Volkswagen has just taken the wraps off its second-generation Touareg SUV that is slightly longer yet more than 200kg lighter than its predecessor and will be offered right from the beginning with a hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain.
Set for a Geneva Motor Show debut on March 2 with European sales to follow in April, the new 2011 Touareg shares most of its underpinnings with the forthcoming 2011 Porsche Cayenne. The designers kept the basic shape of the current model and added a new face that's inspired from the firm's latest production and concept models such as the Golf VI, Polo and the NCC study.
The new interior is also in line with Volkswagen's latest design DNA featuring several novelties including a pushbutton parking brake, and according to the Germans, the largest panoramic sunroof of all SUVs. The new Touareg is more spacious at the back and the rear bench now has 160mm in longitudinal adjustment with adjustable backrest angle.As an option, the rear seat can be electrically unlatched and folded down at the press of a button in which case, it frees up 1,642 litres of cargo space. Speaking of the interior, I find the combination of chrome and wood inserts rather untasteful and would prefer to have one type of furnishing instead.
At launch, the new Touareg will be available with three engines including two turbo diesels and a gasoline-electric hybrid, all of which are offered with a standard 8-speed automatic transmission.
The range kicks off with a 3.0-liter V6 TDI diesel that churns out 240HP and 405 lb-ft of torque. Next up is the 4.2-liter V8 TDI diesel with 335HP and a massive 590 lb-ft of torque.
The highlight of the range is the new hybrid model that's mates a 3.3-liter supercharged V6 TSI producing 330HP and 265 lb-ft of torque with a 46HP electric motor for a combined output of 376HP and 428 lb-ft. The Touareg Hybrid, which can be driven up to 50 km/h in purely electric mode, sprints from zero to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds and returns a combined consumption 8.2lt/100km.
More details will be released at the new Touareg's world premiere in Geneva.
Volvo has unleashed a slew of photos and details of its very promising all-new 2011 S60 sedan that will make its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show on 2 March. The premium model, which is aimed directly at cars like the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class, is described by Volvo as the firm's most dynamic car ever produced, not only in terms of styling but also in terms of driving characteristics.
Even though the design has been toned down a notch from the S60 study model in the 2009 Detroit Show, it remains very close to the original concept.
Inside, the styling is equally refreshing with Volvo's designers paying extra attention to details and the choice of materials. The Swedes also claim that it's more spacious that its predecessor, offering 30mm more knee room for the rear passengers while boot opening has been made 107 mm wider than in the previous S60.
The new sedan can be specified with a choice of two chassis, Dynamic and Comfort, with the differences in the dampers and the front and rear subframes. In Europe, the newly developed dynamic chassis is standard, while most markets in North America and Asia will have the comfort chassis as standard with the sport variant available as an option.
At launch, the car will be available with two diesel and two gasoline units with three more petrol and one diesel to follow later on. I will touch on the gasoline options since they are more relevant to the Singapore market.
The most powerful gasoline engine is the 3.0-liter T6 petrol with 304HP and 440 Nm of torque. It is combined with standard AWD and second-generation six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 6.5 seconds and top speed is 250 km/h. The new four-cylinder 2.0 GTDi (Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection) engine produces 203HP and 300Nm with acceleration from 0-100 km/h taking 7.7 seconds for the manual gearbox while the automatic version takes 8.2 seconds. The top speed figures are 235km/h and 230 km/h for the manual and automatic versions respectively. A 1.6-litre GTDi engine available in 180HP and 150HP configurations will be offered later on during the first year of production. All the GTDi gasoline engines will be available in combination with Volvo's automatic six-speed Powershift transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox.
Interior photos of the new S60 can be found below. The compact luxury sector is set to be spiced up again!
Now that BMW is launching the new F10 model 5 Series I thought it would be a good time to look at the outgoing 5 series as I recently had the opportunity to have a go in one a few days back.
The 5 series in question was a 2006 E60 M Sport body kitted 530i with a 268bhp straight six engine (2006 models had new magnesium/aluminum crankcase but without Electronic throttle like the 2007 models), 18 inch 245/40/18 tires and was just purchased by this pal of mine through a grey importer. It had 40,000km (supposedly) on its clock and was in a dark midnight blue colour. It has to be said that I do not like the over designed style of this current 5 series. At least it is not like the previous generation 7 series which had too many lines going everywhere and made that car look very incoherent in design.
But enough about how the car looks. I drove the 530i through a mix of downtown lunch-hour traffic jam as well as elevated highways and normal three lane expressways for a few hours and we ended up at a tire shop to get a fresh set for tires for the car. This was due to the fact that the car was sitting at some Japanese port as well as a Malaysian port for long periods of time and the tires had flat-spotted. The change to fresh tires as well as getting rid of those standard run flat rubbish made the car a whole lot better. But more on that later.
Hopping into a BMW is like getting into any of the big three German car manufacturers. The usage of leather, wood and plastic is more or less the same but it is in my opinion that among Audi, Mercedes and BMW, the former two make better interiors than the latter. There
Don't worry, the mythological creature from the Himalayan region is not making an appearance in Singapore. Rather, the Yei is Skoda's first off-roader, combining the strength of a 4x4 with the practicality of a family hatchback.
At 4.2 metres, the Yeti is virtually the same length as the Roomster MPV. It
BMW's are looking much better these days. And these are the first photos of what the new X5 will look like. Obviously, it still remains tank-like; huge, high driving position and enormous wheels. You will still be able to intimidate others on the road even if you're the height of Mini-Me. There are a few stylistic changes to the exterior with the new headlights which have been taken from the new 5 Series which is a good thing, and the tail-lamps have been restyled slightly as well. The big difference between the new and the old X5 is under that handsome new bonnet.
Three, sophisticatedly named new engines will be launched for the xDrive30d, xDrive40d
Porsche will be introducing a more potent version of the 911 in the form of the Turbo S at the Geneva auto show in March 2010.
The 911 Turbo S is injected with 30bhp over the standard 911 Turbo, bringing the horsepower up to 530bhp while torque stays put at 700Nm (516 lb-ft) including the overboost, 650Nm (479 lb-ft) without. Top speed is up just slightly by 3km/h at 315km/h. Fuel consumption remains the same as the standard Turbo at 11.4 liters/100 km, which is quite commendable for such performance.
All the options available on the 911 Turbo will be standard on the Turbo S. The 911 Turbo S will be equipped with Porsche's 7-speed PDK (double-clutch) transmission, Porsche traction management (PTM) for the all-wheel drive system, as well as Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV), which includes a differential lock for the rear axle. Also part of the standard package is the Launch Control and Sport Chrono Package that help accelerate this 911 Turbo S from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds.
Other standard features include 19-inch wheels in an RS Spyder design and a two-tone leather finish in either Black/Crema or Black/Titanium Blue combination. The Turbo S will be available in both cabriolet and coupe body-styles, and is set to reach dealerships in Europe starting May 2010. Perhaps, we may see a local launch in Singapore before 2010 is out. Stay tuned!
My recent article about driving through tunnels has got me thinking. I noticed that the entrance to the SMART tunnel in Kuala Lumpur has some murals on both sides of the entrance and if you look at it properly you would feel that even some colour is better than dull and drab grey concrete. I think that it is time that the LTA make Singapore's tunnels slightly brighter and more colourful than the standard grey. In fact, this idea is not limited only to Singapore but to every nation as well.
Imagine if you were stuck in a tunnel during a traffic jam and you looked up and saw the above picture. You would be stunned, amazed and you'd feel happy to be stuck in a tunnel just to admire the frescoes on the tunnel walls. Okay, the Sistine Chapel fresco by Michelangelo as pictured above may be a little extreme as firstly, he's dead and won't be able to complete any official request to paint or sculpt anything; and secondly I think it would cost the LTA a bomb if they decided to hire a few professional artists to spruce up the tunnel walls. This cost is one cost that people won't be happy with as it usually involves taxpayer's money. Of course there would still be a way to make our lives a little bit cheerful if the underpasses and short tunnels be filled with colour.
I'll give you an example. Here is a mural or graffiti painted by some unknown people in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. Frankly it looks amazing. Compare the wall with the painting with the unpainted wall (photo below) beside it. The grey wall looks pretty dull.
The mural isn't a legitimate one but it has been there for a while and makes the place more cheerful looking. Not that I condone graffiti and I am not suggesting delinquents start spray painting walls and tunnels without control or supervision. But imagine a government sanctioned project that allows groups of teenagers to express their talents by legally painting tunnels. Or if the risk is too great as these people may make it an excuse to spray paint every other thing, a great suggestion would be that the authorities cover the walls with sheets of printed art work of local artists so that their work may be appreciated by motorists. This would certainly brighten up underpasses and tunnels but still keep things legal.
The roads are getting awfully crowded these days. Eco-conscious folks, the government and a whole host of other well meaning folks will have us believe that we should endeavour to use public transportation. A short and unscientific poll of my friends revealed that we all generally agree that more people should switch to public transport. Unfortunately, by more people, we really meant OTHER people.
And that got me thinking. Why do most people drive if they can afford it? Can public transport ever become a close enough substitute to driving?
With that (dangerous) thought in mind, I decided to leave my trusty ride in my campus carpark and take a short bus ride to and from Orchard to run some errands. It wouldn't be that bad, I reasoned. After all, I had my iPhone loaded up with mp3s to entertain me and the bus would take essentially the same route I would take if I were driving. I would save on ERP and exorbitant parking fees. It was looking like a sure win proposition.
In the end, I caught a ride from a pal who was passing by Orchard and took a bus back to campus after I was done. That bus ride revealed the gap between public transport and driving. First, the bus took forever to come. The signboard told me it would take 5 minutes for my bus to arrive but 20 minutes later, there was still no bus. Next, it was 3pm but the bus got more and more packed! Strange, for a non-peak hour bus ride. The longer travelling time was compounded by the jerky driving style of the bus driver. It seemed like an eternity!
And, in the process I guess I got my answer. Despite repeated claims of a world class public transport system, it is still nowhere near driving. And it probably will never come close until some radical changes are implemented.
Here are my suggestions on how to increase utilization of public transport in Singapore:
1. Nationalise the public transport companies and measure performance by non-financial metrics like passenger comfort and punctuality
2. Make public transport cheap, cut-throat cheap. Half of the current price would be about right. The subsidy will be funded by ERP & COE.
3. Increase the frequency (by quite a few times)!
But I know that my suggestions are unlikely to be implemented in the near future. So until then, I am sticking to driving until I can no longer afford to.
Ford is eyeing a share of the B-segment market in Singapore with the upcoming Ford Fiesta sedan. The US automaker actually staged the global reveal of its all-new Fiesta sedan at the 2008 Guangzhou Auto Show, a year after its cousin, the Mazda 2 saloon was launched. The Singapore-bound Fiesta will be sourced from Ford's joint venture production plant with Mazda in Thailand.
The boot of the Fiesta sedan appears a bit dumpy, which is a far cry from its sleek frontal facia. The Mazda 2 sedan has a more proportionate rear treatment, complemented by sleek looking lamp combination.
However, all is not lost for the the Fiesta. The dashboard mimics the futuristic layout of its hatchback version, which is quite refreshing as compared to the mundane layout of the Vios or City. The interior plastic parts of the Vios/City feels rather hard and let's hope that the Fiesta sedan will be furnished by higher quality materials.
I do not have the details of the drivetrain for the Thailand-built Fiesta at the moment but I am secretly hoping to see the 1.6L Ti-VCT on the offer list, like the US market.
For the first time over two decades since the first Lexus LS was born, the Japanese luxury car maker is offering a sport package for the LS. Did Lexus do it right the first time ? Let's find out...
To begin with, the sporty LS features a revised front grille that is more aggressive, as well as 19-inch split-10-spoke forged alloy wheels. Braking power is supplied by 6 pot callipers Brembo brakes.
The interior of the LS 460 Sport gets Black and Saddle Tan accent perforated leather trim with matte wood interior finishing. Somehow, the words "wood" and "sport" doesn't gel to me. It would be more appropriate if the interior gets matte carbon fibre treatment instead.
The driver gets to shift gear via the paddle switches at the helm. However, they looked too small against the chunky 4 spoke steering wheel. Speaking of the steering wheel, it would be more befitting for a so called "Sport model" to sport a 3 spoke steering instead.
The LS 460 Sport is like Fei Yu Qing trying to do an Aaron Kwok act. The LS 460 should concentrate on what it does best - projecting a luxury image. Lexus should leave the sporting pretension to the GS or the IS series.
You don't have to oogle at the new 300bhp Ford Focus RS anymore because its coming to town. Though in limited numbers, the new RS version will be making its way to our shores sometime in April.
Due to the high demand in Europe, there just aren't that many to go round the world. Luckily though, a few Singaporeans will be able to get their hands on the wheel of this hyper hot hatch which is set to compete with the Golf R and the new Megane Renaultsport RS. With 300bhp on its front wheels, you'd think that there will be tons of understeer but Ford has promised 'exceptional handling' with their new front suspension. It seems that hatches these days are becoming increasingly popular and so is the demand for higher power. I can't wait to get my hands on this one for a drive.. Pity there just wouldn't be a proper place to push this baby to the edge. Unless Ford is ready to get an open area like Jaguar, Audi and Mitsubishi have done in the past to showcase the new RS, driving it on normal roads just wouldn't be the same and having 300 horses lurching you forward with your skull glued to the headrest. Now that's what I want to feel..
