26 April 2013

Proton's name game - Suprima, Esfora, Persada, Idaman, Exia

Proton has filed a slew of potential car name over the years since 2009. Perhaps they are unused or rejected names, but some sound pretty...well, not so clever. Proton Esfora was registered in February 2009, probably meant for the MPV at that time, which eventually named Exora.  Proton Exia and Proton Idaman both were registered in May 2010, they probably was meant for some other model facelift, or reserved for future years. Proton Idaman was registered towards the end of 2011, which probably meant for the P3-21A which eventually name Preve.

Lastly, Suprima name came up a few days ago. Well, same like Inspira, the "malay-ing" of english work into an adapted Bahasa Malaysia is a trend which is quite disturbing. It is the same konklusi, replikasi, dehidarasi...not clever!

However, despite the name, some of Proton cars are quite ok for their price. Do check out our previous Test Drive report on:

22 April 2013

Honda Jade = 2014 Honda Stream?

Honda unveiled the Jade MPV at Shanghai Motorshow, and citing it as the China-market MPV to be sold by Dongfeng-Honda JV in Chinese market. However, with the current Honda Stream is kicking into its seventh year of life, it is hard to believe that this model is China-only.

We think this is indeed the forthcoming Honda Stream, a 3rd generation compact MPV. The details are clear, the size is clearly indicates it sits on a Honda Civic-derived platform, and the front end blows everything away with its Civic-alike headlight.

The exterior is fresher-looking than the already-dated 2nd gen Stream, with the afore-mentioned Civic snout, flowing side glass and the fresh take of the rear end that ditch Stream's traditional vertical tail light. The interior looks production ready, with its steering wheel handed from Civic, and the gearknob from 2013 Honda Accord. The climate control panel also look-alike the one from the latest Accord. The dashboard could signal the shift of Stream current architecture towards digital display similar to its sedan-sibling.

Some more photo can be found below.


18 April 2013

Mazda6 2.0 Skyactiv Reviewed - A Drive Out of Hiatus

The third generation Mazda6 made an official inroad to the Malaysian market on 20th March 2013, and what a strange entry it was. The car kind of slipped quietly into the market, whereby the media test drive and customer test session started way back from the end of January. Delivery started in early March also in a quiet manner and the March launch was also a relatively no big event. This is totally in contrast with the car, which is anything but low-key.

It has a kind of styling that make you wonder whether Honda and Toyota stylist designed car during their part-time job, half-awake or purely, that. It clearly deviates from the safe, bland and unadventurous design that many of its Japanese or even European rivals seems to stick to. Second in the Mazda line-up to wear the evocative Kodo design language, Mazda6 is one sleek looking machine. The front end is dominated by the swept back headlight, with the chrome whisker that runs from the gigantic front grille. Take the Mazda CX-5 front end, lowered it a little and flatten the top part along the hood and you won't stray too far in describing the leading end of the new Mazda6.
The side profile is garnished by the strongly creased fender, a hallmark styling features found on every Mazda from RX-8 sportscar down to Mazda3 which is a familiar sight on our road. The waistline is tall, forming the significant portion of the car total height. The glass-house is shallow, with sports-car like steeply raked A and C-pillar, resulting is a very slim window opening. Those who love the airy feeling of the environment will find it a bit claustrophobic, the small rear door aperture won't help to eliminate those perception too. But we are missing the point here if that is the selling point. The point is that the car is/will be bought by people who wants a D-Segment sedan, with a touch of pizzas to the styling with adequate space for a family of five with reasonably sized boot volume.

The rear end is characterized by the wraparound taillights, which is joined by the chrome bar that run along the width of the car. The rear side panel is bulged, which carries the volume from the expanding rear end from the wheelarches rearward, before being tapered, tucked in towards the rear fascia to improve the overall aerodynamics. Speaking about aerodynamics, the new Mazda6 has a drag coefficient of 0.26, an impressively low figure. This is achieved by clever surface design, as well as the fully covered floor panel to reduce flow disruption.

For Malaysian market, the third generation Mazda6 is offered in two bodystyles of sedan and wagon, while the all-petrol line-up is offered in 2.0L and 2.5L Skyactiv-G version. Both are high-compression ratio direct-injection engine. The former produced 155PS@6,000rpm and 196Nm@4,000rpm while the latter kicked out 188PS@5,700rpm and 250Nm@3,250rpm.Both are paired with 6 speed automatic transmission. The version tested here is the 2.0L model. 

Dimension-wise, the sedan is 4,860mm long, 1,840mm wide and 1,450mm tall. The wheelbase is 2,830mm long. The Grand Touring has a shorter wheelbase of 2,750mm. It is also shorter at  4,800mm and taller at 1,480mm. In comparison, the old 6 Sedan 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. 

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. 

