 100km for the manual, and 6.3l for the auto, though these are rated at a consistent running speed of 90kmh.

The only one, but it's definitely not a slug.At a media preview earlier in the week preceding the launch, there was an opportunity to get to grips with the new Saga, both in manual and auto form. The drive time, as is the usual with such previews, was relatively limited, but provided enough of a teaser into the workings of the car.
It’s certainly likeable enough from a drive perspective. The throttle response is a bit slow, but generally the car can be considered peppy, with decent pace and speed extension once you get going, and it displays good composure and poise running past expressway speeds.

This one is Chilli Red.The cabin is fairly well insulated, though the engine can get slightly raucous at higher operating speeds, and the manual shifter is more than a bit rubbery in feel.
On the whole though, this is obviously a product that has had some thought put into it, and structurally it feels well put together; there was enough to suggest that from a comfort level, it looks as if it should offer its occupants enough in the way of ease in mid- to long haul runs.

They've done a neat job, they have. Kudos where it's due!Finally, we come to the bottom line, which are the prices. The new Saga line-up begins at RM31,500 for the E-Line (manual only). The B-Line manual is priced at RM34,998, while the auto goes for RM37,998. The M-Line manual and auto versions go for RM37,498 and RM39,998 respectively (all on-the-road, with insurance).

Seven colour choices are available, these being Solid White, Metallic Black, Granite Gray, Genetic Silver, Chilli Red, Mountain Blue and Zircon Green. These are featured across the range for the B- and M-Line versions; the E-Line variant is available only in Solid White.

And so, a new dawn arrives ...Of note is the level of customer protection on offer – the new Saga is the first Proton model to offer a three-year manufacturer warranty or 100,000km, plus a two-year extended warranty package.

With 4,000 pre-launch orders registered for the vehicle, it’s quite a promising start for the new Saga. Clearly, it won’t have the same initial impact or numbers and certainly, not the length of production as its predecessor.

But as a successor to bear the name and wear the mantle of being the new folks’ wagon, it should do very nicely.

Toyota Exploring Ultracheap Car

The world's two largest automakers are working on ultracheap cars to sell in emerging markets and possibly compete with the US$2,500 subcompact unveiled recently by India's Tata Motors Ltd - but whether they can match the price remains in question.

During the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, top executives from General Motors Corp and Toyota Motor Corp said their companies' engineers are working on low-cost vehicles similar to Tata's Nano.

"There is a huge market for low-cost/price vehicles," Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said.

Cheap, and most importantly, the first.Such a vehicle would have to meet Toyota quality standards, Watanabe said, and building a car to sell for US$2,500 might be difficult.
"To do that properly is very important," he said.

GM has bolstered its engineering staff in India to around 1,000 and also has been working on a low-cost car in other parts of the world, Jim Queen, group vice president of global engineering, told The Associated Press in an interview.

GM's Chinese mini-vehicle joint venture, SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co, already is building a car that sells for around US$3,500, Queen said, calling the Tata vehicle an impressive way of meeting demand in emerging countries.

"I want to keep learning more about it," Queen said. "We've got a lot of, I'll call it technical work, that's been under way for some time in order to achieve a vehicle in that class."
Queen said GM could match the Tata vehicle, but it needs to better understand the business case for it before rolling one out.

"We are working on our lower-cost architecture to try to see if we can come up with lower-cost versions," GM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner told reporters.

Also available with more upmarket trim.GM engineers in the US and Europe have difficulty understanding the market for such a car, said Queen, who has visited India several times. Functional transportation, he said, is important in India, where parents often travel clogged roads, taking several children with them on bicycles or scooters.

"It's just so different than what you would see in mature markets," he said. "So you begin to appreciate such a bare bones - and not that US$2,500 is completely bare bones. But air conditioning? Who cares? Power windows? Who cares? I've got a little bit of structure around me, I'm shielded from the elements a little bit, and it gets me from point A to point B."

Such a small car could bridge the gap in an emerging country such as India from its current transportation system to more expensive cars as wealth increases, Queen said.
Watanabe said that last year he drove an early prototype of Toyota's low-cost vehicle but said it wasn't at a stage where he could give the go-ahead for production.

The cheapest new car currently sold in the US is a version of the 2007 Chevrolet Aveo at US$9,995, according to

The basic Nano, the world's cheapest car, is expected to roll off assembly lines later this year. It will sell for 100,000 rupees, or about US$2,500, but analysts estimate customers could pay 20 to 30% more to cover taxes, delivery and other charges.

Company Chairman Ratan Tata, who introduced the car at India's main auto show, long has promised a US$2,500 "People's Car" for India - a country of 1.1bil where only seven of every 1,000 people own a car. That vow has been derided by a global industry that said it would be impossible without sacrificing safety and quality.

The basic version has no radio, passenger-side mirror, central locking or power steering, and only one windshield wiper. Air conditioning is available only in deluxe models.

The Nano has a two-cylinder 600cc gasoline engine with 33bhp, giving it a top speed of about 60mph, according to Tata. It gets 50mpg.

For now the car will be sold only in India, but Tata said it hopes to export it to developing nations across Asia, Latin America and Africa in two or three years.

The emergence of the Nano has fueled a host of concerns, including that more drivers on the roads will cause greater pollution and increase the demand for fuel. - AP

New Proton Saga 2008 (Launched Jan 2008)

Photo galleries for All New 2008 Proton Saga

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Toyota Altis 2008 (March)

A teaser button on UMW Toyota Motor’s website leads to a registration page where you can sign up for updates on the new Toyota Corolla Altis, which according to the page will be launched sometime in March 2008.

No other details about the car is revealed, so we’ll have to keep guessing at the moment what different trim level and specifications we will be getting on Malaysian soils, but a good guess would be a line-up that is similiar to the Thai line-up, which is also unrevealed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Volvo New Twin Clutch Powershift

Volvo joins the ranks of car manufacturers with twin clutch gearboxes, made extremely popular by Volkswagen with their BorgWarner DSG. Volvo’s twin clutch transmission is a 6-speed unit called Powershift.

Powershift is a wet clutch gearbox, with one clutch for the odd gears and reverse gear, while the other clutch handles the even gears. Like other twin clutch systems, the next gear is preselected so upshifts can be done nearly instantly, giving a continuous flow of power without disruption because of gear changes.

The first production Volvo cars to be fitted with the Powershift transmission will be the 136hp, 320Nm 4-cylinder turbodiesel variants of the Volvo C30, S40 and V50.

Ford Verve Sedan

Ford’s new Ford Verve Sedan Concept has been updated in its Detroit 2008 incarnation, and now features a new front fascia with a larger upper grille and new “more conservative” taillamps, if such a term could ever be used for a concept vehicle.

Ford confirms that North America will receive a new series of small cars as even the gas-guzzling American market is slowly moving towards small and fuel efficient cars now, rather than the likes of Lincoln Navigators. The first of the small cars will be a 4-door sedan based on this concept.

