Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nissan Road Show at PJ

The next edition of the Nissan Road Show continues through this weekend, and will be located at 1 Utama Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya.

The show, which began on Wed and runs till this Sun, will feature the newly launched Grand Livina, in both 1.8l and 1.6l auto forms, as well as the Latio 1.8 Ti Auto and the Latio Sport 1.6 ST-L Auto.

There is also an inaugural display of new 2008 props, based on last year’s Nissan Design Forum.The objectives of the new props are to provide the public with a better understanding of the uniqueness of the Nissan brand and Nissan's application of Japanese DNA into car design, as well as explaining the company’s Modern Living Concept that is applied to the Latio, Grand Livina and future models.

So, if you’re interested in knowing more, the place to be is the New Wing – Highstreet at 1 Utama, 10am-10pm daily.

Peugeot Loyalty Programme

Local Peugeot distributor Nasim Sdn Bhd has launched the Peugeot Privilege loyalty programme which comes with a variety of attractive offers and packages.

Nasim director S.M Nasarudin S.M Tan Sri Nasimuddin said Peugeot Privilege members would be entitled to 10% discount from the retail prices of selected spare parts.

Also available is a careline that offers quick and easy services such as free breakdown towing and assistance in finding the nearest Peugeot service centres.

The programme was launched at the Peugeot Racing party here last week, where Nasim also gave a preview of the Peugeot 207 CC cabriolet and the 207 Spider racing car.

Racing is in Peugeot's bloodlines and Nasim was out to emphasize the point when it treated guests to a show of its motorsports history.

Not many may know that Peugeot's first triumph dates back as far as 1895 with three Peugeot cars finishing in the top four in the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race, the world' first timed race.
The French marque had Grand Prix wins from 1913 to 1919.

Closer to the present moment, Peugeot won the World rally Champion manufacturers title in 1985 and 1986 with its 205 T16.

The French carmaker Peugeot regained the manufacturers championship again in 2000, 2001 and 2002 with the 206.

In fact, Peugeot was also the Paris Dakar Rally champion from 1987 to 1990.

Honda Mobilio

The Honda Mobilio is a compact 7-seater MPV sold in the JDM market, built on one of the longest versions of Honda’s Global Small Platform ever, with a wheelbase of 2,740mm. It is part of Honda’s Small Max vehicle lineup which also includes cars like the Jazz, City, and Airwave, all built on the Global Small Platform and powered by the L-series i-DSI and VTEC engines. With it’s 1.5 liter i-DSI engine (1.5 liter VTEC in the Mobilio Spike), the Honda Mobilio returns 18.2km/l.

Like the Toyota Sienta, it features sliding rear doors. The Mobilio and Mobilio Spike’s packaging is similiar to the rest of the Small Max cars, featuring a low-floor cabin, and a central fuel tank layout located under the first row of seats. The cabin is 2,435mm long and 1,360mm wide. Versatile seats allow stowage of luggage up to 1,360mm tall or 2,600mm long. Folding the third row seats down creates a boot space of 579 liters. The second row can slide back and forth by up to 260mm to vary legroom.

Would you buy the Honda Mobilio/Mobilio Spike if it is available in Malaysia? I think most would feel awkward because of its Japanese boxy looks, but the unorthodox dimensions is the very thing which creates a large interior space inside.

Ultra Mod Subaru

Vehicle: Subaru Brumby Ute

Power: 495hp

Best ET: 10.41@138mph

Engine: EJ22

Internals: 2.34lt TRP Stroker kit, forged pistons, TRP rods, TRP head studs, copper head gaskets

Induction: Turbonetics T61, Micks Metalcraft Intercooler

Exhaust: 3" Mandrel bent

Ignition: MSD DIS 2 with coil pack

Engine Management: Microtech MT-8, 4x Hi flow injectors (700cc)

Boost Control: 42mm Wastegate
Gearbox: Modified Subaru 4EAT Auto

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Think imports, think places like Thailand, Korea or Japan. But Indonesia is quite a departure from the usual supply routes. Let’s see what the fuss is with Toyota’s latest.

POOR thing. Offloaded from Indonesia and straight into a life of unrelenting servitude.
The Toyota Rush had hardly done 60km on the odometer and it was set to be stressed out even more.

This is the fate of test cars that are hammered and whipped through corners, with engine, brakes, chassis, suspension and tyres pushed hard even before they have had a chance to be broken in. Oh, yes ? a gruelling grilling it is, with a lifespan considerably shortened.

Available since last month, the Rush for Malaysia comes in three variants: the entry-level 1.5G manual and automatic as well as the higher grade 1.5S automatic.