Mazda6 rides on McPhersons struts up front and Multi-link setup at the back. Wheel size is 17 inch for the 2.0L and 19 inch for the 2.5L, wrapping  225/55 R17 and 225/45 R19 tyres respectively. Apart from wheel and tyre combo size, the 2.0L and 2.5L are differentiated by the equipment level too. All version gets 6 airbags, starter button, auto air-cond, auto wipers, cruise control, TFT touch screen audio system, reverse camera and start stop system. Opting for a higher grade 2.5L will get you 11-speaker BOSE system, i-ELOOP regenerative braking system, satnav, sunroof, paddle shifter, Bi-Xenon headlight, nicer LED DRL with even nicer headlight inner graphic and a host of adaptive driving monitoring systems.
The interior is an dark affair, upholstered in all-black leather seats, black dashboard and door trim. The monotonous interior them is punctuated by the red stitching in the seat and door trim, some chrome bezel around the gear lever, aircond outlet surround and steering wheel. The dashboard fascia is garnished by the plastic trim in harmonically-contrasting plastic panel. Overall space can be described as cosy, large enough but you'll feel cocoon by the high floor console and high window sill. The dissapointing part is the dashboard is almost direct carry-over from CX-5. I personally think a lower fascia will make it a better driving environment, more suited to its sport sedan moniker. Imagine it low fascia, i.e bring down the touch screen ICE and squeeze everything from there downwards.

Driver seat is firm, and it has more bolster for your shoulder and side. I however think the seat bottom/squab is shorter than I expected from a D-Segment car. Otherwise, ergonomics is pretty good, driving position is spot on. Bending the current trend among Japs maker to flood the car with hard plastic, Mazda has equipped the 6 with softly padded material on the dashboard and door trim top. No fake leather stitching on the dashboard here.Rear passenger won't be complaining about space too, and despite the rakish roof-line, the rear headroom is still sufficient. There's also several storage cubbies, there's bottle holder in every door trim, while additional cupholders can be found respectively in the gear console and rear armrest.

Dual-zone automatic airconditioning is standard even on the 2.0L version and they are very effective in cooling down the cabin. Passengers are very likely to be very comfortable in here even for a long journey. MMN has been with the car for 5000km for over 3 weeks, and it can be concluded that the drive is fatigue-free.

Now lets go to the best part. How does it drive? Upon the first encounter of starting up the engine via the starter button, you'll notice the engine is anything but quiet, particular during cold-start. The engine then settles into the rattling note which is close to something we can called quiet-diesel. The sound characteristic seems to be consistent with the rest of gasoline direct injection lump, very much like the N20 units in the BMW.

A glide past the engine bay, and gracefully slid into the driver seat (electrically operated with 2 memories sets) and shut the light-ish door, you'll be isolated from the rattling petrol mill up front. Depress the organ-type gas pedal, the car moves with a great composure. The suspension setting is quite firm, not sportscar-firm, but firmer than the typical floating setup of the D-Segment sedan. The steering is however quite too light for my liking but it makes treading the car past the cramped parking area a breeze.

On the slow ride, you can be forgiven if you think the 2.0L might be a little sluggish. While it bite right from the very first prod on the throttle, the progress after that is serenade if you just pushed the pedal naturally. The Skyactiv-G is clearly tuned for economy. How long a car enthusiastic can last like this, especially when the Soul Red exterior is akin to pouncing cheetah.

Worries you not. Floor the gas till you hear the "tick" sound, indicating you've signaled your intention to your car. It will kick-down immediately and swing the rpm needle to the redzone, giving you the dose of acceleration you so desire. However, the power available is similar to other D-Segment with naturally aspirated 2.0L lump, which you can't expect to be miraculously powerful.

Fuel consumption wise, Mazda6 2.0 can be described as commendable. I managed 7.8L/100km for a spirited highway driving, where most of it is a high speed run. For the city driving, I managed to get around 8.5L/100km. Some forummer in the internet quoted lower fuel consumption, i.e something like 7.3L/100km. So I bet it depends on your right foot. My personal conclusion, this car amazingly beat my 1.5L national car that I used to drive, by quite a margin!

On the highway cruise, Mazda6 is refined is terms of ride despite the slightly firm suspension setting. However, pass the legal cruising speed, the wind noise start to intrude. The Toyo tyres are not the last wod in refinement either as their sound can be heard in the cabin. This is one of the spoilt for the overall driving experience, as the executive sedan should be more serene inside.

Mazda6 2.0 is an adequate tool even if a 180 km/h cruise is required. The big sedan seamlessly sliced through the air with its excellent aerodynamics and the suspension composure for your to enjoy a relaxed high speed cruise. The suspension won't dissapoint you upon the encounter with bend. The steering is precise, even if it lacks the meaningful weight. It however make the car feel nimble, light on its feet. The suspension setup controlled the roll very well, giving you enough confidence to attack the bend.

As a family car, Mazda6 scores well in terms of cabin space, while the exterior styling adds the panache to the overall package. The ride and handling will pleased the driver, although he will slightly dissapointed with the external noise intrusion. The boot also is on a small side, nowhere near the previous model 506L volume. While the boot itself is long, it is quite shallow, which is unforgivable for car which even lacks the spare tyre under the boot floor! There is also an evidence of cost cutting in the boot, where the outgoing Mazda6 multi-link trunk lid hinge has made way for the goose-neck hinge which eat space, but cheaper to manufactured.

As described earlier, buying the 2.0L won't get you the amenities such as sunroof, paddle shifter, LED DRL (totally different headlamp design), a stunning 19 inch alloy wheel, satnav system and a host of Mazda active driving aids. You'll still get the essentials such as the dual-zone automatic aircond, leather upholstery, 6 airbags, typical ABS+EBD+TCS, starter button and RM30k price difference. For information, Mazda6 range starts with 2.0L Sedan at RM159,440.20, moves to 2.5L Sedan at RM187,659.30 and topped by the 2.5L Grand Touring at RM191,763.30.

Gallery of the new Mazda6 can be found below: