Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302: Two Ignition Keys Too Many

The 2011 Boss Mustang is a car we won't see here in Malaysia (UNLESS, some crazy person buys one even though its left hand drive). There could be someone as a friend of mine recently sent me a photo of a Cobra GT500 in its full left hand drive glory at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

The reason I wrote about it is that the car has something silly called a 'TRACKEY'. It is basically another key that you'd use to unleash more throttle response, feel to the steering and some power I suppose but I find it more related to marketing crap.

Read the article which has been posted on carthrottle, here.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Happy Holidays Everyone. It has been a memorable 2010. Lots of nice cars driven, tested and lots of cars criticized as well as lots of theories and ideas exchanged. I look forward to another fabulous year ahead and I leave you with the picture of yours truly on the North-South Highway - Not trying one bit to keep up with the fabulously sounding Triumph Stag up front as the old gal from the mid 1950s that I happened to be driving  was already suffering a tad bit at highway speeds.

Drive save people, and don't go buying crappy MPVs or Toyota Avanzas especially or become like some Mitsubishi Lancer forumers and defend the Avanza as if the car (and its owners) are like Manna from heaven/ a miracle from God/ magic/something close to Ferrari/ angelic/fantabulous or something as 'good' as a Proton Inspira original version in the first place.

I do appreciate the guy who posted it there though. Thank you and may you have a good year ahead too!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Third World Toyota Called the Etios

As the Toyota Vios gets more and more upmarket, a void opens up. If you remember, the Vios started life as the Soluna, a 'world' car for developing nations. This became the 1st generation Vios and then the current 2nd generation Vios. Notice that the car has gotten steadily upmarket and now, the car is supposedly too pricey for markets like India and Thailand, where Toyota have spotted a gap for a basic family sedan.

Wasn't the Soluna/Vios a base sedan in the first place? Now they had to create the Etios. What Etios means is a mystery that only Toyota knows...Short for ambETIOS? I suppose being Japanese means they cannot spell properly. But what does Vios stand for? Short for obVIOS? Another mis-spelt word?
Much like BMW. By making the 3 series larger and larger and larger. They had to put a 1 series there. And now, we're hearing of them coming up with a car that is smaller than the 1 series.

This is never ending. And if you want to read more on the Etios, click here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More on KLIMS 2010

Yes. My write up on KLIMS 2010 has not ended.

Click here to read about what I think of the concept cars featured at KLIMS


Click here for the report and more pictures of KLIMS overs at SGCARMART.COM.

I have been a busy boy haven't I?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

KLIMS 2010: KIA & Hyundai

The Koreans brought out some heavy hitters. Hyundai brought their new Sonata and their newer Avante sedan for us to preview. Not a bad effort but I prefer Kia's design philosophy. Getting that guy from Audi is a coup for Kia. Take a look at the new Optima and the new Cadenza and you can see what I mean. Of course, I'd rather own something else. But if I saw someone driving a new Optima or a Forte, I would never criticize their choice of car.

Click HERE to read more about it at myautoblog.org .

Sunday, December 05, 2010

KLIMS 2010: MyAutoBlog articles

.....two articles on KLIMS 2010 posted over at myautoblog.org.

  • click HERE for some pics on the show girls - some seem to be from Thailand or even further up North. They understand Sawadeekap and Mandarin better than Malay or English. Hmmmm....

  • click HERE for a write up on Proton - The manufacturer threw in everything but the kitchen sink...and that could be at the VIP Hospitality area too. Oh yes..I get to take a picture with Alister McRae.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


......And I haven't even begun to write on the previous article yet! It has really been a fantastic few weeks for me....Anyway, do head over to Car Throttle as they have posted my coverage on the matter. Click HERE to head towards it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I Have Been Absolutely Busy Over The Past Weekend..........

Hello chaps! It has been a stormin' weekend for me. In so many ways.....including driving this....

 ..... for about 200km in the Malaysian sun and unfortunately, the Malaysian rain. Expect a write up soon.....as soon as I can!

Oh yes...I also managed to have a short drive in this....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Its Harry Potter Time Again, The Ford Anglia, The VW Kombi, The Morris Minor 1000 and the Perodua Myvi?

