Category Archives: opinion

DBKL will be renaming some roads – A waste of meetings discussing a trivial subject and a bit on the JPJ

KUALA LUMPUR: NINE roads and streets here will be renamed after rulers who have served as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Jalan Duta will be renamed Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim; Jalan Khidmat Usaha will be renamed Jalan Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah; Jalan Ipoh — from the Jalan Segambut junction to the Jalan Pahang junction — will be renamed Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah; Persiaran Duta will be renamed Persiaran Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin; Jalan Khidmat Setia and Jalan Ibadah will be renamed Jalan Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin; Lebuhraya Mahameru will be renamed Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar; Persiaran Mahameru will be renamed Persiaran Tuanku Jaafar; and, Jalan Semarak will be renamed Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra.
Mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib said the new names would take effect tomorrow.
He said City Hall had received the cabinet’s consent to rename the roads.
“This is to honour the rulers who have served as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.”
Phesal said Pos Malaysia would be informed of the changes to the road names to avoid confusion over addresses. New Straits Times 

These days I am not bothered to complain about the nation’s politics, politicians, government policies and the people that implement such systems (which are usually quite idiotic). This is the norm for me as I believe, complaining and ranting about local politics and government policies is a bloody waste of time. You see, if you side party A and you are against what party B is doing there would be some who end up becoming keyboard warriors defending or attacking such a person, cause or ideal. It is actually a bloody waste of your time folks.

You are like Liverpool or Manchester United supporter. You get all worked up, buy their football jerseys (these days it is no longer the ‘home’ jersey or the ‘away’ jersey to buy. You now have the third colour which the teams use when colours still clash. More money to milk the supporters) and then sing ‘glory glory bla bla bla…’. I suppose its good to watch tactics, skill and other interesting things that the players on the pitch are doing but it is you who end up buying tickets, jerseys, scarfs as well as food and drink when the actual people that benefits from all that sports are the people managing the clubs and its players.

 Tell me who actually drives that Bentley, Ferrari or Porsche? Who wears those spiffy designer suits and whose wives is it that buys all of those Hermes Birkin handbags? Not you right? You don’t even get enough exercise watching the blokes play football. You may end up drunk or full of cholestrol when they get exercise as well as be stinking rich. So it is the same with following and believing the rubbish politicians throw at you. Or what rubbish the local government is doing at this point of time. This brings me to the press article published in the New Straits Times earlier today.

DBKL has decide to rename some roads that are already famous in their own right. What the heck is wrong with Jalan Duta, Lebuhraya Mahameru, Persiaran Duta in the first place? These roads are already part of Kuala Lumpur’s heritage in terms of its history. These stretches of roads have been named as such since KL existed and now, because some smart Alec in DBKL wants to honour our previous Rulers these roads are to be changed.

I suppose it could be as simple as a gazette. And according to the DBKL, informing the Malaysian Postal Service (Pos Malaysia) on the changes so that Mail can be delivered. I hope they do not forget to inform the Department that does mapping and topography to make changes to the official maps, Waze and Google maps too as everyone uses it. Hotels are going to get confused. Tourists, business people, illegal immigrants too (as we seem to have millions of them around) and other folks that need to know why Jalan Duta is no longer called Jalan Duta. I have a problem with DBKL on this as why change something that does not need to be fixed and cause other teething problems that will happen because of it? There are going to be millions of Ringgit wasted indirectly from the loss of man hours and maybe petrol/diesel being burnt from changes in sign boards, lost and confused motorists, tourists and even migratory birds maybe.

And think of the process in any large organization – in order to reach such a consensus there would be an idea thrown about by someone as high up as the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur or his assistants. This would then be tabled at a executive committee meeting and it would actually take a minimum of five or six long drawn meetings with people from various departments. Say each meeting takes about ten such people, two hours each, a lot of karipap, kuih and a free flow of coffee or the tarik in order to make this happen. Coming up with such a decision usually takes time. And there are people coming out with memos in order to make this happen.

In fact, let’s just assume such a decision would take about five hundred total man hours from all the people involved in making such a decision. A waste of man hours in my opinion as the main question is this…..does renaming the roads improve the traffic system, garbage collection system, parking system, quit rent collection system, crime reduction, environmental systems and even the well being of urban dwellers of Kuala Lumpur? Does spending time, money and karipaps deliberating on the change of name make life easier for others especially the postal service, tourists, businessmen and other people? It certainly doesn’t. Are the roads that are to be renamed free of potholes and other traffic slowing obstructions? So why does DBKL waste time in doing the renaming of roads when they have so many better things to do for the well being of the people in KL?

Again, this problem relates to the quality of our Government officers in service today. Another example is the chap who runs the Road Transport Department (JPJ) . If I am not mistaken he is an MBA holder from a UK university and was trained to be a Diplomatic and Administrative Officer (PTD) by the government. Being a PTD means endless courses on grooming, public speaking and other stuff on anylitical thinking. But when in front of the microphone, ends up blurting something that sounds as if he is not a high ranking officer but God as by 2015 he wants only 5,000 Malaysians to die instead of 10,000.

