Friday, 29 August 2008

Test Review: Suzuki SX4 Sedan

The Suzuki Swift was a good – and successful - reintroduction of the small car maker’s presence back to Malaysia. It looked good, drove well and sold in good numbers too. So when Suzuki Automobiles Malaysia (SMA) introduced a slightly larger and taller crossover hatch in the form of the SX4, powered by a 1.6L (instead of the Swift’s1.5), I wasn’t really taken in, more so with its rather quirky A-pillars section, window with up-curved border et al.

Just last month, SMA was at it again, this time serving to broaden its car models range. With a boot added the SX4, Suzuki is now traversing into the dominant territory of the ubiquitous Toyota Vios, Honda City and to a certain extent, the Nissan Latio sedan. Honestly, I wasn’t very convinced either, of another B-segment sedan in the vein of tall boy concepts of the City and Latio sedan.

Truth is, the silver metallic SX4 sedan didn’t look disproportionate in the metal, unlike the pre-facelift City. Alright, the butt section is kind of J.Lo (the U.S. artiste, not our Jason Lo) or of Beyonce’s league but the tail lamps with some Audi A4 (B6) mimicry at its upper section did a little redemption of the slimming kind (read: disguises the bulk).

After a few days of driving around, I discovered there’s more to like about this car than its RM88,888 (OTR excluding insurance) CBU-from-Japan sticker price. The standard bodykit are miles better than those found via Honda’s Modulo (e.g. Stream) and Toyota (on its Altis) with none of the gap that needs black rubber lining to fill up to. The seats are way more generous and supportive than the other ‘Desirable’ car, while the boot aces even the City at 515 litres capacity! Also ‘unique’ to this segment is the SX4’s Isofix child seat points (at the rear) and a proper engine coolant temperature gauge.

The SX4 is very easy and nice to chuck around. Body roll is quite minimal despite its lofty perch, while the steering is simply well-weighted for its class. Even the on-steering headunit controls are tactile and felt premium. The 8-speaker audio system is also acceptable quality for an OE system. Though not class leading in terms of power output (102bhp at 5600 rpm/ 140Nm at 4000rpm), this tall Suzuki compact sedan remains affably tractable with a good spread of low end torque, only found to be a wee bit bogged down after going over a speed bump driving up a gradient.

Credit has to be given to Suzuki for the firm (quite VW-like) but pliant ride of its suspension, while maintaining pretty good body control over varying surfaces and during load changes. In short, the car felt taut on the move and well-built dynamically. On a strip of private road, I managed 160km/h with ease, with minimal wind noise, road noise and engine note. Despite being paired to a 4-speed automatic, the engine ticks at slightly over 2700 rpm at 120km/h. And of course, the roof remained quiet during much of the heavy downpour over the last few days.

Fuel burning rate for this spacious little sedan is a respectable 11.2km/l average, on a mix of highways and suburb driving. The dashboard is simple with straightforward controls, while its automatic climate control a/c is also a first for its class and price point. Its tall and very cab-forward stance worked very well in efficient use of space and packaging. For example, there are bottle holders on all 4 door pockets and even the centre console.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t fault the new Suzuki SX4 sedan much…well perhaps just maybe its bi-pod A-pillar(s) and the somewhat quirky A-pillar window. The engine bay could look a little neater with perhaps, a better looking cam-cover et al. However, these do not detract from the fact that the SX4 drives - and rides - well enough for a simple tech car with a low cost goal to its existence. To those who are looking to buy a B-segment sedan, do not cross this out from your shopping list without a test drive!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

On Test: Suzuki SX4 Sedan

Currently on test as part of my NST-CBT COTY 2008 review, I found this to be an affable econo-runabout (in relative 'B-segment' terms, of course). So much so, I think I shall post up a full test report soon...

Watch this blog for this surprising little performer in the class of Toyota Vios, Honda City and Nissan Latio. It's a better drive than most of us would reckon it to be! :)

NST-Maybank Cars.Bikes.Trucks (CBT) Car of The Year 2008 Awards

A media launch was held recently to announce the NST-CBT Car of the Year 2008 annual event, to be sponsored by Maybank and the pinnacle COTY 2008 Awards gala night sometime in November this year. It was hosted by Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) at its Auto Pacifica dealer in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Watch this space for further updates on the nominees and categories of NST-CBT COTY 2008.
For Wheels' Dr Max Long is on the panel of independent judges for NST-CBT COTY 2008.

