30 November 2013

Volkswagen Golf Mk7 Cut Model at KLIMS2013 - A Demonstration of German Engineering

Volkswagen took a prime floor space at KLIMS 2013, a vast portion of the hall previously occupied by Proton in the KLIMS 2010. It brings the whole lot of its car together with the yet-to-be launched CKD Volkswagen Polo hatchback. However, the item that really catch my eyes is the cut model of the Volkswagen Golf, a car that won accolades of awards, triple award I would say; European Car of The Year, World Car of The Year and Car of The Year Japan. Award does not fall from the sky, so this car ought to be quite something.

The cut model of Volkswagen Golf Mk7 is very fascinating to look at. It is the free demonstration of Volkswagen engineering design which is very useful to be benchmarked. After all, Volkswagen Golf Mk7 is significantly 100kg lighter than the model it replaced. The savings are achieved via 3.0kg lighter electrical system, 12.0kg of car's equipment, 22.0kg from engine, 26.0kg from the drivetrain and a whopping 37.0kg from the body structure. The culmination of the savings is the result of finite element analysis which optimize the load path and reduce the redundant structure. The main structure is a hybrid of high strength steel with hot formed steel among other conventional materials.

Lets start with the front. While I don't bring the gauge to check the thickness, I am pretty sure it is quite a standard thickness as far as the hood inner and outer panel is concern. However what can be seen is the hood inner panel is quite mainstream in the design and generously structured near the cowl section. In addition to the hood inner beaded section close by, the hood outer is further augmented by stiffener, so even the rearward right section alone is supported by 3 reinforcements.

The section below shows the front bumper assembly consists of bumper fascia, bumper beam and its foam insert as well as the lower radiator grille louvre design. Also consistent with the current trend, the bumper itself is very thin, around 2mm and usually can't support its own weight is disassembled. Bulk of the loading is taken by the beam, while the yield can be support by the fascia, the springback is aided by the foam.

Moving further downward, one can clearly see the floor is fully covered to aid aerodynamics. The fairing covers even the lowest point of the car which is the oil sump, which seems to be insulated this this example. The next photo shows the main body structure of Volkswagen Golf Mk7, which is the side structure, a structure that envelope the occupants inside the car. The A, B and C pillar are exposed here, although only the critical section of B-pillar is cut out for us to see. 

Closer inspection through the web reveals the B-pillar inner panel is off the TWB type, i.e Tailor Weld Blank which means the panel comes as multi thickness along the length. This is particularly useful in saving weight as it isolates the need for an additional reinforcement of metal sheet to add strength, which also requires spot weld. For TWB, the sheet is rolled in the desired thickness at desired location, the concept which is as per illustrated. This technology is nothing new, as our local grown Proton Saga BLM employs the same technology in its door panel. More details after the jump.

Proton Persona SV Launched - Just RM44,938

Proton today launched Persona SV, essentially a super-value version of its running Proton Persona with the price on the decrease and equipment level  increase. The price starts from RM44,938 for the manual, solid version and increasing to RM48,388 for the metallic paint version with 4AT transmission. This is about RM2,500 cheaper then the Proton Persona Elegance Standard, which was the sole version remaining on sale after the introduction of Proton Preve.

For the price cut, you'll lose, er nothing, instead you'll get dual SRS airbags (instead of one in the Persona Standard), disc brake all around (instead of rear drum) combo with ABS+EBD. There's no unpainted exterior trim part, whereby the trunk lid garnish and door outside handle is finished in matte silver. 15" alloy wheel is standard fixture too. The side mirror (color coded) is manual operated, and there is no door visor and exhaust garnish.

Thus, for the price of Perodua Myvi which by the way is just 3.6m long and has 200L boot space and powered by 1.3L engine, you can opt to buy a full sedan body with 430L of boot space, powered by 1.6L engine and suspension by independent suspension all around, which is a rarity in the segment.

Admittedly it is an old model, originally launched in 2007. It was based on 2004 Proton Gen2, which Proton heavily re-engineered the body structure for the notchback insertion and total makeover of the interior. Based on the experience in the flesh, the car does feel a bit ageing and quite outdated, but this is quite common with all Malaysian makes regardless of either Proton or Perodua. Gallery can be found after the jump. 

29 November 2013

Petronas Patented Water Injection Engine?

