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

.CAR WARS:THE ATTACK OF THE CLONE - PROTON'S NEW INSPIRA

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."
"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.  

Monday, October 04, 2010

Audi's Quattro Concept Car and My Thoughts About It.

....... It's not that my views will actually make people in Audi have nightmares or have a negative effect on the general public's perception of their latest, greatest and maybe production capable Ur-Quattro replacement. But do click here to read about what I think.Published on-line via myautoblog.org

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Joy is Irritating. Part II

I did this article for CarThrottle. This time BMW's marketing men have decided to start a Reverse Psychology campaign by starting a 'Don't blog about this' website and what not. Basically in this age of viral marketing, i.e the internet and its various networking sites, such a thing will never ever happen. I suppose BMW knows this too and decides to be a little clever. Supposedly clever. Stick to building them cars properly, and people will buy 'em. There is no need to try so hard.

Click here to read about it.

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