For more info, go to:

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

CITROËN returns to Malaysia with the C6 and the Grand C4 PICASSO

The launch of the C6 Luxury sedan and the Grand C4 Picasso by Brooklands Motors Sdn Bhd (BMSB), the sole importer & distributor of Citroën in Malaysia, marked the return of Citroën vehicles locally. This is definitely good news for Citroën fans here who have not seen any new Citroën vehicles launched here since 2005. The official launch ceremony was officiated by Dato’ Jacob Dungau Sagan, the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia.

Muhammad Fadhil Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer and Director of BMSB said, “The C6 that has been inspired by the great Citroën cars of the past such as the DS, the SM, the CX and the XM is so authentically Citroen with new innovative technologies that have helped the Marque to establish a strong heritage in the luxury sedan market.

“The C6 is the first car to combine hydraulic suspension with double wishbones at the front and a multi-link set up at the rear. Associated with an active suspension system featuring electronically controlled springing and damping, the running gear of the C6 effectively soaks up bumps and dips in the road surface to set new standards in comfort, road holding and driving pleasure”.

The original design of the C6 combines the Marque's own styling cues with those of an executive car. The proportions of the roof line and the curve of the wheel arches immediately identify the C6 as one of the great Citroën models. The C6 features a long front overhang and short rear overhang. The design lines and general approach bring to mind both a powerful coupé and a prestige saloon, from the standpoint of their respective qualities. At the front, the C6 features a wide grille and chrome chevrons spanning the nose right up to the vertical headlamps. The headlamps extend up onto the wings and wide ribbed bonnet.

A long wheelbase and flowing, aerodynamic profile give the C6 real presence, while suggesting space, stability and power. The windows hug the curve of the roof arch, which in turn blends smoothly into the rear pillars in a subtle nod to coupé styling, an effect that is taken one step further by the frameless doors.

At the rear, the design is particularly eye-catching. The concave window extends down to the boot lid and lights, thus adding the finishing touch to the body style. An air deflector is deployed automatically at speed, illustrating the attention paid to another key Citroën value: aerodynamics.

The interior of the C6 creates an immediate impression of space and comfort. The pure lines of the dashboard, premium materials and comfortable, sculpted seats are an invitation to step on board and enjoy a relaxing ride. Classic and yet thoroughly original, the C6 sets itself apart from the models that currently set the standard in the sector, while meeting all the requirements of an executive car: elegance, refinement and presence.

The C6 Exclusive is priced at RM398,000 and comes with a two-year or 100,000km warranty. It is powered by the 3.0 V6 petrol engine that delivers 155 kW EEC (215 bhp DIN) at 6,000 rpm and 290 Nm of torque EEC at 3,752 rpm. The engine is fitted with a new exhaust line and dual-mode active silencer, which improves both performance and engine noise. By redirecting the exhaust gases in the silencer, this system improves engine noise in normal conditions of use and improves performance under load. In terms of environmental protection, the V6 engine meets the Euro IV emission standard.

The Grand C4 Picasso is an innovative and compact seven-seat MPV. It sports distinctive styling and a host of original features that make travelling by MPV an even more comfortable and enjoyable experience. With the fluid and harmonious profile of a true thoroughbred, the Grand C4 Picasso has all the hallmarks of a Citroën. Continuing the trend set by the brand's latest models, this new MPV boasts some unique features that make life on board simpler and more enjoyable for its occupants.

From any angle, the Grand C4 Picasso is an impressive seven-seat MPV. Bold styling; with sweeping contours of innovative design give you an attractive yet purposeful road presence. And the driving experience is exceptional. It has a wide range of features as standard that make for a comfortable, enjoyable and safe journey for you and up to six passengers.

A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating means the Grand C4 Picasso is one of the safest cars on the road. You only have to look at the security and safety specifications of the Grand C4 Picasso to understand how important driver and passenger protection is to Citroën, especially in a vehicle that can effortlessly carry seven people or large heavy loads.

Active features and aids that adapt to your driving needs, such as an automatic parking brake, dual zone climate control with air vents for all 3 seating rows, ESP, cruise control with speed limiter and multiple airbags come as standard, so convenience and passenger protection are at the heart of the Grand C4 Picasso, along with great handling, fuel economy and ample comfortable space for passengers and luggage.

The extensive use of glass gives great all round visibility. A raised, fully adjustable driving position and panoramic views of the road through a wide-angle, acoustically designed windscreen combine to give you unrivalled vision that helps to reduce driver fatigue.

