Category Archives: editorial

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.

The reason why Volvo cars aren’t selling here in Malaysia (and the rest of the world) these days.

Anyone know anybody who recently bought a brand  new Volvo? Nope? Neither have I. Why is it? The cars are well designed. The exterior looks pretty good and the interior gets some pretty nifty touches like the floating dashboard and unique switchgear. Everything feels well built but no one seems to be actually warming up to the Swedish brand here in Malaysia.

It used to be otherwise. In the 1980s and 1990s you see people driving Volvos everywhere. They were even the choice for Government officials and companies like using them for company cars. In those days Volvos were priced somewhere like where Volkswagen cars are priced these days, slightly lower than Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi. Companies like giving the Volvo 240 or the 760 series as a car that sits between the higher priced Mercedes w124 200E and 230E cars. Somehow it showed you your place in the company’s hierarchy and Volvos sold a fair bit then.
These days, Volvos are actually priced on par with an Audi, a BMW and a Mercedes Benz. I believe this idea came from the fact that the people who owned Volvo at the time (Ford) thought that it deserved to be in its premium automobile division and deserved to be priced as such. New owners Geely seem to think the same thing. Of course, I happen to know people in America, most of Europe and here in Malaysia seem to think Volvos as indestructible moving bricks. Cars with virtue and safe for families to be transported from one school-run to a supermarket or to a family holiday. Americans bought them in droves and somehow thought the same thing too. But the people at Volvo decided that the brand should go upmarket and cater to the more affluent crowd. I don’t think this has worked out fine for them
The first half of 2013 showed that Volvo cars sold 209,118 units of vehicles which is down 5.5% from 2012 of the same period (221,309 units). This data was procured from Volvo car’s report which also showed that sales from January to August 2013 dipped 2.5%. And there was also operating losses. This piece of news isn’t so bad as Volvo is increasing its market share in China, home to Volvo owner’s Geely. But actually elsewhere the brand is doing pretty unwell. I mean do you really see many of the latest crop of Volvo cars in Malaysia these days? I happen to be based in the Klang Valley and I don’t see many of them around. 
Why? People here do not want to pay what Volvo wants them to pay. RM221,000+++ gets you the 3series fighter the Volvo S60. BMW is selling the 316i at RM209,000++. Mercedes is selling the W204 c-class at around RM235,000++ these days and Audi is sellling the A4 at RM235,000++. So at these prices why should anyone want to buy a Volvo? Yes they are good cars but most people who buy premium sedans was to show you that they’ve made it in life and somehow, Volkswagen seem to be able to portray that image here in Malaysia even thought it is actually the Proton of Germany. Lexus has usurped Volvo too. That over embellished Toyota has made inroads in terms of size and style. They are selling a Merccedes E-class sized car at around RM250,000 (the Lexus ES250). 
So Volvo has lost out when it comes to brand and image. The thing about the safety factor is that everyone is ‘safe’ these days. The latest 2013 Mazda 3 was recently awarded EuroNCAP 5 stars and what does this tell you? Mazda builds safer cars than some Volvos these days. Don’t believe me? Just check out the EuroNCAP yourselves.