Starmotoring was handed the 1.5S.
The seven-seater is undoubtedly trendy in keeping with its aim to lure young families and those with active lifestyles. The snub nose leads to an elongated body that is imbued with a dose of ruggedness with flared wheel arches and sturdy-looking door panels.

Unique to the 1.5S are the sharp projector headlamps, fog lamps, chrome wing mirrors with built-in turn signals and a rear spoiler with an LED third brake light.

Standard on the Rush is an Aerokit package that comprises front and rear bumper spoiler, side skirting and over fender, helping to boost the sporty imagery somewhat.

The 4.4m-long Rush is based on the Avanza MPV platform and also shares the 1.5-litre variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) engine that cranks outs 109bhp at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 141Nm at 4,400rpm.

The Rush traces its roots to the Daihatsu Terios of 1997. It has been around for two years in one guise or another before it appeared in local showrooms. In Japan, the Terios has morphed into the Daihatsu Be-go. It was Indonesia’s turn last year when Daihatsu and Toyota teamed up there to produce the compact SUV as the Terios and Rush.

And of course, the Perodua Kembara was based on the first-generation Terios.

Although Toyota owns Daihatsu, it makes strategic sense to market the SUV as the Rush on account of the far greater brand recognition the global No. 2 car maker has here and the world over.

With ground clearance of 20cm, it is ample space for the occasional fishing trip up the creek or trundling out of an orchard with a bagful of durians. It’s work that’s not too demanding of an SUV that has drive going only to the rear wheels.

With all seats in place and seven people on board, there’s little cargo space to speak of as you swing the tailgate sideways to open it. But the impression is revised when third row, second row and even front passenger seat flatten down to offer a gap as big as a Beluga airfreighter. We jest ? but you get the idea.

Legroom increases as one moves from back row to front row, with driver and front passenger having absolutely nothing to complain about in this department. On the other hand, second and third-row occupants sit at a higher vantage point than those upfront. As expected, the last row, featuring a bench seat, is only suitable for short adults or two tykes and a Chihuahua.
Airiness is enhanced by a light-coloured theme in the cabin trim and fabric seats. The meter cluster is well laid out, with pertinent information readable at a glance.

Apart from the requisite radio and CD gear, Toyota has strangely deemed it fit to include a tape deck as well in the in-car entertainment system.

The glove compartment is small but there are plenty of cubby holes all the way to third row. Like the Avanza, the Rush features dual air-conditioning, a ceiling mounted air conditioner with adjustable fan speed.

It’s only right that the gearshift lever of the four-speeder and the steering wheel are wrapped in leather although for RM95,000, leather all the way to the seats wouldn't have hurt. (The 1.5G manual and automatic variants are around RM86,000 and RM89,000 respectively.)
There is a plasticky ambience inside, which subtracts from the favourable exterior impressions.

The steering column is fixed and the steering wheel lacks volume control buttons. There’s also the front solid discs and rear drums to contend with.

On the move, the engine doesn’t run out of steam quickly, responding better as the right foot sinks further forward to haul the 1.2-tonne vehicle along. The high centre of gravity means one has to be judicious with cornering approaches as the body roll makes its presence felt.
The Blue One offered a sturdy ride that was absorbing of knocks and jarring impact from whatever the road could hurl at it.

Because the revs are on the high side, letting the engine decide what gear ratio to use during pick-up is less than gratifying. One has to take matters into hand by manually downshifting to prod the SUV to be quick about it.

Cabin insulation is quite good actually even as the engine gets noisy when the SUV hits illegal speeds and wind noise attempts to creep in.

On the safety side, the Rush 1.5S touts features like anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution, dual airbags and a reinforced occupant cell.
The Rush combines looks and versatile space in a functional package that is wont to attract the crowd like bees to honey.

Truth be told, there are hits and misses in the Rush.
Whether you ultimately buy into its proposition is a matter of what values are most important.

Cross Polo gets cheaper

Now here’s a great reason to own a Volkswagen, specifically the Cross Polo.
That's because Volkswagen Group Malaysia (VGM) has recently announced that the Cross Polo 1.6l will now have a nett selling on-the-road price (with insurance) of RM108,888.

A sweeter orange now, for sure.Considering that the price previously was RM124,888, that’s a pretty substantial reduction. Fear not, because the only thing less is the dosh you fork out on it - the car comes with the same level of features and technical specifications.
A very good reason to visit your nearest VW showroom then, isn’t it?