The new small cars are targetted at folks whom Ford calls “Mellennials”. These “Millenials” are a group of people aged 13 to 28 years, and will represent 28% of the US total population by 2010. They embrace eco-friendliness stay in constant touch using modern technology and demand best-in-class products from around the world.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nitrous Injction Kits

Nitrous injection kits Nitrous has many names, the most popular is NoS which is actually a brand. Dinitrous Monoxide is the chemical name but for the purpose of this article we shall refer to it as nitrous. We will explore how it works and the various setup options available and see what this does for performance.

We understand that an engine needs oxygen in order to burn fuel. We also know that colder air carries more oxygen than warmer air. Nitrous is a highly flammable gas releasing oxygen as it burns. This property make it ideal for the explosive power requirements of drag racing.

An added benefit is that nitrous cools the air charge allowing even more oxygen into the engine. Obviously when you have more oxygen you will need to balance this up by using more fuel. The aim then is to match the fuelling with the extra oxygen released when nitrous is introduced into an engine.

Installation is relatively simple and you can choose from various configurations. One adds the nitrous into the intake manifold along side the fuel injectors, alternatively it can be introduced between the air filter and intake manifold. The latter is sprayed into air so is referred to as a dry system, the former is mixed with fuel and is referred to as a wet system.

Under current UK legislation you are not able to run a car with 2 forms of fuel and nitrous is classified as a fuel. Most insurers will also only cover cars if the nitrous is disabled for road use. So nitrous injection is the preserve of the track and drag strip.

Nitrous refills are a hidden cost. Although medical nitrous seems similar it is worth noting that automotive nitrous has some very nasty additives and must not be inhaled. You can however use medical grade nitrous in car engine. Medical nitrous is called laughing gas and this where we get the drag term "Funny cars" from.

Nitrous should only be used in short bursts at full throttle. The amount of power you get depends on the jet size you select. Most cars will handle a 25bhp shot easily. Some turbo and larger engined cars can run with 50 bhp and 75bhp shots.

It is a good idea to have a fogger which vents nitrous to the outside of a car. This is a good way of clearing the nitrous lines. Starting an engine filled with nitrous is asking for trouble so if you have triggered your nitrous whilst the car is stationary with the engine off YOU MUST ENSURE that the engine is free of Nitrous BEFORE starting it.

source from

Monday, January 14, 2008

World Fastest 0-100km/h

It’s time to say bye bye Veyron, or Barabus TKR or Venom 1000, or any other car that was belived to be the fastest in the world! And the one what can beat them is not a new model, but a 1972 one. And this car is really fast: 0 to 60 mph in just 1 second! So question: if this is not fast then what is?

Andy Frost from England has transformed his 1972 Voxel Vectra into the world’s fastest car and it is even street legal. Powered by a 9.3 litre V8 engine the car has an amazing output of 2200 hp which rockets the car from 0 to 60 in just 1 second.
The car can beat not only the Veyron, but also the McLaren F1 by a huge margin as it covers a quarter mile in 7.8 seconds where as the F1 takes 11.1 seconds.

World's Fastest Cars

One of the measures of sporting performance that’s rarely used but highly relevant when measuring extreme automotive performance is the zero to 100mph and back to zero time. It incorporates both acceleration to a suitably ridiculous speed and braking from that speed to the safety of standstill again and it’s more of a guide to sporting prowess than simple standing start quarter mile times. Each year in the U.K., the world’s oldest motoring magazine runs the fastest cars against each other using this test and this year there has been a new entrant which has wiped the floor with all others. Not surprisingly, given that it has a 987bhp 16-cylinder engine and a top speed of 400 kmh, the UKP 880,000 Bugatti Veyron has blitzed everything else on four wheels by a massive margin – what is surprising is that it has also blitzed a credible representative of the fastest of the two wheel brigade as well, managing to beat a Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike by nearly a full second. Read on for the complete list of the times by 25 of the world’s fastest cars, from the 14th placed UKP79,995 Aston Martin V8 Vantage to the second-placed UKP34,995 Ariel Atom.

The Veyron wasn’t necessarily the favourite to win as “a low weight tends to be the key to a good 0-100-0mph car," said Autocar’s road test editor Adam Towler. "Cars like the Ariel Atom and Caterham Superlight historically dominate this contest." See the 2004 times here and the 2005 video here.

But the 1890kg £880,000 Bugatti ripped through the gears to hit 60mph in 2.8sec and 100mph in an astonishing 5.5sec. It then stopped in just 3.4sec, giving a 0-100-0mph time of 9.9sec.
Not only is the Bugatti faster than the Suzuki, it creates more g-force at maximum acceleration than you’d experience in an F-16 jet fighter at take off or when skydiving.

But the lightweights still turned in an impressive performance, from the relatively unknown £32k Brooke Double R in fourth place to the £35k Ariel Atom 300 in second.

"Although the Veyron is undoubtedly the quickest road car ever, you can still have nearly as much fun for much less money," said Adam Towler. "It’s good to see British sports cars doing so well against such an impressive machine as the Bugatti."

Autocar also brought along an A1 GP car, driven by Brit Robbie Kerr, to see how a purpose-built race car would compare with road-going machinery. The 550bhp single seater weighs just 695kg, and proved to be the fastest vehicle on the day with a 0-100-0mph time of 8.4sec.
Competing Cars 0-100-0 Time (seconds)

A1 GP 8.40 Bugatti Veyron 9.90 Suzuki GSX-R1000 10.70 Ariel Atom S'Charged 11.00 Ariel Atom 450 11.05 Atom Private Owned 11.05 Caterham CSR260 11.95 Brooke Double R 12.50 Porsche 911 Turbo 12.50 Ford Focus WRC 13.57 Lambo Gallardo 13.65 Ascari KZ1 13.80 Corvette Z06 13.80 Alpina B6 14.80 BMW M6 14.95 TVR Tuscan 2 15.00 BMW M5 15.20 Audi RS4 15.80 Aston V8 Vantage 15.81 BMW Z4M Roadster 15.95 Porsche Cayman S 16.46 Lotus Exige S 16.60 Nissan 350Z 18.80 Vauxhall Astra Sprint 18.85 Vauxhall Astra VXR 19.05 Renault Megane F1 20.55 Mazda 6MPS 21.00 Ford Focus ST 21.35 Vauxhall Vectra VXR 22.35 Vauxhall Astra Thurlby 22.65

2008 Honda Accord Sedan Test Drive at Tochigi R&D

A group of Malaysian journalists visited the Honda R&D center in Tochigi, Japan during the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, courtesy of Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd. The R&D center visit was very interesting indeed, as we got to witness a real life crash test between the new 2008 Honda Accord and the new third generation Honda CR-V.

The main highlights of the R&D center visit for me were the test drives. You’ve already read about one of the cars I drove - the Honda FCX Concept, which has since entered limited production. The other car driven was the new 2008 Honda Accord, in both 2.4 liter and 3.5 liter guise.

The new 2008 Honda Accord looks nothing like an allegedly confused Hyundai in flesh. Think BMW and you’re more on the mark. The car generally looks very eye pleasing with the exception of the crease line on the side of the car - I can’t put my finger down on what’s wrong but I think the line curves in a strangle angle that doesn’t match the rest of the car’s mostly angular body. Styling is a subjective thing.

