Friday, October 31, 2008

Sexy in the City

By Christopher Tan

A picture may be worth a thousand words but in the case of the Honda City, what you see is not what you get.

The third-generation City is a looker all right. Sleek, sporty, elegant and well-proportioned, it stands tall among other made-in-Asia, made-for- Asia models.

Indeed, it is not often you find such modern lines, such poise in a budget car. Then again, the new City is not exactly a budget car. Its starting price of $66,300 is some $11,000 above its predecessor's tag. It is even pricier than the bigger, roomier and better-finished Toyota Corolla Altis.

Sure, it looks better than the sedate Corolla but is the sexy styling worth the sizeable $4,000 premium?

The answer would have been clearly a "yes" if Honda had paid as much attention to other aspects of the car as its outward appearance.

The City's cabin is a tad crusty, even for an Asian car. Clearly, efforts have been made to give it some sophistication, like an integrated centre console with iPod connectivity and paddle shifters (LX version only) on a sporty steering wheel.

But overall, the cabin comes across as overly plasticky, ill-fitted and austere.

On the go, the car is unremarkable for a Honda. It tracks well enough and the ride is adequately cushioned but it betrays an unexpected level of body roll.

Its tyres, although quiet, can do with more grip. The cabin is generally well insulated against external noises but the sound of the high-revving engine mars the ambience somewhat. Its 120bhp iVTEC power plant may be the most powerful in its class but it achieves its grunt at lofty revs. Alas, it does not sound anywhere as good as the car's sheet metal looks.

Fortunately, you do not need to summon all its horses often. The car's five- speed autobox offers highway cruising at leisurely engine speeds.

A comparable Corolla has a four-speed transmission. And the Toyota does not come with the City's nifty paddle shift options either.

Found in the LX version, they let the enthusiastic driver take over the reins instantly. And shifting down with your fingers does bring about meaningful engine braking, unlike some "Tiptronic-style" shifters in other cars.

One of the most attractive propositions of the City is its thriftiness. It achieves 12.5km per litre, even when driven with a heavy foot.

Other attributes are what you might take for granted but are nevertheless worthy improvements. They include excellent side and rear visibility, thanks partly to a clever wing mirror design, a sizeable 506-litre boot and reclinable rear seats.

While the cabin is not the last word in build quality, it does have brilliant spots. The instrument cluster, for one, not only looks good but also offers lots of useful information. The new City is built on a stretched Honda Jazz platform (new model). At 2,550mm, its wheelbase is 100mm longer than the previous City's. It is 50mm shorter than the Corolla's wheelbase. In fact, it is on the whole not as long or wide as the Toyota. It is however a mite taller.

It is probably not right to compare the City with the Corolla. But since Honda has priced its entry-level sedan above Toyota's best-selling model, it is asking for the comparison.

Honda agent Kah Motor explains that the City is priced the way it is because of its relatively high open-market value (roughly its cost price) of $19,700. The Corolla has an OMV of around $16,700.

The higher a car's OMV, the more you will get back in rebates once you scrap it. But of course, you will incur higher financing charges on your car loan in the first place.

The City's rightful rival is really Toyota's own made-for-Asia Vios. It has exactly the same wheelbase as the Vios, although the car is longer, wider and taller.

It completely outclasses the Vios in the drivetrain department but the advantage is not apparent on the road. The more compact (and lighter) Toyota comes across as a tad more nimble and zesty, even if it will not win accolades for handling either. It is also very frugal on fuel.

The Vios is $9,000 cheaper. Its equipment list may not be as impressive but its build quality certainly will match, if not exceed, the Honda's.

The bottom line?

The Honda City is a beauty with features you will normally find in a bigger car. It is however pricey. The price premium would have been easier to stomach if the Thai-made car's overall quality had been better. One interesting point to note: The previous City was exported back to Japan but Honda has decided not to do so with the new model. Apparently, no one buys sedans in Japan anymore.