Driving pleasure? Some people are traditionalists and Volvos are front wheel drive cars and some people who are supposedly car enthusiasts would turn their noses up at these Volvos who are mostly front wheel drive. 
And another quite pathetic point is that models soldier on for ever. The Volvo XC90 has been facelifted a zillion times and is essentially the same, albeit pretty good in terms of practicality, SUV that was launched in the early 2000s. Most Continental car makers have a 7 year model lifespan, Japanese and Koreans use a 4-5 year model lifespan but Volvo seems to be like Proton, coming out with new replacements every decade or so. 
But its the price that is killing Volvo. People just don’t want to buy expensive Volvos. And then maybe design. I had a look at the newly launched Volvo V40 here recently and I concluded that the entry level Volvo V40 T4, the one without any bodykit, that is selling at RM174,000+++ actually looks so much like a RM120,000++ Ford Focus. While it looks good in the photos, it does not translate well in the flesh. One must pay RM199,000++  for the V40 CrossRoad for it to look good and at this price you could actually buy a Mercedes Benz A200, which actually looks stunning (even though it rides like a rock). Or you could save your money and buy the cheaper Ford Focus. The V40 is in fact based on this Ford you know.
So while we’re still on design, another problem with Volvo is that they’re good looking but I have noticed that at the price they wish to sell they are not ‘bling’ enough. Their cars aren’t all sparkly and showy. I noticed that peole want more in their ‘expensive’ rides. A good example is Audi, every since they started using the ‘Novulari’ or one piece shield of a grille in the B7 series A4, people loved them even more. Sales boomed everywhere. Especially conservative luxury market Malaysia too. People love the ‘bling’ in expensive cars. Look at Toyota, instead of selling a Camry that has a very chrome free grille like in America and Australia, we Malaysians get a Camry that actually apes the Toyota Aurion 3.5 sold in Australia. We get the most ostentatious looking Camry because we want to be seen as a success in one. Uncle car or not. 
And Volvo isn’t giving this to us. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the photos right above and below – We have the top of the line RM300,000 Volvo S80 going against EM250,000 compact executives like the Audi A4, BMW 3series and the Mercedes Benz C-class. The Audi, BMW and Mercedes all have distinctive grilles. The BMW kidney grille is getting larger with each generation, the Audi rings are also large within a very large grille and the Mercedes shows off its huge three-pointed star within a very wide grille. Now add their even more distinctive daytime driving lights in all three cars stated and compare all of these to the Volvo and you will notice that the Volvo is too understated. And this is the top of the line 5 series sized S80. Their cars aren’t bling enough. And add the similar pricing for the S60, Volvo isn’t going anywhere. 
Maybe a return to a larger grille like the older cars like the Volvo 164 (below) or the 264 should be the way. Even the classic and very good looking P1800 coupe has a large distinctive grille (right at the bottom). If you say that Volvo is catering to the low profile crowd then no one would be buying Volvos at a volume that Volvo needs to sustain. When I say people actually want some extra ‘bling’ to show they’ve made it, I think I am right. If I were truly wrong, there would be more Volvos out there.
Volvo also needs to revamp its image. And a marketing team that actually builds on its heritage instead of trying to be hip and cool like everybody else is doing these days. Volvo has got to do a whole lot and one damn article isn’t enough space for me to explain more. 

The Proton Savvy and Fried Mamak Mee

I like frequenting our local mamak stalls and restaurants. Most of us do actually as the food and drinks are cheap and the atmosphere very relaxed. A nice mug of teh tarik and a roti canai would do wonders especially since both items would only cost you RM3.00 and below. It’s 2011 okay, and not 1989 where you could get both items for about RM1.00.
The variety of food is also the same at a mamak eatery. You get all the usual kopi O, teh O, teh tarik, teh halia, roti canai, thosai, capati and then higher up you get the nasi kandar and nasi beryani. There may be some slight differences in taste but the quality is almost the same so you can’t go wrong most of the time. Go into a stall in Ipoh or a stall in Klang and it would cost the same and the taste is pretty much the same.
However, there are times when they do screw up. They could have fish curry cooked in a pot that has not been washed since the 1950s. They could actually be kneading the dough of the roti canai with unwashed hands and fingers after sneezing. They could actually be serving fried mamak mee that was actually fried in under 45 seconds.
Now this last incident I clearly remembered even though it happened over a decade ago. I was at the local mamak corner shop and I somehow noticed that the chap frying the noodles was chugging along in a pretty efficient manner. Too efficient if you asked me as when I started timing how long he took to whip up a plate of fried mee he managed to stop the clock at a pretty incredible 45 seconds per plate. The question that came to my mind was whether the noodles were actually cooked. I then paid attention and then noticed that the noodles only spent 30 of the 45 seconds in the wok. Needless to say I have never ordered fried mee at that mamak shop ever again.
This brings me to the Proton Savvy and the recent report of it in the local Chinese daily, the Oriental Daily News. This piece of news somehow did not appear on the usual English and Bahasa Melayu dailies (blocked by the powers that be probably). It basically stated that Proton has stopped production of the Savvy due to quality issues. It seems the car has such an appalling quality record that Proton has deemed that if it kept on producing this car it would tarnish its image (as if Proton has a fantastic image in the first place).
Anyway, they also mentioned that somehow its partnership with Renault is disappointing as the general public has not embraced French technology in Proton cars. Obviously this has some merit as the Savvy actually suffers from a lot of mechanical issues. I will get to this in a while.
Now the ironic thing about all of this is that the Savvy was the first (and probably the only) Proton to be TUV certified. Now how Proton managed to get the Savvy TUV certified is beyond comprehension of mere mortals as now they’ve claimed the car to be of ridiculously bad quality. Did they employ automotive TUV standards in the first place or TUV standards for bread making as the car was so brittle? Did they Perodua send an undercover agent that worked in Proton’s quality control department so that when Proton developed the Savvy it would never, ever be a threat to the Myvi? Did Proton engage German TUV standards from 1938? Did Renault decide that instead of building car interior parts that just disintegrate they should now design engines that do the same? ( I still think Renault builds the flimsiest European car interiors around even to this day) 
Whatever the case, The Proton Savvy has become as unloved as its predecessor, the Proton Tiara. Of course its fate isn’t as bad as the Tiara but its pretty close I suppose, whether Proton likes it or not.
Now I managed to cop a drive in one of these Proton Savvys. A 2005/6 pre-facelifted one with the ridiculous looking ‘V’ design on the rear hatch. It was basically stock with the exception of nicer looking alloy wheels and a worn out steering wheel that had small chunks missing from the top of it. It looks like the plastic used for the steering must have come from France – all croissant-like and flaky.
The rest of the interior seemed normal enough with nothing missing. The great thing about the Savvy is that the seating position is actually spot on. The steering wheel is where it should be and not resting on your thighs like in the Gen2, Waja or Satria Neo. The seats are firm without the short squab that you’d find in the Waja. The view out from the cabin is actually good and I even thought that the seat wasn’t set too high. Everything was actually good.
The Savvy I drove was a manual. This meant that I did not have to suffer the jerkiness of an Automated Manual Transmission that was offered by Proton to those who somehow cannot use a stick shift. I believe the AMT gearbox also caused Proton pain and suffering due to quality issues. So anyway, I have to say that while I like manual gearboxes, the Savvy has one with slightly vague gear placement. It isn’t a car that you can feel comfortable straight away when it comes to gear shifts, that is.
The 1.2 (actually 1,149cc – which I truly wonder why Proton calls it a 1.2liter in the first place) is pretty tractable. It is able to move the Savvy quite a bit and does not like it struggles at all. Maybe if you load up the rear with people it may feel a little lethargic but with two upfront it covers ground decently well.
It also rides like a larger car. This surprised me a little as the ride and to an extent, the handling is pretty good. It corners well and even the steering feels connected. It holds the corners quite well and you actually feel confident driving this little hatchback. It could handle another 30bhp easily (the Savvy has about 74bhp). If it had that 30bhp it would feel like a Suzuki Swift especially since it rides as well as one. But it’s a Swift with really bad material quality as well as build quality.
So that is actually what the Proton Savvy feels like. On the point of build quality the car really suffers. The chap who owns it had to spend nearly a thousand Ringgit to get the fuel pump fixed. Utterly expensive for such a budget car and Rolls Royce-like in price when you compare with a Proton Wira’s fuel pump. It also suffers from a leak in the power steering system as the owner told me he had just topped up the fluid and when I took a peep under the bonnet it was down by half again. It also suffers from low speed jerks and also high speed stutters (same problem – either fuelling caused by a dirty fuel filter or clogged injectors, or a faulty throttle body, or some vacuum leak, or God forbid, a faulty ECU which could cost more than even the older Proton Wira).
So the Proton Savvy is actually crap after you’ve owned it for a while. It may be a decent drive but it is actually bloody expensive to maintain for such a cheap car. This is why Proton has stopped selling it. And another incredible piece of news is that the excuse given is that they build one car every 98 seconds or 700 cars per day so quality issues are bound to happen. I suppose someone should either tell Proton that Toyota does the same in around the time the mamak fries the fried mee. No food poisoning in the case of Toyota most of the time, right?

