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.

What is your perfect car then? Since grandpa and grandma is at the kampung, maybe an occasional two seats is needed in the boot to relocate the kids on temporary basis. For me, a 5 seater is enough, but all 5 has to be supremely comfort. Disturbingly, some of the modern car nowadays has the rear seat as flat as the garden bench. So a sedan is already ruled out. So could it be MPV? Well, it might not go well with the driver's idea.  A wagon then? Perhaps....Whatever it is, it should be enjoyable to be hustled along the back road taking long sweeper with no sweat. Does this sound like Toyota Caldina? Maybe we have to rely on the prowess of Japanese engineer on blending the tight dimension with outstanding practicality. Maybe that's why Toyota Wish is very popular here, especially the used imported previous generation.
Toyota Caldina GT4 - load lugger with rally-bred drivetrain

Honda N Box practical interior design
In preparation to the increased in fuel price, a fuel sipper is must. Hybrid won't work at 160 km/h blast down PLUS highway. So it has to be a diesel. But it should not be the tractor-like unit. Perhaps something like BMW N47 unit will do. Churning out 184bhp and 380Nm of power and torque, it can potentially goes 68 mpg on 320d! So forget about fueling at Gurun R&R on your way from KL to Alor Star. It has to be refined too. The car that has a constant Ngung Ngung Ngung or CVT whine won't make the cut.

BMW N47 diesel engine
But BMW is too often out of reach for most of us here. Maybe a Honda Odyssey will do? Perhaps Proton Exora Turbo? Finally, and sadly, due to the aforementioned wrong ratio of salary to car price ratio (please be reminded again that the fresh graduate on his first ever year of working gets GBP20k a year against GBP12k needed to buy a Honda Jazz), we have to rely on the national car maker to realize this. This is assuming that we will continuously subjected to the ridiculously high tax for the car. So, something great need to come within the country. Perhaps an Exora with turbo-diesel ( which already is a good handler for an MPV), a Perodua Alza with less flat second row seat, lowered third row floor (for better boot space, don't just extend the rear floor straight to the rear), better visibility and better highway cruising suspension setting. Or perhaps a Proton Preve facelifted to perfection ( CFE paired to quieter gearbox, or a turbo-diesel, the 508L boot volume is already great by the way, a good for those who need only 5 seater). Or maybe an all-new car from either Proton or Perodua that finally make the cut to the global 2013 standard, finally designed by the capable and up-to-date engineer supported by world class stylist and not only met the global crashworthiness standard but also has 2013 global standard of operation effort (parts tactility, distribution of material quality etc...) that can make everyone happy. I does not have to be Viva or Saga BLM cheap as Malaysian these days can easily buy RM100k car.

My choice? I will happily sacrifice the final 2 jumper seat and settled for 5 seater. So, the best choice would be BMW F30 320d. In forthcoming M Sport specification ideally. The problem is, how the hell to afford that? Have a look below at the car which I think is quite a good one that encompassed most of the requirements as above.
Toyota Wish - one of the most popular used import car in Malaysia

Honda Odyssey

You don't know what car is this?

Opel Insignia Wagon

Honda Stream cabin


ahmad said...

hi nice article..
for me, if money is not an issue, i would get an r-class... saw it on the highway going back to perlis with a couple of kids and probably a husband and a wife. if i had 3 kids, that would be a perfect car. but since im not a fresh graduate on his first ever month of working gets GBP20k a year, exora will do. i wouldnt mind about the handling. as long as it can seat all of us comfortably. still, not comfortable if u keep thinking of paying monthly installment of up to 9 months.

but if it was just my wife and i, i would either get a german coupe. my favs are e class coupe and 6 series. but, money is really an issue, so i'll just stick to my old 2003 vios. not much of a handler, but no need to think about monthly installment.

Akbar MMN said...

Yeah you are right. Actually there's no point of dreaming to be in a situation like other country. I simply put it there just for comparison of how hard for us here not to break sweat in owning a car.

Your choice of car mirrors those i have in mind too, especially thinking about the comfort of my kids. And like you too, my balik kampung ride (in fact my daily ride) did not break my wallet either.

Anyway I hv a colleague that drives an E60 530i to work but recently bought a Perodua Alza for his balik kampung trip. I guess that shows how important balik kampung car is.

ahmad said...

thats a very funny "upgrade".. but that really shows how important mpv is when it comes to long journey...

note: the upgrade stands for upgrading to a car with more seats, not brand, or quality upgrade.

Anonymous said...

i just read "low slung" words in the article...made me smile..hehe

Akbar MMN said...

Anonymous. There's only one person in this world who will tease me with "low slung" word! Heheh...

Anyway, sad to say that my car is getting "high slung" instead of the contrary.