Toyota last month openly said that it will buck the engine downsizing trend (and turbocharged) and instead will focus on developing an efficient large capacity gasoline via the optimization of Atkinson cycle, a knowledge it has honed to perfection in developing the pairing to its hybrid series. It was also mentioned in the source that Toyota will venture in the innovation of water/steam injection to enhance engine efficiency. Now this is breakthrough as engine typically breathes air and fuel, mixed for combustion.

Wow people said. It is indeed a novel concept with curiosity, as for the layman understanding, how can you ignite a fire and then spray water to it? Contradicting it may sound, but if you go to the SAE paper database, a place where all automotive engineers breath, eat and drink car, you'll found plenty of invention of water being injected into the cylinder. There's even a six-stroke concept.

What strike my eyes is the technology has also been patented by our local hero. Do you know Petronas has patented such technology years ago? Check it out here in Google Patent, Espacenet and SAE technical paper. While we don't know what Toyota technology is all about apart from injecting water/steam into combustion chamber, according to patent W02010036093 A1, Petronas novel internal combustion aim to maximise the heat generated by fuel combustion to expand water into steam which in turns utilized the heat that is otherwise wasted. The water expansion into steam exert the force in the power stroke instead of purely forced by the ignition of compressed air and fuel mixture. The low combustion efficiency currently occurring in our current engine results in un-burn hydrocarbon which goes to the exhaust line. There is an attempt to increase the combustion efficiency, but the high heat release in doing so could result in Nitrogen  Oxide (NOx) formation which started to happen at around 2000K combustion temperature.

In the normal internal combustion engine, of all the fuel combusted, two-third comes out as heat, which is then absorbed by the cooling system recirculating around the water jacket.  In a typical engine system, the jacket is located inside the cylinder block and cylinder head and it goes around collecting heat and dissipate it in the radiator system. Figure below shows the cooling jacket residing in your engine block, photos courtesy of RGBSI. In terms of energy, this is energy wasted.

In Petronas patent, water is injection post the fuel combustion and to capitalize on the heat via clever, patented system. In doing so, not only less heat is emitted as, well heat, it also will reduce the engine temperature when the excess heat is converted into energy. Energy conservation remember? So the cooling system potentially can be reduce, resulting in smaller radiator. The exhaust gas too is cooler and this in turn reduce the thermal loading applied to the exhaust manifold (also cylinder block and head) which means overall engine is subject to a reduced thermal stress. Of course there is an additional combustion load which would negate the structural savings due to thermal, but this can be optimized further, at least this my interpretation of all these things. The schematic shown on this patent of Espacenet is as below, you can go through the claim to understand the concept. It is far too long for me to read!

With the engine technology resides under Petronas umbrella has been sold to DRB HICOM, could this be one of it? Whatever it is, which ever way Toyota might be doing what it said in the news, you've got to know our locals has been there as far as innovation is concern. 

Disclaimer: All the items written are based on the information available in public domain i.e patent and open, paid automotive literature. 

28 November 2013

Toyota Revamped 2014 Prius C - 37km/L

When Toyota Aqua, or Prius C was launched at the end of 2011, it has a fuel mileage of 35.4 km/L, a feat that no other hybrid in the world manage to beat. However, the new generation Honda Fit/Jazz Hybrid stole the throne when Honda ditched the old IMA system to match the advanced Toyota hybrid system, the new Jazz/Fit Hybrid achieved 36.4 km/L.

Not quite satisfied to be beaten, Toyota has upped the ante by improving the efficiency of its THS-II system in the form of quicker engine turn off during idling and a reduction in resistance upon a restart. It yields small improvement, but sufficient to beat the fellow Japanese maker at 37 km/L.

Is it part of the improvement introduced to Toyota Aqua/Prius C which will be on sale next week in Japan. Apart from the improved drivetrain unit, the revamped Prius C also features a retune suspension and upgraded sound insulation. New shade of purple color also has been added to the color scheme, making 11 shades available in total.

There's also new variant added to the family, called Aqua G. As can be observed above, Toyota Aqua G comes with an exclusive front and rear bumper, smoked headlamp, funky LED DRL in the lower lip and 17" alloy wheel. What can't be seen is the added bracing and spot welding to improve chassis rigidity to augment the retune suspension. The interior is an all-black item with sporty touch sprinkled over.

With the hybrid incentive in Malaysia is rumoured to be retract for CBU cars, it would be pity if we primitively missed the next round of Toyota Prius C enhancement. With no local facilities set up for this model, UMW can opt anytime to stop importing, especially if the price become prohibitively high for a small vehicle like this.

