Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Volkswagen Mk6 Golf R

It looks like Golf Mk6 hottest version - slated to boot out the Mk5 Golf R32 - has swapped the latter’s 3.2-liter V6 (250hp) for VW Scirocco R's 2.0-liter (EA113) direct injection-turbocharged 4-pot. Beefed up and boosted to pump out 270hp and 320Nm worth of torque, and rightfully (but more costly) powering all four wheels via an all-wheel drive system nicked from the new Audis S3.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, while the 6-speed twin-clutch DSG transmission will be optional. 0 to 100km/h sprint is dispatched in 5.7 seconds for the stick shift, while the DSG ‘box will further shave sprint timings down to 5.5 seconds! To put things in perspective, that’s even quicker than the latest Porsche Cayman 2.9 with PDK (5.8 seconds). Top speed however, is electronically limited to 250 km/h for both versions. In contrast, the ‘regular’ Mk6 Golf GTI (EA888 with 209hp) with a DSG gearbox zips to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds and Vmax at 239 km/h.

The wicked Mk6 Golf R will be available as both three and five door hatchbacks. It is expected to go on sale in Europe by the end of this year, while its U.S. market debut is projected by early 2010. No news from Volkswagen Group Malaysia (VGM) on this most exciting Golf version to come in Mk6 form but a probable guesstimate will be H2 2010? On a related note, the Mk 6 GTI is due to be officially unveiled and sold in Malaysia at RM209k (one thousand ringgit per hp?) by Nov/Dec 2009.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Hyundai's Blue Drive at Frankfurt

Blue Drive, Hyundai Motor Co.'s eco-initiative, will move into high gear at the 2009 IAA in Frankfurt. The company has created a special Blue Drive Zone where it will exhibit a wide array of its new eco-friendly technologies and products demonstrating its commitment to lowering emissions and improving the fuel economy of its vehicles.

Among the world debut Hyundai will be exhibiting at Frankfurt include the i10 Electric, a zero emissions urban commuter vehicle, which will see limited series production begin in 2010 starting with the Korean market. It will be sold to government ministries, state corporations and utilities in the first stage. The retail sales date has not been decided. Powered by a 49kW motor and a 16kWh battery, the i10 Electric promises a driving range of 160km and top speed of 130km/h. It features x-by-wire systems for steering, air conditioning, water pump and brake vacuum pump.

Europeans will also get their first chance to see two other important Blue Drive vehicles, which made their world debut earlier this year at the Seoul Motor Show. The Frankfurt Blue Drive Zone will include the Elantra LPI Hybrid which emits just 94g/km of CO2 (European combined mode) and the Blue Will Plug-In Hybrid Electric concept vehicle. The Elantra LPI HEV is the world's first hybrid electric vehicle to be powered by liquid petroleum gas (or autogas) and the first production car to be powered by advanced lithium ion polymer batteries (LiPoly).

A new Blue edition of Hyundai's popular i30, designed in Germany and built in the Czech Republic, will also debut in Frankfurt. It features fuel-saving stop-and-go emissions reduction technology. The i30 1.6 CRDi with ISG generates just 113g/km of CO2.

Related post:

Driven: Hyundai i10

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Peugeot 308 (5-door) test part deux: the Turbo version

Apparently, the Malaysian car market is at dearth of proper (officially sold) turbo cars that this Pug seemed heaven sent. More so at quite unbelievable prices of RM112k (initially) to RM114k now. With larger and better looking 17" 5-spoke alloys shod with expensive ContiSportContact3 tyres, climate control A/C, a nice exhaust-gas driven compressor to complement direct injection, plus recently added panoramic glass roof, this Peugeot with a "BMW engine" or "Mini Cooper engine" (BMW-PSA to be precise) must be the default choice for many, seeing that it is the middle child, sandwiched between the sub-RM100k VTi and near-RM160k GT THP175.

I have always been a sucker for soft-touch dashboards, whatever the class or segment. The slab found in the 308 range has hit my (equally) soft spot, albeit a bit too clinical in design i.e. typical Frenchie style. Ditto the chronometer like instruments. Some say it's a bit too old fashioned in the face of LEDs, Optitrons and the likes. I absolutely love the glow behind the instrument needles and those fine fonts embedded within fully illuminated face et al.

Countlessly , I have mentioned how much I dig those soft yet comfy and supportive seats in the VTi n GT. Strangely, the Turbo' ones get a little bigger but too spineless especially around the edges aka lateral flanks. More shapely versus the VTi's but not as comfortable or hugging, though just a tad so.

There's no mistaking the turbo boost here, since you can actually hear the turbine whine upon quickly lifting off the gas pedal after some amount of revving. With a torque of 240Nm lugging the hatch along, it was definitely a better get-up and go. Gaining mid band speed was also a breeze, thereby hastening overtaking manouvres and delivering spades of confidence along with good body control. But somehow, the overall drive experience came across as being busier than the VTi. Likely due to a missing 5th ratio on the gearbox which was more perceptible here, in the sea of higher and wider torque band.

Ride comfort and suspension pliancy seemed lost too in the crowd of the cheaper VTi and even the GT. Being a little too firm and harsh at times, which even the 18" shod GT don't seem to be bothered with. However, the upside to this is excellent tracking composure, nice incisive lane changing and feeling of axles plantedness (due to excellent rubbers?) exhibited by the 308 Turbo. In fact, on two trips up to Bukit Tinggi and back, the 308 Turbo seemed to have aced even my '07 Colt Turbo with original Ralliart "hard-setting" suspension. That's Peugeot suspension tuning wizardry working for you, I guess.

Slightly biggish steering wheel aside and a wee-bit synthetic light feel, the overall performance of this modern-engined 308 cannot be faulted. And yes, my kids love it on other outings too, they didn't get flung around unnecessarily or got nauseated on even longer interstate jaunts. So those with a young family, you don't need to assasinate the boy-racer in you. Boot space is pretty decent too, but of course the ubiquitous Vios/City or Civic/Altis for that matter have rumps that can carry more cadavers. Still personally, I wish this Turbo had that manual 6-speed auto from the GT or the latest 6-speed auto 'box from the upcoming 308CC. And perhaps a little more of that Lion's magic sprinkling on the suspension damping for more suppleness.

Related posts:

Driven: Peugeot 308 VTi
Peugeot 308 VTi & Turbo launch in Malaysia
Peugeot 308 GT in Malaysia now
All-new Peugeot 308

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

DRB-Hicom loses Chevrolet brand in Malaysia

Effective August 31, 2009, General Motors Corp (GM) has ended its agreement with DRB-HICOM Bhd for the exclusive distribution of Chevrolet vehicles in Malaysia. Diversified conglomerate DRB-HICOM also faces the risk of losing its role as the local Chevrolet importer as GM is said to be scouting for a replacement. The US carmaker, sources said, is now talking to the Naza group to handle the import, distribution and possibly local assembly of Chevrolet automobiles in the future.

In the interim, GM has turned to listed Permaju Industries Bhd's outfit Cergazam Sdn Bhd to manage the franchise from DRB-HICOM. Cergazam is already the largest Chevrolet dealer, operating four out of seven outlets nationwide.