Honda City LX
Engine: 1,497cc 16-valve inline-4

Transmission: Five-speed automatic with paddle shift

Power: 120bhp at 6,600rpm

Torque: 145Nm at 4,800rpm

0-100 kmh: 12.2 seconds

Top speed: 185kmh

Fuel consumption: 6.6 litres/100km (city-highway)

Price: $66,300 with COE

Distributor: Kah Motor

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ferrari Certified Specialists in Malaysia

Ferrari owners in Malaysia can now enjoy the highest levels of care and servicing for their vehicles through Naza Italia Sdn Bhd's official Ferrari support and service facilities. The service centre, at Naza Italia's premises at the Naza Automall in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, are fully staffed by a team of Ferrari authorised technicians and consultants.

“Ferraris represent the very best automotive performance, combined with hand-built vehicles that are, in themselves, works of art. Each car, hand-built and numbered, also marks the owner as a ‘maverick’ of sorts – someone who demands the best and is willing to aspire towards it. This service centre offers them the ability to look after their vehicles with a similar level of detail and care,” said Naza Italia Sdn Bhd CEO S.M Faisal S. M. Nasimuddin.

The service centre is a precursor to a brand new 45,000 square foot sales and service centre that will be operational early next year. The centre, one of the largest and most advanced outside of Ferrari's own facilities in Italy, will offer Ferrari owners additional customisation, service and sup-port functions once operational. The current service centre already has a staff of 7 Ferrari service specialists with a combined total of over 10 years of experience with the vehicles.

“We want people to drive their Ferrari’s and live the dream. The fundamentals to accomplish this include keeping the car in prime running condition. This centre is the first step towards ensuring that,” added Encik S.M Faisal.

Naza Italia was appointed as the official distributor for all things Ferrari in Malaysia in March and is also the first company to be appointed by Ferrari SpA for the Malaysian market.

For more information, service bookings or queries on the service centre, contact Naza Italia AfterSales at 03-7956 8599.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Mazda3 sedan

Mazda Motor Corporation has announced that its sedan version of the all-new Mazda3 (known as Mazda Axela in Japan), which has been fully redesigned for the first time in five years, will be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Mazda presented the first official images of the car at the Australian International Motor Show, which is currently running in Sydney.

The world debut will see the North American specification sedan coming in both 2.0l and 2.5l form, and the five-door hatchback version will also be revealed in line with Mazda’s global sales schedule.

Besides the external redesign, the claims are that the new offering will continue to offer an exhilarating drive experience while delivering a more refined and restful ride, as well as improved efficiency and levels of quietness.

Friday, October 10, 2008

New Myvi SE 2008 Launched!!

According to Perodua Websites. It has been launched and ready to booked Enjoy the picture. Specs will be updated soon..

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Honda City 2008 set to arrive on December to Malaysia

COME December, Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd will be rolling out the latest-generation Honda City.

The new model, with a rising beltline, is slightly longer but lower compared with the current model, imparting a “well proportioned” and a shaper “arrowshot” appearance.

It also gets flushed headlights and grille combination, which borrowed some styling cues from the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle.

Unveiled to the Malaysian media at Honda’s R&D facility in Ayutthaya, Thailand, recently, the City comes with a 120bhp 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine and a five-speed automatic transmission, promising a good balance of power and fuel economy.

The powertrain system is similar to that in the recently launched Honda Jazz.

The City is equipped with electric power steering system and a steering wheel with paddle shifters.

Honda R&D Co chief engineer and Large Project Leader for the new City, Takeshi Nakamura, said while the roofline of the new City was lower, the car was getting a longer wheelbase which made for a roomier interior.

“The nose of the City is designed to be sharper than most sedans in the 1.5-litre segment for a unique powerful appearance,” he said.

The dashboard is a new design with a mix of light and dark colours, with metallic effect on the centre console and interior door trim inserts.

The boot space is also larger than the previous City.

Another feature that is seldom found in small sedans is the rear seat that has a 60:40 split backrest with a two-angle adjustment.

Safety features includes dual front airbags, anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.

Honda claims the pedestrian safety feature of the City has also been enhanced.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A1 GP: Malaysia wins Sprint race and Second Place on Feature Race

Fauzy took up his pole position on the grid for the Feature race this afternoon, but with the rain relentlessly pouring down at the Zandvoort circuit there was no alternative but for the organisers to declare a safety car start for this race. After two laps the field of 17 nations taking part this weekend were released to race for national glory.