27 November 2013

Proton Persona SV - Cut Price Sedan Coming

Taking the leaf out from ultra successful Proton Saga SV, the 6 year-old Proton Persona is set to receive similar treatment. Currently only available in standard guise at only RM47,533 for manual and RM50,533 for the automatic version, it is about to be joined (or superceeded) by the Persona SV variant.

We don't know the details on how far the car is going to be re-specced, as the current Persona Standard is already been pared down with the equipment level and unpainted part and sitting on wheel cover, covering the 15" wheel with drums brakes at the back, and we know Proton does not compromise safety device anymore these days, so your guess is as good as ours in this new variant specification.

In June, Proton Holdings launched Proton Saga SV, which became the cheapest sedan on sale at mere RM33k. Sales soared to over 22,000 unit within four months so similar trend is expected for the larger Persona.

It is coming your way in a few days time. Stay tune.

26 November 2013

Middle Class SUV Challenge:Mazda CX-5 vs Ford Kuga vs Honda CR-V

SUV segment is hotly contested in Malaysian market. It has evolved from the off-roader ancestor like Isuzu Trooper and Mitsubishi Pajero to the likes of soft roader, thanks to Honda CR-V back in mid 90's. This year, you can have it almost every sizes, from small to big luxury ones. Among the hottest option for middle class right now is Honda CR-V, now in fourth generation and hot in its heel is the turbocharged Ford Kuga and super stylish Mazda CX-5. Paultan compares them in the DRIVEN. Check it out below.

25 November 2013

(Updated Gallery Inside) 4th Generation Honda City Unveiled - Roomier, 1.5L Petrol & Diesel

The all new Honda City has arrived!!Happened in India just a couple of moment ago, the fourth generation Honda City has been previewed to the media. Is very, very clear to see the new model is actually a gentle evolution of the current one. Critics will labelled it as a facelift, but it is actually a deeper improvement than that.

From the photos above, the side profile looks just like the current one, especially around the A-pillar. The front end adopts the new radiator grille concept seen on the new Honda Jazz/Fit, with the angular nose made an appearance, accentuated at the front bumper edge.

The rear end is however looks like the current one with the new tail light slapped on. The new tail light is much wider than before as it extends more into the trunk lid instead of sitting at the side structure panel like the current one.

The car has changed slightly in terms of dimensions. Overall length is only retained for facelifted Honda City at 4,440mm, the wheelbase has been extended by 50mm, making it 2,600mm. The car is a bit taller by at 1,495mm, while width is retained at 1,695mm. The interior is said to be roomier, with leg room and knee room on the up by 60-70mm, with 40mm more shoulder space. Boot space grows slightly to 510L.

In India, the 4th-gen Honda City will be offered with two 1.5L engine, one is petrol powered while the other one is diesel lump, similar to what found underneath of Honda Brio Amaze. Chassis architecture is similar to before with McPherson strut at the front and torsion beam at the back.

The interior design has been inspired by the larger Honda Civic, particularly the facelifted US Civic. The fascia has a flat surface, trimmed with silver lining, with silver bar running across the front passenger area. The centre console has been modernize with LCD touch screen and touch screen aircond control like the recently introduced in latest Honda Jazz/Fit and Honda Odyssey. The meter binnacle is blue surround. There's also bluetooth connectivity and aircond outlet for the rear passenger.

The dashboard is upright just like any small Honda. With the details as explained in the paragraph above, Honda has attempted to raise the interior perceived quality compared to the barebones of the current one. The slab panel with silver paint is now gone, and in comes a more sophisticated looking fascia. The audio unit blends well with the glossy black panel although one might feel a vast empty space overthere due to the lack of switches in the low end car like this. Naturally, the steering wheel comes from Honda Jazz/Fit, in fact the whole centre console screams the hatchback sibling. The main differentiators between the two are the fascia in front of the driver and passenger.

The rear cabin space is visibly spacious, with a completely flat rear floor as an added bonus. There is also rear air conditioning outlet as seen above. This could be in response to the move by Hyundai who is one of the earliest to put this premium feature in a mainstream car. The door trim features large chunk of fabric insert, embedded in one-piece moulded trim part.

More photos can be found after the jump.