And the JPJ at the same time goes after number plates which are not of standard size, tinting and xenon lights. I suppose this is because JPJ is also under the instruction from Treasury to become a cash collecting agency for them but this is losing foresight too.  But how can they do that when the JPJ itself flaunts the laws too? This is easy to prove in the age where social media spreads photos of JPJ officers breaking the laws themselves. So what the heck does JPJ need to do? What the JPJ should be doing is educate the citizens of Malaysia on proper road regulation first. This means more education, more public service announcements and random enforcement occasionally instead of just using JPJ as a cash cow.

Again it is the government officials who do not know the basics and think that they are smart. Get the basics right before you try new things. In fact, the wheel need not be reinvented. It just needs to be well oiled. And this is actually not the fault of the ministers themselves but the high ranking government officials who are not acting like they should. Get off your high horses and get the basics done correctly. Do not trouble the citizens with unnecessary changes. Note that this move by DBKL ensures some money to be involved. I mean can you imagine the amount of road signage that would need changing? Is this another money making exercise instead of actually honouring our Yang Di Pertuan Agong?

Now that this is off my chest I shall go back to writing about cars and enjoy doing what I like. You folks out there should do that too. I mean, if you are those that sit at the mamak or sit in front of the ‘puter and complain, complain, complain but don’t actually have a proper life then it’s all your fault. That football player or politician you like or don’t like have nice cars sitting out there in their front porch or garage. What about you? Do you have the economic clout to actually make a difference? Work hard and smart folks.So you can rise about all of this petty and stupid moves that the government is making. That matters.

Unlike some other brands, the difference between a VW Group car from another is….

a heck of a lot……..

This staid lookimg sedan drives better than…….

Over the years I have driven a fair number of cars from various makes or manufacturers. What makes me want to try car after car is the fact that every one offers a different driving experience from one another. In some cars the interaction between man and machine is so satisfying that this car would be the one to drive. Some cars are so clinical they feel like an operating theater on wheels. Some give you that five star hotel feel on wheels. Some would feel like you’re driving in the LeMans. Whilst this is quite true, it could be otherwise as most car companies have become predictable in how their cars drive. Or handle.

…that this, slightly newer designed better equipped hatchback.
Take for instance Proton. Most of you have driven one and most of you would have read (even in motoring-malaysia) that Protons handle quite well. You could buy any Proton out there on sale today (Persona, Preve, Suprima, Inspira, Accordana) and the car will actually be a pleasure to punt around some hillside road. The same could be said of a BMW, or a Mercedes Benz for that matter. Get yourself in the driver’s seat of a BMW you would find out that a BMW will always feel like what a BMW should drive whether that BMW is a lowly 116i or a even a hulking 740i. It’s this predictability in most car manufactuers that make us want to keep buying the cars one after another.
In a Mercedes, you automatically assume that the car will not be as sharp around a handling circuit than any BMW but you get a chassis that is adequate to deal with most road conditions and still be able to excite you at times. Jump into any C-class to a CLS class or even a S-class a Mercedes would handle like a Mercedes would. Usually in the case of Mercedes Benz, it goes from adequate, to slightly sporty but still conservative, to sporty but not BMW-like (but darn easier to drive everywhere) until you reach to AMG levels, which could be either slightly better than average (SLK55, CLS63), good but not great (A45) or sublime (C63,E63). But no matter what the thing is, the bar is set usually at average upwards and there is a consistency to the cars.
I mean if you get into a Toyota Vios, Corolla Altis or even a Camry you would notice that they basically feel almost similar only the size goes up. Of course chuckability of the car is reduced the larger it is but it still feels pretty similar to one another. So when you buy a Toyota sedan you automatically know what the heck you’re getting into – Toyota standard quality with high resale value on your mind instead of anything to do with the thrill of driving. But again, you clearly know what you’re getting into when you’re buying a Toyota sedan.
The Audi TT, whilst looks super cool and drives quite well does not feel as thrilling as a MK5 Golf GTI hatchback.
However, there is only one automotive group which I think bucks this trend. The Volkswagen Audi Group. This is expecially so when it comes to their ‘bread and butter’ models but not their premium Bentley, Lamborghini or Bugatti or anything with a silly pricetag. When it comes to Volkswagen and Audi, you have to test each individual model to be really sure of what you want. I have driven a base Polo 1.6 hatchback which I loved, an Audi A6 which I didn’t, a Golf 1.4TSI which was good but too clinical to drive, a Audi A4 which was great, a Jetta that outshone the Golf by miles and then read about the RS5 being average but the RS4 fantastic (same engine and all). In fact, a Golf GTI Mk5 feels sooooo much a better drive than a second gen Audi TT.It’s not that the Audi TT is bad, it has its flaws (a softer suspension setup – more roll, less bite, much more twitchier compared to the similar engined Golf GTI) How is that possible? – Well, maybe the shorter wheelbase, but who knows.
You see, with the other makes they all start out having the same expectations and basic feel. But with Audi or Volkswagen, it could be said that the people there must have two or three separate teams for chassis development. You can tell the parameters for the Golf Mk7 was totally different from the current Jetta. Whilst the Golf is the newer chassis and the better overall car, it still felt a little cold compared to the Jetta. It isn’t like a small difference to me. It is like night and day. How can a car based on an earlier model be actually be more fun to drive? It definitely boils down to what the manufacturer wanted from the build of the car. It could be a simple as that when VW built the Mk7, the team in charge of the development put more effort into other stuff instead of handling whereas the team that built the Jetta knew how to milk the chassis better than the team on the Golf.

