Saturday, 21 February 2009

Tried & Tested: Renault Megane CC

The French automotive brand Renault has undergone a sort of a revival in Malaysia recently, with local franchise holder, TC Eurocars introducing what they coined as the Fabulous Five. One of them is the lifestyle coupe-cabriolet known as the Megane CC. The others in this new stable are the Clio 1.6, Clio RS, Megane F1 R26 and the Grand Espace.

Though late forthcoming to the Malaysian market, the Megane CC is one neat looking coupe with sleek sidelines and an amazingly sharp looking rump, even in comparison to the other benchmark setting coupe-sunroof-cabriolet (2.0L segment & below RM250k) the VW Eos. Though the frontal visage is debatable against its Germanic counterpart, it is no less menacing when hunkering down the motorway on the fast lane, not necessitating any right turn signal or headlamp flash (which can be less desirable) to make known of its intention to pass. Perhaps this has got to do with the R26-esque persona when viewed from the rear view mirror of the car up front. Not a bad thing really.

The foldable metal-and-glass hard top even comes down in what seemed like a few seconds quicker than the Eos, in true “Transformers” fashion which requires origami-folding of what appeared to be like significantly lesser folding parts. With the glass roof up, the curvy C-pillar even reminisces that of a proper fixed hardtop coupe like the Audi TT. Nice and sporty.

Much has been lamented about its rather lethargic, normally aspirated 4-pot of 2.0L capacity but get acquainted (I did!) with the engine’s mid-range delivery and work manually through its - rather paltry - 4 gear ratios, it isn’t that bad in isolation. Understand the weight penalty of the Megane CC’s body plus its armaments of braces and reinforcements, you’ll soon accept and appreciate that nice and easy, relaxing drive. Ride quality is commendable while wind noise and road noise levels are rather exemplary for something with a frameless window, B-pillar less architecture et al.

Interior cabin ambience is classy and cozy, with the red leather upholstery taking centre stage, even though the dashboard is beginning to show its age. Typical Frenchie are the supportive and hugging seats, perfect for those longer interstate jaunts. The rear bench though, along with dismal rear legroom is strictly meant for children under eight or so. Renault’s keyless entry and start, executed by means of an electronic card is just a fancy piece of gadget which complicates a simple turn-key start into a more annoying two-steps execution of single-minded function of cranking up the engine. Nothing but a case of form over function, I reckoned.

As with most coupe-cabriolet, scuttle shakes are part & parcel of a trade-off when the chassis engineers lop off the roof. In the Megane CC, it is still pretty solid puttering leisurely but when you start throwing it topless into fast corners it starts to get a little hairy with that ‘loose’ feeling of the front flinging about a tad more than desired. However once you set the top back in position, the completed ‘egg-shell’ structure makes handling around bends noticeably more planted and reassuring.

A lot of people would not understand the joys of being in a coupe-cabriolet, more so in our blazingly sunny, hot and humid climate. These people are far from guilty of misjudging and stereotyping such a niche example of an automobile, since it’s pretty dusty and polluted in most urban and suburban areas too. However, should you want to enjoy the crisp cool air of the highlands or the salinity of the sea-breeze on a fine clear day (preferably slightly cloudy?) with sun-setting in the backdrop, there’s nothing better than being in a roadster, a Targa, cabriolet or best, in a coupe-cabriolet! With TC Eurocars dropping the price a smidgen below RM200k now (from RM236k previously), that wind-in-your-hair driving experience can now be yours being a little fluffier on your hair, as well as a little lighter on your pocket.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Volvo XC90 D5: 400Nm of torque on tap!

Click on all images to enlarge

Some things just get better all the time. Malaysia’s all-time favorite luxury SUV, the Volvo XC90, just got even better with the recent introduction of the new diesel variant - the Volvo XC90 D5. Better fuel efficiency for more mileage, greater torque and power, and less emission too. That’s just some of the benefits of driving the new Volvo XC90 D5.

“I’m very pleased and proud to introduce the new Volvo XC90 D5. It has all the features and benefits that are renown in a XC90 model - safety, versatility, spaciousness and stylish too… and now with the diesel variant, things just got even better,” said Mr. Robert Norrman, President of Volvo Car Malaysia.

Since the launch of the petrol engined XC90 T5 and T6 in 2003, the first 7-seater luxury SUV in Malaysia has been the best-seller among its segment for 5 straight years. The Volvo XC90 is suitable for everyday life and for all occasions. For work, leisure, city driving or even weekend get-aways, the XC90 is a spectacular showcase of Volvo’s philosophy of integrating form and function to achieve beauty, versatility and safety. It is no wonder that the Volvo XC90 is one of the world’s most awarded SUV, receiving more than 50 international awards for these very same traits.

“Malaysians are absolutely right to choose the XC90 as their car of choice. Its features, benefits, safety, price… the whole package is just superb,” said Norrman.

The locally-assembled XC90 D5 is a transversely-mounted 2.4 litre in-line 5-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 185 horsepower and 400 Nm of torque with a 6-speed automatic Geartronic transmission.

It is priced at RM355,000 (on the road without insurance) and comes in four colors – Black Sapphire Metallic, Oyster Grey Pearl, Electric Silver Metallic and Shadow Blue Metallic.

More background of the Volvo XC90:


The Volvo XC90 was launched in early 2002 as the first purpose-built SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) to come from Volvo Cars. It is also Volvo's first seven-seat car since the 1940s. The Volvo XC90 has electronically controlled All-Wheel Drive. It has the capacity to forge ahead on very poor roads, but is primarily intended as a spacious passenger car with excellent driving manners, immense safety and intelligent versatility.

New features Volvo XC90 - brief summary

· Exterior rear emblem with increased space between the letters

· Modified front head restraints


Five-door SUV - a crossover model that combines the passenger car's comfort and comfort with excellent get-you-there ability and flexibility. The Volvo XC90 is designed to give a robust yet at the same time compact and elegant impression. It is built as a 7-seater passenger car, with a unitary body and the same type of chassis as that found in Volvo's sedan models - unlike some other SUV models that are built on a truck chassis. The passenger compartment is very spacious, thanks not least to Volvo's modern powertrain concept with transverse engine installation.

The Volvo brand name in the rear of the XC90 D5 adopts the new widespread lettering to enhance visibility of the brand. The individual letters will also be larger.


Volvo Cars adopts a holistic view of safety that encompasses both Preventive and Protective safety. Preventive safety is closely linked to the car's driving properties. The body of the Volvo XC90 features immense torsional rigidity and the car has a sturdy chassis, a combination that results in consistent, predictable behaviour on the road. Ground clearance is high to offer good get-you-there ability on poor roads. Despite this, the floor is set low down, which contributes to the car's low centre of gravity and excellent directional stability.

Protective safety in the Volvo XC90 is structured around a network consisting of exterior and interior safety systems that interact with one another to reduce the risk of occupant injury in a collision.

The exterior systems have the task of distributing and absorbing incoming collision forces so that the passenger compartment remains as intact and undamaged as possible.

Thanks to its unitary body, the Volvo XC90 has been able to be built with the same type of deformation zone as Volvo's other car models. The body is built in the form of a metal cage where all the components interact with one another to ensure controlled deformation. A gently rounded front and an extra beam below the front bumper help reduce the risk of injury to other road users.

The interior safety systems aim to keep the passengers securely in place and also to reduce the risk of serious injury. In order to provide the most effective protection possible, Volvo Cars has developed a number of in-house systems, such as WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System), SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) and IC (Inflatable Curtain). All are fitted as standard in the Volvo XC90. Certain components have undergone further development specifically for the XC90 model. For instance, the Inflatable Curtain has been extended so it also covers passengers in the third row of seats. All seven seats are equipped with three-point inertia-reel seat belts, belt pre-tensioners and head restraints. The highest possible safety requires that all the car's occupants always use their seat belts.

The Volvo XC90 features reinforced roll-over protection. An active stability-enhancement system (Roll Stability Control) activates if the car risks rolling over. Engine power is reduced, anti-roll bar stiffness is increased and the brakes are automatically applied to stabilise the car. If the car should roll over, a network of beams in the body structure helps distribute and absorb the resulting forces. In addition, an electronic sensor registers if the car is about to roll over and accordingly activates the seat belt pre-tensioners and the inflatable curtains.

Driveline and handling

The Volvo XC90 D5 is equipped with a five-cylinder engine. It is fitted transversely in keeping with Volvo's modern powertrain concept. They are designed to operate smoothly, with low vibration and high torque across a wide rev range.

The engine is extremely compact and mounted transversely, for optimum crash safety and maximum cabin space. The five-cylinder turbo diesel provides smooth and powerful driving. This responsive and modern diesel features a service-free particle filter, making it a highly eco-efficient engine.

The chassis, with spring struts at the front and Multilink axle at the rear, is set up for stable, reassuring driving manners and alert steering response. The Multilink rear axle is an independent rear suspension system featuring a number of links and it is designed to offer a good combination of controlled wheel movements and high ride comfort. Some of these links have the task of providing a certain degree of anti-skid steering effect. A long wheelbase and wide track, together with a very torsionally rigid body, contribute to the predictable, controlled driving manners. Large wheels with a relatively tall tyre profile and stiff tyre sidewalls contribute further to stability.

The Volvo XC90 has Volvo's electronically controlled All-Wheel Drive system with Instant Traction, for fast and effective distribution of traction even when moving off on a slippery surface. Volvo's advanced DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) stability-enhancing system is fitted as standard. DSTC cuts in and helps stabilise the car if it registers any tendency to skid.

The environment

The Volvo XC90 is designed and equipped to impact as little as possible on the global environment and to offer a clean and healthy interior climate. Energy-efficient diesel engines with particle filters produce low emissions of carbon dioxide and soot particles.

Volvo's IAQS (Interior Air Quality System) effectively reduces the amount of particles, pollen, gases and certain unpleasant odours in the air entering the cabin. In addition, all textiles and leather are certified under ÖKO-TEX 100, an international standard, which ensures that the interior trim is free from allergy-inducing substances and emissions.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Peugeot 207cc gets lovey-dovey for Valentine's

Nasim is having a promotion for its cutesy lifestyle coupe-cabriolet, the 207cc, from 11th -14th February 2009. Every confirmed booking with a RM1000 deposit will entitle a pair of lovebirds to dine at the Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co Restaurant at The Curve, Mutiara Damansara. These lucky couples will also get premium chocolates and a bouquet of roses each, provided they sign up for a 207CC at Peugeot’s roadshow display at the Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur before 12 noon on 14th February 2009.

The Peugeot 207CC comes with the EP6 1.6L engine, equipped with Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and develops 120hp. Priced at RM158,888 (OTR), it is one of the most affordable brand-new coupe cabriolets available in Malaysia currently. Coupe cabriolets are actually convertibles which do not use canvas for top cover but employ a folding metal roof instead. In addition, the 207CC is also one of the safest cars in its class, with a full 5-star EuroNCAP crash test rating.

For more info, call Peugeot Careline at 1-800-88-6292 or log on to for further details.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Peugeot 308 VTi & 308 Turbo available in Malaysia now

Nasim, the official franchise holder of Peugeot automobiles in Malaysia, has launched the Peugeot 308 and pricing it competitively at RM96,500 for the 308 VTi and RM111,000 for the 308 Turbo, (on-the-road with insurance) in an event officiated by the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak.

The new 308 which was the winner of the “Golden Lenkrad” award in 2007 in Germany in its category and also recently the AMI NZ Autocar Car of the Year 2008 in its class. It is set to offer Malaysian car buyers more choice apart from the current mainly Japanese offerings available in the market.

Being locally assembled at the Naza Automotive Manufacturing plant in Gurun, Kedah, the gorgeous 308 will be available in 5 door form and has the new EP6 series of 1.6 L engines. The EP6 engines have won the International Engine of the Year Award twice, in 2007 and 2008 and are a result of a technical collaboration between Automobiles Peugeot and BMW.

Malaysians will be offered 2 variants of the new Peugeot 308; the Peugeot 308 VTi and the Peugeot 308 Turbo. Both are available with only automatic transmissions with System Tiptronic Porsche; a feature that allows drivers to select manual gear selection or fully automatic. En SM Nasarudin said that these two models reflect the growing taste of Malaysian buyers for European automobiles. He added that the cars have been very well specified and are being positioned as premium offerings within their respective segments.

“The performance of the 308 Turbo is already as good as some 2.0 litre competitors and in some cases even better. The 308 offers a combination of strong engine performance, with top-notch creature comforts, space and safety for both the VTi and Turbo and these alone, are strong points for anyone considering the new 308. Our theme ‘Naturally Efficient’ for the launch shows just how far the automobile has progressed and in the 308’s case, it represents efficiency in all areas; performance, spaciousness, fuel economy, safety and also towards the environment.” He added that customers should get into the car and feel the difference when compared to the car’s competitors.

The Peugeot 308 VTi and Peugeot 308 Turbo models are Nasim’s spearhead into the hotly contested C-segment, at near premium Japanese B-segment hatch (CBU) price levels. With the Peugeot 407 as a testimony to the marque’s acceptance into Malaysian mainstream automotive market, Nasim Sdn Bhd is confident of the 308 repeating the success. En SM Nasarudin hinted that Nasim Sdn Bhd will continue to introduce new and exciting Peugeot models into the Malaysian market that are very competitive in their price and size segments as part of Nasim’s strategy for Peugeot in Malaysia.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

VW Golf GTI Mk6

Here are some images of a finalised pre-production unit of the new Golf GTI Mk6, slated to go on sale in later part of this year. Power is expected to come from the same turbocharged 4-pot with direct gasoline (petrol) injection, albeit bumped up to 210ps and likely higher torque of perhaps 300Nm (?). No official performance figures are available as yet, but you can expect sub-7 secs 0-100km/h sprint to be maintained with the use of VW's superb DSG twin-clutch tranny. A marginally higher top speed will be possible with the gain of 10ps in horsepower over the stock standard Mk5 Golf GTI.

More significantly, the Mk6 Golf GTI will sport Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC), VW speak for adaptive damping, throttle response tweaks and variable steering weight/assistance, all dialled by a switch on the dash, much like Audi Drive Select, as experienced in the new A4 (B8) 1.8TFSI.

It remains to be seen whether the Mk6 GTI will sport an LSD called XDS to rein in the potential understeer should the GTI go near torque figures like 350Nm or even loftier levels (great for aftermarket ABT rechip/remap et al)!

Still want that 3-door Scirocco or this real deal GTI? Volkswagen Group Malaysia (VGM) will launch the former sometime H2 2009 (and the Mk6 Golf 1.4 TSI along the way) but no words on this iconic hot hatch yet being available this year.

Related post:
VW Golf GTI Mk6 Concept