Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When a Key is Not a Key or When an Automatic is Called Something Fancy

Yes. We have a key called an 'Emotion Control Unit" by Aston Martin and now Lotus calling the Automatic gearbox an "Intelligent Precision Shift" in the new Evora IPS. It is basically an automatic gearbox. The people in marketing have decided to crack their heads over something so mundane as a normal torque convertor type automatic transmission because they did some tweaking here and there.

Now as a result of this, I hereby declare that the driver's side door of any car be called ........
“The Gateway Towards Speed, Power and Glory”

This makes perfect sense doesn't it? Click here to read the article I wrote for CarThrottle.com.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2011 JDM/2012MY GT-R Has The Seat Color That I've Always Wanted in A GT-R

Something I've always wanted in a GT-R. Sakura colored seats. It should go very well with the blue shirt I am wearing. The 2012 Model Year GT-R specifications have been leaked. I happened to review it on MyAutoBlog.Org. Click here to read about it.

Joy Is Irritating

Ah....The BMW marketing people. How irritating Joy has recently become because of them. Click here to read the article that I recently wrote for CarThrottle.com

Friday, August 27, 2010

Some Interesting Pieces That I Did for MyAutoBlog

Here are some pieces of news that I recently wrote for MyAutoblog.org. Nothing unusual. But they do tell you the latest happenings around.

  • Ultra expensive BMW E92 M3 GTS is only fractionally faster than older E46 M3 CSL. Around US$170,000 but only gives you a second faster than the older car. Click here to read it and what I think about it.

  • The 'Unclemobile' Toyota Corolla Altis gets facelifted in Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand - it gets s 1.6liter with more grunt and a 6 speed manual -which is very appealing to me but most probably will never be sold here due to a supposed lack of demand for a manual gearbox. Why can't Malaysians want a car with these options so that it gets sold here? They also get a 2.0liter 6speed CVT with paddle shifters - which is what we may get when the facelift arrives. But CVT gearboxes actually aren't nice. They hold on to high revs while the speed catches up instead of climbing up together. Droney and rubber band in feel. Read this here and expect a Toyota Altis facelift sometime soon.
There are other articles of course. All you have to do is go over there to read about it. 

The Last GT-Four

I recently did this piece on the Toyota Caldina GT-Four for CarThrottle.com. The last of the Mohicans, the last of its kind for the time being maybe. All in all, the Caldina is a nice looking station wagon, and that's about it really. The rest is very typical Toyota. Smooth, linear in its power delivery, long lasting reliability and quality. It makes easy cruising at 150-170km/h (higher speeds are possible but the 4 speed autobox limits refinement a tad bit) . But do not expect it to be like an Impreza WRX or a Civic Type R or a Lancer Evolution. Do not even expect it to be as sporty as a Celica GT-Four. Which actually isn't that mind blowing also as its smooth, linear and feels too refined to be an all out sports car - a sports tourer maybe. Even though it is a rally special.

I should know as I have driven both. Do expect it to be a refined, grand tourer, fast enough to take out those pesky MPVs that litter the highway during festive occasions as well as those seemingly impatient Honda Accord and Toyota Camry drivers that flash their headlights as if they are the only cars fast enough on our roads.

Anyway, I am babbling a bit. Click here if you want to read the article.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Top Performance Tip For This Month of Ramadhan

This is a top performance tip from yours truly.......

The month of Ramadhan is a good time for all motorheads, especially if you're fasting. If you lose 5kgs by fasting, your car will have improved power to weight ratio. Your car will accelerate slightly faster than before. For example -Your car makes 100bhp and weighs 1,000+ 90kg (that you weigh) = 91.7bhp/ton. If you weigh 5kg less = 92.1bhp/ton. See the marked improvement?

A heads up to Mr. Zairul Nizar for the fruitful discussion we had last Saturday night on this performance tip and other really interesting stuff (which was really really interesting, mind you)!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ramadhan Musings, the Perodua Nautica's a failure and the Daihastu Copen

It’s the month of Ramadhan or the month of Fasting for Muslims all over the universe. Now things usually slow down to a crawl’s pace if you’re dealing with the Government as everyone is tired, sleepy, thirsty and hungry. This happens in a country where there is a large Muslim population. But all the better, the pace slows down. There are less queues at most payment counters, there are more parking spots around my office building, there are also less people on the roads during lunch time too.

There are however more traffic jams at around 5.00pm or so as everyone wants to get home at the same time. There is an increase in sugar consumption as everyone buys kuih that is sold at those “Params”, which is actually short for ‘Pasar Ramadhan’ or the Ramadhan food market. Where Malaysians from all walks of life buy all sorts of Malay food sold there. By Malaysians I mean everyone. Not only those that are fasting mind you.

Anyway, this is also the time where I don’t frequent these places. The food sold there isn’t actually that fabulous. Most are cooked with less passion and soul than the people at Proton assembling the Saga. Most are selling food for the sake of making money. Which is why the food from some of these stalls are truly and deeply horrific. Which is the reason I now refuse to go to these ‘Params’ unless my life depended upon it. Food that is prepared without passion is somehow less tasteful.

 But since you can get food almost everywhere, and if you’re like me, able to whip up food that Jamie Oliver would be proud of and the added bonus of a wife that can really cook. Why bother going to these passionless food stalls. If it’s a restaurant I wouldn’t mind, as they’re in this business for the long run. They’ve got a reputation to maintain.

Yes there are those that actually have restaurants but sell their stuff at these ‘Params’, but why do you want to suffer the haphazard traffic and parking caused by those inconsiderate buffoons who think that they’re the only ones who are fasting and cause a traffic jam? Just cook your own, or buy from a proper restaurant. The food is healthier, better and you know where it is from.

Anyway, have any of you seen a Perodua Nautica (nee Daihatsu Terios/Toyota Rush) on the road lately? Well I haven’t. I suppose Perodua only sold seven of them since 2008. Now I remember the smart Alec people in Perodua at the point of the Nautica’s launching telling the press that we have to import and sell the Nautica at a premium price due to the small volume of sales. See what happened? No one wanted a RM90k SUV that was tiny.

One other really glaring reason was the Toyota Rush. Toyota brought in the Indonesian Rush which is basically a 2WD long wheel based version of the Rush/Daihatsu Terios. This car had more space, better trimming and was almost cheaper than the fully imported 4WD Nautica. While imported, it did feel cheaper as there were no plastic trimmings on the wheel arches and the interior was plainer. Perodua brought in a pretty basic vehicle and wanted people to pay a lot for it.

The Toyota Rush had 2WD. But no one actually bought a Nautica or the previous Kembara for its off-road capabilities. Malaysians wanted a cut price RAV4. This is all. The tall driving position was favored by the women as it enabled them to drive in the city with ease. Unintimidated by other drivers around them. This had nothing to do with the Nautica’s capabilities at all. And then you add the fact that Malaysians think of resale value and branding, where Toyota seems to come up better than Perodua in both areas you now know why the Rush keeps selling and the Nautica didn’t.

So this was niche marketing and product sales that had basically failed. But I am suggesting that Perodua ‘Think Niche’ again. This time bring in that Daihatsu Copen and rebadge it as a Perodua. The Copen has been around for a while already (since 2002) and it is a nice small starter ‘coupe’ for Malaysians. If you think about it that is.

Imagine Perodua bringing this tiny, tiny coupe into Malaysia. Use the Myvi 1.3liter engine like the European versions of the Copen and you have a cheap to maintain little coupe. The mechanical parts are shared and only the body parts are different. Since the car has been in production for a while in Japan, parts for this car could be cheaper already. I mean this little car costs slightly more than the Terios (about SG$95k over sg$85k) in Singapore so it could be sold at around the same RM90k that Perodua was asking for the Nautica.

Yes, I am well aware that Top Gear said the Copen is ‘slightly gay’ but it is a sports coupe. It is a niche vehicle. It is cute. Lots of Malaysian women would want one. The fact that the car sits two is immaterial as no one actually buys a Nautica as a family car in the first place. I usually see one or two people in a Kembara usually.

In fact, if it is cheap, there would be quite a few men who would buy this as their weekend car. They’ll make it a little butch by changing the rims and tires. Put in a noisier exhaust system. They’ll also slap on those stickers here and there to try making it into a race car lookalike. Take a look at this slightly modded Copen below and then tell me it doesn’t look good eh? (pic:bespokeventures.com)

I mean, when was the last time a Malaysian company produced something really sporty looking? I wouldn’t call the Satria Neo CPS to be something truly sporty. It is a warm hatch. But does it look unique? In fact the last quite unique looking Malaysian car was the Putra. Think about it. Two doors, a boot. Very coupe. Not very Hot Hatch like. While a hot hatch is nice to drive, a road presence of a coupe is nicer.

So no matter how ginger beer, hairdresser’s car, girly or tiny looking the Copen is. I believe that this car would be a great addition to Perodua’s stable. Hello, anyone from Perodua reading this? Import the Daihatsu Copen in and sell it for RM90k. And people will buy.

If it doesn’t sell, well, at least you’re willing to bring some life into a quite dull and normal Malaysian car industry. Unlike the Nautica that is.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010