I suppose other companies have a more focused chassis development team compared to the VW Group. This is the only explaination I can think of aside from the fact that they are putting the development money into other parts like interior design, drivetrain and styling. But I think the VW group has no fixed focus when it comes to chassis development and engineers have a freer hand. Or less time for Car A compared to design team on Car B. Who knows.

Of course, the issue for this would be that if I were seriously hunting for a certain car and if there were two or three VW group cars was on the list, I’d try each and every model from VW Group. This is because the difference in handling, and therefore fun would be quite glaring compared to jumping in one BMW to another.

But that being said, we should try all the cars that we intend to purchase. There are other things aside from great handling that would need to be addressed before one buys a car.

Opinion: Of Nissan Teana and Nissan Sylphy – CVT on the old and new models.

It may be very okay to buy this new 2014 Teana…..
…but not very okay to buy this previous Teana.

I just noticed that the new Nissan Sylphy and the new Nissan Teana….have the same engine and gearbox. Note that the earlier Sylpillis, er Slyphy…no, Sylphy and the earlier Tena, no, that’s an adult diaper were running the same CVT gearbox and different engines. This time, both have four cylinder Nissa-Renault MR Series 2.0liter engines running a slightly modified CVT gearbox. You also get the same engine and transmission in the recently launched Renault Fluence (which I totally forgot was also recently launched – makes you wonder how much I was looking forward to it being around Malaysia).

Anyway, the main difference between the previous CVT gearboxes found in both the Nissans mentioned are that the ‘all-new’ models have transmission oil coolers fitted to them. This was also mentioned in some of the the Renault Fluence’s launch reports by other online automotive portals and magazines. What this means is that you can now safely purchase any of the two Nissan cars mentioned above without much worry of the gearbox disintegrating prematurely.

Remember the previous issues about CVT or gearbox failures in other car makes? We had Proton with the unreliable Perdana V6 gearboxes. By the second revision of the Perdana, Proton installed transmission oil coolers into them and this actually stopped a whole lot of Perdanas dying an early death. We also had the shit ugly second generation in Asia only (2002-2008)  Honda City suffering tons of complaints about its CVT gearbox. Honda reverted to the normal torque convertor gearbox for the third generation model. Then we had Mitsubishi actually retro-fitting and then fitting oil coolers to its newly launched Lancer GT / GLS models only quite recently after there were complaints that it was easy to cook the CVT in that car too. I know a journo friend or two who managed to do just that (but can’t really trust those people, they drive cars like they stole them).

So, every time you hear new blurbs that a new model has an oil cooler fitted to them you will usually come up with the assumption that this means that the previous models have gearbox issues. Nissan were lucky in some ways as not many complaints have been aired in Malaysia about this until now. My sources within the car service network tell me that Nissan CVT inside the previous Teana and Sylphy WILL break down. The question is how long it may take to do so.

One other reason why no news is making its rounds is that most Nissan owners are ‘Uncles’ or people who drive slowly and don’t cook their gearboxes faster than Proton, Honda, Mitsubishi and even Volkswagen (who are still stinging a little from the DSG issues) drivers in Malaysia. Or the fact that the sales volume of the previous Sylphy and Teana aren’t as large as those buying the other cars mentioned herein. This could be the case too as there were not enough of users out there who complained (especially since those who bought the Nissans were of the senior citizens crowd who may not even know what Twitbook or the internet is).

I personally did some checking and came up with this: from autonewscom -  http://www.autonews.com/article/20131202/OEM10/312029972/nissan-presses-jatco-to-end-cvt-glitches

There is also another one from autoblog.com. Click here. So I am NOT making this stuff up okay. Other people are…..

The article is also pasted below in case the link goes bad or you can’t be bothered to head over there.

So it is, or it was, a worldwide Nissan CVT issue. And with that, I have to advise you folks out there as follows:

1. You CAN buy the new TEANA or the SYLPHY as they now come with oil coolers and going by the articles above, the Quality Control of the newer CVT boxes are supposedly much better than before;

2. I DO NOT recommend buying any previous TEANA OR SYLPHY second hand;

3. If you DO OWN A previous model TEANA OR SYLPHY and have not faced any issues, go to a mechanic who knows about installing aftermarket oil coolers and get one installed in your car. An external oil cooler will improve lifespan of the gearbox fluids and keep the box working properly.

4. If you still want to buy one of those previous Sylphy or Teana, then I suggest getting an oil cooler too; and

5. If you have read this and own either the cars mentioned above and do nothing, then that isn’t my problem in the first place okay.

There, some Corporate Social Responsibility from Yours Truly.