The test drive car interiors were done up in either a very aesthetically pleasing black, or beige. You sit lower in this new Accord, and the seating position is good. The car’s huge front seats are very comfortable as well and do alot to give you the car’s interior a very luxurious ambiance for the driver.

At a glance, all of the in-car entertainment and climate control functions look very similiar to the previous model, but they appear squashed vertically to be more compact, and all of the controls have been pushed higher up the dashboard. This is presumably to reduce eye and hand movement when the driver needs to adjust controls while driving.

The new 2.4 liter engine puts out 177 horses, about 7 more than the Accord 2.4 facelift currently sold here in our market. It is very smooth, something that most manufacturers lay claim to with their 4-cylinder engines. As our test drive was on a high speed oval, it is hard to say really how the car’s driveline would behave like on our local roads.

The Accord 3.5 liter V6 is delicious - floor it and the Accord rushes off from a stand still with urgency, but sadly if it comes to Malaysia that particular model wouldn’t just share similiar looks with a BMW - it would share a similiar price tag as well. The new 3.5 liter V6 features cylinder deactivation, and when its running on either 3 cylinder or 4 cylinder mode, a green ECO indicator will light up on the meter panel. This the only way for you to know that Variable Cylinder Management is active as the transitions between the cylinder modes are so smooth, you don’t feel anything.

Speaking of meter panels, I was disappointed that the new Accord’s meter panel doesn’t look as “grand” as its predecessor. There is just something about a huge self-illuminating speedo that lights up with crisp clarity during day or night that gives the car an upmarket feel to it, especially since the meter panel is what you’ll be looking at most of the time. The new Accord’s meter cluster consists of two prominent dials with silver rings around them - another homage to BMW?

The new 2008 Honda Accord deals with curves better than the current generation - there is not as much body roll, the steering has more weight, is faster and more responsive. Some of this enhanced driving dynamics are thanks to a lower center of gravity thanks to the 15mm lower floor and the lowering of components like the fuel tank. Again, it’s difficult to judge entirely how the car would act on a curvy B-road as the test track was a high speed oval.

Facelifted Mazda RX8 unveiled at Detroit 2008

Mazda has given the RX8 a mid-life facelift, admittedly while only a mild evolution of the current model, it’s still worth a lookover to see what has changed.

The facelifted Mazda RX8 gets new front and rear bumpers on the outside, as well as new wheels. The chassis has been made more rigid through extra bracing. It also has a new rear suspension geometry. On the inside, the instrument panel now features an RPM meter with a variable red zone, much like what BMW has implemented for their M cars. This redzone starts at a low engine speed when the engine is first started up, and slowly moves up as the engine warms up.

Under the hood, the twin-rotor RENESIS 13B-MSP puts out 232 horsepower with a 6-speed manual transmission (with a new 4.444 ratio, down from 4.777), or 212 horsepower with a 6-speed Sport AT automatic. The engine revs all the way up to a 9,000rpm redline for the manual model, and 7,500rpm for the automatic.

There is an upgrade package called the R3 package which adds a rear spoiler, 19 inch forged aluminium wheels, Recaro seats, Bilstein shocks, a 300-watt Bose audio system, keyless entry and start, side skirts and fog lamps to the new facelifted RX8. The R3 name is a homage to the R1 and R2 packages offered on the RX7 FD.

Buying cars from Parallel Importer (PI)

Buying cars from PI could be a risk. Although PI vehicle can help the buyer to save on few thousand for the exact model of cars, beside, PI like to throw in some freebies that other major car dealer unable to do so. For example, PI car come with more feature than the non-PI cars. These feature could be GPS, auto-side mirror, body-kit, sport seat and many more.

However, consumers need to know the following risk:-
1) PI cars do not come with warranty. Saving few thousands and forgo the 3 years warranty, consumer need to evaluate themselves the level of risk they can accept. For example, you may save $3000 buying a $90000 car, and in the event within three years, your car has any problem, you bear the $90000 risk. Usually PI will mention that they will provide the warranty, but consumer needs to understand that the warranty is provided by PI but not the car manufacturer. It depends on how you trust the word of PI, which in most cases when there are serious engine problem, the issue being brought to CASE. Not to forget that PI can be S$2 company and can close down any time.

2) Long Spare Parts waiting time. All cars sure have spare parts, I agree. But how soon you can get the spare parts? PI may not have capital to carry the parts, and they usually do not have own workshop and even they do, it is quite challenging for them to carry all spare parts to all cars model they selling. So, in the event if you need spare part for your car, you may need for them to order from the manufacturing country (Japan, Europe and etc) to courier the part to Singapore and install for you. I have heard of cases where the consumer need to wait for 1.5 months to get their car windscreen to get replaced.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Perodua Kembara 2 (2008)

Perodua managing director Datuk Syed Hafiz Syed Abu Bakar indicated in a report by The Edge that we will see the launch of the new Perodua Kembara replacement model this year. The new Kembara will logically be based on the new Daihatsu Bego/Toyota Rush, and Perodua targets modest sales of about 300 units per month as they are going to focus on the Viva instead. The Kembara will not be a high volume seller for them.

Just a recap - the Daihatsu Bego or Toyota Rush that the new Perodua Kembara replacement is expected to be based on is powered by a 1.5 liter DVVT engine, similiar to the unit in the Toyota Avanza 1.5. It has a full time all wheel drive system. It first appeared as a concept car called the Daihatsu D-Compact 4X4 Concept.

TaTa NaNo Exterior and Interior Pictures

Here are more photos of the new Tata 1 Lakh Car, the Tata Nano. The photos include some of the car’s interior, which is so basic that its seats do not have reclining functions, and the instrument panel lacks an RPM meter.

The red car in this post with the unpainted black bumper is the basic version, which does not include air conditioning. As you can see, its very basic with steel wheels and etc. The yellow car is the more “luxurious” version, if the word may be stretched this far. It includes alloy wheels, climate control and other features.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mitsubishi .. Hoo Ray !

Now I know why Mitsubishi Evolution X is so attractive.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lexus IS 250 (Malaysia Review)

Discuss @ Forum

Photos by KEVIN TAN

TOYOTA Motor Corp's luxury brand Lexus has done a fine job with the second-generation Lexus IS 250 sports sedan.

It is totally new with styling and looks completely redesigned – a new, bigger and more powerful engine; a more luxurious interior with plush soft leather upholstery; and a chic dashboard and instrumentation.

Taking delivery of the car from its Lexus's swanky Mutiara Damansara headquarters (near IKEA), we were quite taken with the car’s avantgarde looks enhanced by the flowing convex and concave lines which emphasise a sporty image.

Viewed from all angles, the simplicity of its lines are apparent and there are some very European styling cues – evident by the sculptured bonnet and the bold aggressive face when viewed head-on.

But as we made our way to the Damansara-Puchong Highway, what struck us was the silky smooth power delivery of the 205 horses lurking from the 2.5-litre V6 engine.
That smoothness happens to be a hallmark of all Lexus models.

To suit its image of a sports sedan, Toyota has decided to upgrade the engine from the original 2.0litre 155bhp straight-six VVT-i engine to the bigger and more powerful 2.5-litre 205bhp V6 VVT-i engine with the latest Lexus D4 direct-injection technology.