BMW is one company that keeps losing the plot over and over again. I have never known a company so relentless in pursuing niche markets that it comes up with models that are supposed to be a result of a comprehensive market study. This means that all the current models made by BMW are actually designed by studies based on opinion given by the following:
A fat American 6ft 5in couch potato who thinks Football is a game where burly men bang into each other while chasing a oval shaped ball and thinks that the world consists of anything in between Arkansas and Florida;
a middle aged CEO of a company who likes sitting in the rear seat of his 7 series and has 4 kids;
a 30 something career woman who likes sitting up high in a vehicle as she
Metal folding roofs and the DNA from a conventional saloon. This is the perfect recipe for a hot Coupe-Cabriolet and French car manufacturers have found these two ingredients especially attractive. The French are about as good in the kitchen as they are in making these 'CCs', just look at Peugeot and Renault and you'll know what I'm on about, Volkswagen have their EOS but I don't think its as pretty as the French cars. Well now its time to bring back one of the pioneers of the affordable, folding metal roof CC species. A first look at the new Renault Megane CC.
The old Megane CC wasn't really a drivers car. It looked pretty no doubt, but it was heavy, and quite a lump to be honest. However, its main purpose isn't really for drivers looking for a fast ride in the first place. Its for people who want a car to drive on the weekend, with the top down. Even if it meant exposing that beer belly or that bald patch its fine. Because at least he was driving in a pretty car. And in that sense, the old Megane CC did not disappoint. Angular it was, but bold and unique it still is. And that holds true with the new one as you can clearly see. It has headlights which look like they have been cloned from the Laguna Coupe which is an absolutely gorgeous car in my opinion, looks great on the Megane too. And that outward attractiveness seeps inwards as the interior is also rather similar to the Laguna Coupe, looking strangely German, but high quality nonetheless so no signs of skiving on the job there.
The new Megane CC will be officially revealed at the Geneva Motor Show next month and it looks more refined, sophisticated and elegant compared to its predecessor. And to make those who want a nippier ride, the engineers have made its body 80% stiffer than before in their attempt to improve the handling. Doubt it'll work but moving on. The drop-top is 1 second quicker than before, 21 seconds to be precise and there's a wind deflector which is becoming increasingly common these days in convertibles which prevents your hair from being messed up to roughly 90km/h.
As for the engines, its same old, same old.. Not too powerful I'm afraid. But like I said, that's the way this car is meant to be. You aren't supposed to be roaring down highways because this car is meant to be driven slowly so the girls will notice. There will be a 128bhp 1.4 litre turbo charged unit or a 138bhp 2.0 litre petrol engine under the bonnet and hopefully we'll be able to enjoy Renault's new Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) system since everyone is raving about dual clutch systems. Lets see if this one is any good.
All in all, this is a pretty good car to look at. But for the real drivers who want some kick out of their car, this isn't the car for you.
Kia has definitely been pressing the right buttons in the design department. From the big surprise that the Cerato Forte gave all of us, and the new Sorento, here comes the first few images of Kia's new Sportage.
Unfortunately for Kias, they have always been labelled a cheaper, inferior, alternative to Japanese cars which had better quality control, better engines and more reliable engines. But recently, the Koreans have been doing some catching up. The Cerato Forte is a huge success, with its break-through design and an interior that you actually feel comfortable in rather than sitting there for the sake of travelling from point A to B. Kia has evolved and transformed into cars that people want to buy. I've sat in the old Cerato and that felt like sitting in a Little Tikes playhouse; plastic everywhere, and I might say that Little Tikes uses better quality plastics than the Kias of old..
Now this, this is different. The new Sportage will debut at the Geneva Motor Show and it may turn a few surprised heads over there. It looks bold, sporty (as it should be) and more low slung than before. The old one looked as if it was mashed up together with panels from different cars, a disoriented mess. But this looks much more fluid, even rather handsome. Its going to be more practical too, having a longer wheelbase giving passengers more legroom and boot space. As for the engines, details aren't concrete yet but Kia say that they will have the standard 2.0 litre diesel and petrol engines but may feature smaller, more efficient units as well.
I guess we'll have to wait till this new baby lands in Geneva to find out more
These are the first official photos of Renault's brand-new small coupe-roadster model, the Wind. It will have its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in early March. Known as the Twingo CC from the spy shots over the past couple of years, the Wind will go up against the likes of the Peugeot 207CC and Opel Tigra in Europe when sales start later in the year.
The strictly two-seater model shares its platform and mechanical hardware with the Twingo. Measuring 3.830mm long, it's 230mm longer than the hatchback.
Despite the fact that Renault pitches the car as a coupe-roadster, unlike other CC models with retractable hardtops, the Wind uses an electric roof that rotates 180 degrees into the trunk. The whole process takes only 12 seconds and since the roof sits on top of the boot, the Wind's luggage space remains at 270 liters whatever the position of the hardtop.
The French automaker is keeping a tight lid on other details for now, but it is expected that the Wind will be offered with two of the Twingo's petrol engines, a 1.2-liter turbo with 100HP and a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter unit with 133HP.
Porsche. This company is somehow criticized on the design of their cars of late. The reason for this is that their cars look almost the same. You can clearly see the DNA of the 911 in the Cayenne, Boxster, Cayman and the Panamera. Like the 911 gave birth to all of them from its tailpipes. Or like most critics state, lazy designers using the same template for all Porsches until they all look the same. They have the same rounded rear and nearly the same silhouette from the side. Of course you can tell that the Cayenne is an SUV or that the Panamera is a 4 door sedan, but they basically have the same shape. But is it really true that Porsche have lazy designers? Now, after some thought over a cup of home brewed Darjeeling tea I have come up with an answer.
You see, Porsche in the 1970s did rock the 911 establishment by coming up with supposed replacement models for the lower end and upper end of the markets. Cars like the 924, 944, 968 and the 928 were brought out from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s with some success but none could ever usurp the sales of the 911. No matter how good journalists at that point of time said of the 968 or the 928 would change the minds of Porsche 911 loving people who continued buying 911s regardless of the fact that its rear engined design meant that it was tail happy and loved putting itself through hedges and ditches backwards due to its inherent design characteristics (or flaws). This same people actually liked the shape of the 911 as they would have also tried the 928 in the showrooms at that point of time but still bought the flawed car. Somehow, people liked the slightly bulbous shape of the 911 and the sound of the water-cooled flat 6 engine so much so that they refused to change their minds and purchase what even Porsche thought was the better car at the time. Of course, this meant that the 928 and the 968 (which was the final version of the 924/944 series) had to be discontinued.
Porsche then launched the Boxster, which was mid engined but looked so much like its big brother and was a sales success. It wasn't as though Porsche didn't try the 'budget Porsche' way as they had done so with the 924 in the 1970s but Porsche fans took to it like a duck to water and it became Porsche's success story. Porsche's car lineup then included the extremely successful Cayenne SUV, which is actually weird looking in some angles but somehow managed to capture the hearts and souls of people who were never even fans of the 911 in the first place. This success story has since continued till today with the Panamera. Some critics say this cars look ugly, or lazily designed but you will notice that the Porsche 911 design is timeless and a design classic. Its design clues are so recognizable that even a person who does not like cars will recognise a Porsche when they see one.
You see, Porsche has basically done a Rolex Sports watch. Take for example the Rolex Submariner (photo above). It has remained basically the same since the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, through Connery, Lazenby, Moore and Dalton as James Bond's watch choice and it still is a highly respected diver's watch with the trademark Oyster case to this day. Every few years Rolex will spruce it up a little by rounding off an edge or two or make it slightly chunkier but it still looks the same and is still easily recognizable. Porsche too had decided to evolve slowly and not change anything drastically but just rearrange the design of the car a little year after year. The engine is still in the wrong place after all of these years but the suspension has been improved until the 911 can bend the laws of physics and corner like its on rails, or if it does break away the tail is more progressive and won't kill its owner. It is the same with the Cayenne and Boxster. Both of which are already in its 2nd generation form, and both looks like nothing had actually changed. Rolex, whether or not watch savants loathe the brand is one of the biggest brand names in the world and this fact cannot be denied. So Porsche is the sports car version of Rolex. In not so many words of course.
- Sea Dweller DeepSea - Basically a Submariner on steroids and with the new super Oyster case. But at a glance it is still recognizable as a derivative of the Rolex Submariner.
The Porsche silhouette is already considered a classic automotive design and it is the same with the Rolex Submariner. Most of humanity (or if you don't agree, both Porsche and Rolex owners/buyers only) have decided that both designs have reached a pinnacle that cannot be altered but merely refined bit by bit in accordance with the taste of the period. And it is this fact I hereby state that while a Porsche will always look good or will never look good, or that it has lazy designers, depending on your point of view; it will keep on selling Porsches looking like what they do as people love them in that shape and they may never buy a Porsche if it looked like a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. Remember, Porsche tried, and failed. So if it ain't broke, why fix or change it?
Now Let me give you another example. The BMW Mini. You cannot really tell the difference between the 1st generation and the 2nd generation when it comes to its looks. You can't really change the look of a Mini as that is what customers look for. 80% Cabin , 20% engine, large wrapround glass area and a roof that looks separated from the body. That's a Mini and that's how a 2 door, Traveller/Clubman and how the future 4 door versions will look. Its the same design on different models. And BMW Mini designers are also lazy I presume?
- An ancient Porsche 911
- A Boxster 1st Generation
- A 2nd Generation Boxster. You'd have to really know your Porsches if you can tell this one from the 1st Gen version if you only took a glance at it.
- Mini Clubman, it still looks like a Mini even though its longer
Who would've known that a weekend of karting could bring about so much woe? I went for a karting session over the weekend. To be honest, it was my first time. I was both excited and a little apprehensive about stepping into one those little karts. It offered no protection of any sort. The hot engine is just less than 8 cm away from your right shoulder and sputtering engine oil. Your bum is about an inch off the ground and in the case of the karts I was driving, the accelerator and brake pedals were rickety. They weren't even bolted to the chassis!
Despite those concerns, I stepped into a kart anyway. Barely 2 laps into the session, I had a collision with another kart. As far as I could tell, I had overtaken the kart at the previous corner but when I attacked the next corner, I felt a strong tap to my rear wheel. The next thing I see is a girl flying out of her kart and landing on the hot tarmac. My heart sank when I saw her flying in air in slow motion.
I stopped my kart immediately to see if I could render any assistance. And what I saw was pretty bad. The poor girl had road rash all over and her hands were torn open pretty good. All this from a little kart going about 50kmh.
This goes to show that a kart might look like a toy but it can be deadly dangerous. The girl was lucky that she was wearing a full face helmet when she flew off the kart and hit her face on the road. This could've ended way way worse than it did.
A note to anyone attempting karting. Take it easy the first few laps and always overtake safely. Any dangerous maneuvers can cause injury not only to yourself but to the others around you.
Here's a little example of how bad things can get...
- a Peugeot 107
The Toyota recall debacle over its faulty accelerator pedal has spread its wings. We now find out that thousands of Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1 are being recalled. According to sources, up to a hundred thousand units in total could be affected. The reason for this is that both models are based on a Toyota. The Toyota Aygo.
- Citroen C1
- Toyota Aygo
Amazing what all of this platform sharing technology has gotten car manufacturers into. While platform sharing saves cost, allowing two or three different manufacturers to produce their own variants of the same car, we now know that defects may be shared due to parts sharing. All three cars are manufactured in Czechoslovakia (most probably for Europe/ left hand drive markets) in the same factory. Toyota is recalling up to 1.8 million cars all over Europe aside from the few million affected over in the United States and China.
On another note, Honda would recall close to 650,000 of its Fit/Jazz and City models, including 140,000 in the United States, because of a faulty window switch, after a child died when fire broke out in a car last year. The years affected are the 2007-2008 models of which an overlap of the new and the old Fit/Jazz models took place. In other words, if you bought the last batch of Fit, Jazz or City, your car may be subject to the recall. Unless yours is a grey import Japan manufactured model which according to Honda isn't affected by all this drama. The thing is, to date (10.00am Monday 1st Feb), there have been no official press release on Kah Motors Honda Singapore on its official website. I'd suggest potential 'victims' of this problem contact the nearest Honda service center as soon as it is possible. Imagine a little short circuit causing your Honda to burst into flames.
- If you own this Honda, you may want to make a visit to your neighborhood Honda Service Center.
It is now time for all of the above car manufacturers to get into damage control mode and really stop the bleeding. Aside from a damaged reputation, an example of the monetary amount that could be lost from this matter, the National Automobile Dealers Association of America estimates that their Toyota dealers could lose up to US$2.5 billion in revenue and another few hundred million in recall fixes. Imagine the stock market losses too.
I was surfing the Internet recently and one of my friends shared this video link on his Facebook profile which made me rather confused. It was on the verge of being funny, yet I felt quite disgusted at what I saw. I'm sure some of you have seen this video before but here it is for those who haven't got the chance to see it. If you burst out laughing because the man is practically flailing his arms everywhere, I won't blame you because that part is genuinely funny..
