Thursday, 29 November 2007

2008 Renault-Samsung QM5 SUV

I had a conversation with someone who had just bought a 42" plasma TV from Samsung. In our course of debate of plasma vs LCD large widescreen displays, he was taken aback when I told him that the noted Korean flat panel displays manufacturer has even ventured into the automobile industry. So here it is, the new Renault-Samsung QM5 SUV.

To be powered by a 2.0L turbodiesel capable of pushing out 173hp, the Renault-Samsung QM5 will go on sale as early as December 2007 in South Korea. Based on Nissan Qashqai's platform and mechanicals (4WD on demand), the QM5 will cross over to Europe badged as Renault Koleos.

Will we see this as a cheaper alternative to the Nissan Qashqai (available via ETCM in 2008?), to be marketed by TC Eurocars as Renault Koleos in Malaysia?

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

New Chevrolet Captiva in Malaysia

Hicom-Chevrolet Sdn Bhd unveiled the new Chevrolet Captiva SUV recently, with a choice of either 2.0L turbodiesel or 2.4L petrol engine matched with different drivelines of 2WD (FWD) or 4WD.

The 2.4L petrol 4-pot produces 136hp at 5000rpm, with maximum torque of 220Nm at a low 2200rpm. The likely more saleable (better acceptance?) 2.0L turbo-diesel meanwhile, pushes out a healthy 150hp at 4000rpm plus a grunty 320Nm of torque at 2000rpm. Both engines – designed by Italy’s engine maker VM Motori - are mated with a 5-speed automatic transmission with ‘manual’ Tiptronic function.

On the interior, the luxurious leather seatings are able to take up 7 occupants. Cargo space is a capacious 930litres with all rear seats folded down. Standard safety features includes Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Traction Control System and Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA).

First for an SUV of this price-segment is Chevrolet’s Descent Control System (DCS) for safe, smooth and controlled hill descents. In addition, Active Rollover Protection (ARP) reduces body roll of this medium-sized SUV during heavy braking by selective and variable braking pressures on different wheels.

Although essentially a rebadged Daewoo Winstorm, this Korean SUV is significantly different from its competitors being monocoque in construction, which should offer better body control, ride and handling. Also aiding towards better chassis balance and ride refinement is the MacPherson strut suspension up front and multilink suspension for the rear axle.

The all-new Chevrolet Captiva is available in four colours: Sterling Silver, Black Sapphire, Royal Gray and Tornado Red. Hicom-Chevrolet is also offering a warranty package of 3-years or 100,000 km. Prices are yet to be confirmed but it is estimated to be ranging from RM138,000 to RM155,000, for the petrol and turbodiesel versions respectively.

Indicative prices for the new Captiva are:
2.4L FWD Petrol RM139,252
2.4L 4WD Petrol RM147,252
2.0L FWD Diesel RM146,924
2.0L 4WD Diesel RM155,924

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Tuesday, 27 November 2007

TGM Drive: Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 FSI

By Dr Long

Sibling rivalry: something quite inevitable and as old as mankind itself. Ask anyone who has a brother or a sister or both, and they will likely concur with you, to some degree at the very least. So what do you do when you have an high-achieving ‘elder’ sibling like the iconic Golf GTI?

Find out whether the VW Jetta 2.0 FSI is able to hold its own fort in the shadow of the ever attention-grabbing Golf GTI Mk V...only in the December '07 issue of TopGear Malaysia!

Monday, 26 November 2007

Next Generation W212 E-Class Pictures

Here are two images (spotted at Auto-Motor-und-Sport website) of the all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W212) due sometime late 2008/early 2009.

Looking like a enlarged C-Class, the new E seem to have abandoned twin-round 'eyes' headlamps for a design that's a cross between the current Lexus GS and the new W204 C-Class.
Moving to the rear, Mercedes seem to have improvised on - and widened - the new C's butt by adding elements of the new LS460's rear lamps flanking the registration plate at the back. Resulting in a boot cover section that even reminisce Saab's 9-3 sedan to a certain extent!

Will this be the final production version of the next generation Mercedes-Benz W212 E-Class?

For pictures of the estate version go here:

Friday, 23 November 2007

Japan Car of The Year 2007-08: Other Categories Receipients

The Japan COTY committee also selected the following finalists for its 2007-08 COTY special awards:

Most Advanced Technology for 2007/08: Volkswagen Golf GT TSI

Best Import Car for 2007/08: Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Most Fun car for 2007/08: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

Related post:

All-New Honda Jazz is Japan Car of The Year for 2007-08

The all-new Honda Jazz (known as Fit for Japan's domestic market) has won the 2007-2008 Japan Car of the Year Award. Incidentally, the first generation Honda Fit grabbed the same title of COTY Japan for 2001-02.

"We are honoured that the new Fit has been chosen as Car of the Year Japan for 2007-2008 from a range of models from Japan and overseas. We are happy that so many people see the Fit as the ideal small car and also appreciate the efforts of many people including the suppliers who supported our development and production. We will continue providing better satisfaction for our customers”, said Mr. Takeo Fukui, President and CEO of Honda Motor Co.