Torque has also gone up from 195Nm to 252Nm at the same 4,800rpm.

This gives the IS 250 the ability to clock 8.4 seconds 0-100kph and a top speed of 225kph.
Surprisingly, at 1,500kg, it is no heavier than the earlier model and the use of lightweight materials has come into play. These include a die-cast aluminium cylinder block and intake manifold as well as a resin composite intake chamber.

Consistent theme: The dashboard falls in line with the style of other Lexus models.Also, the overall engine assembly is made lighter and more compact through the installation of the water and oil pumps within the chain cover.

To keep engine vibration and noise low, the engine mounts are liquid-filled.

Because of its flexible engine characteristics, the IS 250 uses a six-speed super ECT (Electronic Control Transmission) with a choice of normal automatic (D) which is ideal for town/urban driving, and Sports and/or up/down sequential shift or via F1-style paddle shifts on the steering wheel for highway or long distance travel.

The gear position is clearly shown in the usual PRND position as well as the other drive modes.
We also found out that there is a further way of knowing the actual gear position used by the engine via the Multi Display Information. This gives information on average speed, fuel consumption and the like including actual engine gear position being used.

Optitron meters for clarity in all lighting conditions.This is shown right on top of the instrument panel in smaller lettering. A button marked “Display” on the right spoke of the steering wheel controls the various functions.

Thankfully, the instrumentation is electronic and uses the latest generation Optitron meters, which are clearly visible in all lighting conditions.

Of course in a car of this level, the front seat adjustments are electrically driven, as are those for the steering wheel reach and height.

The dashboard now follows the style of other Lexus models.

Another sign of exclusivity is the hi-fi system used in the car – a Mark Levinson found in top-end hi-fi systems.

Another touch of class is the soft Japanese leather upholstery along with well-padded seats, which have an air-cooling feature for the driver and front passenger.

What about handling? Well, suspension and settings are set to give the best in handling characteristics Japanese-style and therefore is still a little behind European cars, like a BMW 325i or an Audi A4 quattro. Still, we had a lot of fun driving fast in the Lexus IS 250.

Suspension is via double wishbones for the front and a newly developed multi-link for the rear.
Driving safety is enhanced with Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Braking System, Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. All these aids help to keep the IS 250 on the road despite the conditions.

Passive safety is crucial when an accident cannot be avoided.

Like all Toyota cars, the bodyshell is GOA-certified, which is the car company’s own safety standard.

Intelligent supplementary restraint system airbags are provided for the front occupants. It has three different inflation speeds depending on the collision conditions. Airbags are also provided at knee level to give additional protection.

There are also curtain airbags over the windows, which will deploy when there is a side impact. These curtains protect from head injuries as well as being thrown out of the car.
The IS 250 is feature-packed to give the owner or driver the best and also fulfills the Lexus brand image.

Lexus Malaysia says the IS 250 is priced on-the-road with insurance at RM313,166.

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Peugeot 308 Review

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The Peugeot 307 replacement was a journey of discovery as we rustled it past vineyards, country houses and châteaux in a rustic corner of France.

WHAT'S a good antidote for jetlag after a 12-hour non-stop flight? A good sleep might help but this still does not come close enough to getting behind the steering wheel of a curvaceous hatchback with drop dead gorgeous looks.

In this case, it's the Peugeot 308 that is even more feline looking than the outgoing 307, especially when its oversized wraparound headlights pierce into your sleepy eyes with stunning sensuous energy.

Well, we did not only get one but a fleet of over 20 cars in various colours to choose from after landing at the airport of Colmar, a small town at France's eastern frontier with Germany.
Sporting a similar high-architecture profile and silhouette with the well-loved 307, the 308 certainly looks more aggressive with its much larger gaping radiator grille and prominent V-shaped bonnet.

In fact, the V-shape bonnet has a nose-like appearance and adds to the beefy looks.
At the end, it's just the long slim triangular headlights that soften the five-door 308's appearance dramatically to make the car appealing to both sexes and a wider audience.
After all, the outgoing 307 has been a sales success for Peugeot, with over three million examples produced and sold in a just six years.

Although the 308 comes with three petrol and three diesel engine options, we got to check out the 1.6-litre turbo THP and 1.6-litre VTi petrols, and the 2.0-litre HDI diesel during our stint.
Incidentally, the 308's petrol engines were co-developed by PSA Peugeot Citroen and BMW, and have even found their way into other Peugeot and BMW's MINI models.

These new engines offer high power and a muscular torque curve in their class while reducing fuel consumption and engine weight.

We'd guess that these variants are among the likeliest that newly appointed local Peugeot franchise holder Nasim Sdn Bhd might introduce in Malaysia.

All three cars come in manual transmission and so in this land of left-hand-drive cars, it was a fast relearning curve for our right arm to do the gear shifting.

Porsche Tiptronic automatic sequential transmission variants are also in the market but they were not made available during our drive.

Our first car was the 1.6THP, a superb four-potter with twin scroll turbocharger that gives an uncanny “diesel-like pulling power” at low speeds.

Just slot in the first gear and the power surges in rapidly, hardly without any turbo lag, and you feel yourself sinking into the leather seats.

There is a sporty exhaust note but the insulation of the 308 has somewhat muffled most of the engine sound from our ears.

The 1.6THP's five-speed manual gearbox is smooth, making gear changes easy and quick.

A fetching profile in a bucolic setting. Bring out the picnic baskets.The clutch pedal feel was meaty and not too stiff, with the bite coming in progressively so stalling the engine is not easy unless you have forgotten how to drive a manual car.

We managed to hit 190kph briefly on an open highway stretch enroute to Isenbourg, some 200km from Colmar, keeping in mind that the 1.6THP with 150bhp can still go faster.
At that speed, the 308 holds the driving line steadily with an assured and planted feel, enticing us to push the car even further.

But we decided to ease off the throttle to a leisurely cruise so as to enjoy the scenic French countryside - vineyards, country houses and all.

In our drive with the 120bhp 1.6VTi and 136bhp 2.0 HDI diesel variants, we could still feel the power surging in strongly although they might not match the 1.6THP's jackrabbit take-off.
The full 320Nm torque of 2.0 HDI kicks in at a low 2,000rpm, making this variant extremely easy for urban driving since we do not have to downshift as often compared with the petrol versions.

Inside, the 308 has a cosy seating, but with a high roofline, large windows and a dashboard set far away from the driver, there is a sense of space and airiness.

The rear legroom is still enough for average Malaysians but those over six feet might find it rather snug.

Our unit also came with a panoramic glass roof which extends to the back passenger side, accentuating the feeling of openness - helped by seeing the tips of pine trees rushing past above during our countryside drive.

The 308's accurate hydraulic-electric power steering gives a smooth and consistent feel for a very engaging driving experience.

Taking on the winding trunk roads near some woods around Isenbourg, the 308's taut and yet comfortable suspension with wider tracks could keep the car true to its driving line and body roll to a minimum.

The front seats' side bolsters also help to keep you planted should you want to be lead-footed on these curving roads.