09 November 2013

Hottest Mercedes-Benz S Class Arrived : S65 AMG

The hottest Mercedes-Benz S Class has arrived, the S65 AMG. Packing a rather significant 1000Nm of torque under the hood from a lowly 2,300rpm, the new S65 AMG is capable to sprint to 100km/h in 4.3s despite weighting more than 2 tonnes.
Powering the high performance super saloon is 5,980cc V12 forced fed with twin turbo produced by AMG. The engine produces 630bhp available from 4,800 - 5,400 rpm and the aforementioned 1000Nm of torque from 2,300 - 4,300rpm. Drive is channeled to the rear wheel via AMG Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic. The gearbox has 3 driving modes on offer; Controlled Efficiency (C), Sport (S) and Manual (M) which offers a thrilling mood especially on the latter two when there is a cutback in injection and ignition during the upshift under full load which in turns shorten the gear change and change the audible tones. Switching to C meanwhile initiate the ECO start/stop function. 

Despite the scorching performance, S65 AMG is most fuel efficient V12 saloon, returning 11.9L/100km and fulfilling EU6, which is not yet enforced until 2015. In terms of visual aura, S65 AMG takes the kit from S63 and then some more. The addition comes in chrome piece, which is sprinkled across the grille, side grille and sills. Driving aids on board include Magic Body Control, speed sensitive variable ratio steering, 20' forged alloy wheel and optional composite brake system. It will the most expensive S Class on sale at EUR232,050 and will be showcased at Los Angeles and Tokyo Motor Show.

07 November 2013

Spyshots: Proton Rebadged Honda Accord

Proton Perdana replacement has had a very turbulence gestation period. The replacement model has been in the planning since the days of Proton MSX when the replacement was intended to look like a sedan version of the aluminium crossover. Of course it never happen. Then we started seeing a Mitsubishi 380 with Proton badge, and even the latest Mitsubishi Galant in 2006. Then came the Nissan Fuga thing and finally the freshest of them all is the rebadged Honda Accord. 

So, based on this sighting at Paultan, the government officials are set to drive the recycled Honda Accord. Proton has added their badge the normal place - front grille, steering wheel boss, and the rear fascia. We don't know yet if there's any restyling, but it should be very minor. What do you think? Is it worth it to design the car only to serve government officials? Two more photos after the jump.

New Honda HR-V Coming Soon

Back in the mid-90s, there was a small Honda SUV which slot into the segment smaller then Honda CR-V. Powered by 1.6L engine, Honda HR-V sits on Honda Logo platform. Honda discontinued this model in 2006. Seems that it will back!

Previewed by Honda Urban SUV concept, the production version has been leaked through the patent website. The design stays quite faithful to the concept version, with the details turn down for more cost efficient. Some more photos after the jump.

Lexus RC350 & RC300h sets to rival BMW 4 Series

You can't blame Lexus stylist for not trying to make their car looks good and different. The upcoming Lexus RC is the most extreme application of the new design language yet, characterized by the mega spindle grille with madly stretched compared to any model before this.

Lexus RC is the coupe derived from the Lexus IS, and set to challenge the likes of BMW 4 Series and Mercedes C-Class coupe to name a few. Compared to the sedan brethren, Lexus RC measures 4,695mm long, 1,840mm wide, 1,395mm tall and rides on 2,730mm wheelbase, which is 30mm longer, 30mm wider, 35mm lower and 70mm shorter wheelbase.
At the front, the "implied" headlight concept pioneered by Lexus IS has been refined further, and it looks a bit better and less haphazard looking with smoother headlight lower section. The LED infused looks jewel inspired, a theme further adopted by the fog lamp  which is akin to the diamond encrusted into the grille frame.

While the side profile is fairly conventional looking, with none of upswept rear bumper profile like the IS sedan, the same can't be said with the rear fascia. Lexus designers has played the surfacing really a lot, with different planes intersecting each other all over the place, all tied up together to create the hugging stance which is really sporty looking. I am not sure if the rear vents are functioning, but it better be or else it is just like the one on the Perodua Myvi SE rear bumper.

The model line up comprises of Lexus RC350 and RC300h. The former is powered by the familiar 3.5L V6 while the latter is 2.5L gasoline paired to hybrid system. The powertrain should be similar with the unit in other Lexuses, so we are looking at  312bhp and 378Nm for the RC350 and 220bhp and 300Nm for the RC300h.

Similar in BMW 3 and 4 Series, the interior is carried over from the sedan donor. The only new addition is the newly develop Remote Touch Interface which controls the car functionality via a centralized command system. Several more photos can be found after the jump.