Toyota Sienta

The Toyota Sienta is a compact 3 row 6/7-seater MPV sold in the Japanese domestic market. The word Sienta came from the Spanish word siete which means 7, combined with the English word entertainment. It is powered by the 1NZ-FE 1.5 liter VVT-i engine, producing 110 PS at 6,000rpm and 141Nm of torque at 4,400rpm, with the option for 4WD. The 2WD version is mated to a CVT transmission.

The compact MPV has a 2,700mm wheelbase, which is longer than the Toyota Avanza’s 2655mm and only 5cm shorter than the Toyota Innova’s 2750mm wheelbase. This should mean the interior space is actually quite decent. The rear uses sliding doors instead of normal doors, and the rear hatch is top-hinged.

This particular car was launched in 2003, and was facelifted in 2006. Following a normal 5 year Japanese model lifecycle, the Sienta should be retired in the JDM market by 2009, and replaced by a new model.

This is just a possibility and should not be taken for fact - considering Toyota’s penchant for efficiency, the Sienta could be recycled and adapted for sale in the ASEAN market, and could be the base for the new MPV being developed for production in Indonesia, as suggested by reader torishimeyakuin.

Perodua MPV 2009

An interview with Perodua managing director Datuk Hafiz Syed Abu Bakar in The Edge Weekly has revealed some plans about Perodua this year. For one, Perodua will be undergoing a rebranding sometime in the middle of the year, which will coincide with the launch of the new Perodua Kembara. The rebranding exercise will also give Perodua a new logo, which will be more of a restyled evolution of the current one rather than something new.

The new Perodua Kembara will come with a 1.5 liter engine (likely the 3SZ-VE) and will have four-wheel drive. It will not be assembled locally by Perodua but will be a CBU import from Japan. It will be a low volume product, and the expected price tag is likely to be more than the Toyota Rush because of its higher specs (the 4WD drivetrain) and Japan sourcing. It will be targetted at the urban, upper-middle income group. Expect the new Perodua Kembara to be based on the short wheel base Daihatsu Terios with a May 2008 launch date.

Another surprise revealed in the article is Perodua’s plans for 2009. Perodua will launch a new three row 6-seater MPV in September 2009. Datuk Hafiz likened it to a Toyota Wish, but a smaller version. I wonder what could this be based on. Can’t really think of any compact 6-seaters from Daihatsu/Toyota other than the Daihatsu Gran Max, but that’s more of a Rusa-like van.

If you read this article by Xinhua News Agency posted on the 5th of March 2008. it is revealed that Toyota and Daihatsu is developing a new MPV in Indonesia. The MPV is set to be launched in 2009. This model is could be the one that the new 2009 Perodua MPV will be based on.
Anyway whatever it is, it’s something to look forward to next year. 2009 seems to be the year of the MPVs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2009 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG

The Philosophy of Power
For all the talk of a new beginning, the engine remains the focal point of any AMG. Peep under the hood of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG and you'll find the naturally aspirated V8 used in almost every current AMG model. AMG calls this engine a 6.3 to pay tribute to the famous 6.3-liter Mercedes-Benz V8 that propelled an AMG-built Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 to 2nd overall at the 1971 Spa 24 Hours, a performance that established AMG's professional reputation. Of course, let us remind you that the new engine displaces just 6,208cc.

The AMG-engineered 6.2 V8 replaces the supercharged 5.5-liter Mercedes-Benz V8 of the Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG. This naturally aspirated V8 is meant to express AMG's unique engineering capability. It's one of the highest-revving, large-displacement engines in a production car, and the combination of 6.2 liters and a redline of 7,200 rpm offsets the loss of forced induction.

For the record, the AMG 6.2-liter V8 develops 518 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 465 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm in the SL63. "This is as far as we need to go," says Moers. "It would be almost impossible to cool the engine of a normal road car that developed 800 hp. It's not necessary."
Plenty of Speeds, All Forward
Just as significant as the SL63's V8 is the seven-speed AMG Speedshift MCT transmission, which debuts here. MCT stands for "Multi-Clutch Technology" and replaces the former seven-speed automatic's torque converter. The new MCT incorporates a wet-clutch system in which a series of clutches (six in total) allows for the preselection of different gears.
There are four shift programs — Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Manual — with increasingly rapid shift times. In manual mode, the SL will swap cogs in just 100 milliseconds, as fast as the single-clutch automated manual transmission used in the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. Gears are selected using either the paddles mounted on the steering wheel or via the traditional Mercedes lever on the center console.

The new transmission also features a Race Start function. Once you select Sport Plus, you place your left foot on the brake pedal and your right on the throttle. The car then decides the optimum engine speed for take-off before you launch the car at the horizon. It's great for the stoplight grand prix, even if it doesn't do much for the driver's skill set.