It's that time of the year again. Another Harry Potter movie for us to consume. Another Harry Potter movie for kids from age 0 to 99 to get all excited about. Another Harry Potter movie for the producers, director, stars and JK Rowling to rake hundreds of millions. Another Harry Potter movie to finish off the series.

I have posted once before about good ol', or young, Harry. To me, this chap is the ultimate nerd hero. He wears glasses. He's pretty short. He's all goody two shoes. He still lives with an uncle and aunt that hates him yet does not blast them to oblivion (or to someplace like the Bermuda Triangle) with this magic wand. He has a friend that is equally nerdy, one who has a dad that drives of all things, a Ford Anglia. He has not bonked Hermione after so many sequels even though he does have the hots for her (why Hermione seems to like nerdy ol' Harry is another thing altogether and would need some analyzing). He is also the chap that, with his friends, can outwit all the adults with years (some with centuries or eons) of experience.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Honda CRZ and One With Totally Radical Mods

I nearly threw up the tea I was having when this photo came up into my laptop. A CRZ with a turbo as big as its engine. And yes, it is still a hybrid. So it still supposedly saves the ozone layer, rain forests, tuna, whales and so on. Amazing. I promptly noted that the car is also Japan's Car of the Year, beating out the new VW Polo. This was of course the highest ranking non-Japanese car in the event, but I suppose, the CRZ had more innovation than the Polo (and that it is Japanese not German).

Click here to go read about this. Posted on Myautoblog.org, written by yours truly.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Khan & Anderson Do Some Audis....Some News Over At MyAutoblog.org

Project Khan......
 click here to read what I think about a company famous for tuned Ranger Rovers.

And click here if you want to read on the extremely slight differences on how to spot a R8 V10 from a V8...It's all down to the rims basically.

Both writtin by yours truly and posted on MyAutoblog.org. Oh, and in case you're wondering why the R8's picture is much larger than the Q7 the answer is that it looks a whole lot better than any modified SUV.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Pictures of the Proton Inspira Over At MyAutoblog.Org

Follow this link to see a photo of the meter cluster, door panel and a few more exterior shots for the Proton Inspira. IF you're interested that is.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Proton Has Recently Launched The Inspira....So How Does The Original Drive? A Look At The Lancer GT

I did an article way back in 2007 on the Mitsubishi Lancer GT when it was launched. I think it would make a compelling read to those who want to know more about the original version of the Inspira. Of course, the facelifted version of the Lancer GT with that chrome strip around the wide-mouthed grille has some better plastic than this first batch model. I really felt the plastic in this 2008 model was really, really crappy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We Have A New Formula 1 Driver's Champion

Sebastian Vettel. F1 World Chmpion. Who would have thought that would happen. After quite an impressive start and a lot of mistakes (like some shunts and funny overtaking moves) mid-season this junior driver seems to have gotten the best of double world champion Alonso who started this race 15points ahead of Vettel.

And that's all there is to know about this year's driver's championship.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Skoda Celebrates IRC Championship Win With The Fabia RS Special Edition

I somehow wish VW would let themselves go crazy on car design sometimes. The Skoda Fabia RS it a VW Polo 1.4TSI that looks like a Suzuki Swift with a chrome grille and if it had wide arches like the IRC Rally Car, it'll be super. Click here for some details on the Europe only special edition.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lotus’ New Lineup & Why I Feel Shortchanged

I wrote this editorial piece for CarThrottle.com recently on Lotus. News from Autocar said that Lotus is planning to build only the Esprit after previewing 5 cars at the Paris Motor Show recently. I feel slightly shortchanged as it's more about building hype than actually building cars. Not to mention the fact that the Lotus Esprit concept isn't that light in the first place even if they claim it is. Click here to read about it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First Impressions: Proton Inspira at its Official Launch and the Peugeot 207 Sedan

Since today was the official launch of the Proton Inspira, I decided to head over to the Proton Showroom at Jalan Ampang to get a first look at the car. 

I find it reasonably priced: 
  • Proton Inspira 1.8 M/T – RM78,999
  • Proton Inspira 1.8 CVT – RM84,999
  • Proton Inspira 2.0 CVT – RM91,999
It is basically a Mitsubishi Lancer with a happier looking front end. The Lancer frowns, like someone just recovering from constipation. The Inspira has a happier front end, with its upturned grille and lighter disposition. Of course, by giving the Inspira new bumpers front (with a different grille) and rear, a Proton badged steering wheel and engine cover as well as different rims. Even the luxury spec 2.0CVT comes with Nappa leather seats - like the Lancer GT sold locally. 

The Inspira on display is so much more Mitsubishi than Proton from what I can see. The hard plastic you feel throughout the dashboard is the same as the one in the Lancer. The feel of the plastics are similar. It is only the middle part of the steering wheel that differs from the Mitsu as it has a Proton logo embossed on it. The pedal shifts behind the wheel in the 2.0 CVT version feels similar. I only think the feel of the front door pulls are slightly better than on the original Lancer GT launched 2 years ago. It looks like Mitsubishi has improved the quality of the Lancer a tad bit and it shows in the Inspira. And that's about it. Proton has only conducted some solid badge engineering here. Much like what Perodua is doing with their cars. 

This is nothing too serious as everyone seems to be doing it throughout the world. It seems that the only real difference between the way this car and its Lancer original is the suspension. The settings Proton would have used to begin with would have come from the Lancer 2.0GLS or EX version and not the stiffly sprung GT. The good thing about not following in the Lancer GT's footsteps is that it rides too harshly for Malaysian roads. You can do grip and handling without setting up the car too firmly as some cars have shown (Proton's own Persona, Satria Neo as well as the Swift Sport are good examples). The Lancer 2.0GLS , with its smaller anti roll bars, smaller wheels, smaller diameter disc brakes and 16inch rims is a better riding car.  I have been a passenger in one and it is more suited to our road. If it rides better than the GLS I am glad. 

The 2.0CVT is called the 2.0P and the 1.8manual the 1.8E. The exterior differs in that the 2.0 comes with a body kit that includes a deeper front lip, side skirts and a skirts at each side of the rear bumper (which I can barely tell at a glance). The 1.8E comes sans bodykit (the silver car above). So how does the manual and clutch feel like? Very light and easy from the looks of it. It wouldn't be a pain to drive in traffic and the gearshift isn't notchy too. However, the gear knob is just hard plastic. I'd get rid of it and fix one of those MOMO ones if I bought one.

(note the manual gear knob - imagine that, a reasonably priced 1.8liter car with manual transmission sold in Malaysia!)

The engines are pure Mitsubishi. The 2.0 runs the more familiar 4B11 engine that powers the Lancer GT we see on our roads. The 1.8 is its baby brother. Everything should sound the same including that slightly tinny (and pathetic) sounding exhaust note of the Lancer.

Would I buy the darn thing? I would if I was looking for a decent family sedan. Right now you get more Mitsubishi parts on the car as it is still the first round of Inspiras. I looked at the radiator and found the words 'CALSONIC KANSEI Made in Japan' on the radiator. I peered into the engine bay deeper and noticed that the brake master pump still wore the Mitsubishi Three Pointed Diamond logo. Why waste your money on a Mitsubishi when you can buy this cheaper? 

In fact, I 'd now have to say that for around RM80k-90K. This is a better buy than a Vios, City and the Latio as these are smaller in size and have lesser technology built into them. All the cars mentioned have beam axles for crying out loud. The Inspira is a whole class bigger and has multi-link suspension and a 1.8liter and 2.0liter options. If you compared it with the Kia Forte it would be a close call as both are of the same price and size category (although the Lancer is actually even bigger).

But if you compared it to the newly launched Peugeot 207 Sedan, the Inspira wins by a million, trillion, zillion miles. The 207 Sedan isn't a 207. It is a 206 with a boot and a 207 front end grafted to it. It was made specially for the growing Chinese, Iran and  poor developing nations.

 For its price of RM73K or thereabouts, it is horrid. The interior is horrid (made of hard plastic that looks so bad that even a Proton Saga's interior is classy). The driving position is horrid. The overall shape is horrid (It's worse than the previous generation Honda City as it has a tall ride height making it look even more horrid in real life - press pictures show its best - somewhat like the hippo horrid 3008). The handling must also be horrid as I looked at the promotional video and it was bobbing its tail and nose all the way through a corner like someone stepping out from the pub after too many Jack Daniels - it looked utterly awful. I would get car sick if I was a passenger in that 207. How they managed to show a promo video like this and expect people to think that that bobbing and swaying equals to sublime handling is beyond me. The car is just horrible....... and after looking through it, sitting in it and taking a final glance at it I don't even have the appetite to test drive one. How can anyone would want to buy this car at RM73,000 remains a mystery. 

Is Malaysia a third world dumping ground for automobiles? Just because its a Peugeot doesn't mean you should go out and buy one. So if you're looking at a decent family sedan that's priced below RM100K, look at the Inspira. Ignore all those comments about badge engineering as folks, this is Malaysia. This is the best deal you can get at the moment. Your complaints about AFTA, high vehicle prices and what nots will not be listened too. You want a decent drive? Drive the Inspira and make it into an Inspiralution, as you have no choice. The other new car called the 207 sedan is actually a fate worse than getting stuck in the middle of a mine field while being blindfolded.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

How To Name A Successful Sports Car Company

I have put my theory about naming a successful sports car company in writing over at Carthrottle.com. I believe the correct name is very important if you don't have heritage like Ferrari, Porsche or Maserati. Click here to go directly to the article.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Let Me Answer Some of The Web Queries This Site is Getting.....

Recently I've noticed a lot of web queries for certain topics. Like "Can Audi use Ron 95?" or "Malaysia Toyota Prius vs Peugeot 3008. There are others out there but I shall answer a few here today. Whether the answer helps you is another matter. But I suppose its the thought that counts.

Let's begin with "Can Audi Use Ron 95"..can it really use RON 95?

Yes it can.

As the question isn't a specific one, how can anyone answer it any other way? You haven't searched "Can an Audi 100 from 1980 use RON95?" or "Can my B8 Audi A4 use RON 95?". Anyway, all modern cars have such a thing as an owner's handbook where you can refer to such a question. And if you look at most modern cars fuel filler flap, it will have a sticker that will tell you what petrol you can use or cannot use. Your eyes are there for a reason.

And seriously folks...most new cars have knock sensors and can use RON95...read what I've said about it here. AND on the B8 A4 1.8TFSI, yes, the car runs on RON95 without any hiccups.

Next question: "Malaysia Toyota Prius vs Peugeot 3008"

The answer is if you buy either one you lose. The Prius does not win, the Peugeot 3008 does not win also. Both are cheesy vehicles.But the biggest loser is you. The fella who bought either vehicle.

The Prius has two engines that make tiny power, it is a hybrid which means that it is practically useless as basically its fuel economy isn't as good as you think. And to produce it Toyota releases more hydrocarbons and toxins than a standard 1.6liter sedan. You want to save the world? Walk or but a small 1.0liter city car as it'll give you the same mileage.

On the Peugeot 3008. Why on earth do you want to go around driving a hippopotamus? Buy something nicer looking for Godssake!

Next question: "Compare power campro 1.6 vs altis 1.6 vs 308"
I gather the 308 isn't a Ferrari 308GTB that Thomas Magnum uses in the show Magnum PI. That old Ferrari would wipe the floors out of the cars in question. So it must be a Peugeot 308 VTI we're talking about here.
The MACAMpro engine makes 123bhp (125ps) and 150Nm torque in full trim, the new altis makes 118bhp (120ps) and 154nm, the 308 vti non turbo makes 120bhp and 160Nm.

Now if fitted in the Satria Neo, which weighs 1227kg in auto form it will have a power to weight ratio of 100bhp/ton (which is actually darn sad for a hot looking hatch). In the Altis 1.6, which weighs 1250kgs, it has a power to weight ratio of 95bhp/ton and in the Peugeot 308 vti, it will have a power to weight ratio of 91bhp/ton because it is a heavy 1,310kg. 

All of these cars have a 4 speed auto gearbox, so basically they are as handicapped as each other. If you're talking about pulling power, or accelerative force, I'd say that the Neo pips them all as it is the lightest. 

The best engine among all three cars above would be in the Peugeot, as it is smooth unlike the other two. I suppose this could be down to it being designed partly by BMW for the Mini Cooper and the fact that the campro is a noisy raucous fella with little soundproofing. The Corolla's engine is as laidback as the design. Faultless maybe but utterly boring. I remember sitting in an Altis and feeling extremely sleepy after a short while. 

Anyway, even though the Pug has the best engine here, it has to haul so much weight that the performance would be mediocre compared to the other two. You must remember, the Pug is a good 60kg heavier than the next car here. It's like carrying an extra passenger even before you actually start carrying anyone in the first place. 

And Finally one more for the road : "Altis vs Slyphy"

The Altis - a car that makes you sleep. an unclemobile.
The Syphilis - a car named so close to the veneral disease that is also an unclemobile.

The answer to the question is the same as the question asked about the 3008 and the Savetheworldmobile. Buy either one and you lose. Buying either car tells me that you aren't interested in motoring in the first place. You only want decent transport with mild mannered handling and something that allows you to blend with the crowd. And you are an uncle even before you're really one. 
Buy a Mazda 3, a Honda Civic, a Lancer GT or even a Kia Forte (as it looks darn good). Get a life.The hell with resale value and all that logical crap. Go buy a VW Polo 1.2TSI and your life will be a better one, even though it may be smaller in size.

There. I hope some of the above answers life's greatest mysteries. In the meantime, let's appreciate this photo below of someone having the guts to drive around in a Chana MPV for the world to see. He must be the 5th owner of the car in Malaysia as this is the fifth one I've seen on the road in ages. Must be a very brave man to have bought this...must also hate cars as he cannot tell the difference between driving one and a Toyota Alphard as most probably the salesperson must have said that "Bro, this is like a Mini Alphard Bro...."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some Articles of Interest Over at MyAutoblog.org

I've written some stuff over at myautoblog.org this past week and here they are:

 Interested in more Proton Inspira thoughts? Click here to read about them.

You've heard of people over here in the forums doing group buys for car parts. This is the first I've heard of 150 guys getting together to purchase 150 Mercedes Benzes. Maybe this could only happen in Aurangabad, India. Click here to read about these 150 massive discount seeking car buyers.

I don't like the Toyota Prius as it has two engines. A good small diesel could beat the crap out of it in mileage contests. Anyway, the Prius, or some people say PIOUS-  since its supposedly all goodly, saintly and green and such, is actually more polluting to produce than a conventional car. Enviromental savings are of course marginally better when you start driving it of course. Click here to read about it.

2011MY SPEC GT-R and the GT-R EGOIST, a USD$185,000 luxury specced Nissan GT-R. A GT-R for Ferrari money. Read more about it here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Perodua Myvi As A Performance Car? Pink Elephants Can Fly.

The Perodua Myvi is unquestionably the most popular small hatchback in Malaysia. This one, pictured above in Pink, belongs to my better half. But, yours truly has been driving it around town over the past week or so.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Review On The Nexen N8000 Tire Is Out....

Posted on CarThrottle.com. Best bang for buck tire this year. Tested in the Audi A4 1.8TFSI and also on my little Impreza TS. Click here to go directly to the article.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sometime Before The Inspira Preview, Proton Recalls The Gen2 and Satria Neo......

The recall is for something called a clock spring. The clock spring isn't part of a clock people. Somehow I noticed that in the local dailies this was not mentioned in detail. I gather if you just glanced through the articles you'd think that some part of a digital clock sitting in the meter console of a Gen2 or a Neo could cause a meltdown in the Airbag and steering controls of the car.

 It affects all Gen2 and Satria Neo made during April 2004 to June 2008, mainly for all airbag equipped versions of the cars mentioned above - And they only made 15,911 units of both cars equipped with airbags sold globally. There are of course more Gen2s and Neos plying the roads of Malaysia, but most are non-airbag cars. Ah, how Proton skimps out on all the safety for the sake of profit. 

Let me educate you guys on the clock spring then. It isn't any part of a clock...in a car that is. It is a "spring under or inside the middle section of a steering wheel. It ensures a positive connection between the steering column’s wiring harness and whatever controls are on the steering wheel (radio, cruise control, etc), and especially the airbag igniter. The connection works even when you're busy turning the wheel. This is what a clock spring is for in a steering wheel.

It is amazing that a small insignificant item like a spring can wreak so much damage in a car these days. 

