Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Hyundai Elantra voted 'Best Family Sedan' by Asian Auto - VCA

The new Hyundai Elantra X20 CVVT, distributed and marketed by subsidiaries of Oriental Holdings Berhad under Oriental-Hyundai Sdn Bhd and Kah Bintang Auto Sdn Bhd respectively, received the coveted “Asian Auto – VCA 2008 Best Family Sedan” Award for local assembly cars.

Asian Auto with VCA’s expertise, shortlisted the winners and held the Presentation Award Luncheon at the Saujana Golf & Country Club recently. Asian Auto is a monthly Malaysian and Singaporean motoring publication.

VCA is the designated UK Vehicle Type Approval authority and has more than 30 years experience supports industry by providing internationally recognised testing and certification for vehicles, their systems and components. For more information, please refer to

This latest 2008 Best Family Sedan Award adds to a host of international acclaims and awards the Hyundai Elantra has garnered in its segment, such as the 2007 AutoPacific’s Most Ideal Car Award, 2007 NHTSA’s Highest Government Crash Test Rating, 2008 Consumer Report’s Top Picks and Best Bet in Jack Gillis’ The Car Book 2008.

Incidentally, the Elantra is also Hyundai’s No. 1 Best Selling car in USA with sales exceeding 1.2 million and is also Hyundai’s best selling car in China. The Hyundai Elantra X20 comes with a 2.0L DOHC Continuous Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) powerplant that delivers maximum power output of 143 PS. By utilizing Motor Driven Power Steering and an advanced transmission with Variable Force Solenoid found only in top of the range cars, the Elantra’s fuel efficiency is improved by almost 2.8% making it a leader in fuel economy in its segment. Based on data from independent testing by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Elantra could travel the entire distance from JB to Butterworth of 746km on just a full tank of 53L.

To address pressing higher petrol costs, the Elantra is also being offered with an option of NGV kit. This sedan is also available with a Sport Bodykit version that is specially designed for performance by INCUS of Korea as well as an option for an Incus integrated stainless steel, twin exhaust system.

Related post:
New Hyundai Elantra X20 for RM93,888

Monday, 28 July 2008

Is Honda's all-new City coming in December 2008?

Hearsay from the grapevine seem to suggest a possible 3rd week of December 2008 launching period for Honda Malaysia's all-new City. Possibly one the industry's best kept secret - with no clear spy-shots or detailed scoop to date - this may indeed be the most significant automobile launch before the year wraps up.

Porsche Cayman S Sport

Porsche is packing more horses into its Cayman S by adding a Sport suffix which is worth 8 hp extra, with power output bumped up to 303 hp (up from 295 hp). Torque figures are unknown at this juncture but For Wheels reckon it will be increased in tandem, much like the Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder. Will it have the 911's twin-clutch automated manual PDK gearbox option as well?

The GT3-wannabe (colour scheme et al) equivalent of Cayman S will come equipped with Porsche's Active Stability Management (PASM) stability program as standard, along with a 10mm lowered suspension and black alloy wheels. Estimated pricing of the Cayman S Sport is about £49,890.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

2009 3-series facelift: BMW's kidney grille is whole again (phew!)

Click on all images to enlargeBMW has refreshed its 3-series for 2009 model year by resisting to slap on the slimmer, sleeker and sportier face of the E92 Coupe. However, the famous double kidney grille is back to the good-ol' full-circle items, not fragmented by dual chrome 'brows' anymore. This together with a resculpted bumper plus an additional pair of power creases on the hood, presents a fresher and sharper frontal visage.

The rear end has also (finally!) addressed the pre-facelift Korean-car or Toyota Vios' look, with the boot lid extended to shrink the size of the accessory rear lamps flanking the number plate housing. Extensive use of LEDs also brightened up things both at the back and upfront.

As per new EU ruling, the facelift 3-series wing mirrors has been enlarged to provide a wider angle rear view.

Engine options however remain the same as before. The rumoured turbocharged 4-pot 1.8L or 2.0L remains...just hearsay. Pictured below is BMW's award winning 3litre twin turbo in-line 6 for the 335i. It remains to be seen whether BMW's high precision direct petrol injection (HPI) will be available for the entry-level 320i and also the 325i in Malaysia. Power and torque output of both petrol and diesel versions remain much unchanged, as before.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Is this the all-new 2009 Honda City?

Spotted on the front cover of Autocar India mag, is a picture of the purportedly next generation Honda City. It is expected to be launched before the year end in India, with a pre-production test unit currently undergoing on-road testing.

Honda's frugal 1.5L twin-spark i-DSI will no longer be seen in the 3rd generation (sedan) Honda City, with possibly 1.3L or 1.5L i-VTEC as available options in Malaysia by Q2 2009. Honda's power efficient CVT will also take a break from the ASEAN market' Jazz/City, with a 5-speed torque converter taking over the tranny job. However, Japan Domestic Market (JDM) Fit will still spin on CVT, albeit now with a torque converter in place of a starter 'clutch' for initial take-off duties.

Wonder what will the Japanese 2009 Honda Fit-Aria (City) have as its driveline?

Friday, 11 July 2008

New Audi A4 (B8) in Malaysia

The long-awaited all-new Audi A4 - codenamed B8 - is now available in Malaysia. The first model to be available is the petrol 1.8L turbocharged direct injection (Turbo FSI). Here is a pictorial account of the new A4 as displayed at the Audi Hangar, Euromobil HQ in Glenmarie, Shah Alam.

Looking expansive in length than the B6 and B7. Claimed to be just few inches shorter than the current A6!

Lovely and sporty dials as usual from Audi!

Engine downsized to 1.8 now, capable of maximum power output of 160bhp/250Nm of peak torque. Claimed to be 13% more fuel efficient than the B7 2.0T FSI. Front axle now sits an extra 154mm forward i.e. engine and ancillaries' weight shifted more towards the engine firewall, resulting less of 'overhang' in frontal weight distribution. Claimed to sharpen handling along with new steering gear which sits lower and closer to the front wheels.

10-spoke alloys looked classier and premium, rather than sporty.

Dash and interior top-notch in design, ergonomics, materials, fit & finish and built quality. Typical of all modern Audis.

MMI screen (unlit, in black). Leather wrapped gearknob shifts 8-virtual gears of multitronic CVT tranny.

Audi Drive Select switches just aft to gear lever surround. Driver gets a choice of Comfort, Auto and Sport settings, which adjust throttle response, operating characteristics of engine, auto transmission, steering and adaptive damping of suspension.

Sleeker profile with taut lines and return of the tug-and-pull external door handles.

Rear end lower and wider now with a more distinct duck-tail boot lip. Single exhaust for the 1.8 TFSI A4 (B8).

Contrasting with its still good-looking predecessor, the B7 (in red). Expect the more wicked 2.0 TFSI lump to be in the B8 by sometime by March/April 2009.

The new Audi A4 is fully imported and is priced at RM235,000 (OTR without insurance).

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Locally-assembled Peugeot 407 launched in Malaysia

Nasim Sdn Bhd (NSB), franchise holder of Peugeot automobiles in Malaysia has relaunched the Peugeot 407 at its flagship 3S centre, the Peugeot Blue Box, Glenmarie in Shah Alam.

The updated 407 comes with the addition of VVT (Variable Valve Timing) and also a revised 4-speed automatic transmission. Power output is rated at 140hp at 6,000rpm while peak torque is 200Nm at 4,000rpm. Aesthetically, the new car comes with sportier 17” 5-spoke alloy wheels and colour coded body/bumper strips with chrome trimming. For better convenience and comfort, the ‘new’ 407 features Xenon lights for easier and safer night driving, automatic headlights and wipers plus electrically powered front seats. A first for a car of D-segment and at this price point is the factory-fitted, integrated GPS system (with navigation data powered by a thumb drive). Also standard is a premium Clarion-JBL Radio-CD changer audio system with in-built JBL subwoofer in the trunk.

Safety wise, the 407 is also among the top of its segment with a full 5 star EuroNCAP crash test rating. This is achieved with a total of 7 SRS airbags which is also class leading in its price and size segment in Malaysia.

Two versions of the updated 407 are available for immediate booking. These are the standard version at RM125,888 without the GPS system and leather interior and the full specification version at RM133,888 (both on-the-road prices). Both of which are lower than the pre-launch estimated price of RM135,000.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Road Test: Mercedes-Benz E280 AMG Sports

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has long been a benchmark luxury executive saloon from the heydays of the 1970s W123, 1980s W124 (almost built like a tank!) and the W210 of the 1990s. There is no denying that the E is popular for its solid built, comfort and classy image of prestige. The current E-Class, codenamed W211, made its debut in 2003 and had undergone a mid-cycle facelift in 2007 in what is known as ‘New Generation’ in Mercedes lingo.

The top-of-the-line locally-assembled (CKD) E-Class in Malaysia is the E280 with a 3.0 litre all-aluminium V6. For 2008 model year, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) has added AMG goodies to this variant: 18-inch 5-spoke AMG alloy wheels (Style III) in titanium grey, AMG bumpers with sportier front and rear aprons, twin AMG exhaust mufflers, sports-tuned suspension, AMG Sports steering wheel with paddles gear shifter, brushed stainless steel foot pedals/footrest with rubber studs, and 7G-Tronic sport automatic transmission. Sounds delicious in theory and on paper, yes?

