29 August 2012

All-new Mazda6 revealed in full

Mazda has revealed the new 6 in its full glory at Moscow Motorshow. While the overall exterior styling has been unveiled last month (read HERE), this is the we can see the interior. The new Mazda6 is the second in line to fully adopt KODO design language and a host of Skyactiv chassis and drivetrain technology.

The front end adopts an entirely similar design concept with Mazda CX-5 with a prominent signature wing that runs from the radiator grille and into the headlight. The bulging fender is another Mazda trademarked since the Zoom-zoom days, and it here to stay. It basically blends the front fascia to the side profile via the sweeping fender that creates  a kind of 3D look.

The side profile is characterized by the sweeping fender aforementioned and steeply raked glass house. However, the slit-like rakish line of the Takeri Concept is totally lost in the transition, the new 6 is merely scuplted, with none of the sharp distinctive character that can strengthened its presence. Perhaps it is the rear end that weaken the overall appearance. The downward pointing rear light, combinbed with soft-ish trunk lid and sculpted rear fascia prevents the mascular look. The rear light shape that work well on the hatchback end like the CX-5 does not really work here. 

The interior theme again follow the same design concept as the CX-5 with the large central console housing the screen high-up. There is a decorative horizontal line extending through the centre console including across the aircond outlet duct. Soft touch panel is use effectively in the strategic area such as the upper panel of the dashboard and door trim.

While the overall theme is reminiscent of the CX-5, there is an added touch of premiumness compared to its smaller SUV sibling. For example, the climate control panel is different in design. The meter binnacle too is suitably upgraded with honeycomb pattern and spindle groove accompanied by the encircling metal ring.

Mazda6 is larger than the outgoing car by quite a margin. Overall length is 4,865mm, width 1,840mm and 1,450mm tall. Wheelbase is 2,830mm. In comparison, the old 6 measures 4,755mm,1,795mm, 1,440mm and 2,725mm in these dimensions respectively. As a results of this, there is 43mm more knee room at the back while the rear seat cushion has been increased by 20mm for added comfort. Boot space is 483L.

The new body structure is 50kg lighter that the car it replaced. Typical to Skyactiv epitome, chassis design is optimized with multi-load bearing structure, which when combined with the higher tensile steel giving out an overall weight reduction compared to the outgoing model. The new 6 is more aerodynamic too, with the drag coefficient of 0.26.

Mazda6 rides on McPhersons struts up front and Multi-link setup at the back. Wheel size is either 17 inch or 19 inch, depending on specification and wrapped by 225/55 R17 and 225/45 R19 respectively. Mazda is only revealing the powertrain that is relevant to the Russian market at the moment, namely the Skyactiv-G 2.0L and 2.5L, where both are in-line 4 cylinder with direct injection. The smaller displacement variety kicks out 150PS@6,000rpm and 210Nm@4,000rpm while the larger displacement punches out 192PS@5,700rpm and 256Nm@3,250rpm. Transmission choice is 6 speed automatic or 6 speed manual, and both gets i-Stop idling system. The 2.5L gets an additional features called i-ELOOP regenerative braking system which further enhanced fuel economy by supplying electrical power to the car system.

The European version of Mazda6 will debut later at Paris Motorshow, together with the stationwagon bodystyle. This debut will also mark the introduction of the diesel powertrain unit for Mazda6.

Some more photo of the new Mazda6 can be found after the jump.

Toyota rolls out Mark X facelift in Japan

Toyota has launched the updated Toyota Mark X luxury sedan in the Japan market. Toyota Mark X is the D Segment luxury sedan, sit on the platform shared with the outgoing Lexus GS (and Toyota Crown) and thus it is not simply a stylisized Camry. Toyota Mark X can easily be recognized with its distinctive headlight, and the facelifted version is no different. Toyota has redesigned the entire front end by stylishly intricate (overtly even) headlight with abstract outlines.
The headlight is not a continuously surfaced anymore, with jaggered lower surface that rise before blending with the grille, which bears some resemblance with the latest Toyota design language demonstrated by the updated Wish and the new Auris. The "X"-shaped grille ornaments completes the frontal element. The bumper is suitably updated too, with the top part overlapping with the jaggered headlight.
At the back, while there is no sheetmetal change, the overall outlook has been thoroughly updated with the revised outer part of the tail light which is accompanied by the new rear bumper featuring crisper creases that run upwards from the lower sill to the trunklid lower edge. The inner section of the rear light, while similar in outline, gets a new internal graphic. Overall, there's some hint of overtly overstyled, but the Mark X family is never fuss-free in their styling anyway.

The interior is architecturally the same as before. The updates only includes refreshed trimmings such as fabric/leather selection and the garnishing around the cabin. Another retained item is the drivetrain, which continues to be powered by either direct-injection 4GR-FSE 2,499cc producing 203PS@6,400rpm and 243Nm@4,800rpm or D-4S (port and direct injection) 2GR-FSE 3,456cc punching out healthy 318PS@6,400rpm and 380Nm@4,800rpm. Drive is channelled either to the rear wheel or there is also an option of an all-wheel-drive, both via 6 speed automatic transmission.

Toyota Mark X measures 4,750mm long, 1,795mm wide and 1,435mm tall. The wheelbase is 2,850mm. The boot volume is 479L. The car rides on the double wishbones suspension at the front and multi-link setup at the back.

Typical to the Japanese style, there are plenty of trims to choose from. The range kicks from the 2.5L 250G "F Package" before rising to the 250G and 250G "S Package". The AWD 250G also has the same trim level saved for the "F Package". The 2.5L version is topped by the PREMIUM model. The 3.5L model on the other hand are offered only the "S" trim and PREMIUM.

Some more photos of the Toyota Mark X can be found after the jump.

28 August 2012

2013 Honda Accord dashboard - first photo of the interior

Honda is still keeping mum about the cabin of the new Honda Accord, apart from saying it is more spacious than before. We have seen the peek of the dashboard from the some of SPYSHOTS, but here is the first real photo of the cabin, probably for magazine, newspaper advertisement or dealer sales manual. According to the source, it says all models are to get 8 inch LCD screen at the top of the dashboard housing the i-MID screen plus navigation (if so equipped). Lets hope Malaysian version will keep this feature (albeit not an overtly large black screen with monochrome display). The audio control has switched from switches to the touch screen, although this is not meant for all version. Some version will get a normal audio button panel as seen HERE. The silvered panel is the climate control system. It is a big relieve to see that the panel is not simplified too much like the new Honda Civic. Finally on the lowest tier of the dashboard is the navigation controller, which exist only for car equipped with navigation, others will probably be a storage shelf as can be seen HERE.

The steering wheel is different from the other mainstream Honda namely the likes of CR-V and Civic. However, the meter binnacle main dials (the speedo) looks pretty much like the CR-V item together with the circular display. But the other dials flanking it is visibly all-new.

27 August 2012

What is the perfect balik kampung car?

During this Eid festive season, surely many of you faced the same problem; packing all the luggage to the week-long balik kampung trip. Also, since we live in Malaysia, we are blessed with many similar long vacation throughout the year, covering Chinese New Year, Raya Aidiladha, Christmas, Deepavali and that does not include other public holiday that falls on the strategic day of the weekdays that usually prompt an extension of the weekend. So we are likely to face the packing problem many times throughout the year, and likely to get pissed off more than once. Especially if you wife want to bring back the whole wardrobe along! Plus maybe the washing machine!

What is the perfect car then for the occasion? Let's form the requirements. How many kids typically a family has? Let set it as 3 kids for the young 30-something couple. How far do you travel? Lets assume from Kedah to Johor to cover the worst case scenario to cover both sides of the family. Let's also assume the back seat is occupied by wife who need to take car of the small baby in the baby seat. So the rear seat has to be comfortable too.

From family requirement point of view, the more spacious the car is, the better and merrier. Take into account also the need to have a quick meal inside the car while the R&R is cramped like stadium during World Cup finale. Take also into account the necessity to pack a bag each for each of family member. Don't forget about the baby too which needs diapers and milk, hot water etc. As if it is not enough, what about taking in-laws for a ride at kampung for family-bonding things? So the perfect car for this case has to be as below? The kid will appreciate the presence of the DVD player too.

The enthusiastic driver may not agree. During the lengthy trip, often congested (even after forking out the hard-earned money on toll), there's an opportunity to enjoy the back road. The winding sweeper, or tight right hander combines with some undulation is a stress-reliever for many. So, to drive around a minibus that threatened to topple over at every bend is not a good idea too. It is also not too fun to sit perched up too high like a London Bus driver, hence a low slung seating position is a desired. The perfect option. Look at any car the bachelor guy might choose. Like this.

In ideal case (or in other country) we might choose a different car for each purposes. Thanks to the exorbitant car price in the our home sweet home country, and really inconvenient salary to car price ratio ( Honda Jazz 1.2L in UK costs GBP12k, the fresh graduate on his first ever year of working gets GBP20k a year!), we need a car that can perform all of those above in one package. Meaning that one car that fits it all. Clearly a compromise has to be made. Who should sacrifice? The father? The baby? Does the ideal car exist? Read more after the jump.

25 August 2012

Syed Zainal to join Felda Global Ventures Holdings?

There's a whispering rumour within the industry that the outgoing Proton great top man, Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin will join the top rank officials at the recently-listed Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGVH). The source said that Syed Zainal is brought in to support the group President and CEO Datuk Sabri Ahmad.

Syed Zainal was quoted as commenting that "Nothing has been firmed up yet". While at that he was also saying that he is keen to contribute his knowledge to the growth of the nation. 

Felda Global Ventures yesterday announced its plan to buy some 150,000 hectares of estate land within the next five years in tandem with its plan to emerge as the world leader in oil palm industry. At the moment, FGVH is the world third largest oil palm company by hectarage.

Is this true? Well, the industry rumours are rarely wrong the whispering usually starts from the truth or the intention. 