A New Animal
Let's cut to the chase. The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG is a quantum leap forward from the old supercharged SL55. Where the SL55 felt like just a faster version of the standard SL, the SL63 feels like a totally different animal. The sound, for example, is nothing less than riotous. Blip the throttle at a standstill and the exhaust crackles angrily. It's sensational, as if this engine has been tuned by people who spend their weekends watching V8 racecars. (Almost true, as AMG is involved with the creation of the Mercedes-Benz racing cars for the DTM series.)

The V8's throttle response is urgent without being nervous. And the new MCT transmission makes this arguably even easier to drive at low speed than the SL55 with its automatic because you don't have a build-up of inertia in the torque converter. Nor do you have the snatchy drivetrain issues associated with a single-clutch automated manual transmission. In the end, a judicious right foot is rewarded with an appropriate response.

This normally aspirated V8 lacks a little of the low-down pull of the supercharged 5.5-liter V8, but it still produces a mighty rapid package. Mercedes claims the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL63 will accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. And the more free-revving nature of this engine seems to suit the SL63's more focused, aggressive nature.

This revised nature is also due in no small part to the gearbox. Pop it into the fully automatic Comfort mode and it makes a fine impression of a conventional automatic. Only occasionally, such as when slowing to a stop, do you feel a subtle jolt that serves as a reminder that there's no torque converter to smooth the transition between gears.

Turn the rotary knob to select Sport Plus or Manual, though, and you have a gearbox that will riffle through the cogs as fast as any on the market. It's much smoother than the former single-clutch SMG system found in the BMW M6, and downshifts are accompanied by an automatic blip of the throttle and a sonorous cry from the V8's exhausts.

Keep Your Body Under Control
As before, the 2009 Mercedes SL features Mercedes-Benz's Active Body Control (ABC), and there are two settings to choose from. Standard delivers a comfortable cruise, while Sport increases the damper rates and reduces the roll. In standard mode, this car rides at least as well as a standard SL and even in Sport, it's never less than comfortable. This might be an AMG-specification SL, but it has none of the harsh, stiff-legged feel of an M6.

Considering it weighs 4,343 pounds, the SL63 feels remarkably agile. Indeed, it feels more like the smaller, lighter SLK than a boulevard cruiser favored by those of advancing years. The grip is prodigious, the steering nicely weighted and communicative, and the brake pedal is tuned for easy modulation. You had to guide the old SL55 AMG, but you can hustle the SL63 AMG.
It's also good to report that for the first time on a modern SL, you can completely switch off the electronic stability control which allows the driver to perform massive tire smoking burnouts. Actually the system has three settings: Normal, Sport (with a higher threshold of intervention) and Off.

Looking Good
The styling of the newly revised Mercedes-Benz SL lends itself well to the AMG makeover. The whole car has been made much more aggressive and striking, and these changes are enhanced by the AMG styling package. You get a grille of black mesh, a bold new chin spoiler, side skirts, a trunk lid spoiler and a black diffuser at the rear, plus great-looking 19-inch aluminium wheels.

At the same time, opinions are also divided about the overall success of the restyled Mercedes SL. It certainly has more impact and it looks better on the road than it does on the show stand, but some of the elegance of the old model has been lost. And the rear aero diffuser of the AMG package doesn't help, as it seems awfully like an aftermarket piece, while the AMG engineers don't even pretend that it serves an aerodynamic purpose.

Inside the cabin, the AMG-equipped SL features carbon-fiber trim, AMG instrument dials (including a lap timer) and sport seats with AMG upholstery. The interior is comfortable and spacious, but some of the details seem a little inconsistent with the quality this car wants to project.

For customers looking to personalize their cars further, AMG is offering a Performance Studio package that includes carbon-fiber exterior details, different wheels and a new steering wheel. There's also an optional Performance Package includes a limited-slip differential, revised suspension, uprated brakes, lighter 19-inch forged wheels different wheels and of course a new steering wheel. The $14,070 option also raises the cars computer limited top speed from 155 mph to 186 mph.

Choose Your SL
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG is not the only AMG version of the recently revised 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL. AMG is also continuing to offer the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG with its twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 rated at 604 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. Mechanically, this car is unchanged. It's more refined and ultimately faster than the SL63, but less satisfying to drive. Even AMG's own management accepts that the SL65 exists primarily to satiate the desires of customers who simply must have the fastest and the most expensive.