Nissan presses Jatco to end CVT glitches

TOKYO — Nissan is sharpening its oversight of affiliated transmission supplier Jatco Ltd. in the wake of quality and customer satisfaction problems that have pinched the automaker’s profits.
Launch-related glitches hampered Nissan as it rolled out a string of new models last year with Jatco continuously variable transmissions. Nissan also is expanding and adding plants around the world, and Jatco is hustling to keep pace.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says his team will be watching Jatco more closely. In an unusual step, Ghosn this year singled out Jatco by requiring it to explain how it will ensure customer satisfaction on any new technology it introduces.
“Every time you launch a new CVT you always have some risks,” Ghosn said in an interview at his Yokohama, Japan, headquarters last month. “So we now have a process by which, before we launch any new CVT, they come before the Nissan executive committee to explain all the measures they have taken to make sure there are no surprises.”
Next month Nissan will dispatch its most senior North American manufacturing and supply chain executive, Bill Krueger, to Jatco, in which Nissan has a 75 percent stake. He will become executive vice president overseeing the Americas region and chairman of its operations in the United States and Mexico. His predecessor, Tomoyoshi Sato, will return to Japan for a new assignment. Another problem has been customer perception. According to Jatco CEO Takashi Hata, some Nissan owners are not yet comfortable with the way Jatco’s fuel-efficient continuously variable transmissions operate. Nissan’s entire small-car strategy is based on Jatco’s CVTs, and most Nissan vehicles now have one.
Jatco’s innovations in CVT performance in friction reduction and operating efficiency have helped Nissan cars rise to the top or near the top in fuel economy in their segments. CVTs are the standard nonmanual transmission for every car and crossover in the Nissan-brand line, except for the electric Leaf and low-volume 370Z and GT-R sports cars.
Nissan dealers have gotten customer complaints and service visits because of unfamiliarity with CVT behavior. Because CVTs have no fixed gears, drivers do not experience the gear-by-gear stepping-up sensation of traditional automatic transmissions — only a smooth and steady increase in engine revolutions. To an uninitiated driver, the transmission could sound like it is stuck in a single gear.
Jatco itself now plans to work with U.S. car dealers to provide more information about CVTs and gather more customer feedback about its transmissions, Hata says. Last month, Ghosn labeled Jatco one of several “head winds” that are slowing down his aggressive global business plan to achieve an 8 percent operating profit by March 2017.
Ghosn said expensive problems with Jatco had cut into the company’s profits last year. He later clarified that he had not meant formal recalls, but customer service issues related to the transmissions.
David Reuter, a Nissan North America spokesman, said the issues were associated with a flurry of new-vehicle launches in 2012. “They’re in the past and behind us now,” Reuter said.
Krueger, a one-time Toyota manager, helped Nissan bounce back from a rash of quality glitches in 2006 arising from the rapid launch of Nissan’s assembly plant in Canton, Miss. This time he will be helping Nissan monitor quality from the supplier side of the aisle.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com.

VW Group via Audi prepares for new engine technology and I am quite worried

The VW TSI engine

The latest news circulating in and around the automotive world is how Volkswagen Group intends to make electric turbochargers,variable compression ratios, cylinder deactivation (all on engines) and coasting (on the transmission) a reality. 

On variable compression ratios for the engine:
Audi Technical chief Ulrich Hackenberg gave no details on how Audi will introduce variable compression ratio technology, but what this means is that the car’s engine can have a high compression ratio of a direct injected petrol engine of around 15:1 and when under high loads especially if it is turbocharged and boost is coming on drops to say 11:1. The luxury of being able to have variable compression ratio depending on the load and power demands makes this something all engineers chase after. It would be ultra efficient too.

On electrically assisted forced induction:
Much like installing a high speed electric motor to the intake of the car (like some after market products so) but this has gotten the interest of VW/Audi that allows for less heat build-up and other losses associated with conventional forced induction. The benefits is that an electric motor operated turbine can be activated from a standstill, as well as the small size may suit future small engines of two or three cylinders Of course, we’ve seen that even small fans turning up to 100,000rpm may not be useful when installed by after market manufacturers. It is probably achievable if a large automotive company like VW Group that does the research. They would have the funds to make it work.

On Coasting technology:
Coasting technology has significant fuel-saving potential as it frees up the transmission when not under any load, like going down hill or coming to a halt at a junction. It is planned to be fully integrated into most VW Group cars and would arrive in four stages. The first level already features on some of VW Group’s DSG dual-clutch transmissions. The  next version expected to function when the car is travelling below 6.5kmh. The final one will see the transmission disengaging and the engine shutting down when cruising at speed (start-stop at speed!!!!), travelling downhill or approaching traffic lights that are about to turn red.

Now whilst all of these combined have the potential to hugely improve the real-world economy of future petrol engines, I have that worrysome feeling that VW Group may implement this sooner than it may be practical to do so (like the twin-charged supercharger/turbocharger engine and problems faced by some dry clutch DSG equipped cars) and that customers will be part test guinea pigs.

Please, please please take your sweet time VW/Audi, don’t listen to those eco-mentalist lobbyists that want things to be done yesterday and not tomorrow. Aside from saving the trees, whales, gibbons, the penguins of Madagascar and the cute but not cuddly polar bears, real world consumers (and not eco-mentalists) would like to save some money in their wallets and bank accounts.

The paradox in car names..beginning with the latest all-new Large Mini

My friend recently commented on my post regarding the All-new 2014-2015 Mini. He considers the large Mini an Oxymoron. I have to agree with him. Large Mini.

