Tuesday, 29 December 2009

From Porsche Boxster to Cayman in 3 months!

This is a little hobby project I had taken up since I got my first Porsche this year. It consumed all-in-all about 3 months (and quite a sum as well!) before this end product: a hardtop coupe i.e. Cayman 2.7 look-alike. Hence the new badge! :)

Well, a little nip & tuck plus facelift did do wonders to hide better a vehicle's age, much like a person...no?
By the way, the coupe you see above may be for sale if the price is right. Hmmm...a larger displacement 911 (997 series) would be nice, in the 'evolution' of things!

Email me at forwheels@gmail.com if you're interested. (Sorry, for sale in Malaysia only)

Related post:
2001 Porsche Boxster vs Mazda MX5

Friday, 25 December 2009

Michael Schumacher confirmed for MERCEDES GP PETRONAS

The MERCEDES GP PETRONAS Formula One Team has confirmed that seven-times Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher will make his racing return in 2010 with the Silver Arrows team.

With seven Drivers' World Championships, 248 Grand Prix starts, 91 victories, 154 podium finishes and 68 pole positions, the 40-year old German needs no introduction following an illustrious and record-breaking Formula One career from 1991 to 2006 at the Jordan, Benetton and Ferrari teams.

Michael's return to racing with MERCEDES GP PETRONAS sees his return to Mercedes-Benz Motorsport where he began his racing apprenticeship as part of the Junior Programme in 1990, racing in Group C sports cars and DTM, and sees Michael renew his partnership with Ross Brawn with whom he won all seven of his World Championships.

Meanwhile the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS line-up for the 2010 season will also see another German, 24 year old Nico Rosberg, piloting the other Silver Arrows car.

Here are the comments of members of the newly restructured team, previously known as Brawn GP:
Michael Schumacher: "MERCEDES GP PETRONAS represents a new challenge for me both in a sporting and a personal context. It is a new chapter in my racing career and I am really looking forward to working with my old friend Ross Brawn and my companions from my days with the Mercedes Junior Programme. I am convinced that together we will be involved in the fight for the Formula 1 World Championship next year and I am already looking forward to getting back onto the race track. For me, this partnership closes the circle. Mercedes supported me for so many years when I began my Formula 1 career and now I can hopefully give something back to the brand with the star."

Nico Rosberg: "It is fantastic that Michael is returning to Formula One and will be my team-mate at MERCEDES GP PETRONAS. It's a great challenge for me to be up against one of the best drivers of all time. I'm sure that we will form a very strong partnership as he will have lost none of his speed! It is also great news for our sport and the fans."

Ross Brawn, Team Principal of MERCEDES GP PETRONAS: "I am delighted that we can confirm today that Michael will make his much-anticipated return to Formula One next year and drive for our MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team. As seven-time World Champion, Michael's outstanding record in Formula One speaks for itself and I am looking forward to working with him again. With the completion of our driver line-up, I believe that we now have the most exciting partnership in Formula One with Michael and Nico, who provide the perfect mix of talent, experience, speed and youth. We can now turn our full attention to the preparations for the new season and everyone at MERCEDES GP PETRONAS is extremely excited about the challenge ahead. With the investment and support in our team provided by Daimler, Aabar and our new title partner Petronas, and with two such exciting drivers, we have all of the building blocks in place to have another successful season in 2010."

Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports: "In April 1991, when I had been in charge of the Mercedes-Benz Motorsport programme for just six months, Michael was standing beside me on the balcony one evening. Without the slightest doubt, he said in a low voice: "It's about time that I got into Formula 1". Michael had just turned 22 years of age and four months later, he made his debut at Spa in a Jordan. Mercedes-Benz helped him to this point and the rest is history: seven World Championship titles, more than any racing driver, 91 Grand Prix wins, more than any racing driver. Michael has more of everything than every other driver. As part of the Mercedes Junior Programme, Michael had raced in Group C sports cars and competed in a few DTM races. Ross Brawn, then our opponent at Jaguar, quickly realised Michael's talent and they went on to win all seven of his Drivers' World Championship titles together at Benetton and Ferrari. Our sporting ambition has always been that Michael should drive again where his professional career had started and Michael knew that. We often joked about it after the races and discussed the prospect seriously several times during the last 14 years in Formula 1.

It didn't happen in 1995, it didn't happen in 1998 and it didn't happen in 2005. I am delighted that it will now happen in 2010. I am very much looking forward to working with Michael and everybody at Mercedes-Benz and Daimler extends a very warm welcome to our "apprentice" of 19 years ago. That apprentice is now the most successful racing driver of all time."

Thursday, 17 December 2009

All-New Hyundai Tucson

Click on all images to enlarge

Hyundai Motor Co is on a roll for the new decade: their daringly suave and stylish revamped all-new Sonata barely settled into our visual cortex of our grey matter, their superb Theta II GDI engines and in-house new 6-speed auto 'box have been revealed for very-near future applications. Now, here comes another 'wow-factor': their mid-size SUV, new Tucson replacement model for year 2010.

The all-new Tucson will only be offered initially with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, capable of 176 hp and 228Nm of torque. Transmission options include a 6-speed manual or an all-new 6-speed automatic. A 2.0-liter Theta II engine will be available later in 2010, perhaps that will be the likelihood variant seeing the light of day in Malaysia. In Right Hand Drive (RHD) configuration of course!
Keep bringing em on Hyundai!!!!

Hyundai Azera/Grandeur gets updated for 2010

Hyundai Motor Co. began receiving orders today for Grandeur (Azera) facelift that offers more luxurious exterior than the preceding model and a variety of upgraded features to attain more safety and convenience.


With its design focus on a progressive concept, Grandeur Facelift is reborn with more prestigious exterior. The facelift possesses overall dynamic and luxurious image with the differentiated designs of bumper, lamp, radiator grill, muffler and etc.

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Securing the best stability in its class, all models of Grandeur Facelift are basically equipped with Vehicle Dynamic Control(VDC), dual front and side curtain airbags for the event that a crash is unavoidable.


The price ranges from 27.1 million won to 28.9 million won for models with 2.4 Theta(θ) II VVT engine, from 29.8 million won to 34.0 million won for models with 2.7 Mu(μ) V6 DOHC engine and from 35.9 million won to 39.8 million won for models with 3.3 Lambda(λ) V6 DOHC engine (approximately US$23,214 to US$34,038, based on today’s currency exchange rates).

Peugeot 308 Turbo is NST-Maybank Car of The Year 2009

Giant automotive group Naza's (Nasim) Peugeot 308 Turbo got stamping approval of the New Straits Times/Maybank COTY panel by clinching the prestigious “Overall Car of the Year 2009” Award. Incidentally, the 308 Turbo was also the winner of the Family Car COTY 2009 Award.
The winners for the New Straits Times/Maybank 2009 Awards were announced at a gala dinner at The Saujana Kuala Lumpur, hosted by the New Straits Times and title sponsor Maybank Berhad.

A panel of 10 judges, comprising motoring editors, an automotive blogger and other distinguished personalities unanimously voted for the Peugeot 308 Turbo as winner of the coveted “Overall Car of The Year” based on its impressive handling, powerful performance, comfort, safety and value-for-money.

Judges were impressed by the car’s fuel efficiency, and the performance of the 1.6-litre direct injection turbo petrol engine, already an award winner internationally - but it was the 308 Turbo’s competitive price point and build quality that was the key factor in its win. The car also has a full-length panoramic glass roof, the only car in its class to offer such a feature.

The 308 Turbo is completely knocked down (CKD) and consists of imported parts from France. It is distributed by the official franchise holder of Peugeot Automobiles in Malaysia, Nasim Sdn Bhd (NSB), a member of the Naza Group of Companies.

The winner of the Good Design Award is the Toyota Prius. Already the number one selling hybrid car in the world, The Prius was selected not just for its beautifully sculpted shape, but also how much of its styling have been made to help its aerodynamic efficiency. Judges were also won over by the flowing lines of the car’s interior, the overall “cockpit” feel of the cabin, right down to the innovative use of storage space in the car.

The Volvo XC60, winner of the Luxury SUV award, added another feather to its cap by winning the Safety Award for its impressive list of safety features, which include the laser-based City Safety feature, Lane Departure Warning System and Collision Warning with Auto Brake, which uses radar technology for vehicle tracking.

The winners were selected from 68 new models introduced between December 2008 and October 2009, and judges took into account criteria such as exterior and interior design, comfort and ergonomics, performance, safety, emotional appeal, and after sales service including the comprehensiveness of its warranty. Points were awarded to the cars, and the vehicle with the most points wins the category. The overall Car of The Year winner was then selected from the list of 15 winners.

The night also saw history in the making when two distinguished names in motoring were selected as the “Automotive Men of The Year 2009” Award, Dato’ Dr Ang Bon Beng and Datuk Syed Abdull Hafiz Syed Abu Bakar.

Dato’ Dr Ang is the Executive Director of Edaran Tan Chong Motor, Nissan distributor and franchise holder in Malaysia. He was selected for his efforts in keeping the Tan Chong business thriving and making it the icon it is today, all this in spite of internal turmoil and pressure from its Japanese principal.

Datuk Syed Abdull Hafiz is the outgoing Managing Director of Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua). He was recognised for presenting a product loved by Malaysians for its quality, reliability and styling, notably the Perodua Myvi.

The Car of the Year Awards is the country’s first motoring award, and was launched in 2002 by Cars, Bikes and Trucks, the motoring section of the New Sunday Times, as a means to acknowledge achievements within the motoring industry.

The guest-of-honour for the night was Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the Deputy Prime Minister. Also gracing the occassion was Datuk Aishah Ahmad, President of the Malaysian Automotive Association.

The event is endorsed by the Malaysian Automotive Association.

A pictorial history of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class by the top-guns of M-B Malaysia (MBM)

Though not truly a big fan of the top-brass guys (and gals) at Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) and especially the way they mistreat customers and potential customers alike (some Merc dealers too, as rumoured), I must admit the 3-D holographic-esque presentation at the launch of the new W212 E-Class was really something to be savoured as unique and classy among the many car launches we get annually in Malaysia. The free-flowing wine, champagne, cognac and beers were not too bad either! :)

Click on all pictures to get a bigger image of the W110 (Tailfin) right through to the W211 predecessors! I guessed my shutter would have missed one or two circa 2nd World War models, but what the heck...I reckon the Tailfin is what most will remember as one of the most iconic great great grandfather of the E-class!

Here's looking forward to perhaps owning a E200 GGI or E250 CGI - both turbocharged -sometime in 2010 or 2011?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Mercedes-Benz W212 E-Class launched in Malaysia

It's finally here, the all-new E-Class (W212) being launched by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) at a glitzy evening function at the Palace of Golden Horses. To begin with only the E300 V6 will be available for sale immediately, priced at RM458,888.

The mass-market E200 CGI (estimated to retail about RM370k) will only be available sometime April 2010, along with the E250 CGI (circa RM410k) at about the same time. Both variants will have the same 1.8L lump in different state of tune and turbo-boost - along with direct injection - churning out 184hp/270Nm and 204hp/310Nm respectively. In contrast the E300 is powered by a naturally-aspirated 3.0L V6 pumping out a combo of 231hp/300Nm. Both the 4-cylinders E-Class only make do with 5 A/T 'box while the V6 will sport Merc's 7G-Tronic.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

2010 Hyundai Sonata 2.4 to have 201ps/250Nm GDI engine

To help meet its goals of environmental leadership, Hyundai Motor Company unveiled the 2.4 Theta II GDI, its first Gasoline Direct Injection engine before an audience of engineers attending the Ninth Annual Hyundai-Kia International Powertrain Conference.

Representing the biggest advancement in fuel injection, an ‘80s technology that replaced the carburetor, GDI puts Hyundai at the cutting edge of engine design and management by achieving three seemly incompatible goals: GDI lowers emissions while raising power output and improving fuel economy. Prior to GDI, a gain in one area came at the expense of the other two.

With a compression ratio of 11.3:1, the 2.4 Theta II GDI delivers 201ps at 6300rpm and 250 Nm of torque at 4250 rpm in its Korean domestic market specification.

“The Theta II GDI convincingly demonstrates Hyundai’s advanced powertrain engineering capabilities,” said Dr. Lee Hyun-Soon, Vice Chairman and Chief Technology Officer.

One serious limitation of conventional fuel injection is that as engine revolutions increase, the valve opening and closing times get progressively shorter, thus reducing the time available to inject fuel. GDI avoids this problem altogether by positioning the fuel injector in the most optimal location, directly inside the combustion chamber to offer unparalleled precision. With this shorter and more direct path, far greater control is attained over the combustion process: A high pressure fuel pump injects the fuel at pressures of up to 150 bar, in precise amounts and intervals.

The injection is split into two phases to achieve optimum combustion: in the first phase, the pilot injection and ignition trigger the piston's downward power stroke. Then, in the main injection phase, during the piston's descent, more fuel is injected and is ignited. This split-injection technique reduces loading on the catalytic converter and helps lower emissions. This is particularly beneficial during cold starts when emissions are highest because the catalyst has not reached its optimal operating temperature. Split-injection enables the catalytic converter to reach the optimal operating temperature faster thus reducing emissions by 25 percent during cold starts and meet’s California Air Resources Board’s ULEV-2 and PZEV standards.

GDI’s other benefits include improved dynamic performance and better mileage. Compared to a conventional engine of the same displacement, GDI delivers 7 percent more torque at low revolutions and 12 percent more torque at the high-end for better take-off and overtaking performance. Perhaps best of all, a vehicle equipped with a GDI engine will get about 10 percent better mileage than a vehicle equipped with a conventional multi-point fuel injected engine. Precise mileage figures will be announced when retail sales begin.

GDI has been applied to the second generation of Theta: Theta II features numerous design enhancements over its predecessor starting with the application of a three-stage variable induction system (VIS) which improves engine "breathing," automatically adjusting the volume of the air sucked into the combustion chamber to create the optimal air-to-fuel mix under different engine load conditions.

Further performance gains were made possible by incorporating Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (DCVVT) which improves engine breathing on the intake and exhaust sides for better fuel economy and lower emissions. Depending on engine load and speed, DCVVT can extend or shorten the duration of the valve opening and closing for more power and lower emissions. And the DCVVT system is governed by a new steel chain with an innovative roller and tooth designed for silent operation and durability.

While DCVVT and VIS improve power output, engineers have also come up with several important weight saving innovations. Special attention was focused on the bulkhead, the area of the aluminium cylinder block accumulating the highest stresses: Reinforcement yielded a stiffer block without incurring a weight penalty. A redesign of the crankshaft (semi-eight-balance type) led to an equally important weight reduction. The catalytic converter is also lighter thanks to a new canning process which allows for the use of thinner gauge stainless steel and requiring far less welding.

Another major engineering challenge was to reduce internal friction to attain better fuel economy. Friction reduction measures include a revision of the piston pin from a fixed-type to a full-floating design which cuts down on friction between the piston and cylinder wall. And under the piston crown, engineers have added a cooling jet which sprays oil over the piston walls reducing friction and contributing to an improvement in fuel economy.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Andropause Rx: A Porsche to restore low testosterone?

Scientists have conducted a rather interesting study, according to an article posted at Zeintec (Zei-News) online newsletter.

A group of men were first given ownership (for a full hour) of a £75,000 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet, followed by ownership (for a full hour) of a sixteen year old Toyota Camry, which definitely fell into the ‘beaten-up-family-car’ category.

Before the drive began in the Porsche, tests were conducted on saliva samples from each man and a testosterone level was noted. After the men took a drive through the country side, alone in the car with no witnesses, there was a significant increase in these levels! To take it a step further, the levels increased even MORE when the man drove through a town or city where there were plenty of female onlookers to fluff their tail feathers for.

BUT when the man took an hour drive in the Toyota, there was no increase in their testosterone levels and sadly, some men even showed a slight decrease!

For a man, owning a Porsche would be the equivalent of having the brightest feathers amongst your peacock rivals! It is common knowledge that a low testosterone level in a man can lead to a decrease in health; bad moods, sleep difficulty, putting on weight and a low sex drive...So the conclusion we come to: driving a Porsche is great for your health!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Perodua Viva Elite

Today I shall get down-to-earth, back-to-basics with this car review. No other car epitomize this better than Perodua Viva Elite. It is by no means bargain-basement cheap, considering that Perodua is considered a national car maker and is afforded tariff exemption, special tax incentives et al.

Not paying much attention to this Perodua model initially, I was surprised at how decent this rebadged Daihatsu Charade (of previous generation) can be. Things that matter like ABS, twin SRS airbags are there. Even the wing mirrors are electrically foldfable. Hear this UMW Toyota: (well, they are of the same core business group anyway), where's the electric folding mirror action for the RM175k Toyota Prius?

Then there's also adjustable seatbelt anchorage points on the B-Pillars. Similar items in Toyota Avanza and even Nissan Grand Livina? No.

Though the seats are not the last word in comfort - its flanks support and backrest are a little thin/stingy but the thigh supports are surprisingly adequate (at least for my short stature) i.e. ant-posterior length-wise up to the mark. Once again, even the ever popular (D-segment!) Toyota Camry is a little shortchanged here. Serious.

Drive wise, there is nothing much to complain about. It's sprightly enough, light footed and willing on the move. There's even 4 -speed auto now, versus the Kancil 850 EZ which my better half owned 8 years ago. Idling vibrations is still noticeable, even though idling engine speed is pretty high at 1000rpm. The instruments panel are simple, clean and easily legible. something that the other 'major' national carmaker needs to learn for its Neo model or even its new Evora...er, I meant Exora.

The chassis gets a tad floaty as you breach our national highway speed limit but I guess flogging it to, say 130 km/h is much akin to wearing your Croc sandals to do snorkeling.

Funnily, the alloy wheels managed to look like wheel caps, which is something rather 'bizarre' considering that some good wheel caps can mimic otherwise these days!
In contention for a NST-Maybank COTY award 2009, whether the Viva Elite will present better value than the Hyundai i10 remains with the end-user. While the little Hyundai does handle better and has a better interior, the Viva's trump cards are its features.

At the end of the day, most motorists at this entry-level budget segment will likely emphasise on Viva's resale value in the future as a key consideration factor in their purchase.
Or perhaps another choice may be the newly relaunched, facelifted and renamed Naza (Kia) Picanto?