By contrast, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG will appeal to an enthusiast who appreciates a broad range of abilities in his motor car. It is happy to play the grand touring role in the best SL tradition, but it's now also a much more effective performance tool with an impressive range of attributes. Ever since the AMG 6.3 V8 was introduced, AMG has been busily making over its line of Benzes in the engine's 500-hp image, and the result is not only a watershed in AMG's performance philosophy, but also a dramatic change in the personality of the Mercedes-Benz SL.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Nissan GT-R Spotted

Nissan GT-R spotted at the new Jaya One building in Section 14, PJ. Look after the jump for more shots of the car, including a glipse of the quad large diameter tailpipes that looks oh so menacing.

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X FQ-360

Subtle It Is and It Ain't
The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X FQ-360 is a special model developed by Mitsubishi's distributor in the United Kingdom. Three versions are to be offered. The FQ-300 has the standard 291-hp version of Mitsubishi's new all-aluminum, turbocharged, DOHC 2.0-liter inline-4, and there's both the standard five-speed manual gearbox and the option of the Evo X's new dual-clutch transmission. Then there's the FQ-330 with an HKS-modified engine that makes 325 hp. Finally there's the highly tuned FQ-360 with an HKS-prepared 356-hp engine.

The FQ-360 is the flagship of Mitsubishi UK's Evo X lineup, and it comes in both GS and GSR trims with a full-up price of $76,000. We're among the very first to drive one here at the Prodrive test facility in central England. And, yes, FQ stands for F****** Quick — it's an internal code that stuck.

Mitsubishi UK has dabbled with the exterior of the Evo X, but only slightly. There's a new carbon-fiber chin spoiler and a vortex generator mounted between the roof and the rear windscreen. The latter is clearly inspired by a similar rally-inspired device from the Evo IX that manages the flow of air over the rear spoiler and generates additional downforce, but you never escape the impression that its inclusion here has as much to do with the need to differentiate the FQ from its lesser brethren as it does with the minutiae of aerodynamic efficiency.

Inside the FQ-360's cabin, you'll find some posher leather on the seats, but that's about it. In truth, only the dedicated Evo-spotter will notice the difference between the FQ-360 and the Evo X. Everyone else will still see a car that's less extroverted than its predecessor, yet projects the requisite dose of aggression that will appease the Evo fanatic.

Letting Loose the Wizards at HKS
Ralliart is Mitsubishi's well-known, internal high-performance tuning company, and it has subcontracted responsibility for upgrading the FQ's 4B11 engine to HKS, equally well-known for its turbocharging expertise. "HKS is to Mitsubishi what Brabus is to Mercedes or Alpina is to BMW," says Paul Brigden, the general manager of Ralliart UK. "HKS had access to the new Evo long before anybody else from outside the company. This gave us a significant head start."

Creating the FQ-360 has been a two-stage project. The first step has been to improve the engine breathing. A racing-specification intake duct delivers more air to the revised intercooler, improving charge density, while a low-restriction catalyst and exhaust system improves things at the other end. These modifications are sufficient to add 30 hp to the stock 295-hp turbo engine (10 percent is what you generally expect with improved engine breathing), creating the FQ-330 engine.

Liberating an extra 30 horses means going to work on the fuel mixture. "We lean the mixture ahead of the spark," explains Brigden. "The turbo boost pressure has actually been reduced from 11.8 psi in the standard car to 10.3 psi in the 360." This has a negative impact on fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, but a positive effect on the power output. In combination with a software reflash, these changes create the FQ-360 engine.

The official output for the FQ-360 engine is 354 hp at 6,500 rpm, and the torque production is an even more impressive 363 pound-feet at 3,500 rpm. "An output of 360 hp is about the most that's feasible from this engine," says Brigden. "If you start targeting 380-390 hp, you need to introduce new con rods and pistons, which adds dramatically to the cost."

No Magic for the Transmission
Mitsubishi is still a bit hesitant about the ultimate capability of the Evo X's Getrag-built dual-clutch transmission, known as the SST (Sport Shift Transmission). In theory, this automated manual transmission will handle more torque than the 300 lb-ft of twist produced by the Evo X's standard engine, yet Mitsubishi is still reluctant to test its ultimate capacity before reliability and durability have been tested by the standard Evo X.

As a result, the FQ-360 comes equipped with a sturdy five-speed manual transmission. "We'd like to do an FQ-360 with an SST gearbox," Brigden says, "but we'd need to do a lot of durability testing to prove its capability." In other words, it's not happening yet, but don't rule it out.

The FQ Effect
Mitsubishi claims acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.1 seconds for the FQ-360, 4.4 seconds for the FQ-330 and 4.7 seconds for the FQ-300. But this tells only half the story. The key benefit to the HKS-modified engine for the FQ-360 is the torque increase of 63 lb-ft. Put simply, this Evo X's engine hits harder and more consistently than the stock item. When the new 4B11 spools up, you can feel that same kick in the kidneys that made the old 4G63 engine so exciting.