The Grand C4 Picasso will be priced at RM168,000 with two-year or 100,000km warranty. It is powered by a 16-valve 2-litre engine that develops 103 kW EEC (143 bhp DIN) with maximum torque of 200 Nm available at 4,000 rpm. The engine features variable valve timing (VVT), to optimise filling of the combustion chambers, irrespective of engine speed. This engine is mated to an automatic 4-speed transmission system and it is Euro IV-compliant for environmental protection.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (X) available now at RM323,888

Mitsubishi Motors' flagship and rally-bred sport saloon, the Lancer Evolution (Xth Edition) has finally landed officially in Malaysia. Launched to a packed audience at Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, the SINGLE display car was literally swamped by enthusiasts and guests alike.

Standard Brembos peek through BBS 18" light alloys (above). Meaty steering wheel with plenty switches to toy around with (below).

Watch out for a first drive impression of the 6-speed Twin clutch -SST Evolution X driven by 295ps @ 6,500rpm and 366Nm of torque @ 3,500 rpm!

In the meantime, do check these out:

Friday, 22 August 2008

2008 All-New Honda Jazz: Details and more pictures

The premium All-New Jazz struts out on a specially made ‘car-size’ runway on 20th August 2008 in an exclusive fashion presentation inspired by the car’s features and image, and created jointly by Malaysia’s top fashion designers and stylist Melinda Looi, Jonathan Cheng, Khoon Hooi and Cris Yong. In an original car unveiling that is possibly the first of its kind here, the 2nd Generation Jazz made its entry into the Malaysia market with a strong statement about its class-leading performance, space and style.

When introduced in 2001, the 1st Generation Jazz quickly won over fans around the world as an unconventional car that exceeds customers’ expectations of a compact car in terms of its stylish design, reliability, practicality, fuel efficiency and drivability. The global Honda model made an impressive cumulative sale of 2.3 million units worldwide with Japan and the Asia & Oceania region accounting for half of its sales. In fact, it opened a new 5-door hatchback segment in the Asia and Oceania region’s automotive markets, and bagged numerous awards from acclaimed research houses and automotive media in Europe, South Africa, Japan and Southeast Asia.

“The 2nd Generation Jazz presents one of the toughest challenges in the development of a car of its kind as its predecessor already set a high benchmark in the compact 5-door hatchback segment,” said Mr. Atsushi Fujimoto, Honda Malaysia Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer in his speech at the unconventional launch of All-New Jazz.

He continued to describe the All-New Jazz development as an ‘evolution’ that takes the class-leading and well-received elements of the first generation and improves on them within the limits of price and size. “This is much more challenging than changing a car’s total design; but it pushes us to innovate further so that our customers get even more value out of the similarly compact All-New Jazz,” he said.

Also at the launch event was Mr. Kohei Hitomi, Chief Engineer from Honda R&D in Japan, whose team took the demanding task of developing the 2nd Generation Jazz. He explained that the development concept was focused on three areas: to develop a model that can be placed in the centre of compact car category; to offer strong product competitiveness; and to deliver new values to customers.

The result is a premium and class-leading compact 5-door hatchback with further improved and evolved ‘DNA’ from the 1st Generation Jazz, which includes its design, utility, drivability and fuel consumption.

Mr. Fujimoto added that the All-New Jazz will continue to appeal to both female and male, aged 25 to 39 years old, determined young singles and families who seek to be discerned and unconventional, and yet enjoy a car that is highly practical and reliable.

Key highlights of the 2nd Generation Jazz are its dynamic exterior styling, best-in-class spaciousness and comfort, class-leading performance and drivability with good fuel efficiency, and advanced safety features – all befitting of its new and PREMIUM image.

The front pillar of the All-New Jazz has been moved forward to create exhilarating effects on both exterior styling and interior space. Externally, the advanced super-forward form enhances the aerodynamic and energetic appearance of the car. Internally, the cabin features an ingenious layout that increase spaciousness equivalent to an average medium-sized sedan, providing passengers a natural feeling of comfort. It also makes way for an extended and larger wind shield which provides better visibility for the driver.

Another noteworthy achievement in the 2nd Generation Jazz is its enhanced utility. It provides a variety of seating and trunk utilities that maximise seating flexibility and cargo space. This includes extension of space and usage via the enhanced ULTRA Seat, which operates in the Utility, Long and Tall modes. These three modes enable car owners to load objects of different sizes into the car, enhancing the practicality of the car for today’s car owners and drivers.

The All-New Jazz is powered by Honda’s newly enhanced 1.5-liter i-VTEC engine, which combines with 5-speed Automatic Transmission (5AT) to offer excellent drivability, performance and fuel efficiency. It comes in the 1.5-liter i-VTEC Grade S and Grade V variants, both of which command a power output of 120 PS, which is the most powerful in its class. While the Grade S offers essential features of the All-New Jazz, the Grade V variant offers additional features such as paddle shift, and exclusive fittings that gives the car a sportier look. In terms of environmental friendliness, all variants have been designed to meet the EURO 4 emission level.

The safety performance of the All-New Jazz comes with the revolutionary G-CON Technology with body structure designed to spread out and disperse collision impact so as to limit cabin intrusion to effectively minimise driver and passengers as well as pedestrian injuries. It is also fitted with Dual SRS Airbags and ABS system.

According to Mr. Fumihiko Ike, President & Chief Executive Officer of Asian Honda Motor Co. Ltd in Thailand, the All-New Jazz maintained the number one market position in Japan for the ninth consecutive month in July 2008 since its introduction in October last year. Its cumulative sale in Japan alone has achieved more than 140,000 units as of July this year, which surpassed the sales record of the 1st Generation Jazz. It also received Japan’s “Car of the Year” award, making history by winning the same prize as the first generation model.

Within the Asia & Oceania region, the All-New Jazz has already launched in Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore with notable sales record. As of July this year, three months following the launch in March, the bookings of All-New Jazz in Thailand have reached an encouraging 10,000 units.

“Based on these successes as well as strong acceptance of the 1st Generation Jazz in Malaysia, Honda believes that the All-New Jazz will deliver even greater joy to our customers here in Malaysia,” expressed Mr. Ike.

In Malaysia, the All-New Jazz is available in four colours: the Cerulean Blue Metallic; Alabaster Silver Metallic; Taffeta White; and Crystal Black Pearl (available from November 2008 onwards).

In addition to introducing the All-New Jazz via a thematic fashion show, Honda Malaysia is reaching out to its target audience via an Internet portal at To create a buzz and excitement leading to the launch, visitors of the site could subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter to get latest updates and information on the All-New Jazz, such as interviews with the creative team behind the launch and fashion show and its themes. Starting today, visitors will also get to see first-hand the television commercial of the All-New Jazz on the website, before it broadcast on TV on 27th August.

To reward the first 300 customers of the All-New Jazz, Honda Malaysia has also commissioned the three designers, Khoon Hooi, Melinda Looi and Jonathan Cheng, to design 300 pieces of exclusive polo t-shirts. Each piece will have its own unique design.

Starting today, customers can visit all authorised Honda showrooms nearby to view and test-drive the All-New Jazz. For more information, please call Honda Toll Free number at 1-800-88-2020, or log on to

Related post:

All-new Honda Jazz defies conventional pricing in Malaysia

Thursday, 21 August 2008

All-new Honda Jazz defies conventional pricing in Malaysia

The all-new Jazz has been launched by Honda Malaysia at a glitzy media-and-public invitation- only event at the KL Convention Centre yesterday. True to its 'Defy Convention' tag line, the fully-imported Jazz can be yours for RM104,800 for the 'S' spec while the premium version tagged 'V' is at RM109,800 (OTR with insurance).

Larger in cabin and longer at its wheelbase by 50mm, the 2nd generation Jazz continues its space, versatality and practicality themes in a compact package. Quite a few have lamented about the new Jazz mimicking much of the old, especially the rear but towards this, For Wheels reckoned: "Why radically change a proven formula?"

Appearing gorgeous along with the sultry models is the all-new Jazz in Cerulean Blue Metallic looking much re-energised and refreshed.

Powering the 2008/09 Jazz is Honda's L15A 1.5L i-VTEC powerplant capable of 120ps @ 6,600rpm and 145Nm of max torque at 4,800rpm. Also new to the 2nd generation Jazz is a 5-speed autobox in place of the predecessor's efficient and economical CVT. The compact 1,497cc 4-pot now wears a 16-valved SOHC instead of the previous' twelve. i-VTEC 'trickery' denotes both variable valve timing as well as variable valve lift mechanism. Honda claims a 24km/l fuel economy achieved with Japan Domestic Market's (JDM) Fit with CVT. However, with a torque converter tranny I truly doubt that will be achievable here in Malaysia, what's more with our A/C-always-on and real-world congested traffic conditions.

Below is the Modulo-kitted Jazz (in Taffetta White), costing an extra RM3,000. As a package, the premium will buy you fog lights, tailgate spoiler, iluuminated side step garnish, alloy foot pedals, interior foot lights and trunk tray. The 16" Modulo alloy wheels retail for RM2,480, for a set of four. These items can also be opted for individually.

With the new Jazz just launched, it is interesting to have more than a few glimpses of what the upcoming 2009 Honda City has in store for us...hopefully soon!