Now that the MINI is actually a brand name instead of actually meaning something small and petite unlike the original Austin Mini, it is the biggest automotive oxymoron around. To those that aren’t aware of what ‘oxymoron’ means it is a figure of speech that juxtaposes contradictory elements. The MINI is definitely an oxymoron as it isn’t truly small. We have cars like the Smart ForTwo and those Japanese Kei Cars which are much smaller than BMW’s Mini.

People seem to accept paradoxes instead of straight forward monikers. Unless they’re the Italians. They are quite straight to the point. We have the Maserati Four-Doors (Quattroporte) or the 1964 Ferrari 500 SuperFast (above) – which was really fast those days. Let’s not forget the LaFerrari, or TheFerrari in English. Bloody straight to the point isn’t it? Oh, the German Smart ForTwo is also a very straightforward name for a car as it only seats two people.

Some have really cheesy names like Nissan Leaf, to show its eco-green tendancies or the Honda That’s. (below) What the heck is ‘That’s’? That’s what? That’s terribly awful?

I want manufacturers to be slightly more honest. Can I have the Nissan Almera sedan be called the Nissan Kim Kardashian as its rear end is huge as Kim’s? Or the Nissan GT-R called the ‘Nissan Turbokilla’ after beating the heck out of the 911 Turbo in the hands of normal drivers. It makes perfect sense doesn’t it?

2014 Nismo GT-R but it should be known as ‘Turbokilla’

The paradox in car names..beginning with the latest all-new Large Mini

My friend recently commented on my post regarding the All-new 2014-2015 Mini. He considers the large Mini an Oxymoron. I have to agree with him. Large Mini.

Now that the MINI is actually a brand name instead of actually meaning something small and petite unlike the original Austin Mini, it is the biggest automotive oxymoron around. To those that aren’t aware of what ‘oxymoron’ means it is a figure of speech that juxtaposes contradictory elements. The MINI is definitely an oxymoron as it isn’t truly small. We have cars like the Smart ForTwo and those Japanese Kei Cars which are much smaller than BMW’s Mini.

People seem to accept paradoxes instead of straight forward monikers. Unless they’re the Italians. They are quite straight to the point. We have the Maserati Four-Doors (Quattroporte) or the 1964 Ferrari 500 SuperFast (above) – which was really fast those days. Let’s not forget the LaFerrari, or TheFerrari in English. Bloody straight to the point isn’t it? Oh, the German Smart ForTwo is also a very straightforward name for a car as it only seats two people.

Some have really cheesy names like Nissan Leaf, to show its eco-green tendancies or the Honda That’s. (below) What the heck is ‘That’s’? That’s what? That’s terribly awful?

I want manufacturers to be slightly more honest. Can I have the Nissan Almera sedan be called the Nissan Kim Kardashian as its rear end is huge as Kim’s? Or the Nissan GT-R called the ‘Nissan Turbokilla’ after beating the heck out of the 911 Turbo in the hands of normal drivers. It makes perfect sense doesn’t it?

2014 Nismo GT-R but it should be known as ‘Turbokilla’

Car Prices In Australia, Malaysia and South East Asia

I recently took my family across the border to the Lion City for some shopping and sightseeing. It wasn’t a Rest & Recreation type of holiday. It was Arab Street (above) for the wife’s clothing material, Orchard Road for more shopping and the Jurong Bird Park for the little girl’s sightseeing. My feet felt like lead after three days and then we had to face quite a horrendous jam whilst trying to make it back to KL. But it was a fun filled trip. Lots of things to see and do over there.

The great thing about the trip down south was that it was the first really long trip using the car I recently bought – the Mercedes Benz C180 CGI BlueEfficiency and even after the six or so hours driving back from Singapore I felt as fresh as when I started the journey. Everyone needs to own one of these or better. But let me tell you a secret. You could do the same thing with a Toyota Camry. It is even quieter than a C-class. It isn’t as sporty to drive as one buy if you want to feel as fresh as you started your journey, the unclemobile could be your choice. Remember the Unclemobile folks.

Anyway, I was actually quite intrigued by the fact that there are quite a number of newly registered C180 (1.6) C-classes over there. This with the fact that COE (certificate of Entitlement) prices are sky high at over SGD60,000 per car and the very recent tightening of car loans over there (50% downpayment and a maximum of 5 years). A C180 costs SGD 185,000 or thereabouts. Now convert that to Ringgit, it is a bomb. And there are many of them around.

This got me thinking about car prices around South East Asia. The reason being that so many Malaysians out there seem to be complaining about not being able to afford cars over here with the excise duty and other taxes and whatnots. Let me enlighten you guys out there by saying that Malaysia isn’t as bad as we think.

Let’s take a Mercedes Benz C200 CGI as an example. In good ol’ Malaysia the C200 CGI Elegance sells for RM262,000.00. It looks steep doesn’t it? With all those zeros behind and all that. Now lets compare the price of the same car elsewhere in the region.

IDR (Indonesian Rupiah)    559,000,000   –  RM177,404.22
BHT (Thai Bhat)                    2,250,000    - RM236,362.83
Peso (Philippine Peso)            3, 280,000   –  RM248,005.97
SGD (Singapore Dollar)           220,888    -  RM550,791.07

AUD (Australian Dollar)             64,954   –  RM209.851.00
NZD (New Zealand Dollar)        69,999   – RM181,775.72

I converted using xe.com’s currency converter and I did not pick these figures out of nothing. Note that we are second highest in the list, but our figures aren’t that far from other countries where the automotive industry has government protection, namely Thailand and the Philippines. Cars are cheap if you buy those manufactured locally (Toyota in Thailand as an example – you will see that everycar is a Toyota and a fourth or fifth is another brand).