There's also enough torque to pull the wide-ratio spread of gears in the robust five-speed gearbox. And if you enjoy the art of the heel-and-toe downshift, the sturdy shift linkage offers an added delight.Mitsubishi has done nothing to the Evo's suspension with its inverted Bilstein dampers and Eibach springs to cope with the additional thrust. "We had to do braking and stability testing for our product liability insurance, and the extra power made no difference," reports Brigden.

The BMW Question
Mitsubishi Cars UK is in a nice position. Since it's officially just a distributor, the company has greater freedom to tinker with the product that goes on the showroom floors. As a result, the U.K. is the only country in Europe that presently includes the impressive Mitsubishi i city car in its model mix. And this also is the reason why the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X FQ-360 is possible.

You might argue that the FQ-360's $16,000 premium over the FQ-300 is a huge sum to pay for 60 ponies more and some carbon-fiber bits. But Britain's Evo enthusiasts have never been price sensitive, which is why Mitsubishi continues to go to such lengths to satiate their thirst for power. For these buyers, the new FQ-360 will be a welcome addition to the new range of Evo Xs.
Yet in reaching out for a broader spectrum of buyers, Mitsubishi must be careful not to lose touch with its core of enthusiasts. If you want something fast and sensible in the U.K., then the BMW 335i does the job with greater aplomb for less money. Maybe what the FQ-360 really needs is some of the brutal magic of the old Evo IX.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Honda Accord 2008 Spotted at Malaysia

These photos of three of the latest 8th generation 2008 model Honda Accords in Malaysia was snapped by Tony Yew as he was driving along the North South Highway.

The new 2008 Honda Accord will be in showrooms sometime this year to give the Camry a good fight. It will also be joined by the new locally assembled Peugeot 407 in the 2.0 liter range, so the battle for D-segment executive sedan sales should be an interesting one this year. Expect the Accord to be offered with 2.0 liter and 2.4 liter engines, with the latter having its power upped to 177 horses from the current 170.

The new 3.5 liter V6 model may be offered but probably as a halo model only, as exceeding the RM200k price bracket for the top of the line model puts it head to head with luxury C-segment cars and the Volvos.

I’ve driven the 2.4 liter and 3.5 liter V6 versions of the Accord in Japan last year, so visit the related links listed below to find out what my initial impression of the new Accord was.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Honda Accord 2008 Sedan - Safety !

The Accord has a well-earned reputation as a rolling showcase of Honda safety technology. This all-new Accord takes it to the next level, representing Honda’s evolving and comprehensive approach to safety.

Keeping You in Control
Every Accord comes equipped with standard systems designed to keep you on course and away from danger. Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) helps sense oversteer or understeer in an emergency situation, and then adjusts brake pressure at each wheel and/or reduces engine power to help restore driver control and keep you on course. Standard 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), helps you maintain control during hard braking. Properly inflated tires are crucial for safe operation, so the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) alerts the driver when a tire’s pressure reaches a significantly low level.

Protection is a Priority
Every Accord is also engineered to help protect you and your passengers when collisions just cannot be avoided. The 2008 Accord features all-new in-floor frame rails that improve crashworthiness over the already-impressive performance of the ’07 model. All Accord models also benefit from our Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure that disperses frontal crash energy over a wide area, keeping it away from passengers.

Surrounded in Safety
Every Accord also features standard front, front side and side curtain airbags to help prevent injuries in a collision. The front side airbags employ a new, larger two-chamber design, and the front passenger’s side airbag uses the Occupant Position Detection System to prevent deployment if a small-statured passenger is out of position in the airbag’s path. And new for ’08, active front head restraints help reduce whiplash injuries in a sufficient impact.

Top Safety Performer
Our advanced safety engineering is paying off. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recognized the Accord Sedan as a 2008 "Top Safety Pick."

Proton 2008 Gen2 Art Work

As expected with all Proton model launches in the past year, graphic artist Theophilus Chin has whipped up a virtually kitted up version of the facelifted 2008 Proton GEN2. This concept art is rather conservative. I think the integrated dual exhaust tailpipes into the rear diffuser is a good look for the car.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Facelifted Gen 2 Hatchback

Proton has introduced its facelifted Gen.2 hatchback to the Malaysian market, four months after the vehicle made its debut in Thailand.