On the instrument panel are a central LCD multi-information display, two large tachometer and speedometer dials accompanied by two smaller fuel and water temperature gauges.
Besides being white-faced, the dials and gauges are all chrome-ringed for a sporty and sophisticated look, which contrasts with the 308's dark dashboard.

Incidentally, the dashboard also has five circular chrome-ringed air-conditioner vents as well, giving a heavy dose of that sporty flavour. But it is one that we don't mind.

This chrome theme is even carried through the entire, with chrome-rings for the two rear air-conditioner vents, door release handles, climate control dials and even gear shifter knob.
The 308 does not only aim to excite its drivers through just its looks and handling, but also through its smell!

There is a perfume dispenser on the air-conditioner vent that slowly releases a pleasant flowery fragrance into every nook and cranny of the car.

You might think that airport perfume promoters wanting to close some sales had just splattered the interior of the 308 with their latest offerings.

Our cars also came with a satellite navigation system equipped with voice prompts and visual guidance projected onto the dashboard LCD screen and the instrument panel's multi function display.

During a car swap session, we were left struggling to change the sat-nav's language setting to English since the previous users had set it to French.

We gave up our countless attempts to reset it to English and just continued driving to our next pre-programmed destination, listening to instructions in French besides getting loads of help from the visual prompts.

And of course, a route book with tulip guide prepared by Peugeot for this emergency proved to be a lifesaver.

The 308 never comes up short in the safety department, and depending on the specifications level, can be equipped with up to nine airbags.

Other features include a five-star European NCAP crash rating, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability programme, lane departure warning system, all-round disc brakes and bi-xenon headlights.

Expect the 308 to arrive in the second half of the year to give the Peugeot brand a boost.
StarMotoring has been informed that Nasim might bring in the high-end 308 fully imported, while entry-level versions would be locally assembled.

As for pricing, expect this head-turner to be competitively positioned against its brethren European hatchback rivals.

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Europestar RCR Launched in China

The Europestar RCR was officially launched in China on the 9th of January 2008 in Beijing. Europestar is a brand of Youngman Automobile Sales Co. Ltd., and the Europestar RCR is basically a rebadged Proton GEN2.

Youngman is confident of selling the 30,000 CBU units of Proton GEN2s within the 20 month delivery period, and has appointed 40 dealers to support the launch in terms of managing its sales, service and spare parts operations for the Europestar brand in China. CKD operations will begin soon after at Youngman’s plant in Jinan, which has an annual capacity of 300,000 units.

The Europestar RCR is targeted at small business owners, middle-income salaried workers and civil servants between the ages of 25-35 who Youngman expects to find the model stylish, comfortable and yet affordable. Youngman wants to capture 20% of the hatchback market in China within 2 years.

TaTa Nano

Tata has unveiled its 1-Lakh Car at the 2008 Delhi Motor Show, and its officially been christened the Tata Nano. The model at the motor show was powered by a 33 horsepower 624cc two-cylinder gasoline engine mated to either a stepless CVT transmission or 5-speed manual transmission. A diesel version will soon follow.

The 4-seater (5 if you squeeze) Tata Nano uses 5 liters of fuel per 100km and meets all Indian local crash test and emissions guidelines. It was also designed to pass international side offset and side crash tests as well as Euro 4 emissions tests.

The two-cylinder engine, which uses Bosch’s Value Motronic fuel injection and engine management is mounted at the rear of the car together with the battery. There is a small boot at the front where a person would normally expect the engine bay to be.

The car has no power steering, but being so light I don’t think you’d really need one anyway, plus at its 1 Lakh price point you really can’t complain. It also lacks an RPM meter, with its instrument panel consisting of only a speedometer, a fuel gauge and an oil light. The car will be priced at 100,000 Indian rupees, or 1 Lakh, but customers will pay slightly more than 1 Lakh at the dealers because of taxes and other charges.

This 1 Lakh price tag is for the standard car, which does not have air conditioning. The two deluxe models will cost more. 1 Lakh Indian Rupees is roughly RM8,350.
Tata expects to sell 500,000 units of the Tata Nano, and the car will go on sale in the second half of 2008.

Suzuki Champion Motors 30th Anniversary Lucky Draw Result

In 2007, Champion Motors celebrated 30 years o distributing Suzuki Cars in Singapore. Customers who bought the cars in between 4 October and 19 December 2007, will be eligible for 3 prizes of S$10000 each, and the result is out now.

Check it out if you are one of the lucky winner.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

First local Golf R32 buyer feted

KUALA LUMPUR: Volkswagen Group Malaysia recently presented the keys of a Golf R32 to business and financial adviser Wan Ahmad Satria, the company's first customer for that model.

Wan Ahmad, who is also a sports car enthusiast, said he had always admired the overall quality of Volkswagen vehicles and it was exciting to finally own the R32.

He is also planning to take the R32 for some serious weekend driving.

“Besides speed, what attracted me to the R32 is its safety features. Whether in wet or dry driving conditions, I can be assured of an excellent response time, better handling and a higher margin of safety,” Wan Ahmad said when receiving the keys from Volkswagen Group Malaysia managing director Axel Barth at its headquarters in Bangsar here.

Packing 250bhp under the hood, the R32’s permanent 4MOTION four-wheel drive promises excellent handling and control under difficult road conditions. It has a top speed of 248kph, and with a superfast six-speed dual clutch gearbox, can go from 0 to 100kph in 6.2 seconds.

Besides being equipped with up to six airbags, this five-door hatchback also scores a full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP frontal, side, and pole crash tests.

Tata 1-Lakh Car to use Bosch Value Motronic

Bosch’s new Value Motronic is a new engine management platform for gasoline-powered engines, aimed to provide maximum functionality at minimum cost. What Bosch has done is cut down the use of sensors, injectors, and other hardware, instead using more intelligent software to make up for the reduction in sensors.

The Bosch Value Motronic is one of the key items to scale down the cost of the new Tata 1 Lakh car, which Tata calls the People’s Car. The cheap, no-nonsense car will be built using re-engineered plastics and modern adhesives, and is aimed at converting India’s many motorcycle users to something with 4 wheels and a roof, which will ultimately benefit them as it is much safer.

The car’s 660cc engine (expect to produce 30 to 35hp) will not only use Bosch’s Value Motronic ECU but sources say the engine itself will be built by Bosch, who has just setup Bosch India by investing Rs 850 crore (RM 710 million) into its Indian operations previously known as Mico Bosch. Total investment in India by the German automotive technology company will reach Rs 2,650 crore (RM 2.2 billion) by 2010.

Those who have seen the 4-seater car describe it as a small jellybean shaped car, and our very own talented Theophilus Chin has whipped up a very nice artist’s impression (shown above) which will have to do until the car is unveiled at the Delhi Motor Show on Thursday!

Triple rotor Mazda Furai Concept

The Mazda Furai Concept unveiled at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show recently was basically a rebodied 2005 Courage C65 racecar chassis, given a closed-cockpit fiberglass body that complies with 2008 American Le Mans Series rules.

The new body can generate 80% of the original race-spec body’s downforce, a respectable feat considering it was designed without the use of a wind tunnel. The Mazda Furai Concept is powered by a three-rotor Mazda 20B rotary fueled by E100, which is basically ethanol. Normally aspirated, it puts out 450 horsepower.