There are some who have joked around that this item is really clock related. Somehow the clock in the car is connected by a thin wire that runs through the steering wheel from the dashboard as that it shares the same electrical power supply. Who knows? Being  a Proton, some say that it could actually be true.

Car Technology 101 over here today has been brought to you by the letter R and the word; RECALL.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


And Proton Creates A Whole New Generation of Wiralutions......with the new Inspira. Just imagine, a whole new bunch of Mitsubishi Lancer aping Inspiras out there. It isn't that hard. The lights look the same. Just bumpers, wider side fenders front and rear, rear valance and a tall spoiler isn't hard for local fiber-glass companies to get it looking very much like an EVO X (Like this RS pictured below)

Let's call this new Evo clones the INSPIRALUTION. Totally inspired badge engineering from Proton. I hope it does sell. The Lancer GT and GLS (of which the Inspira seems to be more based on) is indeed a half decent car with with very good handling, high cornering grip (in  GT form), a fidgety ride (more so in the GT form), rubber band CVT gearbox (not as bad as some earlier CVT boxes) and an actually terrible plasticky interior (which explains why all Protons have terrible interiors as Mitsubishi can't seem to make a decent interior to this day).

 I may write about an end of term report about the Lancer GT as a friend of mine used it for a good two years and then sold it off once he caught a glimpse of spy shots of the Inspira. He managed to get RM100,000 for it and now he heard its going for around RM80,000 after a period of about 6 months.

Anyway, expect an ATTACK OF THE CLONES over a a local teh tarik stall nearby soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Very Fast Skoda Spotted and Some Thoughts About Rare (Performance) Cars Sold in Malaysia

Yellow and rare. No. Not a canary but a Skoda Octavia VRS going for what I think is a pre-delivery inspection at the Puspakom in Glenmarie, Shah Alam. The reason it is so rare in Malaysia is that no one buys Skodas. Under Berjaya Automotive Skoda has been floundering. Not because the cars are bad, but because Malaysians being Malaysians, cars without any resale value is never looked at. Maybe its the name. SKODA. Can you seriously feel any good vibes if you tell people you drive a Skoda? Even though it is some Czech name in the first place.

"Hello, that's a nice Skoda you have."
"Why thank you."

I doubt such a conversation would happen.

The great thing is that there is someone brave, or crazy enough to spend at least RM200,000 on a top of the line Skoda Octavia. A VRS comes with a 2.0TSI engine that you see in the Golf GTI or the Audi A4 2.0TFSI Quattro sold here in Malaysia. It comes with either a DSG 6 speeder or a 6 speed manual. This yellow one came with a DSG box.

The thing about this is that is SHOULD be much cheaper than the two cars mentioned above. What you do get is a Golf MK5 chassis with the same engine and a ridiculously huge boot, as it has a rear sloping hatch even though it looks like a sedan. Its a fastback/liftback. It could be the dream Golf GTI for some, name aside. A boot to carry tons of stuff.

Anyway, this new VRS looked like it came with all the goodies. A 200bhp, 280Nm direct injection engine, the superb VW Dual Clutch Gearbox and a boot. Hmm. Practicality and power in the same sentence. Must be the family man in me typing. Help!

I must applaude the person buying this car. Yes it does look good, for an elongated GTI. The bonnet has some interesting humps and creases. That grille aggressive. And those lights are pretty cool. A small 'Octavia' is engraved into each side of the headlight casing. I think when those VW/Audi fans in Malaysia start opening up their eyes to the VRS, Skoda will go places. Bang for buck they say. And wait till this car gets on the second hand market. It should be dirt cheap.

While I would say that buying a Skoda means that you must be crazy. I think it would be crazier if you went out and bought a Saab here in Malaysia. Saabs are even more rare than Skoda these days. People who buy Saab think they're buying a fighter plane. No. The Saab that makes the Grypen or the Viggen isn't the same company. It hasn't been for awhile.

But I think one brand that beats 'em all. According to what I'm aware, local Renault importer TC Eurokars brought in and sold some Clio Sports and some Megane Sport or RS 2nd generation  a couple of years ago. These cars,I've read are great handling cars. One that I would appreciate. However, the two cars, especially the Megane RS came into Malaysia just as Renault were launching the new models of both cars in Europe. There should be at least 10 units of the Clio Sports and Megane RS that have been brought into Malaysia. I mean any less it would be uneconomical to maintain a catalog of spares for the cars.

