Friday, 28 September 2007
Conceived around a front-wheel drive, small car platform and the hybrid is powered by a Honda IMA 4-cylinder petrol/electric hybrid system driving through a CVT transmission. It explores the idea that a car can have a low environmental impact yet still deliver all the driving enjoyment expected of a compact sports car.
Aerodynamically efficient and curvaceous, the two-door sports coupe have short front and rear overhangs. Fluid lines are created by a steeply raked windscreen which extends back above the occupants' heads where it meets a one piece glass roof. This in turn flows rearwards to give the car its fastback styling, terminating in a distinctive and futuristic 3D floating glass design – a concave element which forms an additional vertical window.
The Hybrid Sports Concept is equipped with 165/60 section tyres mounted on 20inch distinctive alloys. Such wheel dimension supports low rolling resistance without compromising sporty driving. With a sports suspension holding up a 2350mm wheelbase, this Honda concept delivers stable and predictable handling characteristics.
Rear-facing digital cameras take the place of conventional door mirrors. The Small Hybrid Sports Concept has been developed as a design study model by the design studio at Honda R&D Europe based in Offenbach, Germany.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
A W204 C200K Elegance was previewed at Cycle & Carriage Bintang (CCB) showroom in Ampang (Tun Razak/U-Thant), Kuala Lumpur today. I must admit the new C-Class looked very stately and elegant in the metal. It is spacious up front, much better than the W203. Quality is back where it should be and up to the good-old 3-pointed star standards, with stitched leathers even on the door trim. Rear legroom is adequate with comfy seating and ergonomics.
Prices are still unfinalised (pending final approval by the authorities) but CCB' order books are running into the hundreds now. Some are expecting the Elegance-spec C200K to be slightly below RM260k, with C200K Avantgarde (possibly RM10k extra) deliveries likely only in 2008. Mercedes fans can look forward to the C230 2.5 V6 Avantgarde only sometime Q2 next year.
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Monday, 24 September 2007
Saturday, 22 September 2007
There are many reasons why the IS 250 is a much anticipated junior executive from Lexus. Firstly, it is not a secret that Toyota Motor Corp. built this compact sedan to challenge the BMW 325i primarily and even for that matter, the Mercedes-Benz C230 V6. Secondly, it is one of the rare Japanese sedan of this class to have a front-engine/rear wheel drive layout. Last but not the least its premium pricing versus once again, the other Teutonic junior execs.
Hallmark of any Lexus is the 'dead' silence experience of refinement. I must say the IS 250 cabin must be one of the quietest around, possibly even better than the GS300. The 2.5 V6 is just as sonically muted, picking up revs with sheer smoothness and finesse. Pleasantly torquey too for a normally aspirated motor. I can safely vouch for the lower decibels of rolling noise from the Bridgestones here, as opposed to the Yokohamas shod on its elder brethren, the GS300.
Deserving a compulsory mention is the superbly pliant and comfortable suspension of the IS despite its shorter wheelbase relative to the GS. In the IS250 everything just felt so well-oiled, silent and refined in execution. Lexus engineers’ attention to details is amazing, an example being the extendable padded door pockets with a water bottle holder.
It was a short drive and it will be unfair to pass a verdict on the IS’ handling. While the steering is accurate with just-adequate feel, the initial impression was that the rack weighting was more on the lighter side, as sampled on a few occasions at three digit velocities. Tracking stability is acceptable but the overall feedback from the chassis and suspension is perhaps a little soft and light. All for the goodness of ride comfort and super compliant damping I guess.
There you have it, a very brief driving impression of the new IS250 from Lexus Malaysia.
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Friday, 21 September 2007
By this, the designers have combined convex surfaces with concave ones, giving a much sculpted appearance to the entire design, while achieving a low aerodynamic efficiency of 0.27 Cd. The low drag resistance is aided by close attention to under-body airflow management, which also minimizes lift forces at cruising speed.