24 August 2012

Malaysia Motoring News now on Twitter

In a late attempt to catch up with the social media trend, Malaysia Motoring New is on Twitter! Please follow the link below, or on the right sidebar to get connected.

Ricardo Hyboost - small in size, big in torque

Ricardo PLC, a UK-based engineering consultancy which has spearhead many of the mass produced powertrain has developed a micro-hybrid solution to be paired with a downsized gasoline engine, aimed to reduce the CO2 emission down to less than 100g/km and to boost the low-end torque, an Achilles heel to many of the small capacity turbo'ed engine.

The technology demonstrator chosen to showcase Hyboost is the 2009 Ford Focus hatchback. The original 2.0L gasoline engine was ditched in favor of Ford-owned 1.0L EcoBoost engine which is a turbo-charged, direct injection gasoline powertrain which is the sample of the mass-produced downsized engine. This tiny powertrain kicks out 123bhp and 170Nm from 1,300-4,500rpm. The figure might appears impressive considering the displacement of the engine, however, as Ricardo own study concluded, there is a problem with using a small capacity engine in large car, i.e it leads to increase the turbo lag. To counter this problem, enter the Hyboost.

CAD of the Hyboost installation - from MTZ
Hyboost is made of electric supercharge bolted on to the engine. It is developed by Controlled Power Technology, and it aims to give an instatenuous boost of torque while the turbocharger still to kick in. The electrically driven supercharger is powered by the electricity stored in ultracapacitor, which is charged by the regenerative braking. This microhybrid system (regenerative braking+ultracapacitor) is developed by Valeo Technology, and  called StARS 12+X also further lowered the fuel consumption by supplying electricity back to the engine. The component is mounted on the belt within the front end auxillary, and it acts as a starter generator, meaning that the engine can forego the starter motor and alternator.

Hyboost circuit-from theengineer
According to Ricardo, the challenge really lies in the integration of the system, each developed by different parties. There are plenty of the variables to play about, namely the micro-hybrid intervention time and managing EcoBoost own turbocharger which also comes with an overboost function that can boost early torque to 200Nm.

Ricardo is due to exhibit at Low Carbon Vehicle Event 2012, scheduled on 5-6 September at Milbrook Proving Ground in Bedford UK. The showcase will include the Hyboost equipped Ford Focus, Volvo XC60 EV and Land Rover Freelander RE-EV. The latter is powered by Fiat Twin Air engine, paired to Ricardo APU for the range extender functionality. Also on display will be the Syner-D, a Jaguar XF, a project that target a cost-effective CO2 reduction is premium diesel vehicle up to Euro 6 standard.

21 August 2012

Toyota Auris unveiled ahead of Paris Motor Show

Toyota has unveiled the new generation of its C Segment hatchback, the Auris ahead of the official debut at Paris Motor Show. Revealed in both European and Japanese form, the new Auris will be available from  1.33L to 1.8L in gasoline form and in 1.4L turbo-diesel form, depending either you are in its homeland Japan or in European countries. In tandem with Toyota going-hybrid model trend, the hybrid model is also available, which is the 1.8L petrol motor hooked to the electric motor.

The new Auris ditched the current model conservative styling in favor of crisper styling features. This include an angular and razor sharp headlight cutlines, prominent "beak" front grille flanked by single horizontal chrome bar that character-fully run into the headlight graphic. It is a very far departure from the current Auris, as well as differs greatly from the more mundane Corolla Axio sibling, which is essentially should be almost common underneath the skin. The front bumper assembly is more in tune with the Prius family, with the large single bumper main opening, accompanied by the tear-drop shaped outer duct, housing the fog lamp. Other than that, the front end design is fairly clean with well stretched surface that is in tune with the recently-facelifted Wish MPV.

The side profile is more conventional, completely free of complex surface interplay. There is a faint character line that runs from the headlight all the way into the rear light. The only surface break is the gentle lower sill line that kicks-up slightly and ends just before the rear wheel arch. The glass house is entirely conventional in silhouette with reverse-raked C-pillar.

While the side profile is comparatively mundane compared to the front end, Toyota has injected the excitement back into the design of the rear end. It is slightly reminiscent of the early 21st century Caldina model, with long horizontal rear light assembly that bulging out proudly from the main bodywork. The rear light itself is very 3D, covering all the surfaces available on the rear fascia plane.

Exterior wise, the new Toyota Auris measures 4,275mm long, 1,760mm wide and 1,460mm tall. Wheelbase is class-standard at 2,600mm. Compared to the outgoing Auris, the new model is 30mm longer and 55mm shorter. The adjusted dimension not only give it a sleeker look, it is also sleeker to the air with 0.28 coefficient of drag. Despite the carry-over wheelbase, and running on a modified outgoing platform, cleverer packaging has yield an extra 20mm rear knee room, 90mm more load space length, and the boot now 10L more voluminous at 360L.

The interior carry the same concept as the Corolla Axio, albeit with sportier and "Euro-look" with an entirely new design. Elemental similarity stops at the slab-like dashboard fascia with prominent upright panel (similar to the Axio and 86), and the wide single-bar aircond duct with is plainly related to the Toyota 86 design. It is very likely this is the in-trend design right now as far as Toyota C Segment is concern. The door trim also is sportier compared to its Corolla sibling with more stylish grab bar instead of pull cup integrated in door arm rest. The driver environment is made of the distinctive arch that starts from the floor console before making a complete half-circle at the top of meter binnacle. Speaking of the meter binnacle, opting for S Package will give you a different meter design, a dual circular meter with colored dispay in between. Normal binnacle is 3 circle setup with small monochrome display.
The Auris RS "S Package" interior of JDM car

Multiple color combination is available, especially for the Japanese Auris, with the RS "S Package" is an all-black affair with red seat fabric insert on the semi-bucket seat, "S Package" is also an all-black item while X and G model gets the choice of either black or beige seat and door trim. For the instrument panel slab fascia, the RS trim gets carbon motif, the S Package gets the option of black metal grey or leather upholstered while the "normal" X and G is accentuated by only black metal grey trim. European Auris will get an all-black setup but the with the blue lighting on the centre console instead of the old-school green illumination of the Japanese car.

The engine selection is entirely different for the different zone. European car will be powered from the launch by 3 engine choices, namely 1.33L and 1.6L petrol engine, while the sole diesel variant displaced 1.4L. The hybrid is powered with 1.8L gasoline with electric motor, and powered by nickel metal-hydride battery.

Japan option mirrors those on Toyota Corolla Fielder, with 1NZ-FE 1.5L with 108PS@6,000rpm and 136Nm@4,800rpm and 2ZR-FAE 1.8L mill kicking 143PS@6,200rpm and 173Nm@4,000rpm. Opting for RS liberates extra 1PS and 7Nm. Transmission option is CVT only for the 1.5L (with FF or AWD option), while the 1.8L is also available with 6 speed manual transmission. The 1.8L is a front-driver only.

So now we have seen two derivative of Corolla hitting the market, first with the Axio/Fielder and now the Auris hatchback. Both sits on the same platfrom, but comes with entirely different exterior clothes and interior design. The next-up should be the US Corolla, essentially similar to the Corolla Altis the Asian countries is getting. Rumors say that it will be sharp-looking as the US Avalon. If the Auris is anything to go by as far aesthetic design is concern, we could be getting an interesting looking Corolla Altis! 

Small gallery after the jump, including some real-life photo of Toyota Auris JDM.

19 August 2012

2013 Honda Accord - photo of entry level 4 cylinder model

We have seen some additional photo of the USDM 2013 Honda Accord, albeit in the top line V6 model. Hondacuras has come photos of the 4 cylinder version of Honda Accord on show, disappointing with the baloon filling up the cabin, so we won't get to see the interior just yet. There are some new element unseen before, smaller alloy wheel, side mirror with no side repeater and the lack of front fog lamp.

The rear shot can be found after the jump.

BMW Zagato Roadster unveiled at Pebble Beach

BMW and Zagato revealed their second fruit of collaboration within this few months with the unveiling of the BMW Zagato Roadster. Their previous product of collaboration was the Coupe version of the same car, showed only 3 months back. The Roadster was conceived after the very warm acceptance of the Coupe, and the Roadster was completed within just 6 weeks, a testimony of the two companies capability when they combined their pool of resources.

The exterior aesthetic of the BMW Zagato Roadster is an epitome of the Italian finesse meets Bavarian teutonic design quality. With the proportion of classic roadster, the Roadster wears the svelte curvaceous that only come from Zagato. The taut, hallmark BMW surface treatment and Zagato’s clearly defined distribution of visual mass lend the BMW Zagato Roadster an athletic appearance – poised and eager, demanding to be driven. At the front, the low-set kidney grille, complete with intricate z-design grating, as well as focused twin circular headlights and a three-dimensional front apron shape the expressive face of the BMW Zagato Roadster.  The nose surges forward dynamically, dipping down close to the road, and allows the BMW Zagato Roadster to cut an agile figure, crouching as if about to pounce. The contoured hood extends this aura of dynamism with its sweeping lines and taut surfaces, while a pair of air intakes carved into the hood supply the engine compartment with extra air and hint at the brawny powerplant inside.

The BMW Zagato Roadster’s silhouette outlines a poised and alert presence, the car’s sweeping hood, long wheelbase, short overhangs and low rear end merging into a taut, sporty whole. The basic choreography of lines and surfaces is similar to that of the BMW Zagato Coupé, but subtle differences are noticeable at the rear. The tail end as a whole places a greater emphasis on elegance than that of the Coupé, which shows a sharper sporting edge. The Roadster’s lines are smoother here and the rear is lower-slung. Plus, a fine additional line forges a visual connection between the sill and the rear apron to round off the rear end design in style.

The sharply chiselled tail of the BMW Zagato Roadster provides a fine advertisement for the exquisite talents of the Zagato body specialists. The rear end displays a seamless perfection, giving it a feel of quality – like a sculpture cast from a single mould. Here, the high degree of handcraftsmanship within the walls of the Zagato design studio and the company’s vast well of experience in working with surfaces and forms come resplendently to light.

The interior of the BMW Zagato Roadster is heavily based on the common Z4, but with an added classy touch of the one-off car. Sumptuously upholstered in brown leather covering the dash top, upper panel of door trim, floor console and sprinkled tastefully around the door trim insert. 

Both BMW and Zagato made comments on the possibility for a limited run of production. Gallery after the jump.

Rolls-Royce presents Phantom Coupe Aviator Collection

Inspired by Charles Stewart Rolls and the legend of the Schneider Trophy-winning Supermarine S6B (powered by a Rolls-Royce R Type engine), Rolls-Royce Motor Cars proudly presents the Phantom Coupé Aviator Collection. The collection celebrates the spirit of human endeavour that drove a very British hero and subsequently led Rolls-Royce to simultaneous world speed records on land, air and in the water. The first in the collection of 35 Phantom Coupé Aviator Collection models – which feature a suite of exclusive design concepts, colour combinations and new materials – debuts at the Pebble Beach Quail gathering in the United States.

Finished in Aviator Grey, the Phantom Coupé Aviator Collection features a contrasting matt bonnet, window and grille surround while inside, the interplay of wood and metal hint strongly at a cockpit theme. A Thommen, aviation-grade clock with blood orange needle tips is embedded in the metal foil upper fascia, complemented by matt black dials for power reserve, speedometer and fuel gauges.
 The lower fascia is veneered in mahogany, painstakingly shaped by craftspeople just as the early record-setting propellers were fashioned and features Sapele contrast. Polished stainless steel veneer ‘onlays’ with bullet-shaped ends are designed to match floor mat fixings.
 Collection cars celebrate the victorious S6B aircraft with transmission tunnel in anodised aluminium with exposed torx fixings and swage lines that echo the oil cooling veins on the S6B fuselage side. These highlights are repeated on collection car armrests.

Fitted with leather floor mats, Aviator Collection cars have also been designed to incorporate the Rolls-Royce of cup holders. Beautifully engineered in highly polished aluminium, the designer’s aim was to deliver functionality, but with that special combination of theatre and jewellery, both of which are expected by every Rolls-Royce client.

For more on the story of Charles Stewart Rolls please visit Rolls-Royce Motor Cars PressClub. Phantom Coupé Aviator Collection models are now available for client orders. One more photo after the jump.

18 August 2012

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Saya ingin mengucapkan Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri kepada semua para pembaca Malaysia Motoring News yang beragama Islam. Saya juga ingin memohon maaf seikhlasnya andai ada penulisan saya yang menyinggung mana-mana individu atau pihak. Kepada yang memandu ke destinasi kampung yang jauh, bersabar and berhemahlah di atas jalan raya. Ingatlah keluarga yang menanti kita di sana.

Saya juga ingin memanjangkan penhargaan kepada para pembaca yang setia mengikuti Malaysia Motoring News selama setahun lebih ini. Anda semualah yang memberi kekuatan untuk saya terus menulis, mencari bahan, mencari test car, berkongsi ilmu automotif (walaupun agak limited) and mencurah pendapat. Kepada yang memberi komen, samada private ataupun public, terima kasih saya ucapkan. Mungkin jumlah artikel tidaklah semeriah tahun 2011 kerana tuntutan dedikasi masa untuk kerja, saya percaya dan akan cuba mengamalkan "quality over quantity".

Kepada keluarga saya iaitu isteri tersayang, putera and puteri-puteriku, terima kasih di atas sokongan and korbanan masa yang dicurahkan selama ini. 

Kepada rakan-rakan sekerja (dan rakan sekerja isteriku), terima kasih kerana mengikuti blog ini. Kepada yang beraya di peratauan, nikmatilah peluang ini kerana sesungguhnya kemeriahan beraya di luar negara ini lain rasanya, namun tidak kurang nikmatnya! Kepada bekas-bekas rakan sekerja di Proton, LEM and ATSB, selamat hari raya untuk anda juga and selamat maju jaya!

Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin.

17 August 2012

Raya journey - PLUS Travel Time Advisory

PLUS has published the Travel Time Advisory for the road user. This is essential to ensure the smoothness of the journey by staggering the number of car entering and using the highway based on their start location and destination. Also MMN would like to remind the road user be considerate to fellow driver (there's no harm in giving way to the other car right?), to obey the speed limit (as if you can speed up anyway, but not worth spending the money paying the saman), and well, drive safely and rest adequately.

Don't forget PLUS also is giving out toll rebate on 15, 16 (sorry passed already), 22, 23 and 31st of August to the electronic payment. This is meant for the Touch n Go and Smart Tag user. So please, at least buy the Touch n Go. Paying toll by cash is so old-fashioned!

Shortage of automotive engineer in Michigan - let's go there!