The Proton Savvy and Fried Mamak Mee

I like frequenting our local mamak stalls and restaurants. Most of us do actually as the food and drinks are cheap and the atmosphere very relaxed. A nice mug of teh tarik and a roti canai would do wonders especially since both items would only cost you RM3.00 and below. It’s 2011 okay, and not 1989 where you could get both items for about RM1.00.
The variety of food is also the same at a mamak eatery. You get all the usual kopi O, teh O, teh tarik, teh halia, roti canai, thosai, capati and then higher up you get the nasi kandar and nasi beryani. There may be some slight differences in taste but the quality is almost the same so you can’t go wrong most of the time. Go into a stall in Ipoh or a stall in Klang and it would cost the same and the taste is pretty much the same.
However, there are times when they do screw up. They could have fish curry cooked in a pot that has not been washed since the 1950s. They could actually be kneading the dough of the roti canai with unwashed hands and fingers after sneezing. They could actually be serving fried mamak mee that was actually fried in under 45 seconds.
Now this last incident I clearly remembered even though it happened over a decade ago. I was at the local mamak corner shop and I somehow noticed that the chap frying the noodles was chugging along in a pretty efficient manner. Too efficient if you asked me as when I started timing how long he took to whip up a plate of fried mee he managed to stop the clock at a pretty incredible 45 seconds per plate. The question that came to my mind was whether the noodles were actually cooked. I then paid attention and then noticed that the noodles only spent 30 of the 45 seconds in the wok. Needless to say I have never ordered fried mee at that mamak shop ever again.
This brings me to the Proton Savvy and the recent report of it in the local Chinese daily, the Oriental Daily News. This piece of news somehow did not appear on the usual English and Bahasa Melayu dailies (blocked by the powers that be probably). It basically stated that Proton has stopped production of the Savvy due to quality issues. It seems the car has such an appalling quality record that Proton has deemed that if it kept on producing this car it would tarnish its image (as if Proton has a fantastic image in the first place).
Anyway, they also mentioned that somehow its partnership with Renault is disappointing as the general public has not embraced French technology in Proton cars. Obviously this has some merit as the Savvy actually suffers from a lot of mechanical issues. I will get to this in a while.
Now the ironic thing about all of this is that the Savvy was the first (and probably the only) Proton to be TUV certified. Now how Proton managed to get the Savvy TUV certified is beyond comprehension of mere mortals as now they’ve claimed the car to be of ridiculously bad quality. Did they employ automotive TUV standards in the first place or TUV standards for bread making as the car was so brittle? Did they Perodua send an undercover agent that worked in Proton’s quality control department so that when Proton developed the Savvy it would never, ever be a threat to the Myvi? Did Proton engage German TUV standards from 1938? Did Renault decide that instead of building car interior parts that just disintegrate they should now design engines that do the same? ( I still think Renault builds the flimsiest European car interiors around even to this day) 
Whatever the case, The Proton Savvy has become as unloved as its predecessor, the Proton Tiara. Of course its fate isn’t as bad as the Tiara but its pretty close I suppose, whether Proton likes it or not.
Now I managed to cop a drive in one of these Proton Savvys. A 2005/6 pre-facelifted one with the ridiculous looking ‘V’ design on the rear hatch. It was basically stock with the exception of nicer looking alloy wheels and a worn out steering wheel that had small chunks missing from the top of it. It looks like the plastic used for the steering must have come from France – all croissant-like and flaky.
The rest of the interior seemed normal enough with nothing missing. The great thing about the Savvy is that the seating position is actually spot on. The steering wheel is where it should be and not resting on your thighs like in the Gen2, Waja or Satria Neo. The seats are firm without the short squab that you’d find in the Waja. The view out from the cabin is actually good and I even thought that the seat wasn’t set too high. Everything was actually good.
The Savvy I drove was a manual. This meant that I did not have to suffer the jerkiness of an Automated Manual Transmission that was offered by Proton to those who somehow cannot use a stick shift. I believe the AMT gearbox also caused Proton pain and suffering due to quality issues. So anyway, I have to say that while I like manual gearboxes, the Savvy has one with slightly vague gear placement. It isn’t a car that you can feel comfortable straight away when it comes to gear shifts, that is.
The 1.2 (actually 1,149cc – which I truly wonder why Proton calls it a 1.2liter in the first place) is pretty tractable. It is able to move the Savvy quite a bit and does not like it struggles at all. Maybe if you load up the rear with people it may feel a little lethargic but with two upfront it covers ground decently well.
It also rides like a larger car. This surprised me a little as the ride and to an extent, the handling is pretty good. It corners well and even the steering feels connected. It holds the corners quite well and you actually feel confident driving this little hatchback. It could handle another 30bhp easily (the Savvy has about 74bhp). If it had that 30bhp it would feel like a Suzuki Swift especially since it rides as well as one. But it’s a Swift with really bad material quality as well as build quality.
So that is actually what the Proton Savvy feels like. On the point of build quality the car really suffers. The chap who owns it had to spend nearly a thousand Ringgit to get the fuel pump fixed. Utterly expensive for such a budget car and Rolls Royce-like in price when you compare with a Proton Wira’s fuel pump. It also suffers from a leak in the power steering system as the owner told me he had just topped up the fluid and when I took a peep under the bonnet it was down by half again. It also suffers from low speed jerks and also high speed stutters (same problem – either fuelling caused by a dirty fuel filter or clogged injectors, or a faulty throttle body, or some vacuum leak, or God forbid, a faulty ECU which could cost more than even the older Proton Wira).
So the Proton Savvy is actually crap after you’ve owned it for a while. It may be a decent drive but it is actually bloody expensive to maintain for such a cheap car. This is why Proton has stopped selling it. And another incredible piece of news is that the excuse given is that they build one car every 98 seconds or 700 cars per day so quality issues are bound to happen. I suppose someone should either tell Proton that Toyota does the same in around the time the mamak fries the fried mee. No food poisoning in the case of Toyota most of the time, right?