Fauzy led the grid away at the green flag and retained his lead in the opening laps pitting early in the first pitstop window, while second placed team, France, continued on. An errant wheel nut delayed the team by a few seconds but Fauzy was soon back out.

The French team made a late stop and in the process took the lead of the race with Malaysia four seconds behind at the end of the first round of pitstops. As the laps counted down Fauzy remained in second place, and the second round of pitstops saw a clean stop from the Malaysian crew placing Fauzy back out on track in the runner up spot. A dramatic accident for the Lebanon and China cars brought out a safety car close to the end of the race, with the race finally finishing under the safety car. A1 Team Malaysia claimed second place, and after winning the Sprint race now lead the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport standings.

Fauzy said of his two podium results, "It's been a dream start to the season for A1 Team Malaysia. We were certainly hoping to have a good performance here, and two podiums is just great. The weather conditions were treacherous today, which made it difficult for all of us, but that makes it all the more rewarding. There is something extra special when you are driving for your nation, so I'm very proud of our achievements today. Its been a real team effort and Im delighted that we are leaving Zandvoort leading the championship."

A1 Team Malaysia Chief Executive, Jack Cunningham, added, "Fairuz performed extremely well. These are probably the worst conditions we've seen and he showed real professionalism, real ability to think under pressure, recognition of how to get the best out of the car, defeat the weather; a really excellent performance. On top of that I think all the teams should be congratulated on the fantastic event they have put on today, defying all the odds that have faced us in the build up to the start of the season."

The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport continues its ten event global tour next month with the second round taking place at Chengdu, China from 7 - 9 November 2008.

RESULTS: Sprint race
Pos A1 Team Driver Laps Time Gap
1 Malaysia Fairuz Fauzy 10 19'44.533
2 New Zealand Earl Bamber 10 19'48.007 3.474
3 France Loïc Duval 10 19'50.803 6.270
4 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 10 19'57.966 13.433
5 Switzerland Neel Jani 10 20'01.429 16.896
6 South Africa Adrian Zaugg 10 20'05.458 20.925
7 Italy Fabio Onidi 10 20'06.747 22.214
8 USA Charlie Kimball 10 20'08.683 24.150
9 Portugal Filipe Albuquerque 10 20'13.960 29.427
10 Lebanon Daniel Morad 10 20'23.462 38.929
11 Australia John Martin 10 21'12.004 1'27.471
12 China Ho-Pin Tung 9 18'09.652 1 lap
13 Brazil Felipe Guimarães 9 19'24.409 1 lap
14 Korea Jin Woo Hwang 3 7'27.249 7 laps
15 Indonesia Satrio Hermanto 2 5'27.400 8 laps
16 Ireland Adam Carroll 2 5'58.094 8 laps
17 Monaco Clivio Piccione 1 2'48.422 9 laps

RESULTS: Feature race
Pos A1 Team Driver Laps Time Gap
1 France Loïc Duval 36 1:11'58.723
2 Malaysia Fairuz Fauzy 36 1:12'01.011 2.288
3 New Zealand Earl Bamber 36 1:12'01.432 2.709
4 Australia John Martin 36 1:12'05.052 6.329
5 Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen 36 1:12'06.996 8.273
6 Monaco Clivio Piccione 34 1:12'03.356 2 laps
7 Korea Jin Woo Hwang 33 1:12'28.432 3 laps
8 Lebanon Daniel Morad 32 1:03'15.216 4 laps
9 China Ho-Pin Tung 31 1:03'14.803 5 laps
10 USA Charlie Kimball 30 59'04.806 6 laps
11 Portugal Filipe Albuquerque 15 29'34.235 21 laps
12 Indonesia Satrio Hermanto 12 26'14.548 24 laps
13 South Africa Adrian Zaugg 5 11'00.955 31 laps
14 Italy Fabio Onidi 5 11'01.706 31 laps
15 Brazil Felipe Guimarães 5 1:12'03.879 31 laps
16 Ireland Adam Carroll 4 9'17.297 32 laps
17 Switzerland Neel Jani 4 9'52.638 32 laps