According to iTalent LLC in Troy, there's a shortage of automotive engineer in Michigan as there are more demand for automotive engineer than the number of people looking for job itself. It goes even to the level where "even their skills at the edge of automotive" they can get a job. The recent graduate can even earned USD120k a year, and there's an example of Tennessee-based recruit got USD17,000 annual salary increased and 20% more bonus to move to Michigan.

Chrysler alone is looking for 300 people. This is far cry from the situation in 2009 when GM and Chrysler was in trouble where the unemployment rate in Michigan was 14.2%.

How does this compared to Malaysian automotive engineer? I honestly think the automotive engineer in our country is poorly paid. If you are in the wrong company, even with 5 years of continuous employment, RM5,000 a month is a distance dream. There is also a question of standard of work quality. There's always a guy/girl in the company which does not know the wheelbase of the one (if not all) of the car his/her company is producing. It was like they sent out 5 million CV and when they were called in, they will ask their friend " Ni company yang buat kereta tu kan?".

Honestly it is a pity for them. This is after all quite an exclusive industry where the overflown of interest and passion definitely are making a lot of difference. It should be brought back to the 1985 era when a batch of pioneering engineer work on the national car project. It was a dream job back then. It was respectable even. My personal opinion is that, the reputation has been dragged down by the complacent senorita who keep killing the motivation of ever-fired young engineer with "change the world" attitude. Their passage towards making the Malaysian car more modern, higher quality, pleasantly operated and nicely assembled has been made extra difficult by people who prefer to be lazy, to prefer for the car parts to be self-assembled after a quick throw to the manufacturing line, who prefer to accept the inferior quality, who prefer not to exercise their engineering brain and instead choosing layman solution, who prefer to propose to reject countermeasure and the list goes on.

Anyway, I left automotive engineering world in 2007. Although I did make a comeback (albeit via oil and gas company, and doing spesifically powertrain alone), I still think this arena is still workable and enjoyable. It is just that sometimes passion is overule by financial.......

Fourth Gen Range Rover unveiled - bigger,lighter and plusher

Land Rover has dropped a preview of the the 2013 Range Rover, the latest in-line of the luxury off roader since 1970 that spawned only four generation. The new Range Rover hosts a series of technical innovation that see the introduction of all-aluminium monocoque chassis that shed weight of up to 420kg, which is 39% less than the current model which has been around since 2001. There is also new subframe at both end, constructed entirely from aluminium and support an all-new air suspension, which coupled with the state-of-the-art electronic stability control and Terrain Response 2 which ensure the off-road handling prowess and on-road magic carpet ride quality.

The modern cues adopted from the Evoque small posh SUV, with a clearly sleeker headlamp that swept back into the fender instead of the blocky rectangular item with 21st internals like the current model. Not unlike the current model, the new 2013 Range Rover has lost the clean uncluttered look of the 2001 car, which was diluted in mid-life facelift with the inclusion of a more cluttered headlight and grille. The side panel however is retained in its cleanliness. The vertical fender vent has moved to the door giving the new "RR" a longer hood-look, despite the slightly weirder look of the door with the addenda. The floating roof over the uncluttered glass house has been retained though. Also retained in the uninterrupted belt line that runs from the headlight to the rear combi. The rear light also has taken lesson in restyling, with more elongated extension along the side panel.

The wheelbase also has been extended by around 100mm, from current 2,880mm. So overall length could be exceeding 5,000mm for the first time as the current model is already 4,972mm. Land Rover also mentioned about the upgraded in sumptuous. The cabin architecture combine the traditional Land Rover British touch with neo-modernism pioneered in Evoque. The dashboard theme strikingly similar to the entry level "RR" Evoque and it does without the extreme wooden pillar of the current model, instead the wood is applied more on the panel type. Apart from the increased in accommodation space, the rear seat will also be offered with Executive setup with twin rear seat separated by lengthened centre console. The increased in wheelbase has resulted in 118mm increased in rear knee room. High end Meridian surround sound system will be on offer too. In-cabin noise intrusion is set to be reduced too with optimized aluminium structure design with increased modal stiffness and glass lamination.

For the drivetrain, the new Range Rover is offered in 3 engine option, which are all familar units. The range starts from 3.0L V6 and goes to 4.4L V8 for the diesel. The petrol version will be supercharged 5.0L V8. All powertrain will channelled the drive via ZF 8 speed automatic gearbox permanently to all wheels.

The production of the new Range Rover is set to commence at the end of British summer in Solihull plant where customer deliveries expected in 2013. The legendary British off-roader will be officially unveiled in Paris Motorshow in September. Malaysian price is RM730,000 for the 4.4L TDV8 version and the entry level model is expected to cost around GBP70k which is slightly more than the current car. More photos of the 2013 Range Rover can be found after the jump.