What I think of the new and improved but still challenged in the looks department BMW 1 Series

Firstly, it is not styled by Chris Bangle. Any BMW not styled by Chris Bangle is a good BMW (with the exception of the 1st generation BMW Z4 which is messy with all the lines here and there, but still proportionate)…..”.


Click here to find out more about what I think of the new 2012 BMW 1 Series. Posted over at Myautoblog.org.

What I think of the new and improved but still challenged in the looks department BMW 1 Series

Firstly, it is not styled by Chris Bangle. Any BMW not styled by Chris Bangle is a good BMW (with the exception of the 1st generation BMW Z4 which is messy with all the lines here and there, but still proportionate)…..”.


Click here to find out more about what I think of the new 2012 BMW 1 Series. Posted over at Myautoblog.org.

A-pillars in Cars These Days

I wrote a piece on how A-Pillars and side mirrors in cars have grown over the years over on MyAutoblog.org. A very relevant topic if I may say so.

” A Hyundai Atoz suddenly appeared out of nowhere. ‘Nowhere’ in this context meant that it appeared after it was hidden behind the A-pillar as well as the large elephant-like driver’s side mirror.”


Click here to read about it. 

A-pillars in Cars These Days

I wrote a piece on how A-Pillars and side mirrors in cars have grown over the years over on MyAutoblog.org. A very relevant topic if I may say so.

” A Hyundai Atoz suddenly appeared out of nowhere. ‘Nowhere’ in this context meant that it appeared after it was hidden behind the A-pillar as well as the large elephant-like driver’s side mirror.”


Click here to read about it. 

Some thoughts about car interiors of the near future

“The sketch you see above is one of a future Audi A3 Sedan. Ignore the funky steering wheel as it may be drawn that way to show the rest of the dashboard. And what do you actually see? A dashboard devoid of signal switches, wiper stalks and gear knobs. “

I posted some thoughts on the interiors of cars over at MyAutoblog.org. I suppose soon we will see stuff like those in I Robot turn into reality.

Click here to read more about it.