It isn’t that rosy in Australia too. Whilst you may think that AUD65,000 is a small amount but a junior exec in Australia may earn AUD6,000 or AUD72,000 per annum, but he is liable to get hit with income tax of between 9.1% to 21% depending on his deductions (The super rich here pay a maximum of 44.9% in taxes, still not as high as Sweeden where you pay up to 56% of your income for ‘FREE EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE’). The best bet is the junior exec gets off with 12.5% average and on top of that a 1.5% Medicare levy (now WHO SAID things were free in developed countries).

Now add to the fact that everything you buy in Australia is susceptible to Goods and Sales Tax (GST)of 10% it gets a little tougher overall. In 2011-2012 there was such a thing as Flood Levy which the junior exec would have to pay 0-0.25% of his hard earned income to subsidize the rebuilding of Queensland after the 2010-2011 floods over there. So as a result, when I was holidaying in Australia in 2011, there are not many luxury compact executives running around. Its either the cost of living is high, or everyone there does not want earthy possessions which are slightly more luxurious than others (I doubt so).

In Singapore things are ultra shitty. You got GST at 17%, and 3 room condos going for SGD 3.5million (Here in PJ, its still a ‘sane’ RM750,000 or thereabouts). Junior exec earning SGD6,000 may get hit with a 10% income tax (maximum payable tax in SG is 20%) and no chance ever to buy a house or a Mercedes Benz.

Over in Jakarta, Indonesia you wouldn’t want to drive a Mercedes Benz. The traffic is horrendous and everyone around you is in a state of poverty that you are liable to be kidnapped, car-jacked for money or your car simply keyed. You’d want something third world like a Toyota Kijang Innova to run around.

So what are we complaining about? The food here in Malaysia is good, houses aren’t as stratospheric as Singapore, our living conditions aren’t as crazy as Bangkok or Jakarta or Manila, we don’t pay ridiculous amounts of taxes.

Malaysia is the best place to be. Full stop.

Car Prices In Australia, Malaysia and South East Asia

I recently took my family across the border to the Lion City for some shopping and sightseeing. It wasn’t a Rest & Recreation type of holiday. It was Arab Street (above) for the wife’s clothing material, Orchard Road for more shopping and the Jurong Bird Park for the little girl’s sightseeing. My feet felt like lead after three days and then we had to face quite a horrendous jam whilst trying to make it back to KL. But it was a fun filled trip. Lots of things to see and do over there.

The great thing about the trip down south was that it was the first really long trip using the car I recently bought – the Mercedes Benz C180 CGI BlueEfficiency and even after the six or so hours driving back from Singapore I felt as fresh as when I started the journey. Everyone needs to own one of these or better. But let me tell you a secret. You could do the same thing with a Toyota Camry. It is even quieter than a C-class. It isn’t as sporty to drive as one buy if you want to feel as fresh as you started your journey, the unclemobile could be your choice. Remember the Unclemobile folks.

Anyway, I was actually quite intrigued by the fact that there are quite a number of newly registered C180 (1.6) C-classes over there. This with the fact that COE (certificate of Entitlement) prices are sky high at over SGD60,000 per car and the very recent tightening of car loans over there (50% downpayment and a maximum of 5 years). A C180 costs SGD 185,000 or thereabouts. Now convert that to Ringgit, it is a bomb. And there are many of them around.

This got me thinking about car prices around South East Asia. The reason being that so many Malaysians out there seem to be complaining about not being able to afford cars over here with the excise duty and other taxes and whatnots. Let me enlighten you guys out there by saying that Malaysia isn’t as bad as we think.

Let’s take a Mercedes Benz C200 CGI as an example. In good ol’ Malaysia the C200 CGI Elegance sells for RM262,000.00. It looks steep doesn’t it? With all those zeros behind and all that. Now lets compare the price of the same car elsewhere in the region.

IDR (Indonesian Rupiah)    559,000,000   –  RM177,404.22
BHT (Thai Bhat)                    2,250,000    - RM236,362.83
Peso (Philippine Peso)            3, 280,000   –  RM248,005.97
SGD (Singapore Dollar)           220,888    -  RM550,791.07

AUD (Australian Dollar)             64,954   –  RM209.851.00
NZD (New Zealand Dollar)        69,999   – RM181,775.72

I converted using xe.com’s currency converter and I did not pick these figures out of nothing. Note that we are second highest in the list, but our figures aren’t that far from other countries where the automotive industry has government protection, namely Thailand and the Philippines. Cars are cheap if you buy those manufactured locally (Toyota in Thailand as an example – you will see that everycar is a Toyota and a fourth or fifth is another brand).

It isn’t that rosy in Australia too. Whilst you may think that AUD65,000 is a small amount but a junior exec in Australia may earn AUD6,000 or AUD72,000 per annum, but he is liable to get hit with income tax of between 9.1% to 21% depending on his deductions (The super rich here pay a maximum of 44.9% in taxes, still not as high as Sweeden where you pay up to 56% of your income for ‘FREE EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE’). The best bet is the junior exec gets off with 12.5% average and on top of that a 1.5% Medicare levy (now WHO SAID things were free in developed countries).

