Thursday, 11 February 2010

Driven: Naza (Kia) Forte 1.6SX

This is one car that's priced to sell for 2010 in Malaysia. Tagged at RM81,800 it is indeed a value buy for a C-segment saloon, priced even lower - but specified even higher! - than the popular B-segment sedan the ubiquitous Honda City 1.5. Indeed, it would have been even better if Naza-Kia had not crossed the psychological RM80,000 mark for this higher spec 'SX' version of their Forte 1.6.

My first interaction with the steering & throttle reminded me much of the new Mazda3 1.6. Not a bad thing since the handling and body control of that Mazda is much exemplary of its class. Ditto the interior, especially the Forte's instruments cluster. Nice. Without running through the extensive list of standard equipments, the two items that impressed me most is the electronic stability control/program which encompasses ABS + EBD, cornering brake control and traction control. The other feature being the rear view electro-chromatic mirror (auto-dimming) which is even a paying option for Porsche(s) the world over.

Of course, the metallic-rubber studded brake and gas pedals are a nice touch too. You can actually save a few bucks and hassle by not having to hop over to the nearest Brother's Car Accessories shop.

In the three days of testing, the Forte 1.6SX endears with its firm but pliant enough ride. Safe handling rules the day and the vehicle is very easy to live with, powering on with just adequate horses for a 1.6 family sedan.Rear passengers comfort are good, with a calm ride complemented by generous cabin space.

It's rather strange how a better spec version of a similar model can be more affable and convincing, even though the lesser 'sibling' 1.6EX have ABS, twin-airbags and a perfectly similar drivetrain. Perhaps it is the soft-touch inserts on the dashboard or the premium-looking 17" alloys. Or is it the chrome-plated door handles both inside and out? Whatever they may be, don't strike the Forte 1.6SX out prematurely from your car purchase shortlist - without a test drive - if you're in the market for a Nissan Latio sedan, Toyota Vios or Honda City. Yes, it's that good - surprisingly splendid for its class, size and price.

Friday, 5 February 2010

2010 FIA GT1 World Championship

SRO Motorsports Group (SRO) have launched a new 2010 FIA GT1 World Championship brand identity. Having been awarded world championship status by the FIA World Motor Sport Council, next year’s FIA GT1 World Championship will visit 10 countries in four continents, supported with a new logo and identity.

This year, the 2010 FIA GT1 World Championship, GT2 and GT3 European Championships, will be split into three new distinct and easily identifiable championships. The FIA GT1 World Championship will be for independent teams and professional drivers, the FIA GT2 European Championship for independent teams and pro-am driver crews, and the FIA GT3 European Championship for independent teams and non-professional drivers.

First Drive: Naza (KIA) Forte 1.6EX

The Koreans answer to the ever-popular B-segment - in Malaysia at least - is mighty impressive. And it's no less a C-segment sedan the dimensions of a Honda Civic!

Priced at a very competitive RM75,800 the base version, the new Naza Forte 1.6EX is unbeatable value-for-money. Of course, it has to wear the obligatory "NAZA" badges upfront and at the back, but it drives quite decently, has lots of space and even sports a very modern Teutonic design. It is after all, penned by Peter Shreyer, the very same guy who took Audi automotive designs to greater heights in the years before his migration over to Kia.

While I found it took time for me to settle down into the rather 'lumpy' seats at first, I guess the version most representative for the Forte range (for now at least, the 2.0 isn't available on Naza-Kia's media fleet yet) is the higher spec 1.6SX.

Excuse me for the many rather shabby pictures taken with my camera phone. I shall be writing in more details about the new Forte 1.6 after I have sampled the 'proper' 1.6SX version...

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Sime Darby to handle Porsche brand in Malaysia

Porsche Asia Pacific Pte Ltd has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to appoint Sime Darby the sole and exclusive importer of Porsche cars in Malaysia.

The LOI outlines that Sime Darby will assume full responsibility for the importation, distribution, sales, marketing, PR and after sales service for Porsche cars in Malaysia. This also includes the right to appoint dealers and service centres.

Sime Darby is expected to officially take on this responsibility from Jaseri Automotive Group Sdn Bhd by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

According to Christer Ekberg, Managing Director of Porsche Asia Pacific, “We are pleased to welcome a new partner to our Asia Pacific family, and are confident that the team at Sime Darby are the right choice for us to grow the Porsche brand even further. We are also very happy that Dato’ Mokhzani Mahathir will remain as a shareholder in this new partnership, which will ensure continuity and a seamless transition for our customers.”

Porsche Centre Glenmarie will remain as the base for Porsche Sales and Service while additional Porsche Centres will be added to ensure higher service levels to existing as well as new Porsche customers.

Dato’ Lawrence Lee, Sime Darby’s Executive Vice President, Motors Division said, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to add the Porsche brand to our stable, and are certain that our depth of experience in representing some of the world’s best known marques will stand us in good stead in this partnership. Malaysia will be our second representation of Porsche as we are currently representing the brand with a Porsche Centre in New Zealand.”

About Porsche Asia Pacific Pte Ltd

On 1 October 2001, Porsche established its Asia Pacific office, headquartered in Singapore to support its current 12 independent importers in the region regarding Sales, Marketing, After Sales, Training and PR.