You can't seem to see any of these on the road. The question is, who the heck actually bought them and if there are people who actually bought them, why aren't they being driven? I've only seen one Clio Sport at Sepang once and a blue Megane RS over a 6 month period. Do they buy these cars, supposedly drivers cars to park them at home? These are just hot hatches, not Italian exoticars. Why aren't these cars driven?

While I am talking about the performance versions of the cars above. There was also a 1.6 Clio 4 door hatch being sold alongside the two. But I haven't even seen one of those on the roads of Petaling Jaya or Kuala Lumpur recently. If I did see one, it'll be close to the Renault showroom in Section 13, Petaling Jaya. That would be a test drive vehicle.

Or are they just Renaults, being typically French, temperamental and when pushed (like when the Germans invaded France) break down all the time?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Those New Lotuses Previewed All Look The Same Don't They?

Yes they do. New models that, aside from the 4 door Eterne, look too similar to one another. I suppose rich customers, some of which want individuality would rush out buy an Esprit (one of the cars above) for about 150,000pounds then someone coming up to him and saying  " Allo Guv, isn't that the new Elise you just bought?". Wouldn't they be slightly miffed?

Click here to read about my thoughts on the Lotuses. Posted on myautoblog.org, written by yours truly.

Friday, October 08, 2010

More on the W124 Featured Earlier and What Can Be Expected over the next few months.

The Mercedes Benz W124 200E I wrote about earlier has basically undergone a very thorough transformation. I decided to get it posted over at CarThrottle.com. Click here to read Part 1 of the article. Part II has also been posted. Do check the articles out for a total write up on the W124.

Update On What May Be Coming

I had the opportunity to drive two icons recently. One is current and already a handling icon, made by Mazda and is a Roadster. The other car is another three pointed star saloon  that I think is the best 4 door saloon in the world, albeit in the year 1992 that is. These two test reviews may take a while as I do have a day job too, remember? And great work cannot be rushed, so they say.....

You guys also should be reading soon about what I think about the slew of Lotus cars that were recently on display at the Paris Motor Show. That will be over in myautoblog.org soon.

There will also be some stuff on myautoblog about a recent trip to Ipoh. Some travel stuff to get the people over at the Lion City to start exploring Malaysia instead of driving around that City state only. I haven't started this yet and like the two test reviews above, greatness cannot be rushed........

One of two other articles are also planned. It also involves a shocking discovery at the local Toy'r'Us. A toy which I think is pretty sad in my opinion.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Hari Raya Verandah Talk, A Morris Oxford, The Proton Saga and An Old Fiat

I responded, “It looks like a Morris Oxford.”

- Somewhere behind all the MPVs, national cars and a Toyota is a tiny Impreza 1.6TS-

Eid Ul-Fitr. Or for the normal Malaysian Hari Raya Puasa. A time where the whole of Malaysia goes on leave. Somewhat like Chinese New Year, but with more shops open. A time where a lot of people make that big trip back to their hometown or go on a holiday. Roads are jammed but people are generally happy. Millions of Ringgit flow within the country and also out of the country. It doesn't matter, what matters is that there are a lot of family gatherings during that point of time.

I happened to be at one of those family gatherings. My own family gathering of course. Hari Raya eve was basically a Hari Raya event all by itself. If you were in a small town somewhere in the heart of Malaysia like I was, a lot of things were happening. In the kitchen a majority of the womenfolk are busy preparing various forms of food for the big day tomorrow. Outside in the garden the children are busy with sparklers and other forms of (illegal) fireworks. The men are also outdoors, sitting on the verandahs, having a cigarette or two, talking about local politics and then suddenly, about a little Malaysian car.

The 2nd Generation Proton Saga to be exact. “It has a very high roof doesn't it?” mentioned Uncle O as he strummed his guitar. “And it looks kind of familiar....like a car from thosa days.”

I responded, “It looks like a Morris Oxford.”