Now add to the fact that everything you buy in Australia is susceptible to Goods and Sales Tax (GST)of 10% it gets a little tougher overall. In 2011-2012 there was such a thing as Flood Levy which the junior exec would have to pay 0-0.25% of his hard earned income to subsidize the rebuilding of Queensland after the 2010-2011 floods over there. So as a result, when I was holidaying in Australia in 2011, there are not many luxury compact executives running around. Its either the cost of living is high, or everyone there does not want earthy possessions which are slightly more luxurious than others (I doubt so).

In Singapore things are ultra shitty. You got GST at 17%, and 3 room condos going for SGD 3.5million (Here in PJ, its still a ‘sane’ RM750,000 or thereabouts). Junior exec earning SGD6,000 may get hit with a 10% income tax (maximum payable tax in SG is 20%) and no chance ever to buy a house or a Mercedes Benz.

Over in Jakarta, Indonesia you wouldn’t want to drive a Mercedes Benz. The traffic is horrendous and everyone around you is in a state of poverty that you are liable to be kidnapped, car-jacked for money or your car simply keyed. You’d want something third world like a Toyota Kijang Innova to run around.

So what are we complaining about? The food here in Malaysia is good, houses aren’t as stratospheric as Singapore, our living conditions aren’t as crazy as Bangkok or Jakarta or Manila, we don’t pay ridiculous amounts of taxes.

Malaysia is the best place to be. Full stop.

The Malaysian Nissan Sylphy – Still the old model and Drum Brakes??????

One of the most contested sectors in the Malaysian automotive market is the C segment car category. Now those of you who haven’t a clue on what a C segment car is let Yours Truly try to enlighten you. A C segment car is what the European Union calls the British standard sized small family cars or what the Americans call as Compact cars. By ‘compact’ and ‘small’, these cars are actually those between 4100mm to about 4700mm depending on whether they are a hatchback or a sedan.

What this means is that this category includes cars like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla Altis, VW Golf/Jetta, Subaru Impreza, Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra and more. Amazing isn’t it? What most of us Malaysians think as an average sized family car is actually a tiny tot in America. Of course, the land of burgers and fries is huge and so are its inhabitants.

In good ol’ Malaysia, a C segment car may cost you from around RM80,000 to RM160,000. The lower end of the pricing is usually where you’d find Proton and the Korean car manufacturers. The mid-tier RM100,000 to RM130,000 is the realm of the Japanese cars and above that we usually find the Germans. There are exceptions, like the Mazda 3 MPS or the Golf GTIs. But these are niche cars. What usually happens is that every one looking for an upgrade from their Proton or Perodua, or to an extent, their Hyundai or Kia would end up looking at a Toyota, Honda or a Nissan. The these three brands are coveted as somehow everyone talks about resale value and reliability. If resale value were not taken into account, everyone would be buying the Ford Focus with its good looks and hi-tech gizmos and all wouldn’t they.

So they end up buying a Toyota Corolla Altis, which is so uncle-mobile like in dullness that everytime I sit inside one I’d use it as time to fall asleep (and my friend W.T.O did buy one recently. You uncle you). Or the Honda Civic, which is a isn’t built like the Honda Civic prior to this and a disappointment to me. Or they end up buying a Nissan Sylphy. This car is what I reckon is the worst C-segment 2.0liter you can buy in Malaysia today and I shall state why.

Now aside from the silly venereal disease-like name, which is also a good enough reason not to buy the car, the car is old. It has been around since the end of 2005 and it is now March 2013. In 2012 Nissan launched the new Bluebird Sylphy. Singapore has this new model (pictured above) and we Malaysians have to get this older car (pictured below). It is basically like the Nissan Sentra that was sold here. I believe they were still selling in prior to the launch of the Almera and was selling right beside the Latio sedan and hatchback which were similarly priced as the very ancient Sentra. There was even an Impul version that they tried to flog to people. And the worse this was that some people bought them even though it was old.

And so the Nissan Sifilis, Syphilis, Simpliciti, Slyphy, Siti Nurhaliza…no, Sylphy  is now soldering on in its seventh year in Malaysia. And the new model looks a whole lot better than they one we’re getting. It may cost a bomb over in Singapore, but they do get the latest models.

But I don’t really mind cars that are slightly old. I mean they’re not Ford Model T old and the Nissan Stwoply is actually a very, very comfortable and quiet car to be in. Or drive. The 2.0liter engine is understressed and coupled to a CVT gearbox, quite efficient (slightly droney if you push it as it is a CVT gearbox in the first place). The biggest problem is that the brakes. I have perused through most of the car listings in Malaysia and I cannot find another 2.0liter car with over 130bhp/195Nm of torque with rear drum brakes.

I know that car technology has come a long way and if you couple any sort of disc/drum brake combination with anti lock brakes as well as electronic brake distribution it will work fairly well. Technology allows drum brakes to work decent well but hello, you want to pay a minimum or RM115,000 for a car with drum brakes? If you put your money down for a 1.8liter Honda Civic you’d get all round disc brakes. If you paid a whole lot less for a Kia Forte you’d still get all round disc brakes. Same if you paid for a Chevrolet, or a Toyota or whatever 2.0liter car out there. Nissan Malaysia is doing what they do best – skimping on the specs. And I still see people spending their hard earned money or a Sylphynopolous. Why?

So this is the public service announcement I’d like you readers to make – If you have any friends, relatives or associates who would want to purchase a C segment car. Do not buy this the Sylphlegm. It has a silly name, it is actually an older model (you wouldn’t want to buy an Apple Iphone 4S since the 5 is already out would you?) and it still comes with drum brakes like it’s a 2.0liter car from the 1980s. If you want a Slyphy so badly. Wait until Nissan decides to bring the new one in (which has all round disc brakes over in Singapore). Hopefully it’s soon.

The Malaysian Nissan Slyphy – Still the old model and Drum Brakes??????

One of the most contested sectors in the Malaysian automotive market is the C segment car category. Now those of you who haven’t a clue on what a C segment car is let Yours Truly try to enlighten you. A C segment car is what the European Union calls the British standard sized small family cars or what the Americans call as Compact cars. By ‘compact’ and ‘small’, these cars are actually those between 4100mm to about 4700mm depending on whether they are a hatchback or a sedan.

What this means is that this category includes cars like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla Altis, VW Golf/Jetta, Subaru Impreza, Kia Forte, Hyundai Elantra and more. Amazing isn’t it? What most of us Malaysians think as an average sized family car is actually a tiny tot in America. Of course, the land of burgers and fries is huge and so are its inhabitants.

In good ol’ Malaysia, a C segment car may cost you from around RM80,000 to RM160,000. The lower end of the pricing is usually where you’d find Proton and the Korean car manufacturers. The mid-tier RM100,000 to RM130,000 is the realm of the Japanese cars and above that we usually find the Germans. There are exceptions, like the Mazda 3 MPS or the Golf GTIs. But these are niche cars. What usually happens is that every one looking for an upgrade from their Proton or Perodua, or to an extent, their Hyundai or Kia would end up looking at a Toyota, Honda or a Nissan. The these three brands are coveted as somehow everyone talks about resale value and reliability. If resale value were not taken into account, everyone would be buying the Ford Focus with its good looks and hi-tech gizmos and all wouldn’t they.

So they end up buying a Toyota Corolla Altis, which is so uncle-mobile like in dullness that everytime I sit inside one I’d use it as time to fall asleep (and my friend W.T.O did buy one recently. You uncle you). Or the Honda Civic, which is a isn’t built like the Honda Civic prior to this and a disappointment to me. Or they end up buying a Nissan Slyphy. This car is what I reckon is the worst C-segment 2.0liter you can buy in Malaysia today and I shall state why.

Now aside from the silly venereal disease-like name, which is also a good enough reason not to buy the car, the car is old. It has been around since the end of 2005 and it is now March 2013. In 2012 Nissan launched the new Bluebird Slyphy. Singapore has this new model (pictured above) and we Malaysians have to get this older car (pictured below). It is basically like the Nissan Sentra that was sold here. I believe they were still selling in prior to the launch of the Almera and was selling right beside the Latio sedan and hatchback which were similarly priced as the very ancient Sentra. There was even an Impul version that they tried to flog to people. And the worse this was that some people bought them even though it was old.

And so the Nissan Sifilis, Syphilis, Simpliciti, Slyphy  is now soldering on in its seventh year in Malaysia. And the new model looks a whole lot better than they one we’re getting. It may cost a bomb over in Singapore, but they do get the latest models.

But I don’t really mind cars that are slightly old. I mean they’re not Ford Model T old and the Nissan Stwoply is actually a very, very comfortable and quiet car to be in. Or drive. The 2.0liter engine is understressed and coupled to a CVT gearbox, quite efficient (slightly droney if you push it as it is a CVT gearbox in the first place). The biggest problem is that the brakes. I have perused through most of the car listings in Malaysia and I cannot find another 2.0liter car with over 130bhp/195Nm of torque with rear drum brakes.

I know that car technology has come a long way and if you couple any sort of disc/drum brake combination with anti lock brakes as well as electronic brake distribution it will work fairly well. Technology allows drum brakes to work decent well but hello, you want to pay a minimum or RM115,000 for a car with drum brakes? If you put your money down for a 1.8liter Honda Civic you’d get all round disc brakes. If you paid a whole lot less for a Kia Forte you’d still get all round disc brakes. Same if you paid for a Chevrolet, or a Toyota or whatever 2.0liter car out there. Nissan Malaysia is doing what they do best – skimping on the specs. And I still see people spending their hard earned money or a Sylphynopolous. Why?

So this is the public service announcement I’d like you readers to make – If you have any friends, relatives or associates who would want to purchase a C segment car. Do not buy this the Sylphlegm. It has a silly name, it is actually an older model (you wouldn’t want to buy an Apple Iphone 4S since the 5 is already out would you?) and it still comes with drum brakes like it’s a 2.0liter car from the 1980s. If you want a Slyphy so badly. Wait until Nissan decides to bring the new one in (which has all round disc brakes over in Singapore). Hopefully it’s soon.