Mercedes-Benz releases CLC-Class Coupe teaser

Mercedes Benz has released a teaser visual of the new Mercedes-Benz CLC-Class coupe that shows quite clearly the front design of the car.

The Mercedes-Benz CLC-Class itself will be unveiled at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, which takes place from the 27th to 31st of January 2008.
The teaser photo shows a black Mercedes-Benz CLC-Coupe equipped with the sports package and 18 inch alloy wheels. Click the photo on the left to reveal a higher resolution image.
The baseline model will be the Mercedes-Benz CLC200K, putting out 184 horsepower from its supercharged 1.8 liter.

When Mercedes-Benz first registered the CLC trademark back in May 2006, some speculated it could be a convertible version of the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class. Now it is clear that the CLC is more like a C-Class coupe instead.
For those who want to know, the beautiful lady in the image is Eva Padberg, a Mercedes-Benz fashion brand ambassador. The photographer is Ellen von Unwerth.

Do not Test Drive 1st when you buying new car

When you hop in the car distributor, did you notice the car salesman will encourage you to do test drive first, before they even wanted to talk to you in details.

Few reasons:-
1) Most drivers will feel the shiock after they have tested the car, and it makes the salesman easier to persuade the buyer
2) Salesman do not want to waste their time and energy to the buyer who ask ask only… test drive shown the sincere of the buyer about the car
3) And the most most important thing is …

By inviting the buyer to test drive, the can lock-down the potential buyer for a period. This is a strategy used by the car distributor to manage their salesman not to involve in the price slicing war … when a potential walk-in a shop, and where there are many salesman standing, usually the salesman will take turn to attend to you… and what-if after you gather all the information, and you decided to walk-in the shop second time to buy the car … and happened that the poor salesman who attended to you is not around?

… So, in order to lock-down the customer under the salesman, the salesman will ask you to do the test drive, after you tested the car, which mean no matter who u purchase the car from for the next visit (within a period), this particular customer will still belong to the salesman who invited you to do the test drive.

In another word, if you have test-drive, you MUST buy the car from this salesman (within a period of time).. and of coz… the salesman will not easily negotiated the price you asked for… because he/she know that you will not be able to buy the same car from other salesman, you will not able to ask a better price from other salesman…

So, do not test drive the car unless you have negotiated with the salesman about the freebies and price…

Test Drive the car is the last step in buying a new car, but not the 1st step…

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lancer Evolution X - UK Review

Engine/transmission: 1,998cc all-aluminium-alloy, in-line four-cylinder petrol with DOHC and four valves per cylinder; 276bhp at 6,500rpm and 311lb ft of torque at 3500rpm.
Five-speed manual or six-speed double-clutch SST paddle-shift gearbox.
Four-wheel drive.

Performance: top speed 155mph, 0-60mph in 4.9sec (SST 5.2sec), EU Urban fuel consumption (estimated) 19.9mpg, C02 emissions n/a.

We like: Rally heritage, hardcore character, punchy performance, tremendous all-weather ability, paddle-shift transmission that brings newfound versatility.
We don't like: Interior still looks and feels cheap, engine sounds bland, lacks prestige of Audi or BMW.

Alternatives: Subaru Impreza WRX STi, from about £30,000. Alfa Romeo 159 3.2 V6 Q4, from £27,050. Vauxhall Vectra VXR, from £24,395. BMW 335i M Sport, from £34,095. Audi S4, from £36,590.

Naza Sutera on Sale in Singapore

The Naza Sutera is now on sale in Singapore for S$41,999. The 1.1 liter compact car is known in Malaysia as the Naza Forza. It is distributed in Singapore by Nascar Pte Ltd, the official distributor of Naza in Singapore. Nascar Pte Ltd is a subsidiary of The J & J Royal Group Pte Ltd, which also distributes Perodua, and TD2000.
The Singaporean specifications list include 14 inch wheels, a 6 speaker sound system with a MP3/CD/AM/FM head unit, and fabric upholstery. It does not have the dual SRS airbags that we have in our market. It also does not have the alloy wheels and fog lamps shown in the photo above.
Its 1.1 liter DOHC engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, with 64 horsepower and 88Nm of torque which peaks over 3,000 to 3,500rpm.
The first 50 customers will get a 42 inch LCD TV.

