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About Rigval

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  1. The current generation Mazda6 is what I believe has brought back some credibility to driving or owning a Japanese car. Prior to this I do not think of any mid-sized Japanese cars that had technology already common to the Germans and, surprisingly the Koreans. The Mazda6 is one of the first new Japanese cars with Direct Injection (like most German cars and some Korean cars these days) and one that has eco-friendly gizmos that actually make sense instead of just hybrid this and hybrid that. It also comes with decent built quality, ergonomics as well as having decent handling and drivability too. But after sitting on one recently, I think Mazda, or the Japanese manufacturers need some further polishing to do. Now the cabin of the Mazda6, or the 'Kodomobil', as I like to call it (after its 'Kodo' exterior design language) is a pretty nice place to be in. All of its controls are where you expect it to be and the materials used are pretty good to the touch. I would like more tactile feel in some of the secondary switches but it isn
  2. I have something against the Start-stop or Stop-start System in cars these days. As most of us are aware, this system automatically shuts down and restarts a vehicle's engine when it idles longer than a specific period of time. This allows the car to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. According to car manufacturers this sort of system is advantageous for vehicles that spend significant amounts of time waiting at traffic lights or frequently come to a stop in traffic jams. While this is a supposedly a good thing for the environment and to one's fuel bill I actually despise it. I am quite familiar in cars with this function and I do not hate it because it may eat up battery life or the starter motor of the car. I hate it for something else. I recently test drove a Honda Insight, a Honda CRZ and a BlueEfficiency Mercedes Benz C-class. I find them equally irritating when you drive with the system operating in rush hour traffic. Less irritating in the Mercedes but then again, the Mercedes is a whole lot more refined than the other cars mentioned. In traffic jams that are long, tiresome and located in tropical countries like where we live we love air-conditioning in our cars. This is because the weather is hot and extremely humid most of the time and I personally use air-conditioning 99% of the time. The only time I do not run air-conditioning is when I am in Fraser's Hill. I keep the air-conditioning on even if I am in Genting or Cameron Highlands as it isn't that cold these days. And if any of you have driven cars with Stop-start systems, you'd notice that most of the time the system shuts down the air-conditioning compressor and only the blowers are running. Not very nice in our climate. Even for a few seconds. I am sorry, but I am one of those truly spoiled people who enjoy the comforts of an air-condition compressor running when it needs to and not when the car feels that it needs to save some fuel. I also do not like the fact that when a car restarts and then stops after a short period of time. It is actually quite irritating. When a car restarts itself things vibrate a whole lot more than when it is idling with its engine running. In a Honda Insight, which probably has some normal rubber mounted engine mounts it is felt quite a bit. In a Mercedes C-class, which most probably has fluid filled engine mounts it is less irritating but still takes away some refinement. Imagine if the engine mounts are worn out is a car which is more than a few years old. It would be extremely irritating. This is why every time I end up in a BlueEfficiency Mercedes I end up switching off the Stop-start system in the car everytime I start driving it. I suppose the only reason most car manufacturers have such a feature in their car is that the car in question may emit slightly less carbon emissions on paper. This is so that they can sell the car in a lower tax bracket in countries that base their road taxes on carbon emissions. Call it a necessity and not something truly environmentally friendly. Of course, like the electrically assisted power steering which has basically taken over from hydraulic systems in order to gain that extra 3% fuel savings, Stop-start Systems are here to stay. But that doesn't mean that I like it. I don't.
  3. [extract] The Subaru Palm Challenge in Singapore has been around for as long as I can be bothered to remember and these days the contest includes a number of contestants from Asia. This is mainly because Motor Image, official distributors of Subaru in Singapore is also the official distributor throughout this region. Anyway, over in The Curve, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, hundreds were present to witness and support 62 of Malaysia
  4. Rigval

    My insight on the Honda Insight

    I recently had a go (sometime early this year) with the facelifted Honda Insight courtesy of Honda Malaysia via a journalist friend of mine who was testing it for a few days. It is basically the same car with some cosmetic changes to the front and rear bumpers, front grille, a CVT gearbox with some minute improvements and some tweaks to the hybrid drivetrain. The improvements made are nothing to shout about as it is still basically the same car, powered by the same 88ps, 121Nm 1.3-litre engine coupled to a tiny 14ps, 78Nm electric motor that assists the car when the going gets tough. What both engines give you isn
  5. After successfully selected for the new official taxi or cab for the city of New York, Nissan has decided to unveil the Nissan NV200 as a London Black Cab. -the current London Black Cab, the TX4 Nissan must have decided that since it had won the process of being the official taxi for New York, the company believes that the Nissan NV200 has the potential of being the next London black cab. I hope not. I truly hope not. Those that aren
  6. [extract] Sometimes the dead is unable to rest in peace. In this case, Saab, and its owner, Dutch company Spyker has decided to sue General Motors for the sum of US$3 billion. Spyker/Saab wants compensation for the actions of General Motors (GM) blocking the use of GM technology in Saab cars. GM was basically worried that Saab/Spyker
  7. Aston Martin has recently spread its wings to Kuala Lumpur with the opening of its brand spanking new dealership located right beside the Federal Highway in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The eight million Ringgit facility officially opened on the 16th of July 2012 and finally brings the Aston Martin experience to Malaysians who have been getting their Aston Martin kicks from grey importers. Members of the media and a select number of owners from Malaysia and even Singapore were given a brief run through of the illustrious brand. This gave attendees a glimpse into the world of Aston Martin as well as some good news to Aston Martin owners in Singapore. The good news is that Aston Martin customers from Singapore would now have peace of mind when they drive their cars into Malaysia as they can now be assured that if anything happens to their cars, there is now a proper place to get them looked at. Prior to Aston Martin Kuala Lumpur, customer cars would actually be left either at the hands of private workshops who do not have much experience working with the cars or with workshops that does not have instant access to spare parts. Prior to this those with Aston Martins would actually seek getting their cars sent back to Singapore for even minor servicing. And now Aston Martin customers need not do so. Aston Martin Kuala Lumpur is actually a collaboration between Berjaya Corporation Berhad and Aston Martin Singapor with Jelita Seleksi Sdn Bhd as its vehicle. At the launch, Aston Martin was represented by mainly Mr Andy Gawthorpe, Global Sales Director, Dr SK Djeng, Chairman of Aston Martin Singapore, Dato' Francis Lee Director of Aston Martin Singapore and Executive Director of Berjaya Corporation as well as the Executive Director of Jelita Seleksi Sdn Bhd, Mr Nazrul Mohtar. Aston Martin displayed most of their current line-up with the Aston Martin DBS in the forefront. The newly launched Aston Martin Vanquish and limited to 1000 unit Aston Martin V12 Roadster wasn't around as yet and should make an appearance in this region by the end of the year. However a notable appearance was the last of the line Singapore registered Aston Martin Vanquish S from the mid-00s (pictured below). So all in all good news to those lucky people who can afford an Aston Martin or two. A drive to the Genting Highlands can be even more trouble free than before.
  8. I recently attended Mazda's largest showroom in Southeast Asia launch in Glenmarie, Shah Alam over at Malaysia. An impressive building that consists of two levels of car display, a workshop and office space sprawled over four floors totaling 130,000 square feet. This shows commitment from Mazda's local partners Bermaz Motor Sdn Bhd as well as Mazda's commitment in the region. Anyway, aside from the free flow of food as well as feasting on the eye candy present, I was there to see what's new with the Zoom Zoom brand. This was actually quite easy to do as the President/CEO of Mazda himself was present for the launch. Mr Takeshi Yamanouchi (pictured below), the President and CEO of Mazda Corporation had flown in from Japan to launch the multi-million Ringgit facility. He mentioned in his opening that whilst Mazda had suffered from long economic slump in U.S. and Europe and the very strong Yen, they are now aimed at turning around their business by achieving 1.7 million global sales and operating profits 150 billion Yen by 2016. They have also targeted a sales total of around 150,000 units, triple the current sales volume for ASEAN market by 2015. Then later at the press conference he went on the ask questions from the floor and we get to hear what he has in store for Mazda in the near future. Firstly, Mazda is totally putting their weight behind their SkyActiv technology that is now being seen in the latest Mazda CX-5. In an era where other car manufacturers are building hybrids, Mazda feels that they basically needed to focus on the basics
  9. Rigval

    Some advice on driving shoes

    What are driving shoes? Some of us may think that driving shoes are those Puma Speedcats that one can purchase at those shopping mall sports stores. However, driving shoes in actual footwear terms mainly refer to soft moccasins that have little buttons of rubber or pebbled nubs on the soles and heel of the shoe instead of a single flat piece sole that we get on our shoes. These are exactly like the Tod's Driving Shoes pictured above. Now Tod's, the shoe manufacturing company is the company that has singlehandedly made this type of shoe a worldwide trend, and to his benefit one might add. However, there is a drawback to this type of shoe and I'd like to share this little detail to you readers out there. You see, the Driving shoe that we motoring enthusiasts love is as stated a very soft, flexible moccasin with nubs on the heel and the sole that are intended to help the driver work his pedals allowing him or her to heel and toe or feel every nuance of the accelerator, brake and clutch pedal due to its softness, thin soles and flexibility. It also helps the driver ensure that the finish on the heels of his work/dress shoes do not prematurely wear out from all that heel movement. However, the driving shoe does have a very weak point. It will wear out as soon as you start walking on any hard, rough surface like tarmac, concrete and even our sidewalks. Those nubs will be worn out after a long hard walk. This is especially so if you're a chubby boy like me. It is because of this shoe manufacturers LOVE selling driving shoes. Buy one and it wears out within a year or so, making the user buy a replacement soon after that. Its short lifespan is why shoe manufacturers love it so much
  10. Recently British car company Aston Martin previewed their latest and greatest production car, the 2012 Aston Martin AM310 Vanquish. This car brings back the Vanquish moniker after an absence of about five years or so. One little bit of trivia is that the AM310 Vanquish will replace the Aston Martin DBS, the car that replaced the first Vanquish in 2007. So what can you tell from looking at the pictures? What I can tell is that it still looks like a DBS with a different bodykit (from a Japanese tuning house like Wald or Veilside) or it looks like a Virage or a V8 Vantage with a little more grunt and padding here and there. It may be said to have 75% new parts throughout the car but I doubt it that most buyers (or collectors) would actually bother. It is very clear to me that Aston Martin is in line to replace Porsche as the car industry's least inspired car designers and stylists. Of course, there is also the argument that if it isn't broke, why bother fixing it? Since people want Aston Martins to look like what they do, why rock the boat? This must be true as I'd like an Aston Martin looking like what it looks like these days. It also allows us to buy an Aston Martin half a decade old and still look good in it. So maybe its a good thing as resale value doesn't really suffer. But I suppose this would mainly apply in countries that have no COE that is.
  11. I recently found myself sitting inside a Toyota Prius C. As some of you would know, the Toyota Prius C is supposedly a shortened Toyota Prius hybrid car and it is another one of those cars that Toyota would want us to believe can save the world. Saving the world by consuming less petrol is a very good thing. It is a good thing because it allows those who just want to use cars as transport to use less of the stuff and leave the remaining for proper petrolheads to guzzle. But this article isn't about how little fuel the Toyota Prius C sips. This article is actually how ghastly the cabin of the Prius C is. It is absolutely shocking. When I first got into the Prius C I was expecting typical Toyota build and material quality. I got Toyota build quality but it must have been from a 1970s Toyota Corolla. Yes you get to see a funky blue gearknob and a decently leather (or leatherette) steering wheel but the rest of the stuff looked like it came from the old 1973 Toyota Corolla that your 75 year old grand-uncle who lives in Kluang, Johor drives. While I am aware that a hybrid car needs to show efficiency in all aspects - from its batteries, its electric motor, its petrol engine and in this case, the lightness of the materials used so that the car is efficiently light, I believe that Toyota has taken a step too far, or a step backwards when it comes to car interiors with the Prius C. It has thin and hard plastics used in way too many places. Aside from that, the overall design of the dashboard also reminds me of a 1970s Corolla instead of being cutting edge. Try driving a Honda CRZ hybrid coupe and then get into a Prius C and you'll instantly understand what I am getting at. The material used and the overall interior design cheapens the interior of the car so much that I feel that aside from the drivetrain, the Prius C is not a worthwhile purchase. If you wanted a Prius, save a bit more and buy the full sized version or any Honda hybrid out there on sale instead. At least you can save the world and feel good at the same time. But it actually is sadder if you were a Malaysian and you wanted to buy the Prius C, it does not even have that leather wrapped steering wheel. This makes the Malaysian specced Prius C feel even more nostalgic. But nostalgia in this case isn't a good thing.
  12. [extract] Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has been fired. This comes as no surprise as he was recently suspended from work in May due to a complaint made against him by the company's ultimate holding company, DRB-HICOM Berhad. The complaint was basically for his misuse of the bleeding company funds, i.e flying around in a private jet and renovating his house in England. This also comes as no surprise as Group Lotus has a new owner
  13. Rigval

    Why the VW Scirocco does not rock my boat

    the author has driven the scirocco and smoked other people while driving it :P
  14. Rigval

    Pit Stop - Johor Premium Outlet

    Southern Johor is a nice place to be if you love motoring. With the rapid development of the Iskandar region comes a whole slew of projects from government offices, business centers, residential and commercial projects dot the whole landscape throughout Nusajaya (near Johor Bahru), Kulai, Senai Pasir Gudang and all the way to Pontian. Now with these developments come roads. These roads are actually fun as while development is ongoing, these roads are quite empty most of the time and are actually quite nice if one wants to just enjoy the simple pleasures of motoring. Of course most of you would need a reason to travel all the way to South Johor and if this is the case then might I suggest a pit stop or a detour