Uncle A agreed “Yes it somehow does. With its high roof, thin sides and all. Very funny looking”

The Saga became a conversation piece that night. I suppose it was because there was one parked in the garage at the rear of the house that day. That Saga belonged to my aunt, and it was about a year old but due to its slightly awkward looks it became something two fifty-somethings, a thirty-something and a university student wanted to talk about. How interesting.

“The Morris Oxford was a very British car, hence the high roof. It was made at a time where Englishmen wore hats everywhere. They had trilbys, fedoras, top hats and so on. In fact cars like the Oxford and the London black cab was designed with a high roof so that gentlemen could keep their hats on when they are in the car.” I continued. “So why does the Saga have such a high roof in a day and age where no one uses hats anymore?”

Uncle A mentioned in Malay/English “Saja aje. Proton apa.” which basically means 'For fun I suppose, as its a Proton'. Of course, this cynical view is actually shared by most Malaysians. So it is nothing new.

Of course Uncle A knew that the Saga was born from the Proton Savvy. The Savvy's chassis was massaged and stretched to accommodate a boot instead of a rear hatch. It basically kept the same roof height so that the costs can be kept down. Things like the front windscreen and everything from the B-pillars forward can be shared with the Savvy. Certain panels like the bonnet, fenders aside the Saga does share the same basic floorpan as the Savvy. So in keeping costs down, the Saga is basically a tall, narrow car with small wheel arches. And so, because of this is looks ultra dumpy looking. It is a car for transport and nothing more.

There isn't an ounce of styling flair in it. Every panel looks like it has cost in mind. The less cost the better. If cost weren't so much as an issue, the Saga wouldn't have shared the same roofline. In fact, most cars that are derived from a hatchback look slightly ugly. The Proton Persona being an exception. The ugliest hatch to sedans these days are the Nissan Latio sedan, the previous Honda City (which is the ugliest post-2000 car in the whole universe) and that upcomming 207 sedan, which looks like a 207 hatch with a rear end designed by someone with the aesthetic values of a baboon holding a paintbrush trying to emulate Sergio Pininfarina.

The Proton Saga is therefore a souless, style free car for the masses. One that for some reason is liked by people who wish to convert them into Subaru Impreza clones even though it does not look like one. Even if you had too many spiked drinks or taken a couple dozen anti-depressants it still does not look like one. It doesn't even look like an Audi for Godssake, but that doesn't stop the Proton Saga owners one bit. Someone should anyway.

So it looks like a Morris Oxford. Or so I thought during Hari Raya. But then I remembered another car that had the same narrow chassis, a square body that is slightly rounded off at its edges, small wheelarches with the rear tires close to the wheel arch and a high roofline. Something Italian, but budget Italian, and still a car for the masses. It looked like a 1950s Fiat 1100.
 -blue Saga image from Paultan-

Yes it does. Take a look at the pictures. The Fiat 1100 does have the same stance as the Proton Saga. Amazing. A design that basically draws similarities to a car five decades ago. The only thing was, fifty years ago there was a reason for such a high roof. Today, the only reason for the high roof is out of cost. And the fact that some people (here in Malaysia) tend to view roof space as important in a car. They view this fact more than having legroom sometimes. An illusion of space is better than actual space.

If you've been in a Saga you'd know that it is all headroom and not so much legroom (at the rear). A Myvi has better legroom in my opinion. A Perodua Myvi is a hatchback, hence the high roof also makes sense as you can actually load tall stuff through the hatch. In a Saga, it is all about cost, keeping the same roofline of the Savvy. You cannot carry any tall items from IKEA in it. And check out that Fiat's headroom. Familiar isn't it? If you checked out the plastics in the Saga you'd find them as hard as the steel and bakelite that is on the old Fiat's dashboard. Fifty years and you still get hard materials everywhere in the Saga.

So what is the actual point of this article then? Nothing serious actually. This is just to tell you guys out there that the Saga was designed with cost in mind, very little soul is involved in designing it and its sole purpose is to become a cash cow for a company. And it also looks like cars are being designed like the cars fifty years ago. And it shows. But the old Fiat 1100 looks more characterful in these old ads, even though it is also a car for the masses. Things were more soulful those days.

Anyway, Hari Raya was fun. Everyone ate, slept and were merry. Topics changed mid-way and soon we were chatting about food, the education system and politics. The Saga's high roof was forgotten, as was its lack of passion and soul.