16 August 2012

2013 Honda Accord real life photo - including cabin

The new US version Honda Accord sedan and coupe was introduced last week with a couple of studio shots for each version. Here are three more shots on of the sedan version caught in the wild by TOVA and VWVortex.
The new Accord is visibly much meaner, with lots of fat shed off compared to the current Accord. The front end has lost is bulbous appearance. The new front end of this silver-colored car looks even tight and athletic, something we can't say about the current car. The LED strip of the headlamp handsomely blends into the character line on the heavily-chromed grille outlines. Overall, don't you think the front end harks a little memory from the sixth generation CG Accord? 
The rear end is similarly leaner, but not necessarily fat-free. While the flanks has been tidied up with less curve, the rear fascia has been filled up with larger rear combi than usual. The current generation of Honda Accord made do with tiny rear light, while this one is fitted with the larger item, covering the side panel and well into the trunk lid. MMN thinks this give less opportunity for the Asian restyling. Maybe it will be limited to new light graphic only. However, in essence, it is still smart looking. 
 As depicted in the spyshots, the interior carries the same design concept as the current Accord, but with an enlarged meter binnacle, screen hood and rearranged centre console with less cluttered button layout. There's a clear distinction between the climate control and audio control section. There is silver section running around the aircond duct+screen, totally covered the climate control panel and then runs along the floor console. The steering wheel is different from the item used on CR-V and Civic.One more photo of the front end after the jump.

14 August 2012

PETRONAS Coffee Break returns with free refreshment and safety check

PETRONAS Dagangan Berhad (PDB) is all geared up to usher in the Hari Raya balik kampung exodus with the PETRONAS Coffee Break Campaign, which aims to educate, equip and encourage drivers to practise safety measures on the road. The nationwide Campaign will kick-start for the 13th consecutive year, with the first phase between 15 and 18 August while the second phase resumes between 23 and 26 August.

During the Campaign, PDB will offer practical road safety tips in addition to complimentary snacks and beverages at its 32 participating PETRONAS stations located along the highways and major trunk roads across Malaysia. In addition, PDB will also be fuelling 50 St John Ambulance Malaysia’s vehicles for their 24-hour highway emergency service during this festive season. This initiative is already in its 18th consecutive year.    

Speaking about the initiative, Amir Hamzah Azizan, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of PDB said, “As a company that practises ‘Safety First’ in all aspects of its operation, PETRONAS Dagangan Berhad continues to champion the Coffee Break Campaign to help ensure that all drivers and their families travel safe to reach their destination safely.”

“The PETRONAS Coffee Break Campaign is in line with the Ministry of Transport’s aim to minimise the number of road accidents during the balik kampung rush. We encourage drivers to stop, rest and refresh themselves at participating stations before continuing on their journey,” he added.

During the Campaign, coffee enthusiasts can enjoy aromatic Old Town Coffee while those looking for something refreshing can opt for Tropicana Twister fruit beverages. Julie’s tasty biscuits and Oriental Food’s Super O-Ring snacks will also be offered.

In addition, PDB will also be partnering with Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn. Bhd and Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd to provide a free 22-point inspection for PROTON vehicles and 20-point inspection for PERODUA vehicles at selected stations. PDB has also roped in PETROSAINS to deploy its PETRONAS StreetSmart team to share road safety tips through a series of fun-filled interactive games that will involve motorists and their families as well. 

“During the balik kampung rush, we tend to see higher traffic on the roads leading to increased chances of accidents. We are pleased that the Campaign has managed to reach out to close to a million road users last year to minimise such untoward incidents,” Amir said.

“Moving forward, we will continue to enrich our customers’ experience with more differentiated services as we go All The Way to make their journey on the road a pleasant one,” he added.

To enjoy the string of benefits offered during the Campaign, iPhone & Android phone users can conveniently locate participating PETRONAS stations at their fingertips with the PETRONAS Pitstop application. This application was launched earlier this year and is downloadable free of charge. It also enables users to monitor fuelling expenses, check Mesra membership points, receive updates on on going promotions and connect to PDB’s Mesralink customer service.

Earlier this year, PDB also rolled out the Coffee Break Campaign during the Chinese New Year. For further information about the upcoming PETRONAS Coffee Break campaign and other promotions, please visit www.mymesra.com.my.

13 August 2012

Ford Focus - design and drive impression

Ford Focus was introduced to the world market in 1998, signalling the end of an era for the long-living Escort model. The then new first generation Focus brought a new hall mark in the C Segment hatchback/sedan, where the new benchmark for styling, space and handling finesse has been redefined. Such is the phenomena that the first generation Focus has set, that all the new comer after that were judged based on this standard. The second generation arrived in 2004, bringing about a bigger and more spacious body. The styling is more restrained, and later adopted the Kinetic Design philosophy during the 2008 facelift. The third generation arrived in late 2010 where market entrance commenced in 2011. This is the generation we are getting today (or more accurately this September). Assembled in Rayong, Thailand since late June 2012, the new Ford Focus is set to shake the C Segment in the Asia region hard unlike its predecessor which was never capable enough.
The right essence is there. The exterior styling is modern interpretation of Ford design language. It can be termed as the big brother to chic-looking Fiesta, especially the Focus hatchback. Comes in two body styles, the hatchback is named as Focus Sport, while the sedan is called Focus Ghia. Two trim levels are available for both, Sport and Sport+, and Titanium and Titanium+. Thus, there are four variants altogether. Sime Darby is yet to fix the final price, but the indicative pricing is RM135,000 for the + variant, while the cheaper version is good RM15,000 less. Equipment level can be described as generous, especially compared to the sparsely-equipped Japanese challenger launched last month.