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Thursday, 22 November 2007

2nd Generation Honda Stream 1.8 i-VTEC in Malaysia

In this age of rising fuel cost, the new Honda Stream is now beating with a 1.8 i-VTEC powerplant (downgraded from 2.0 i-VTEC DOHC previously). If this petrol motor sounds familiar to you, that’s because it is the same R18A SOHC powering the current Honda Civic 1.8S. Rated output is 140ps at 6300rpm and 174Nm of torque at 4300rpm. Electric Power Steering (EPS) together with Honda’s superb and still “first-in-class” 5-speed auto ‘box, ensures better fuel economy for this 2nd generation Stream.

As expected, the tilt and telescopically adjustable steering wheel is pinched from the Civic 1.8. The double-DIN (Kenwood) audio head-unit doesn’t allow for on-wheel control buttons/switches. For cabin comfort, there is a standard automatic climate control A/C. The meter panel is of the self-illuminating type and unlike the Civic, is a regular twin dials of speedo and tachometer. In addition, a multi-info display is available, through which the driver can call up motoring info such as current fuel consumption, remaining fuel and estimated travel range. Being a CBU unit, an electric sunroof/moonroof is standard.

Brakes are standard discs all- round, peering through 15” alloys, looking adequately sized, being ventilated items for the front axle. Suspension set-up is the cost-saving MacPherson struts up front while the rear uses a compact reactive-link double wishbone suspension. The more compact rear suspension is said to free up more third row passenger space while wheelbase lengthening by 20mm further increases legroom for 3rd row passengers. Meanwhile, ride height is now lowered by 45mm, helping improve driving stability with the resultant lower centre of gravity.

Safety features include ABS, EBD and dual SRS airbags. There is no Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) for the Stream 1.8, which is electronic stability control system in Honda-speak. According to a Honda dealer’s Sales Advisor there may be a top range Stream 2.0 i-VTEC later in 2008, pending the market’s acceptance and response to the Stream 1.8.

In the meantime, the new Honda Stream 1.8 i-VTEC is available in four colours - Premium White Pearl, Alablaster Silver Metallic, Royal Blue Pearl and Nighthawk Black Pearl. You can park one in your driveway for RM149,800 (on-the-road with insurance).

Related posts:

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

New Honda Stream officially in Malaysia now

Honda Malaysia has announced today that their new Honda Stream 1.8 is available at RM149,800 (on-the-road with insurance), effective immediately.

More details to come watch this spot! ;)

Related posts:

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

2008 Mitsubishi Colt Turbo Ralliart Version-R

Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart Version-R’s 1.5L MIVEC (4G15) Turbo engine has been tweaked to deliver 9 extra horses, uplifted to punch out a total of 163bhp at 6300rpm. Maximum torque remains the same at 210Nm at 3500rpm.

The updated Colt Ralliart Version-R also features standard Recaro seats, a leather-stitched gear knob (for 5-speed manual) and new 16-inch alloys that are 1.5 kg lighter now, shod with grippy Yokohama ADVAN Neova 205/45 R16.

Related post:

New Mazda2 Sedan

Mazda has revealed a booted version of its neat and cute Mazda2 (Demio in Japan) placing it in contention for a slice of the lucrative B-segment sedan market in China and possibly ASEAN. From these images it appeared as if the new Mazda2 sedan is a small C-segment sedan, with a huge rump to boot.

Click on all images to enlarge

The Mazda2 sedan comes with two petrol engines option, a 1.3L with 85hp or a 1.5L capable of 102hp, mated with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission. Wheelbase is unchanged from the hatch at 2490mm.

Images of the new Mazda2 sedan you see here is a China market Demio sedan produced by Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co., Ltd. at its Nanjing plant. The 3-box version of the Demio will go on sale in China by Q2 2008.

Will we see the attractive Mazda2 sedan in Malaysia sometime 2008/09, sourced perhaps from Mazda’s new manufacturing base in Thailand?

Saturday, 17 November 2007

First Drive: New W204 Mercedes-Benz C200 Kompressor

By Dr Long

One of the most anticipated replacement models to come from Mercedes-Benz of late is the new C-Class (W204), the compact luxury sedan that has been and will still be the bread-and-butter vehicle of this German carmaker.

Completely redesigned and larger than the W203, the first model to be available in Malaysia is the supercharged 4-cylinder C200 Kompressor. Here is how it fares on the road in and around the roads of Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putrajaya (and Cyberjaya).

Interior wise, the larger dimensions are aptly appreciated, notably up front with bigger seats and to me at least, more generous elbow rooms laterally. Cabin ergonomics are good except for the centre console and gear lever which I found set a tad too high. Similarly the surround of the horizontal centre console is of hard plastic, something which M-B probably felt could be skimped upon since most drivers would not have noticed…or is that always the case? That said, the new C200K’s overall cabin ambience is still classy, airy, and most importantly premium. All interior switches and stalks operate with crisp and firm Teutonic efficiency that spells quality. Mercedes-Benz is clearly back in the game after some misses with the W203 C-Class and prior to this, the W210 E-Class.