The car features a number of enhancements, the most obvious being the CPS (Cam Profile Switching) engine, which finally brings the Campro moniker to actuality. The engine, which also features a Variable Intake Manifold (VIM), made its first appearance recently in the Waja 1.6 Campro Premium.
The car is available in two trim levels, High Line and Medium Line, with auto and manual transmissions for both. The 1.6l Campro CPS block will, however, only feature in the H-Line version; the M-Line variant will run with the improved Campro IAFM (Intake Air-Fuel Manifold) engine.
In terms of numbers, the CPS engine gets a noticeable increase in output, 15bhp more than on the outgoing Gen.2, with 125bhp at 6,500rpm, though strangely enough there is no change in maximum speed over the old.

As for the Campro IAFM, this offers 110bhp, but like the CPS engine, does so at 6,500rpm, which is 500rpm more than on the pre-facelift version.

As for torque, the increase is marginal - the existing Gen.2 has 148Nm, and the IAFM has the same output, while on the CPS it is 150Nm, though a little bit more pedal has to be squeezed before maximum torque is available, at 4,500rpm to the older (and IAFM-equipped Campro) block's 4,000rpm.

Low-end torque availability has improved though, with both IAFM and CPS offering 139Nm at 3,000rpm to the older engine's 128Nm at the same engine speed. And on paper, the torque curve shows that the pronounced dip that was a "trademark" of the old has definitely been smoothened out.
Elsewhere, both the exterior and interior feature revisions, some more subtle than others. On the outside, the car gets for its new list a front bumper and grille, front skirt, headlamp bezels finished in black, side sill mouldings, a rear skirt and a rear spoiler as well as new design alloy wheels.
As for the interior, there's quite a bit in the way of tweakery. For the H-Line version, the seats and the steering wheel are leather-wrapped, in black, with red leather inserts on the door cards and bottom-quarter of the steering wheel, and red stitching features prominently.
The instrument display now features a multi-function digital display that integrates a digital clock, odometer, tripmeter, DTE (distance to empty) and AFC (average fuel consumption) readings as well as journey time, with the selection process cyclic via a push-button knob.

Revised design door inner handles and knobs are also part of the new brigade, as is a redesigned dashboard. Oh, yes, there's finally a glove box in this one too.
As for on-the-road pricing, the Gen.2 H-Line 1.6 CPS auto goes for RM60,488, while the CPS manual goes for RM57,488. As for the M-Line 1.6 IAFM, the auto is priced at RM56,488 and the manual version is RM53,488.

All the variants are available in four colours, Metal Grey, Iridescent White, Nanbu Black and Hibiscus Tea, the latter two being new colours to the car. The H-Line versions will be available in the showrooms from Mar 5 onwards, with the M-Line arriving a little later in the month, on Mar 25.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept

BMW will showcase its new BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show in mid-March 2008. The BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept is essentially a BMW X5 with a turbodiesel hybrid drivetrain.

Under the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept X5’s hood is BMW’s new 2.0 liter twin turbocharged oil burner which made its debut in the BMW 123d. The inline-4 turbodiesel used two turbochargers and produced 204 horsepower and 400Nm of torque between 2,000 to 2,250rpm. The twin turbo system uses a sequential setup - a smaller turbo takes care of the low revs while a larger one comes in at higher revs. An impressive 200Nm of torque is available at 1,200rpm - 50% of the engine’s peak torque.

The hybrid system is a mild hybrid and not a full hybrid system like the one in the BMW X6 Active Hybrid Concept. The electric motor provides an additional 20 horsepower and 210Nm of torque under acceleration, bringing total peak power up to 224 horsepower and a massive 610Nm of torque. 0 to 100km/h takes 8.9 seconds. This electric motor is flange mounted directly onto the new ZF 8-speed automatic transmission (current ZF trannys in BMWs top out at 6 cogs), which will make its production debut in the next generation BMW 7-Series due soon.
High efficiency lithium ion batteries in the boot area stores the power that drives the electric motor. These batteries are charged via Brake Energy Regeneration. A 1.0 meter square roof mounted photovoltaic solar panel can generate power for low-load electrical appliances such as power for your in-car cell phone charger. Power created in this zero-CO2 way can also be used to pre-heat the transmission fluid. Power from the solar panel can either be used immediately or stored for future use. Other design alterations to the X5 with efficiency in mind include aerodynamically-efficient 19-inch light alloy wheels with reduced ventilation. The BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept X5 has a CO2 emission of 172g/km and a fuel efficiency of 43.5mpg, or 6.5 liters per 100km.

Toyota Vitz TRD Turbo M

While the European Toyota Yaris TS uses a 1.8 liter Dual VVT-i engine producing 130 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 173Nm of torque at 4,400rpm, its Japanese twin with a different name the Toyota Vitz has gone down the forced induction route with the Toyota Vitz TRD Turbo M. Sporting a similiar engine to the Toyota Vios Turbo sold in Thailand some time ago, the 1.5 liter DOHC VVT-i engine 1NZ-FE in the Toyota Vitz gets a bolt-on turbocharger with intercooler and now produces 150 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 195Nm of torque at 4,800rpm, far more powerful than the Yaris TS.

Nearly 200Nm of torque should prove pretty fun for a car that weighs only 1,060kg, but its a shame that peak torque kicks in at such a high RPM, something unseen of with modern turbocharged engines. We’re used to peak torque kicking in under 2,500rpm these days, but then again we have to remember that this wasn’t designed to be a turbocharged engine to begin with, and is a bolt-on. The Toyota Vitz TRD Turbo M rides on a stiffer suspension that also lowers the car by 15mm.

When I was browsing through the Vitz’s microsite, I also found a more powerful normally aspirated variant of the 1NZ-FE that makes 119 PS at 6,000rpm and 147Nm of torque between 4,400rpm and 5,200rpm, compared to the 1NZ-FE in our Toyota Vios which makes the usual 109 PS and 142Nm of torque. We could possibly see this state of tune being made the standard 1NZ-FE tune in the future to counter Honda’s latest series of 1.5 liter engines found in the 2nd generation Fit which already produces 120 PS.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

2008 Mugen Honda Fit F154SC

I’m sure alot of you will remember the Mugen Fit Dynamite, one of the most desirable examples of a tuned up Honda Fit (called the Honda Jazz in our market) out there. The Mugen Fit Dynamite had under its hood a high revving K20A engine similiar to the unit in the Civic Type R and Integra Type R. Sometime later, Mugen released an orange devil called the Mugen Fit Spec D Prototype, which had its 1.5 liter SOHC VTEC L15A engine boosted to 145 horsepower with a supercharger.

Now that the second generation 2008 Honda Fit has been released, Mugen naturally had to reapply the Spec D concept to this new edition of the Fit. The Mugen Fit F154SC Concept was displayed at the 2008 Tokyo Auto Salon. The L15A engine which already made 120 PS in the new Fit had a supercharger slapped on to produce 150 PS at 6,600rpm and 185Nm of torque at 3,800rpm.

An aggressive bodykit complete with 17 inch wheels wrapped with Bridgestone Potenza RE050 tyres in 215/40R17 size completes the the Mugen Fit F154SC Concept.

Volkswagen Scirocco

Full details of the new Volkswagen Scirocco has officially been unveiled, and Volkswagen says the Scirocco is positioned as an affordable sports car, perhaps the German version of what the Mazda MX5 is.

Three petrol engines and one diesel engine are available. Petrol engines include a 122 horsepower 1.4 liter TSI with 200Nm of torque, a 160 horsepower 1.4 liter TSI with 240Nm of torque, and the venerable 200 horsepower 2.0 liter TFSI engine with 280Nm of torque. The 1.4 liter engines are available with the new dry clutch 7-speed DSG, while the 2.0 liter TFSI and the 140 horsepower TDI turbodiesel with 320Nm of torque is available with the wet clutch 6-speed DSG, the gearbox that changed the landscape of shift performance. All of the manual transmissions are 6-speeders.

The Volkswagen Scirocco is 4,256mm long, 1,810mm wide and 1,400mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,578mm. For comparison sake, the Golf GTI is 4,216mm long, 1,785mm wide and 1,466mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,578mm. The two cars have an identical wheelbase, which means the rear passengers of the Scirocco will most likely enjoy the Golf’s generous rear knee room, but the Scirocco is longer, wider and shorter than the Golf GTI, lending it a much sleeker profile.

The sleek side profile sports a hidden B-pillar, and the front end shows a new Volkswagen front fascia, which might be a preview of the 6th generation Volkswagen Golf’s front end. The Scirocco is a 4-seater with front and rear bucket seats, and it has a 292 liter boot, extendable into the cabin area for a total of 755 liters via the foldable 50:50 split rear bench.

Honda F1 Roadshow At Queensbay Mall Penang

Here are some snapshots from the Honda F1 Roadshow at the Queensbay Mall in Penang during the weekend. It should give you an idea of what to expect if you drop by the next roadshow held at Sunway Pyramid this Friday to Sunday (7th to 9th).

Just a recap - there will be information on the new RA108 Earthdreams car, and a mock-up of the 2007 season’s RA107 will also be displayed. The F1 car simulator competition and other games could win you prizes worth more than RM10,000, which include grandstand tickets for the upcoming Malaysian leg of the F1 race.

As Soichiro Honda once said, “Without racing, there is no Honda.” For more information on the roadshow schedule, please visit the post in the related links below.