In all their effort to make it sportier, somehow the sill plates are still standard M-B items. There is also none of the distinctive AMG badges or emblems to say that this is an official E280 AMG Sports from MBM. Well, perhaps just those AMG acronyms stitched on the carpet mats and embossed on the 18” alloys. Unlike BMW Malaysia’s 5-series wearing numerous M-labelled items adorning its M-Sport variants, the E280 AMG Sports is subtle in aggressive aesthetics enhancements, so much so a dental ‘colleague’ thought it was just my regular E200 Kompressor with upsized alloys! Not much good for a car asking for RM438,888, was our initial impression. Strangely, Mercedes’ famed ‘Keyless Go’ entry and access system is also missing here.

Much like the M-division of BMW, AMG is the high-performance arm of Mercedes-Benz. AMG was founded as an independent company in 1967 by Hans-Werner Aufrecht (A) and Erhard Melcher (M) in the town of Großaspach (G) near Stuttgart. Specialising in high performance enhancements and engine tuning for Mercedes-Benz, it was entirely bought over by then DaimlerChrysler AG in 1998.

Despite being AMG-spec, the E280 engine (M272 E30) is very much stock standard with 231hp at 6000rpm while maximum torque is 300Nm from 2500 - 5000rpm. For motoring enthusiasts who are fascinated by tech acronym like VVT (variable valve timing) the E30 powerplant doesn’t disappoint with continuous VVT on both inlet and exhaust sides, Variable Length Intake Manifold and a balancer shaft in between the cylinder banks to deal with vibrations in the 90º V6 design. That said, idling vibrations still plague our tester on the steering wheel and door trim…just that wee bit.

Despite being a normally aspirated, we found the E280 to be very tractable in city traffic; with meaningful shove from a low 2000rpm onwards should you want to speed up. Upon closer scrutiny, we discovered a couple of significant technical upgrades on the new E280 AMG, namely the sports suspension tuning and probably with the ‘New Generation’ facelift exercise, a newly-developed spring link bearings to handle lateral forces more effectively around bends and enhance more neutral (read: less roll) cornering characteristics. Of course, aiding this road holding forte are those lovely – and highly premium - ContiSportContact 3 in 245/40 ZR18 (front) and 265/35 ZR18 (rear). As tested over the few days the ‘local’ AMG paired with its sharper and accurate steering, took corners in flat poise and tracks very confidently and faithfully around bends.

The E280 AMG Sports has indeed made remarkable progress in terms of handling dynamics, something which contrasted affably with E200K, the previous E240 and even the fully-imported Brabus K4. Amazingly in the E280 AMG Sports this is achieved without compromising the supple and gliding ride comfort, which is a consistent hallmark of the E-Class. In all fairness, it must be said though that the AMG’s ultra-low profile rubbers do not tolerate those yellow speed breaker strips on highway well, with much studded and lumpy feedback!

It took slightly over 7 seconds for the E280 AMG to reach 100km/h from standstill and the 7G-Tronic slush box was smooth and imperceptible when left on its own devices. However, it is vague when you up-shift manually while the lag upon downshifting is a little disconcerting should you want to rush things. Probably the gearbox is tuned more for wafting finesse than outright lightning quick manual shifts. For Benz fans who fancy the aesthetics of the bluish-hue windscreens and windows on Avantgarde Mercs, it would be interesting to know that these glasses don’t work much better than the regular green tint (in Elegance and Classic spec) in blocking out heat. The A/C on our tester has to be turned up to 20ºC for effective cooling on hot afternoons.

The Adaptive Brake system taken from the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W221) is also very commendable. It is progressive, comfortable even on rapid deceleration and yet powerfully fade-free. On more than one occasion when the right foot was taken off the accelerator and shifted quickly over to the brake pedal, we found the brake pedal travel to be lesser, therefore cutting down braking response time while the system applied more powerful brake servo assistance. With the E-Class facelift exercise, the standard xenon HID items are no longer spotty and halogen-mimicking in intensity and throw. Even in the darkest of nights, we see just bright lit, clear and farther view ahead. The upper third of the main headlamps now gets illuminated as well, negating the droopy-eye look of the pre-facelift model. Refreshing indeed.

The E280’s COMAND APS incorporating GPS Navigation is quite easy to use, with pin-pointing of junctions and landmarks accurate. Maps are not that up-to-date though for PJ, Seremban, Hulu Langat, Titi, Kuala Klawang and Port Dickson, to name a few places, with one-way streets not updated while some small or new streets were non-existent. Having sampled a popular 3rd party local GPS system we think that the RM2000 system can outdo any original OE Sat-Nav out there, more so with a touch-screen interface that is more intuitive and easy to use.

All in all, the E280 AMG Sports still does well to represent the top-end of officially available, locally-assembled E-Class in Malaysia. Like most, if not all of modern Mercedes-Benzes, it is the facelift model that has effectively ironed out all the design and initial manufacturing bugs of that vehicle range. For those in the market for such D-segment luxury sedan, and perhaps wanting some sporting intentions without sacrificing long-distance comfort and luxury, the E280 with AMG Sports pack is certainly worth to be on that shortlist. You may still want to shop for that after-market “////AMG” emblem for the rear boot lid though.