Amazingly, the new V6 weighs in at 180kg, which is no heavier than the in-line 6, 2.0L motor used in the earlier IS model. The new petrol motor employs an aluminium cylinder block and intake manifold, and a resin-based intake chamber. Further weight saving and engine compactness are achieved through the installation of the water and oil pumps within the chain cover.
The application of Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent) on both intake and exhaust camshafts also significantly enhance both low-end and top-end torque as well as contribute to a reduction in exhaust emissions and better starting performance.
A new 6-AT Sequential Transmission with Super ECT transfer power and torque to the IS250’ rear axle. For manual gear selection (override) paddle-shift controls are mounted directly on the steering wheel, eliminating the need to modify steering wheel grip, even when busy cornering. Alternatively, +/- gear selection can also be performed through the conventional gearlever if the driver so desire. AI-SHIFT Sport Driving Control (an Artificial Intelligence control program) automatically changes the gear shifting schedule according to road conditions and driving style. Meanwhile, Super ECT incorporates uphill/downhill shift control and a flex lock-up system for smoother performance. While an enhanced lock-up timing control can improve fuel efficiency in 5th and 6th gears, an automatic transmission fluid warmer further improves fuel economy during cold starts.
Lexus is noted not just for luxury and premium quality but also superlative comfort and convenience. Every little detail to provide pleasurable motoring in the IS 250 has been considered and refined, from the ventilated seats to the Optitron instruments panel to the climate control system. Even the audio system - with 14 speakers - is by Mark Levinson, one of the top-end brands for audio systems.
A newly developed multi-link rear set up enables precise control of suspension geometry in all dynamic conditions. The results are reduced body roll and improved anti-lift or anti-squat. Large 10-spoke 17-inch alloy rims have a distinctive design which presents a solid and powerful image to the IS 250. To ensure optimum transmission of power to the tarmac and higher grip, the IS 250 is fitted with wider tyres at the rear i.e. 245/45R17, while the front rubbers are 225/45R17. Braking ability is just as reassuring with large diameter discs all around, hooked up to ABS and VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) systems.
The headlamps also have an Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) which lets the driver see around corners. It estimates where the car will be in three seconds' time, using sensors that monitor the speed and the angle of the front wheels, altering the angle of the headlights in that direction. The rear lights are illuminated by LEDs which are longer-lasting and brighter, lighting up faster than conventional bulbs to quicker alert drivers in following vehicles. At the rear bumper, dual tailpipes provide a dynamic and sporty intent for this compact executive Lexus sedan.
Airbags are provided for both the driver and front occupant. The driver’s airbag is designed to inflate at one of three different speeds depending on the conditions (severity, seat position, etc) at the time of the collision. Airbags are also provided at knee level to give additional protection. Additional curtain airbag systems are also provided over the windows which will deploy when there is an impact from the sides, giving extra protection to front and rear passengers.
BMW 335i Coupe E92
Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: In-line 6-cylinder, 2976cc, twin-turbo with direct fuel injection
Maximum power: 306bhp @ 5800rpm
Maximum torque: 400Nm @ 1300rpm
0-100 km/h: 5.5secs (as tested)
Top speed: 250km/h (claimed, limited)
Verdict: Pricey but one of the best (brand-new) Teutonic super-coupe money can buy. Twin turbo mind blowing. Excellent chassis balance for a highly involving drive.
Thursday, 20 September 2007
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A turbocharged car or a supercharged one for that matter is more often than not, very lively and responsive to pilot. The E92 335i coupe, being the first BMW to come from the manufacturer that profess ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ to have forced induction since the last two decades or so, is simply brilliant.
Brilliant because it has that wicked twin turbo that induces pulling power palpable from a low 1500rpm and kicks up a typhoon that sweeps the speedo past the 100km/h mark in 5.5secs (as tested). From here on, my associate and I managed 160km/h, then on to 200km/h and a little past 240km/h before the super coupe worn out our nerves. The winding up the speedometer needle on the 335i looked effortless, much like a PS2 video game. Awesome.
With so much speed and zippiness it is very heartening to have brakes as reassuring and quick acting as the one in the 335i. It’s very responsive yet offers a good range of brake pedal modulation. Splendid.