Comparison Test: 2008 Four-Cylinder Family Sedans

Comparison tests about family sedans usually make big assumptions about your personal wealth. We like to think that if you're buying a midsize car, you'll order up a powerful V6 engine, leather upholstery and a navigation system. Of course, grim reality says you'll probably drive away in a Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or Chevrolet Malibu with a four-cylinder engine, cloth seats and your trusty road atlas.
This brings us to the point of this test. In V6 form, we've already discovered the redesigned 2008 Chevrolet Malibu is quick, comfortable and good enough to compete with the import juggernauts. Keeping up with the volume-selling 2008 Honda Accord LX and 2008 Toyota Camry LE is actually a much bigger deal, however. These unassuming models help Honda and Toyota rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales each year.
If Chevrolet is serious about stealing market share from these guys, the four-cylinder 2008 Chevrolet Malibu needs to be more than a respectable rental car.
How Much Car Does $23,000 Buy?Since pricing will make or break the purchase of a four-cylinder midsize sedan, we set a modest $23,000 cap for our contestants. Also, most people don't want to fuss with a clutch in a family car, so we specified the optional automatic transmission on the Accord and Camry. An automatic is standard for the Malibu.
It turns out $23K (or $23,080 if slight fudging is permitted) will buy you a nicely appointed midsize Chevy. Our 2008 Chevrolet Malibu 2LT wore graphite-finish 17-inch wheels, and its light-tone interior had a business-casual vibe, thanks to leatherette-synthetic suede upholstery, turquoise ambient lighting, heated front seats, OnStar (one year of service) and satellite radio (a three-month subscription) — all stuff you wouldn't necessarily expect at this price.
This Malibu also included essentials like antilock disc brakes, side airbags, head curtain airbags, stability control, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel and an auxiliary audio input.
Our 2008 Honda Accord LX-P matched the Malibu in this respect, and its price came in at $22,795. The Accord is redesigned for '08, and LX-P is a new trim level, indicating features over and above the standard LX — among these, 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows, a power driver seat and an alarm system. Otherwise, this cloth-upholstered Honda didn't carry any options.
Surprisingly, the Toyota proved to be the price leader in this group. Lacking anything in the way of options, our 2007 Toyota Camry LE cost only $21,635. Its equipment level was on par with that of its companions, but our test car's plastic wheel covers and Eeyore-gray paint made it look dowdy. It was also the only sedan without stability control. Curiously, the addition of stability control ($650) and alloy wheels ($795) would have given it the same as-tested price as the Malibu. Had Toyota been able to provide us with a 2008 Camry LE, a $100 price increase would have represented the only difference.
We could have expanded the field to include worthy rivals such as the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata or Nissan Altima, but we wanted to keep things simple. The Camry and Accord are the sedans to beat in this class, and the '08 Malibu is the brave new challenger.
It's no Vegas title fight, but if you want to know who builds the most acceptable four-cylinder commuter car, we've got the answer here.
3rd Place: 2007 Toyota Camry LEA front-wheel-drive midsize sedan with a four-cylinder engine is an inherently sensible form of transportation. But the Toyota Camry LE takes it to an extreme, asking its driver to forgo all involvement in the motoring experience in trade for a soft, isolated ride, carefully insulated from the travails of everyday life. Similarly, the car's gray-on-gray interior is spacious, ergonomically sound and loaded with storage slots, but nonessential styling touches are kept to a minimum. It led to sensory deprivation, we discovered, and it further detracted from a car that had some deficits in feature content and had been built with inconsistent levels of fit and finish.
Our misgivings about the Camry's dynamics extend beyond the test track, where it managed 0.79g around the skid pad and 62.0 mph through the slalom — slowest of the group. Even in normal traffic, the Toyota feels less in touch with the road than the others, and its steering, although reasonably precise, feels pretty vacant on- or off-center. Turn-in response is leisurely, and there's more body roll than in the others. Altogether, it compromises the driver's confidence.
Life in Camryland isn't all bad, though. It turns a tighter circle at 36.1 feet than either the Accord at 37.7 feet or Malibu at 40.4 feet, making it less stressful to maneuver in crowded areas. The Toyota also stopped the shortest from 60 mph at 122 feet.
And just like the V6 version, the four-cylinder Toyota Camry is quick relative to its competition. Our LE test car's 8.9-second 0-60-mph time is tops for this group, as is its 16.9-second quarter-mile at 82.3 mph (though the Accord, which has 19 more horsepower, nearly closed the gap).
It's no wonder the Camry produces such numbers, as our California car with its PZEV-rated 2.4-liter inline-4 produces 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 158 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. (The non-PZEV engine delivers 158 hp and 161 lb-ft of torque.) It felt more responsive in city traffic than the inline-4s of the Chevy and Honda. Power delivery is about as smooth as it gets with four cylinders.
Upshifts from the Camry's five-speed automatic are buttery under full throttle, but downshifts come late in part-throttle situations. When the transmission finally drops a gear, it shifts up again at the earliest opportunity. While this behavior infuriates people like us, the justification is obvious, since the Camry returned the highest fuel economy during this test at 24 mpg.
Although you get a full set of power driver-seat adjustments in a Toyota Camry LE, the shape of the seat and the steering wheel's limited telescoping range make it hard to get comfortable. In addition, the Camry offers the least front headroom and legroom, even though it has the second-most passenger volume.
Evidently, those extra inches went to the backseat, as the Camry has the most rear legroom. Thanks to careful exhaust packaging, the Toyota also has a hump-free rear floor, making it easier to stuff three co-workers in back on carpool days.
Useful and wholesome, the 2007 Toyota Camry LE is a safe choice for a midsize sedan. But the Accord and Malibu prove that modern family cars needn't play it this straight.
2nd Place: 2008 Chevrolet Malibu 2LTAs extroverted as the Camry is demure, the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu flashes a proud bowtie smile each time you walk up to it. There's good reason to smile back.
In this test, the Chevy offered the best balance between ride comfort and agility. Our 2LT test car also earned high marks for cabin design while offering some desirable amenities that weren't even available as options on the other cars. Although it lost points for its uninspiring acceleration and braking performance, the '08 Malibu is long on personality for a four-cylinder midsize sedan.
Instrumented testing is rarely kind to non-sporting cars, and here the Malibu was exposed as a nose-led front-driver with pedestrian, electrically assisted power steering. It was, however, quicker than the Camry through the slalom at 62.9 mph, and thanks to meatier P225/50R17 tires (versus P215/60R16s on the others) it managed the highest grip on the skid pad at 0.84g.
On public roads, the Chevy's appeal came into sharper focus. The Malibu isn't as firmly suspended as the Accord, but its additional compliance doesn't detract significantly from its cornering ability. Pinpoint accuracy continues to elude GM's electric steering, but this setup with decently weighted levels of effort represents a vast improvement over the previous-generation Malibu.
Braking hardware is identical across the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu line, and after measuring a 123-foot 60-0 stop from the V6 version, we expected the lighter four-cylinder car to perform similarly. Instead, our 2LT tester used up 140 feet of tarmac and went from 1st to worst in this category.
Since the brakes weren't malfunctioning, our guess is the slow-cycling antilock brake system was optimized for the V6 model, which has more weight over its nose and wears P225/50R18 Goodyear Eagle LS rubber. Although the four-cylinder car's 17-inch Hankook Optimo H725A tires delivered decent lateral grip, their straight-line stick was no better than a declawed cat's.
A 9.5-second effort to 60 mph and a 17.8-second quarter-mile run at 80.9 mph landed the Malibu in 3rd place for acceleration, but its 2.4-liter engine deserves credit as the most refined four-cylinder available in a domestic-brand midsize car. The Honda and Toyota fours are still smoother and sound better, but Chevrolet has done a commendable job of suppressing the amount of racket that penetrates the firewall. And with 169 hp at 6,400 rpm and 160 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm, the Malibu's motor gives up nothing on paper when it comes to power, either.
Unfortunately, it's paired with an outdated four-speed automatic transmission. Downshifts arrive more quickly than in the Camry, but the engine falls out of its power band with each upshift. Chevrolet will offer a new six-speed automatic with the 2.4-liter in the spring of 2008, though only on the more expensive LTZ trim level. The company says LT models will get the six-speed for '09.
No slack needs to be cut for the '08 Chevrolet Malibu's cabin. Gauges in individual binnacles and a unifying character line on the dash and door panels provide eye candy for dazed commuters, yet the control layout is just as straightforward as in the imports. The quality of the materials is a couple steps below that of the Accord, but if you can ignore the few chintzy plastics, you'll be fine.
The front seats are well shaped, but a small range of steering wheel adjustment along with offset brake and gas pedals makes the driving position awkward. In addition, the Malibu is a couple inches narrower than the others, and this directly impacts hip- and shoulder room. If defensive linemen will be riding in your family sedan, you'll do better with the fat-boy Accord.
Though our 2008 Chevrolet Malibu 2LT tester had some ragged edges, its 2nd-place finish demands a moment's pause. After all, this is a four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive sedan from General Motors, and we like it more than the best-selling car in the United States.
1st Place: 2008 Honda Accord LX-PAlongside the Malibu's staggering climb to legitimacy, the eighth-generation Honda Accord has quietly become the best family sedan ever.
Even in everyman's LX-P grade, the level of substance and attention to detail in this car is beyond anything else in this price range. With a bit more low-end engine torque and a couple choice additions to the standard equipment list, the Accord's 5.5-point victory would have been a double-digit margin.
Seating yourself in the Honda provides an immediate sense of well-being. It has the most passenger volume of the group, yet doesn't feel monstrous in its dimensions. In Honda tradition, the cowl is low and the pillars are slender. The driving position is close to perfect, with ample adjustment range for both the seat and the steering wheel, and visibility is the best of the three.
Honda has taken flak for using hard plastic on the top of the 2008 Accord's dash, but in reality, these cabin furnishings are best in class. The button-cluttered center stack looks overwhelming compared to the more calming layouts in the Camry and Malibu, but large buttons and logical organization keep it from being annoying to use. The stereo's aux jack is tidily secreted away under the center armrest.
Our 2008 Honda Accord LX-P proved to be the crispest handling car of the group by far. Its steering is precise and communicative, and body control is excellent even through tighter turns. Firm, linear brake pedal action added to the Honda's secure feel.
Not only did the Accord record the highest average speed through the slalom at 63.3 mph, it was the only one of the sedans with a cornering attitude that proved responsive to throttle control. Its 0.81g performance was 2nd to the Malibu, but the Honda's modest P215/60R16 Dunlop SP Sport 7000 A/S tires were the limiting factor. The Accord was 2nd to the Camry in braking with a respectable 126-foot stop from 60 mph.
The downside to the '08 Accord's athleticism is that some of you may find its ride quality too firm compared to the Malibu. In addition, this new Accord had a little more road noise than we'd like, just like every other Accord before it. Highway-speed readings of ambient noise were similar for all three sedans, however.
Low-end torque is not a strong suit of the Accord's 2.4-liter engine, which is rated at 177 hp at 6,500 rpm and 161 lb-ft at 4,300 rpm. In typical Honda fashion, though, power builds as you move up the tach, with the most dramatic change coming at 5,000 rpm when the variable valve timing switches over to more aggressive camshaft profiles.
This was evident during acceleration testing, where the Accord ran to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, yet nearly caught up with the Camry in the quarter-mile traps with a run of 17.1 seconds at 81.9 mph. Keep in mind it's possible to buy a faster four-cylinder Accord, as the EX trim level ($24,495 with an automatic) gets a 190-hp version of the 2.4-liter engine.
Either way, Honda's five-speed automatic transmission is geared to take advantage of the engine's unique power band. It's also quicker with shifts than the other automatics, which made our Accord LX-P test car feel sharper in freeway traffic.
Perhaps as a consequence of this responsiveness, the Honda averaged only 20 mpg — lowest of the group. Better fuel economy should be possible, though, as its EPA rating of 21 city/31 highway is identical to the Camry's.
The 2008 Honda Accord LX-P's victory here wasn't due to dominance in any one particular category. Instead, it won by performing well in all categories. It had the largest and most comfortable interior and the highest overall level of refinement, and it was the most engaging and satisfying car to drive.
So It's the Accord Then?Anyone seriously shopping for a four-cylinder family sedan will find it interesting to read's Consumer Comparison Test: 2008 Family Sedans as a companion piece to this test.
Penned by six readers, the consumer test involved the same three cars. Half the guest reviewers selected the Accord as the winner. The others picked the Chevy Malibu. While they evaluated the cars under different conditions than we did, the outcome reflects favorably on Chevrolet's efforts to create a personable family sedan that a reasonable person might choose over the import standbys.
None of us wasted love on the Toyota Camry, but in truth there's nothing drastically wrong with this car, and for those concerned about fuel economy, the Toyota is likely to be most frugal in real-world driving.
Not surprisingly, the guest reviewers liked the Accord for all the reasons we did. Even the Malibu supporters conceded the Honda was the roomiest and most practical car of the bunch.
But we'd go further than that.
The 2008 Honda Accord LX-P delivers on all the necessities of family car ownership without forcing you to give up the details that make driving pleasurable. This is a midsize sedan engineered by people who appreciate good steering feel and positive upshifts. Even with a four-cylinder engine, this Honda will make you happy.

