Ramblings about Lotus Cars, the terrible image that Proton Cars have and what needs to be done.

Lotus Suprima S – Imagine the above with massive arches, 18inch wheels, vented bonnet, whale-tail rear spoiler and at least 200bhp. And a PROPER Lotus badge instead of that corny R3 one……Would a true enthusiast buy it for RM105,000? I believe so.

I had been doing some reading up on Lotus Cars recently. Lotus Cars is owned by DRB-Hicom through Proton, the Malaysian car company. Both car companies are actually in a bit of trouble owning to low sales volumes with Proton being second in the Malaysian passenger vehicle sales charts for the past two years or so. Assembler and re-badge experts Perodua have taken over the top spot in passenger car sales in Malaysia and its no question that Malaysians seem to like the brand more these days. Tell me how many of the newly launched Proton Iriz (which in 1.6liter form is not too bad) you see on the roads today compared to the newly launched Perodua Axia (which is the best value for money car you can buy these days with the puny Ringgit). Couple this with the fact that Malaysian banks seem to be tightening down on car loans also do not auger well with Proton who according to my sources have about 50% of customer car loan applications rejected or turned down. Not the fault of Proton, but this bites nonetheless.

Anyway, Lotus is slightly better. By slightly better this means selling slightly more than 1,000 cars for the first half of this year. 1,114 units to be exact and far better than the 749 units sold during the same period last year. Of course this is a blip in Proton’s scale of things but not to a specialty manufacturer like Lotus. Of course, one has to remember the ex-CEO Dany Bahar’s plan to take Proton to the stratosphere. That called for six different sports cars at one go and most ‘realists’ would say that how the heck can Lotus come up with that on a limited amout of funds (they are not Ferrari, Porsche or even Mercedes Benz). Then when you start calculating, Lotus would need to sell 50,000 units a year in order for such a number of sports cars to be realised before they would have any reasonable economics of scale. I suppose the chap just wanted the free private jets to and from F1 races as well as the free housing and other fringe benefits of being CEO.

Lotus these days are sensible. I read the recent Autocar article about the interview it conducted with current CEO Jean Mark-Gales. In it he mentioned that Lotus is looking at a sensible figure of 10,000 cars yearly if it follows the Porsche business plan and starts building four-door cars. It does make sense as the Panamera and the Cayenne sells like crazy. In the article it also mentioned that Lotus may be looking at a SUV for the South-East Asian market where demand is at its greatest. S.E.A means Malaysia, no doubt. So I can safely say that we’re going to see a Lotus SUV soon. I also have a hunch that Proton may be in collaboration too. But I suppose this is a few years away and in the meantime, Proton is bleeding.

I’ve always thought that Proton isn’t utilising Lotus the way it should or could for the Malaysian market. Most of us regular Joes are not feeling the fruits of such a tie-up. Lotus cars is actually one heck of a company. The heritage the brand has is almost better than some out of the blue luxury brand created by the Japanese like Lexus or Infiniti. Lotus has real F1 heritage, road racing heritage, proper sports car heritage and don’t forget, the James Bond link too. So what have most Malaysians got out of the deal? A ‘Tuned by Lotus’ badge on the rump of the Proton Satria GTI and the Suprima S at the most. Yes there was some suspension tuning done by the chaps at Hethel but I can bet you it was tiny. I remember being in a Chevrolet Optra which had suspension tuning by Lotus and it rode better than the claimed to be tuned by Lotus Proton Waja. Proton were cheapskates in my opinion. Not enough of Lotus in their cars.

Of course then they did come up with a RM120,000 Lotus Satria Neo which actually had the privilege of being badged a Lotus instead of a Proton. In fact the car is registered with the JPJ as a Lotus. Enough said. But the thing about that car was that it was based on a car that couldnt fit tall people, had stupid ergonomics, cheapo plastic and a serious lack of power for something to be sold in the mid-2000s onwards.

What needs to be done to boost the image if not the sales for Proton (and to some part Lotus) is this…….

In order to increase the image of Proton and Lotus to a point a new collaboration based on a Proton should be done for the Malaysian market only. Why so? This is just a stop gap car for Lotus cars but an image builder for Proton. You see, I remember discussing the point of Proton coming up with a new car brand like Lexus or Infiniti so that Proton can sell cars away from the stigma that affects its cars.

Actually the first thing is to actually get the cars built right in the first place but these days, with a serious lack of image, even a well built Proton will not make sales numbers. So Proton needs a better image or brand and this is where Lotus comes in.

What they need to do is forget about all that racing car nonsense that lightness is the only thing that needs to be added to Lotus cars. It works in Britain and Europe where cars aren’t heavily taxed. Have you ever tried getting into an entry level Lotus Elise or Exige if you are a chubby bloke? You can’t unless you are a flexible chubby bloke. I tried a couple of times and I usually sprain something or tear my pants. The only Lotus from the current line-up that fits me well is the Evora and it is the same price as a Porsche Cayman. And then when you sit inside a Cayman after an Evora you think that the interior of the Cayman came from heaven whereas the interior of the Evora was built by the foreign worker employed to build a public toilet. I mean honestly, we Asians have to spend an obscene amount of money to buy a sports car and we do not want to be a contortionist or find ourselves in a budget hotel instead of a room in the Hilton. And this is why Lotus fails to sell here in Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere around Asia. We’d rather buy luxury over lightness if it costs over RM250,000. Don’t tell me I am wrong because I am not. So Lotus should forget most of the lightness part in some of its cars in order to gain more sales. Really.

