Saturday, July 21, 2012
It seems that Suzuki will launch the already old new Suzuki Swift early next year. What this means is that we Malaysians will be getting the new Swift just in time for its mid-life facelift. The reason is that the 3rd generation Suzuki Swift was officially launched late 2010 with production going on full swing sometime January/February 2011. It is mid-2012 right now and the new Swift has been in production for a good one and a half years at the very least. By 2013, it'll be two and a half years and just ripe for a facelift - the last Swift had a 6 year production lifespan, so by mid-2013, the new one should be nearing its mid-life and due for a facelift or something like a facelift.
So before I continue babbling and whining about how ridiculously late the Swift has been in reaching our shores, I would like to inform you readers out there that Suzuki Malaysia should be bringing out the new Swift by early 2013 (January/February? I have no actual idea). It will come in 1.4liter form as there is no longer a 1.5liter option made by Suzuki. There is a 1.2liter and a 1.4liter as well as the Swift Sport's 1.6liter engine. The new 1.4liter engine is allegedly slightly down on power and torque compared to the earlier 1.5liter engine but it is supposedly 12% more efficient overall coupled with a slightly lighter chassis. So it still shouldn't be a bad drive as handling and ride as as good as the previous generation or better.
Anyway, the Malaysian specced Suzuki Swfit 1.4 will come with the same 4 speed automatic transmission with the new CVT option only for the Swift Sport. It may be launched right from the start in CKD (Completely Knocked Down) form with kits most probably coming from Suzuki's Rayong plant in Thailand since Suzuki has recently started assembly of the Swift over there. Then again, Suzuki could take advantage of AFTA and just bring in the Swift from Thailand. Who knows.
Next, the new Suzuki Swift Sport with its 1.6liter engine and options for a 6 speed manual and CVT automatic should arrive in CBU form mid-2013. Better late than never?
So why has it been so late? I suppose Suzuki wanted to finish off its stocks for the current Malaysian assembled Suzuki Swift and wanted to jump straight into local assembly instead of importing the Swift in prior to that. Sometimes, local assembly makes us get cars a little late. I suppose this is the price to pay for a Swift that would cost approximately RM70K instead of RM80K.
Anyway, where did I come up with such information and is the information to be trusted? I have no idea how true all of the above is but it does come from a seemingly reliable source. Usually such sources are quite reliable when you actually plonk a wad of cash in front of them. In this case, a new Suzuki Alto. A nice bronze/brown one. Stay tuned folks.
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Update - Photos and Initial Opinion - HERE
Monday, July 16, 2012
We now can tell the rest of the world that we now have Aston Martin in our backyard. Aston Martin has finally landed officially in Malaysia with the opening of its new showroom in Petaling Jaya earlier today.
Aston Martin Kuala Lumpur is run by the Berjaya Group via Jelita Seleksi Sdn Bhd and a collaboration with Aston Martin Singapore who basically owns the rights to distributorship in Singapore and Malaysia. Nothing out of the ordinary as they've had this arrangement worked out years before anyone thought about it. So kudos to those involved.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Mazda's local partners Bermaz Motor Sdn Bhd seems pretty committed towards the brand here in Malaysia as they've recently unveiled their largest showroom in this region (Southeast Asia). Four stories tall with two display areas, a workshop and office totalling 130,000 square feet is pretty large for a brand that is only starting its revival locally.
Those that are old enough would remember that Mazda sold in decent numbers in the 1980s with the Mazda 323, 626 and after Proton came along, things got quieter and quieter and quieter for the brand. Only AP or grey imports (RX-7s usually), the Bongo vans and the 4x4 kept Mazda afloat until Bermaz took over a few years ago.
I suppose this is also due to the strength of the Mazda cars – the Mazda 3, Mazda 6 look and drive great and now they're pushing their holistic car concept called SkyActiv, things are bound to be better. SkyActiv is Mazda's total concept for car engineering. They intend to concentrate on building conventional (non hybrid or fuel cell cars) utilizing their know-how and technology to the fullest making the most efficient engines, transmissions, body and chassis. Every efficient part translates to total fuel savings and vehicle efficiency. I personally believe this is quite true as a leaner, meaner car usually gives the best performance.
Anyway, Mazda also believes that hybrid technology means batteries that have toxic chemicals in them (or in their manufacturing processes) and are therefore not as environmentally friendly as they may seem. I see this is actually true especially in Malaysia where we don't even know how our used batteries are disposed. Do we even care?
Mazda also believes that fuel cell technology or other forms of alternative fuel would need lots of investment, and Mazda being Mazda, one of the smaller producers of cars in Japan does not have the financial strength to simply pour money down strange technology at the moment.
Anyway, Mazda's SkyActiv seems like a good bet for this company and one which we will be seeing more in cars like the Mazda CX-5 which was displayed together with the new Mazda BT-50 pickup (no SkyActiv tech here as yet but eventually Mazda will ensure that such technology will trickle down to its diesel cars – very important in European markets where diesel is popular).
So aside from the food, pretty usherttes, an equally gorgeous emcee, string quartet and a kendo display we had the President and CEO of Mazda Mr Takashi Yamanouchi attending the launch together with the Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia, Mr Shigeru Nakamura (who incidently arrived in a Lexus – can't blame the chap) as well as chaps from three different Mazda clubs in Malaysia – the Mazda Club, Mazda 3 club and the RX-8 club. The Mazda 3 club president must have spent the whole afternoon doing up his hair and must have used a ton of styling gel in the process. Well dress chap he was anyway, here seen receiving a momento from Mr Yamanouchi .
Anyway, Mazda via Bermaz intends to ensure that its customers get the best Mazda experience they can find outside of Japan. They are currently offering Mazda customers 3 years free maintenance (inclusive of spare parts) and 3 years warranty. Tyres and brake pads aren't covered though. This little gesture enhances their “peaceful ownership experience” promise and actually is pretty good. I somehow think 3 years is good enough as most Malaysians end up changing so many things to their cars after the first few years voiding their supposed 5 year warranty given by some manufacturers here.
So things are fine and dandy on the Malaysian front. Customers get a nice Mazda experience and Mazda hopes to increase their sales to at least 9,000 units per year. They had sold 6,000 units in 2011 and this was a good increase from the tiny 800 or so units sold three years prior, when Bermaz first took over Mazda in Malaysia.
At the press conference which I attended whilst other non-media guest were already busy having dinner, those of us were given the opportunity to ask some questions. We found out that Mazda will launch 8 new models over the next 5 years. All will be SkyActiv based cars which I presume would include the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. No sign of a rotary engined RX-7 or RX-8 replacement soon as when asked, the CEO of Mazda wasn't letting any information leak. He only mentioned that there will be a coupe launched as part of the 8 new models planned.
I personally asked whether Mazda will build budget cars like the Toyota Vios or Honda City. He answered that Mazda will not go the regional specific car route and will focus on quality and build on its current line-up. No sacrifice in quality for more sales. A good thing as I really dont' really like cars like the Vios, City and especially the made specifically for China but sold here Peugeot 207 sedan. We don't need more third world sort of junk.
Go further below to read the official press release and more photos.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Of course this totally depends on sheer luck or the original importer of the vehicle who must have been slightly mad at the time wanting a huge 2 door left hand drive car in Right hand drive Malaysia. What we have here is a 1st Generation late sixties Chevrolet Camaro SS with the largest reverse scoop that has ever set foot on a bonnet of a car. Note that it is actually longer than the the classic BMW CS and even the Kia parked to its left. Spotted in front of a classic car workshop in Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya.