Monday, January 28, 2008

Mercedes-Benz new CLC Coupe: Something New, Mostly Old!

By Dr Long

After a somewhat commendable effort from Daimler AG with its all-new (W204) C-Class last year, the new C-Class Coupe - now wearing an official CLC acronym - is really flogging a dead horse - a 7 to 8 years old one at that! Chassis, suspension, basic architecture and body shell (mostly) et al.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Toyota Rush 7-seater midi-SUV to launch soon

The Malaysian midi-SUV/MPV market is about to get crowded very soon with the addition of Toyota Rush 7-seater aka Dahaitsu Be-Go/Terios long wheelbase version. Despite those junior RAV-4 SUV looks, don't be fooled thinking that it's a 4WD. Unlike Perodua Kembara (1st gen Daihatsu Terios), it's NOT a 4X4. All is not lost though, since 2WD may be a good thing - for better fuel efficiency - considering the spiralling fuel prices.

Available only in rear-wheel drive configuration, the 7-seater Rush will be in UMW Toyota showrooms nationwide by 1st February 2008. Indicative prices are from RM83k - RM95k for the 1.5L powered Indonesian import (initial stages?) available in G (5-speed manual and 4 A/T) and S spec (auto only).

Rather baffling is the omission of ABS for the G-spec Rush. Equally disappointing is the fitting of only driver's side airbag for the G-spec that's estimated to cost between RM83k-89k. In contrast, the sub-75k Toyota Avanza 1.5G has ABS and dual airbags.

Wither the Nissan Livina 1.6 and 1.8? I don't think so, not if the RM90k-95k 'target price' for the Rush 1.5S comes

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia's new CEO for 2008

Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia, the exclusive distributor of Mitsubishi Motors passenger cars and commercial vehicles in Malaysia, announced the appointment of Mr Keizo Ono as Chief Executive Officer, effective 13 December 2007. He takes over from Mr Fumihiko Minami, who has taken up a new posting in Italy after four years setting-up and managing the Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia business in Malaysia.

Mr Ono brings more than 20 years of automotive experience to his new role in Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia. Ono-san has vast experience in the automotive finance, having held the position as President for PT Dipo Star Finance in Jakarta, Indonesia from 1999-2007. Prior to that, he was attached to the Motor Vehicle Department of Mitsubishi Corporation in Japan, responsible for domestic and overseas market.
�I am truly delighted to be joining Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia. Already, the Mitsubishi Motors brand has a strong foundation in Malaysia and I am impressed with its achievements to date and I am looking forward to contribute to its further growth in Malaysia."

Mr Fumihiko Minami, previous Chief Executive Officer of Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia, said of his successor: "During the first three years of Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia�s establishment, the company has achieved an exciting growth and I am confident that Mr Ono�s appointment will bring an expertise and vision that will continue to strengthen Mitsubishi Motors' brand presence in Malaysia and position the company for continued future success."

Mitsubishi Motors has a long history in motor sports and cross country championship and 2007 brought Mitsubishi Motors its record-breaking victory in the Dakar Rally. Mitsubishi Motors� impressive track record of running champion for seven consecutive years and 12 overall victories in 25 years is reflected in the performance and the normal production of the Mitsubishi Motors vehicles.

Note: Due to some glitches in my internet service provider mail server, this press release from Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) was not received until it was forwarded to my Gmail (webmail) account.

My sincere apologies to all parties concerned for the delay, especially to the readers of For Wheels.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Video: Audi TTS Coupe

New Audi TTS Coupe

Click on image to enlargeAudi AG has revealed the most wicked version of its iconic TT coupe - the Audi TTS. Also available as a rag-top Roadster, this top-of-the-line TT isn�t powered by a souped-up 3.2L V6 nor a 4.2L V8. Instead, the very same 2.0L TFSI motor that powers the entry-level TT is now boosted to deliver a near-astronomical 272hp. As such, the TTS Coupe is able to zip from 0 - 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds (S-Tronic coupe version) and marches on to an electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h.

The TTS Coupe represents the Audi brand's Vorsprung durch Technik ("advancement through technology") in its very latest form. The TFSI engine in the TTS which brings forth the successful merger of both gasoline direct injection and turbocharging in one powerful and efficient package, has won triple successive �Engine of the Year� accolades since 2005. Apart from its breathtaking output 272hp, its peak torque of 350 Nm constantly on tap between 2500 and 5000rpm, makes the compact and lightweight four-cylinder powerplant ever so impressive.

The same block from the iconic VW Golf GTI and �basic� TT Coupe 2.0 has been reengineered and strengthened in a number of key areas to enable even higher performance operation in the TTS. Upgrades have been made to the engine block, the cylinder head, the pistons, the connecting rods and the turbocharger, which can build up as much as 1.2 bar of relative air pressure. The intake and exhaust systems have undergone elaborate honing to allow the refined four-cylinder engine to both breathe freely and generate a powerful, resonant soundtrack (read: growl and burble). An optimized and highly efficient intercooler lowers the temperature of the compressed air, producing a crucial increase in the quantity of air supplied for combustion.

Not only is the power output astounding, the sporty-sounding TFSI motor has an average fuel consumption of just 8.0L/100 km in the Coupe when mated to a six-speed manual transmission, while the figure for the roadster averages 8.2 l/100. These figures are improved by 0.1 and 0.2 l/100 km respectively, if the optional S-Tronic aka DSG dual-clutch transmission is fitted.

S-Tronic, which employs dual clutches, is capable of performing extremely quick gear shifts at high engine loads and rev speeds; consequently, the time taken to sprint from zero to 100km/h is cut by a further 0.2secs in both the Coupe and Roadster. Loss-free transfer of power to the road is the task of the standard quattro permanent all-wheel drive that enables the TTS to accelerate quicker and with greater stability than its rivals. At the heart of this system is a hydraulic multi-plate clutch that works faster than ever thanks to a new pressure reservoir.

The TTS is standard fitted with yet another high-tech device � Audi�s magnetic adaptive damping system. This gives the driver the choice of two characteristic settings: "Standard" mode is designed for a well balanced, comfortable ride, whereas in the "Sport" setting the TTS harnesses all of the potential of its sports suspension - which lowers the body by 10mm - to deliver uncompromisingly dynamic handling. Its front suspension is mainly made of aluminium, while the efficient technology of the precision electromechanical steering also helps to improve fuel consumption considerably. The sports car is safely brought to a standstill by the high-performance braking system with its 17-inch discs, hooked up to gorgeous and sporty 18� S-Line aluminium alloys.

Sharper handling and agility of the TTS can be attributed to the hybrid construction of its body. Steel is used at the rear end, while the front and centre sections of the body are built from lightweight aluminium. ASF (Audi Space Frame) technology optimizes axle load distribution and reduces the overall weight. As an example, the manual Coupe weighs just 1,395 kgs, which equates to a power-to-weight ratio of 1hp for every 5.1kg.

The Audi TTS instantly stands out as the dynamic flagship of the TT model line with special bi-xenon units showcasing a horizontal strip of LED daytime running lights. Inside, occupants are hugged by sports bucket seats stitched in a mixture of Alcantara and Silk Nappa leather while bits of real aluminium are tastefully inserted on the dashboard, glovebox, centre console and door trims.

*Watch out for a full road test of the 2nd generation new TT Coupe 2.0 TFSI soon.
Picture above by Paul Tan.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

2008 Honda Accord spotted in Bangkok, Thailand

Picture by: Peter Lee

This will likely be the new (ASEAN) 8th generation Honda Accord coming soon to Malaysia this Q1 2008. It appears that the hexagonal 3-D grille will remain, as is the toned-down headlamps (as compared to the current 7th gen Accord). However, much of the current Accord styling elements are still deja-vu in front, as evident from the front fenders plus the associated wheel arches' bulge and border. The pedestrian-crash friendly hood bulge also lives on, albeit having been pared- down for a slimmer profile.

Having said that, For Wheels correspondent Peter concluded that the new Accord is much alligned to the current 5-series - at least aesthetically - from the sides and rear. He reckoned that the whole design package gels quite convincingly and definitely looks the part of a more luxurious executive sedan, compared to the outgoing 7th gen Accord.

All three variants of the new Accord is expected to be introduced by Honda Malaysia soon i.e. 2.0 i-VTEC, 2.4 i-VTEC and 3.5 V6 i-VTEC - with the flagship likely to be imported (CBU) in limited numbers.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Honda Inspire (Accord) Modulo Concept

Here�s food for thought (Inspire-ation?) for future 2008 all-new Honda Accord owners: a dressed-up Japan Domestic Market (JDM) Inspire 3.5 i-VTEC V6, reportedly good for 280bhp.

Known as the Inspire Modulo Concept, this Honda large-sized executive features heavily sculpted bumpers, more aggressive-looking headlamps and bleached-out LED tail-lights. Thicker tri-louvred grille with bolder chrome highlights and seven-spoke smoked-alloy rims also add to the visual sweetening. Its interior has leather stitched trims encompassing the gearknob and even the handbrake lever.

Interestingly, the Inspire comes with rear A/C vents (apart from the easily after-market accessorise LCD monitors). Will we see this elusive climate control item in our garden varieties of - 2.0L and/or 2.4L Thai-sourced � 8th generation Accord in Malaysia?

The 8th generation Accord is due soon - anytime now in Q1 2008 - to be marketed officially by Honda Malaysia.

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