Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Night Teh Tarik Session Part 1: Volkswagen Golf R Mk6 driven

Last Saturday a few of us got together for our usual round of teh tarik over at Desa Sri Hartamas. This time around two of them brought their new rides. One was a newly registered grey imported Volkswagen Golf R Mk6 and the other was one of those large C7 Audi A6 3.0TFSI. The Golf most of you would know is the range topping Golf whereas the A6 is the mid-tier A6, but as you will find out, a stonking one at that. So aside from the usual banter and exchange of thoughts, it was a night of driving around in some cars too.

So the Mk6 Golf R (remember that its the Mk7 Golf these days). This was a car that was the replacement for the Mk5 Golf R32. That car had a 247hp 3.2liter VR6 engine coupled to a haldex all wheel drive train. This one drops the normally aspirated 3.2liter for a turbocharged 2.0liter that originally made its home in the Mk5 Golf but having modified internals. At that point of time, Volkswagen thought that the earlier engine was a more stronger, tunable engine than the one in the Mk6 Golf GTI. It came into the market equipped with 267hp (271ps) and 350Nm torque. This went through either a 6 speed manual or a 6 speed wet clutch type DSG (dual clutch transmission) haldex all wheel drive setup. It also came in 3 door or a 5 door hatch forms.
The one brought that day however was a 5 door Japan specced car. According to its owner, this meant that it had a slightly detuned engine that was designed to cope with humidity and lots of traffic. It had 252hp (256ps) and 330Nm torque. It was a DSG equipped one too. Compare this with a stock Golf GTI – that had 208hp and 280Nm torque. So on paper it was supposedly faster than the GTI of the time.

Inside you get Recaro seats up front. Not the ones with the integrated headrests and shoulder wings like the official ones sold here by VW Malaysia but ones with a separate headrest. The rest is very similar to the interior of any Golf GTI or  TSI for that matter. Outside, you do get different front and rear bumpers. The front has three distinctive, large gaping lower grilles on the bumper but the overall look is still quite tame. The car also runs the 18inch wheel and tyre combo instead of the larger 19inch combination that official imports came with. In short, this version is slightly more understated than usual. Especially with the very dark coloured wheels. Aside from the R badges front and rear. This one is a real Q car. Compare the main pic above to the one in the file photo below.

So how it it like to drive? Quite like how any Golf drives actually. With a bit more power. According to its owner, this car has 225hp at its wheels according to a recent dyno run. 225 from 252 is actually quite good when you factor in transmission losses that most cars, especially all wheel drive ones have. But we have to gauge against the stock Mk6 GTI, which is front wheel drive and would have less transmission losses to its 208hp compared to this car. Of course, lets factor in the extra weight the Haldex system adds into a Golf R. About 100kgs – 1615kg vs 1515kg. Even without drivetrain losses, the Golf R has a power to weight ratio of only about 20hp over the GTI. 156Hp/ton vs 137hp/ton or thereabouts. 

So it actually does not feel that mch faster on the road. It however comes equipped with a really nice sounding exhaust system that stock GTI owners would love to add on and it is very much more planted than the stock GTI Mk6. Maybe too planted. You see, the Haldex, whilst isn't a system as crappy as the one in a Honda CRV is an all-wheel drive system that puts most of the power through the front wheels. I gather from research and driving feel that it is more front wheel drive oriented than any Subaru STI or Lancer Evo. In dry road conditions, the Haldex system puts less than 15% through the rear wheels and only adds more ones slip is detected. It isn't slow to do so, but it would never throw, say, 75% to the rear wheels in most circumstances. 

So it does feel ultra grippy and very much driven, like any regular Golf GTI Mk6. Very good. But it does not bring any real extra to the dining table. All that extra stability actually made me rather have a stock Golf GTI Mk6 in preference to this Golf R. You see, the faster you go (or at the speed you're comfortable with) and for the thrill of driving enjoyment, the GTI Mk6 feels lighter, more eager to turn and more responsive. The Golf R Mk6 here is something super safe in nature and the extra technology has actually removed some aspect of driver to car interaction. In other words, the Golf R Mk6 is clinical. Compare this to the drive in the Golf GTI Mk6, at the start you'd be happy because when you stomp on the loud pedal, there roar (albeit slightly quieter than the R) is there, the tyres start chirruping and then the DSG changes up in a whump and a pop. The R does this too. But the Haldex does not allow wheel chirrups. Sometimes you need things to be a little manic. No? Yes. It's the thrill of driving and manhandling a car is what I crave these days. Of course, I am not like one of those crazed road testers that only get out of bed for less than 400hp. I am sensible. 

I am sensible because the price my friend paid for, RM170,000 for a unregistered Golf R with less than 50,000km on the clock, is decent money (for Malaysia, remember) for a performance car with some pedigree. A brand new Mk7 version would have cost him at least RM290,000. Sometimes, you want more than just the normal sort of toys. You want something slightly different. Slightly being the word.