No review of a Mercedes is complete without a mention of its trademark smooth ride and solid, yet supple damping. The new C200K is all that with a little body roll in-built into its somewhat soft suspension setting. Perhaps the OE Pirelli P-Zero Rossos were a little on the softer side? I found the steering a tad on the lighter side, though the much publicised agility afforded by it was pretty much spot on. In fact, the rack responsiveness was so familiar that I suspected it was pinched in entirety from the facelifted E200K! Needless to say, the new C’s tracking composure and high speed stability are of no issue, as expected.

The improvised (M271) supercharged 4-pot is torquier now with a wider powerband felt above 2800rpm to near 5200rpm. However, the tougher gas pedal in the tester seemed to have taken a step backward to the days of the old Benzes. Honestly, my pre-facelift W211 E200K has a lighter throttle pedal feel. The left foot operated parking-brake lever has a quite loose springy feel, with little steps of creakiness, something not found in the W203. What’s the story here M-B? This doesn’t convey an upmarket feel, in my honest opinion. Reminds me of the VW Touareg I have tested sometime back.

Externally, the 12-spokes 17” alloys look the part, giving the Elegance-spec C200K a prestigious yet subtle elegance (pun intended). New metal sheets with side chromed door/body stripes relegated nearer to the sill level gives the impression of a larger car, with both front and rear designs in cohort to give better road presence to this junior exec. Framing shots of the car’s frontal visage, most have noticed a less-than-desirable gap at the upper border of the classic Merc radiator grille, resulting in an illusion that the bonnet wasn’t closed properly. This can be attributed to the fact that the multi-slats grille is now permanently cradled by the bumper, instead of the hood previously. Interestingly, a noted top automotive blogger/journalist has also pointed that the 335i coupe has a somewhat similar ‘defect’ here. I reckoned this may push even more C200K Elegance buyers to swap for the Avantgarde grille after taking delivery of their (Afterall, the Avantgarde BIG-Star grille is indeed, frameless.) Incidentally, both wing mirrors appeared somewhat a little too large (and square) and seem a tad incoherent with the new C's overall taut but fluid design.

On the move, the new C200K has not strike me as sprightly. Like mentioned before, the gas pedal felt a little too ‘resistant’ while the throttle response was still a tad muted for quick initial take-off. It is reasonably powerful once it gets going (say after 30km/h or so), with the Kompressor whine louder and higher pitched than its predecessor. The engine can get buzzy, as always, more so at extreme high revs but I am darn sure the all-aluminium M271 improves with mileage – the tester has only about 1300km on its odometer. In all fairness, the petrol motor was neither raucous nor gruffy at any rate. I have driven dozens of these 1.8L supercharged 4-pots in various guises, at varying clocked-kilometers ‘credentials’ and this lump does get better with age!

So there you have it, the new Mercedes-Benz C200 Kompressor tested on local roads. Before I conclude, I discovered Merc’s COMAND dial worked pretty well here, with maybe just the LCD screen a teeny too small. Then again, DaimlerChrysler Malaysia (DCM) has most likely saved the larger pop-up LCD for the upcoming C230 V6 Avantgarde next year.

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Friday, 16 November 2007

New Hyundai Accent in Malaysia

Spotted at a local shopping complex and highlighted by an avid bargain-hunter motorist who claimed it to be a better buy than the recently launched new Toyota Vios, I was piqued with curiousity regarding this new Korean offering, even though much belated coming into the Malaysian market.

Externally, the new Accent does look impressive for its class with larger-than-segment appearance. Though the integrated dual-exhausts may be a bit of an overkill it isn't as out-of-place as the dated, highly-placed side rubbing strips on the doors/flanks.

The entry-level Accent 1.4L make do with 95ps @ 6000rpm and 125Nm @ 4700rpm, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, while the 1.6L with CVVT (variable valve timing) produces 112ps @ 6000rpm and 145Nm @ 4500rpm. A 4-speed automatic is standard for the Accent 1.6L CVVT.

The dashboard at least looks normal compared to the centre-skewed meter panel in the Toyota Vios, with the A/C dials appearing to be of better quality too. However, the seats are a tad skimpy in dimensions in contrast to the Toyota's B-segment leader, especially with that little-too-upright backrest plus useless twin lumps disguised as 'headrests'. To be fair, closing of all doors sounded very convincing versus most of the Thai-sourced but Japanese branded competitors.

Prices are verbally reported (by the salesperson) to be RM68k and RM73k (on-the-road with insurance) for the Accent 1.4 and 1.6 respectively. No price list flyer or even a proper colour leaflet brochure is available for the public at the roadshow.