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR

In a world of product placements where Bumblebee ends up as a concept Chevrolet Camaro instead of a Volkswagen Beetle, it’s no surprise that the new Knight Rider movie will star a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR as K.I.T.T.

Honda Civic Type R Modulo Kit

Believe it or not, this overly busy looking ricey design is a kit from Modulo! Set to debut at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Salon, Honda has stripped the Civic Type-R Modulo down even more, with the entire interior replaced with carbon fiber wherever possible.

Even the power window switches have been moved to the center area because the door panel has been replaced with a simple carbon fiber panel.

The famous double-tiered dashboard has been redesigned, with the rev counter now on the top deck and the speedo on the lower deck - basically they’ve swapped positions to suit a race track environment.

Friday, January 04, 2008

New 2009 Subaru Forester 2.0X, 2.0XS and 2.0XT

The all new Subaru Forester was launched recently in Japan, in its third generation since it was first launched in 1997. There are three variants offered in Japan, the 2.0X, the 2.0XS and the 2.0XT, ranging from basic, midrange to premium. The 2.0XT model also has better off-road capability, with a 225mm ground clearance compared to the 2.0X and the 2.0XS’s 215mm clearance.

The Subaru Forester uses a double-wishbone rear suspension and the usually strut-tyep front suspension. The new Forester uses an advanced form of Subaru’s proprietary Ring-Shaped Reinforcement Frame Body Structure. Through streamlined body construction and the extensive use of high-tensile steel, including 590 MPa–level steel for key structural body frames, the new model achieves higher body rigidity, improved straight-line driving stability, and riding comfort. Despite its larger body and platform, compared to the predecessor, the vehicle weight increases only minimally.

The 2.0X and 2.0XS uses a 2.0 liter normally aspirated DOHC boxer engine putting out 148 PS and 191Nm. The engine also has AVCS, or active valve control system, essentially a continuously variable valve timing system. This improves low to mid-range torque. The 2.0XT uses a 2.0 liter turbocharged boxer engine, putting out 230 PS and 319Nm. It uses a resin-based intake manifold which ha smooth inner walls which are less resistant to the intake flow. The weight is also reduced by 30% compared to the earlier manifold.

The manual and auto transmissions use different AWD systems. The automatic models get an Active Torque Split AWD, while the manual models use a centre differential AWD system with viscous LSD (limited slip differential). All models come standard with Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), a form of stability control.

Chery A6 Coupe in second half of 2008

Chery’s new Chery A6 Coupe will go on sale in the second half of 2008. The front wheel drive coupe was based on the Chery A6CC Concept shown at Shanghai 2006.

It is built on Chery’s new B2 platform, and has a wheelbase of 2700mm. The original concept had a 3.0 liter V6, but for the production version three engine options are available - a 3.0-liter V6, a 2.4-liter V6, and a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

BMW 5 Series (Bullet Proof Version)

It will be offered for the eight-cylinder 550i and the six-cylinder 530i models. BMW has catered to the upper segment with vehicles such as the X5 and the 7 Series sedan. But increasing pressure from customers and the rising number of kidnappings and carjackings prompted this — practical? — step.
According to the German automaker, the converted 5 Series sedan is in the "B4 category." That means it can withstand a 0.44-caliber Magnum and other handguns. Special steel and other materials, including aramid fibers — as in bulletproof vests — were used to strengthen the exterior and underneath. Side windows are now nearly an inch thick.

Nissan Bluebird Sylphy

Nissan Bluebird Sylphy on test in the Segambut. This is the second photographed sighting of the Civic-sized car on this blog this year. Will we see the Nissan Sentra replaced with an aptly-priced new Nissan Bluebird Sylphy next year?