So the Golf R Mk6 is a nice car, well equipped but a little too clinical to sing. Maybe it is like a singer that has been using autotune. Too much of clarity to feel soulful. I suppose it is somewhat like the R32 before this. That however was soulful sounding. A spectacular soundtrack but coupled to a chassis that could not dance that much too. So in this case, maybe a Stage 1 upgrade to the engine seems necessary.  And we've been telling the owner to stop modding his car after his previous one, a fully done up Polo GTI gave him tons of tuning problems to worry about. But he does need more power. About 30hp more at least.

But then, the Audi A6 3.0 that we later drove around had more than that. Much more than that. Something to really get out of bed for. Stay tuned folks. Will get that done once I'm done with testing something with a piddling 105ps.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

After a facelift, the ML Becomes the GLE - Mercedes Benz previews the GLE Class

Meercedes Benz has revised the ML series of SUV and it is now called the GLE series in the vast range of Mercedes Benz automobiles. New front and rear styling, better emissions (up to 17% better), better fuel consumption and a plug in hybrid model too. The press release is quite interesting, especially right at the end where it explains the new naming of Mercedes Benz automobiles. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

All new 2016 Jaguar XF previewed

In about a week or so, Jaguar will preview this all-new 2016 Jaguar XF at the New York Motor Show on 1st April 2015. I suppose this short article will not capture the attention of many of you readers out there as it isn't bread and butter. This is more like cake. Lovely and moist with a punch of sweetness with a price to match. This is a premium product of course and it is a Jaguar. And Jaguars are cool as a cat these days. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation - BMW plays a part

Yes. Mr Ethan Hunt is a BMW M3..on a BMW motorcycle too....

Facelifted Toyota Camry finally here....let's compare a little.

2015 Toyota Camry SEA market

We Malaysians are a poor sordid lot. We get things somewhat slower than other countries. Especially when it comes to Toyota Camry cars. I wrote in April 2014 that the Americans were getting their Camry facelifted. I also stated that it looked fantastic compared to what we are getting. Take a look at the pic below. Look at the lights. Front and rear. We're not getting this more aero looking Camry. Nope.

USDM Toyota Camry

ALL NEW Ford Everest debuts at the Bangkok Auto Show

Ford previews the all new Ford Everest over at the Bangkok Auto Show. Expect it to arrive on our shores by the middle of this year. The Ford Everest is basically a Ford Ranger pick up truck with a full cabin. Specs of the Everest are high and are exactly like the facelifted Ranger previewed earlier.

On the aspect of motor shows, its quite sad that Malaysia does not have one as big as the ones in Thailand or even Indonesia. Actually, Singapore motor show does things better most of the time. Maybe we've got to open up the car market even more for more enthusiastic participants.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ford facelifts the Ranger and previews it at the Bangkok Auto Show

Fomoco (Ford Motor Company) has previewed the facelifted Ford Ranger pickup over at Bangkok. The facelifted Ford Ranger gets a new look front end, upgraded power trains and a stylish, smart and functional new interior. 

Short test drive: 2015 Mazda 2 1.5 Hatchback - Definitely not your conventional supermini

Mazda launched the fourth generation Mazda 2 here in Malaysia recently. Two variants, one a hatchback, the other a sedan. Both get the same specs inside and out. The only difference is a boot and the other a hatch. Both cost RM88,000 or thereabouts and are seriously well equipped for the price. What this new Mazda 2 brings to the table are a lot of good things for supermini buyers out there.

If you compare with the older Mazda 2, the new one isn't based on the Ford Fiesta. It isn't all cute and cuddly anymore and is not all spare and very no-frills looking like the previous generation. What you get is basically a miniaturized Mazda 3 (or if you want to go all the way, the Mazda 6) in terms of external looks.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Paul Smith's One Off Land Rover Defender 90

“This is a complete one-off; I wanted to give this Defender a feeling of luxury,” says Smith “So I used a mix of leather and fabric for the seats. I actually used the fabric that I design for Maharam, the American upholstery company. The vehicle features lots of special Paul Smith touches. My designs are known for their attention to detail, so I didn’t want this Defender to be any different.”. This is why this Defender looks like any other Defender instead of being something bonkers (like the one car styling company Kahn Design usually does).

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Land Rover Defender 2.4 TDCI 90 Pick Up Chelsea Wide Track by Kahn Design

I do wish to see one of these monsters on our roads especially in and around Cameron Highlands. The Land Rover Defender 2.4 TDCI 90 Pick Up Chelsea Wide Track by Kahn Design. Imagine one of these transporting cabbages and broccoli up and down Brincang to Tapah. Cabbages flying everywhere. But what a sight it could be. 

Hyundai Veloster Turbo open for booking with a targeted mid-April launch - At last!!!!

Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) has opened its order books now for the refreshed 2016 Veloster Turbo which is expected to arrive on Malaysian shores in mid-April this year.  Fully imported from Korea, the Veloster Turbo is Hyundai’s turbocharged version of the unique 1+2 door sporty coupe. It is the first Hyundai vehicle to be fitted with the 1.6-litre T-GDI engine that features a high-compression, twin-scroll turbocharger combined with the GDI system and transmitted to the front wheels via a 7 speed dual clutch transmission. Oh, all of that translates to 186ps and 265Nm torque and a 0-100kmh time of around 8.4 seconds. Prices are estimated to be around the RM150,000 range. Performance and in some ways, price, are not too bad for a brand new entry level 'coupe'.

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