The part that's not funny is how these fights even occur. I've realised that driving on the roads somehow increases tensions between motorists; people begin to judge others by the car they drive, and the way they drive. The car and driving style become the sole basis that people are judged on the road. The funny thing is, if the 'bad' driver was your friend, you wouldn't want to take out a baseball bat and hit him to that state as shown in the video, sometimes you'd just laugh off his mistake. But when it comes to other drivers, its a whole new world of hell. There is little humanity on the roads these days in Singapore and in Malaysia.
However, I'm also quite certain that many of you readers have travelled overseas and experienced different roads, drivers, driving styles, from my personal experience, I think the UK is one of the best places to drive, and its something that we can all try to emulate. Its civilized and people are courteous on the road. Over here, you signal early to change lanes, 90% of the time, the car behind accelerates past you leaving you stranded on your unwanted lane while other cars blaze past, not giving you any room to move over. In contrast, while I was in the UK, this phenomenon hardly ever happened! Motorists slowed down and clearly gave way to the car I was in and everything went smoothly. Its the same for parking. People here tend to get impatient and start to have hands that are glued to the horn and repeatedly blast it while someone else is trying to park in a congested carpark. I was just one of the people waiting behind while the car in front of mine created a symphony of horn blasts in the multi-storey carpark. Where is the love? Waiting a few seconds longer or slowing down to give way wouldn't kill you would it. Trying to save those few seconds could.
For that guy who got beaten up in the video, I'd say that was his unlucky day but I guess it still takes two hands to clap. We can all make driving a much more pleasant experience if we want to.
So what do you think? Have your say here under the comments!
Volvo is building up the anticipation of its 3 series basher by releasing an action video of the car on the road and the desert. It won't be long before we see the all-new Volvo S60 sedan in the flesh as the Swedish firm is planning its launch at the 2010 Geneva Motorshow.
Two more promotional films will be released by mid February.
Volvo hasn't issued specific details on the car that's based on the 2009 Detroit Show S60 Concept, but it is believed that it will utilise the turbocharged gasoline engines with direct-injection which includes the recently revealed 2.0 GTDI engine with 203bhp and a 1.6-liter four pot with up to 180bhp.
I read about the Mazda 2 sedan about 2 years ago. The sexy coupe-like 4-door sedan was unveiled at the 2007 Guangzhou Motor Show, and was built and sold in China by Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co Ltd. At that time, there was no news on whether the car would be sold outside China. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out from The Straits Times that this compact sedan will be making its debut in Singapore some time in March 2010. This will be the first Mazda in Singapore that is sourced from the land of thousand smiles.
From an aesthetic point of view, the Mazda 2 sedan certainly has one up against its closest rival, the Toyota Vios. The 2's body contour is smooth and athletic whereas the Toyota gives the impression of a teen who swallowed too much candies. Mazda's designers managed to perfect the art of adding a boot to a hatchback and my view is that it is better looking than its cousin, the Ford Fiesta sedan. At 4,270(L) x 1,695(W) x 1,480(H), the Mazda sedan is slightly shorter but much wider than the Vios. This should translate to better handling characteristics in Mazda.
Expect the Mazda 2 sedan to be powered by the 1.5L VVT unit that is currently serving the hatchback version. Gearbox is a conventional 4 speed automatic. Nothing fancy about the drivetrain but the Vios none better. My only wish is that the hatch's rear drum brake gets replaced with disc brake in the sedan form.
Ford's soon-to-be-China owned brand ,Volvo, is expanding its range of gasoline engines with the presentation of the all new 2.0 liter GTDi (Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection) that will initially find its way under the hood of the S80 sedan, V70 estate and XC60 compact SUV models.
Even though Volvo did not mention anything about Ford, it is suspected that the new four-cylinder unit that combines turbocharging technology and direct injection with twin variable camshafts, is either the same engine or heavily based on Ford's new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that will be used on several cars including the European Mondeo and Galaxy.
Volvo said that the new 2.0 GTDi petrol engine produces an output of 203 horsepower and 300Nm of peak torque that is sustained from 1750 rpm all the way up to 4,000 rpm. The engine will be offered in combination with Volvo's automatic six-speed Powershift transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox.
With this new engine and the six-speed manual gearbox, the S80 sedan accelerates from zero to 100km/h (62mph) in 7.9 seconds while returning a combined fuel consumption of 7.9 lt /100km. The performance figures of this new engine in other applications are shown in the table below:
The new 2.0 GTDi engine is being launched initially on markets that offer tax incentives for engines below two liters in displacement including South-East Asia, the Netherlands, China and Japan. Introduction in other countries/regions will follow later in the year.
With this new engine, the S80 will be a worthy competitor to the Benz E200 CGI, BMW 520i. If I have the dough, I would pick the S80 over the 2 continental stalwarts as it is less commonly found on the Singapore road!