The new Ford Focus wears the new Ford corporate face which is an evolution from the Fiesta. The front end is dominated by the large headlight which is is very formal looking as it lacks the inward sharp thrust edge that usually lends some aggressiveness to the outlook. Instead, the inner lower edge of the light is curved back upwards. Similar concept is applied to the front bumper too. Instead of trying to inject some air of sportiness via massive and meshed air intakes, Ford applies a 3-segment setup, with the outer 2 triangular in shape and the inner one rectangular is outlines and run all the way to the top, almost joining the upper grille. Mild chrome is applied here. Its quite pleasing to look at in flesh, as the car is really one of the most non-photogenic that MMN has come across.
The side profile is dominated by the cab forward stance. The A-pillar is outreached far  to the hood area, and the hood trailing edge shut line is almost nearly at the front wheel centre axis. There is a strong belt line, that character-fully run crisper near the fender where it joins another line that subtly exist on the door panel. There's some character line too on the door lower edge, making the side panel of the new Focus as sleek as it can get.

It is the rear end that significantly sets the sedan and the hatch apart. The hatchback is far more sporty, almost as rakish as the smaller Fiesta, albeit in an inflated form. The gigantic rear light blends all the planes well. The interplay of different surfaces in intricate here, but effective in application. The rear end of the hatch back is finished with the nice-looking spoiler. The sedan meanwhile is more sedate. The tail is more elongated looking, with similarly horizontally stretched rear light (instead of vertically stretched for the hatch). The overall stance is still acceptable, and if it still does not convince you, you won't see how your car boot looks like from the driving seat! This is an important criteria as the difference in boot space between the two version is significant.

When MMN tested the new Honda Civic last month, MMN concluded that it is spacious, despite the slightly sparse looking. The new Ford Focus is totally opposite of those. It has adequate space (1094mm front legroom, 848mm rear legroom) but it is cocooningly cozy instead of letting you lose inside like the Civic. The seats too is more bolstered, more cushioning in the padded material and generally slightly larger to the Japanese competitor.
The dashboard is really orgasmic. Where the Japanese competitor is as exciting as tree, the Focus item is chunky, with prominent meter binnacle with elaborative housing. The centre console is hooded, housing a 4.2" display screen. The aircon vent is substantial, and chromed lined. The audio actually has a lot of button (listen to this Honda!!!!), highly glossy in finishing and the buttons are tactile to press. The climate control variation of button and dial sizes that impart some classiness. The climate control is dual zone by the way. The floor console is high, increasing the sense of cocooning as aforementioned. The gearknob is snazzy, while the hand brake arm is as per the abandoned FD Civic item. If you are really considering the age of the car, the new Ford Focus is actually an older car compared to the new Civic. When the European Focus was unveiled, the new Civic is pounding the dessert under the watchful eye of the spy photographer. So technically, the Ford engineers could be looking at benchmarking the Civic FD cabin at the time the Honda engineers are thinking of abandoning some of the costly concept.

The application of soft touch padded plastic is strategic,namely on the dashboard upper section and the front door trim upper part. The rest of the interior is moulded from the harder material, but thankfully garnished in expensive looking texture pattern. The door trim design is visibly different in philosophy from the Japanese. It has large plastic area, with minimal section wrapped in fabric/leather. There's also an ambient lighting shining from the door inside handle housing. The power window panel is blessed with chrome insert, tastefully lifting the interior classiness.
There floor console has some storage space behind the gear console, which is partitioned by the twin cupholder. There's however no aircond vent, but the front vents are already quite substantial. The seat upholstery is nicely done, especially around the back of the front seat where no zipped section is visible. The same cannot be said about some of the Japanese competitor.

The color scheme for the Sport and Ghia (hatch and sedan) differs greatly. The hatchback interior is nicely done in all-black plastic material. The centre console is silver-trimmed, with dials set in contrasting black. The seats are half-leather, with dark fabric insert in the middle.

The sedan meanwhile gets a two-tone cabin. The main theme is slightly brownish. The lower section is lighter in its hue. The seats are full leather covered instead of partially. The seat color scheme is similar to the dashboard, light hue, perhaps can be describe as a light watery brown, but definitely not beige. Subjectively speaking. The climate control panel is silver instead of black like the hatchback.

Steering wheel for both version is rich is features. The right button panel is for the screen in the meter binnacle displaying the driving parameters (fuel consumption etc) while the identical left panel is for the Ford SYNC panel  displayed in the central 4.2" screen. There's also chunky lower button controlling the cruise control and voice activated and bluetooth phone respectively on the right and left. The wheel rims is thickly padded giving a real firm grip, essential when navigating the car that can corner this hard. More after the jump.