Finally after much anticipation, the new Mercedes SLK has revealed itself to the motoring world, and boy does it turn heads more than ever before. Set to be the Audi TT and the BMW Z4's rival, this new 'baby SL' is one heck of a killer convertible. It looks good, that's for sure.
With the new grille that is inspired from the SLS, the sharp angular nose, and the aggressive LED day-running lights make the new SLK even more appetizing... It looks much more than just a compact convertible, it looks like it was mashed together with an SLS, an E class Coupe, and a C class from the rear into one compact masterpiece like one of those paintings where paint is splashed everywhere but it just works. Its a brilliant piece of design this. Mercedes engineers have retained the 'less is more' ideology and kept the dimensions of the new SLK relatively similar to the previous one which means it retains its agile feel, unlike BMW who have gone 'bigger is better' with its Z4 dimension wise.
The new SLK features luxuries that originate from its bigger brother, the SL. Like the panoramic glass 'vario' roof which essentially is reinforced tinted glass to cover the center portion of the roof designed specially to let more light in if it gets cloudy and you want to be bathed in more light. There's also the new AIRSCARF system which warms your neck, not that you really need it here but its still a 'nice to have' option nonetheless. Together with that, comes the AIRCAP automatic wind deflector which makes sure wigs don't fly out of the car. There's even going to be drowsiness detection as a safety feature! Hope that option comes along with the SLK to Singapore..
The rear wheel drive chassis remains unchanged as well, but its tweaked to give a more comfortable ride and sharper steering. Engines will come in 4 or 6 cylinder options with the range topping AMG version which will produce 400bhp from a 3.5 litre V6 twin turbo. The one I'll be looking forward to is going to be the baby version of the SLS Gullwing, the latter part of the name just sells the car already. Who wouldn't want that?
It seems Saab has been saved. The white knight in this highly publicized story is Spyker, a Dutch car manufacturer which sells really exotic cars that seems to be bought and driven by no one in particular. Spyker bought the beleaguered company from General Motors for a sum totaling US$74 million in cash and another US$326 million in deferred shares. The really fantastic thing is that Spyker's CEO had to buy out the company's largest shareholder, a Russian bank tycoon, to go through with the deal. This could show a lack confidence by the bank tycoon in going through with the deal as a shareholder and that he had decided to cash out before things start getting worse. I mean, if you read the Reuters report on the deal, you will know that Spyker has not been profitable since 2000.
Sometimes, ambition gets the better of a company and Spyker may have dug its own grave by purchasing Saab. As I stated earlier, no one actually buys the car even if it is quite good. You can find quality in other marques that have better quality, driving pleasure and even resale value. Trying out a Saab and then liking a Saab is one thing. But after that drive the person then plonks out a wad of dollars and buys a Saab is seldom, or almost never done. The guy who buys Saab must be a person who ignores all basic car buying rules and just loves being different, extremely different. In this case being different means that he has to ignore the build quality of an Audi, the institution that is Mercedes Benz, the driving pleasure of a BMW and the soul of an Alfa Romeo. He must be actually insane.
Even the bad news of the company winding down has effected people who wanted to try out this brand. In comparison, if there were rumours that a terrorist group intended to blow up AAA Airline's aircraft the first thing that may drop is the price of AAA Airline's shares in the stock market. This is exactly the same thing. It may take a few years for people (who don't read or watch the news) to realize that Saab is still around. And don't be surprised that some actually don't.
Anyway, Spyker has also stated that is has the financing to carry out all operations including enough cash to finance new model development. Saab has lost a total of 400 million Euros in 2009 and 300 million Euros the previous year. Spyker as stated has not been profitable and even with financing, things are not as rosy as you think. Spyker took a 400 million Euro loan for Saab and another million Euro loan elsewhere as backup. 400 million Euros is just part of the operating costs of Saab. If the company can lose 300- 400 million Euros in a year, that would mean that the company operates close to double that amount per year. We can say that Saab managed to recoup only half the amount spent, which is a terrible way to do business.
We may be watching another Delorean (as stated in the article) or another Rover, which went bust due to a takeover by a consortium who basically bled the company to death. This arrangement may allow Saab to continue for a while, but I do not see this having a fairy tale ending in the long run. Imagine this as a conclusion to this article; Spyker,a company that has not been profitable since 2000 and it has decided to buy over another very unprofitable company with the hope that it can turn both around by having a symbiotic business plan. There is a slight lack of logic if it were put in that simplified way.