So what we need is a luxury Lotus with the help of Proton or vice versa. This will boost sales and image of both. Lotus Proton needs a Malaysia only car that is luxurious, fast enough and priced reasonably enough. Lightness need not be a key figure here as if we take out a few pages from Lotus’ recent history, it can be done.

I remember casting my eyes on something called the Lotus Carlton in the mid 1990s here in Kuala Lumpur. The 1990-1992 Lotus Carlton or in mainland Europe, the Lotus Omega and sometimes called the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton in the UK was an Opel Omega / Vauxhall Carlton upgraded by Lotus Cars to be a 177mph (285km/h) sports sedan with a 0-100kmh time of around 5.2 seconds. It had a 3.6liter turbocharged engine pumping out 377bhp and over 568Nm torque. It is considered a proper Lotus and was given a type designation — Type 104. The external differences were minimal with the addition of a rear spoiler, vents on the bonnet, Lotus badges on the front wings and bootlid, a bodykit and considerably wider wheel arches distinguishing it from a standard Carlton (shown below). Note that there wasn’t an ounce of ‘lightness’ built into that Opel/Vauxhall. Lotus did up the engine, suspension and some bodywork. What lightness? It was a bahn-stormer and it was properly fast for its day and even to this day.

Prior to this there was a ‘Hot  Hatch’ that used the Lotus name too. It was the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus which was produced for about two years or so from 1979 to 1981. Based on the Chrysler Sunbeam compact hatchback, it had a 150bhp /203Nm 2.2 liter 4 cylinder engine powering the rear wheels (the Sunbeam was a rwd car) and was used in rallys of the period. It was actually quite good and actually won the manufacturer’s title in the WRC for Talbot. What that car basically was are larger wheels and tyres, a larger engine, transmission and  stiffer suspension compared to the regular Sunbeam. Again. What actual lightness did Lotus instill in a bread and butter hatchback? Not much actually. Engine tuning, suspension tuning and some bodywork. What lightness? Sometimes I think there is too much emphasis on lightness when in actual fact trimmings and luxury fittings are what sells.

That bit was also some thought on Lotus, but for Proton the two cars mentioned above actually showed what a collaboration can achieve. Why can’t Lotus and Proton come up with one based on either the Proton Suprima S or even a Proton Perdana (aka previous gen Honda Accord since it now has some rights to produce it in a facelifted rebranded form?).

I imagine a Proton Lotus Suprima S in the mould of the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus with an upgraded 1.6 turbocharged engine with at least 200bhp / 300Nm torque, sportier suspension and a heck of an aggressive bodykit – I’d like Lancia Integrale arches, a fully vented bonnet and a nice whaletail of a rear roof spoiler please, and with proper Recaro seats inside. Produce a limited run of say 5,000 units for some economics of scale and sell it for about RM100,000-110,000. It may sell like crazy. If everything is sorted out, there could be punters from UK and Japan willing to export the cars over there as collectors items.

I also imagine a Lotus Perdana 2.4liter with at least 200bhp for around RM170,000. Make it like the Lotus Carlton, wide arches, nice bodykit, luxury inside and some extra go (not much so that the car stays sensibly priced). This not so much as Proton may need Honda approval to go ahead with such a plan. But not with the Suprima S. That is totally achievable. RM20,000 over the price of the current  Suprima S with a proper Lotus badge in place of the Proton Tiger would make it sell.

What you get is a fantastic Proton Lotus and affordable sporting cars for Malaysians. With a proper heritage filled brand name to boot. Some say that this will dilute the Lotus brand. Honestly what is there to dilute in the first place? Lotus sells 2,000 cars per year if they are lucky and hardly any here in Malaysia. What is there to dilute? If you keep the sales of the Lotus Proton exclusively here in Malaysia what actual dilution you think is being done? Not much I believe. Proton gets a better name  (and not some R3 branded nonsense – it does not seem to be working does it?) and Lotus gets extra sales volume and cash from some development work as well as use of its Lotus trademark. It could use this extra profit to make its revival plan even greater.

I think this is the short term way to go for both Proton and Lotus. One needs a better and bigger name, one needs more sales. Do it properly, both won’t suffer. But please make sure that build quality does not suffer. Then both will crash and burn like crazy. I think in this tough and trying times, this branding exercise could be an answer for the short term.

And what of Proton’s long term plans? That folks, is a tale for another day.

LLumar 2014 Asia Pacific Tint-Off Competition – 16 Teams from 14 Countries Take Part. Team from South Korea Wins


Yesterday I attended a tinting competition organized by LLumar automotive window films and its Malaysian distributor Tint Auto (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd . Yes, there is such an event and it was participated by 16 teams from 14 countries. The extra three teams came from China, which as you know is a huge country and warrants extra coverage (as well as sales numbers too).

Anyway, whilst the only cars provided were Volkswagen Passats by VW distributor F.A Wagen it was still an international themed events with tint experts from Oman, Singapore, China and South Korea as well as our own Malaysia to name a few.

I had asked the guys from LLumar’s manufacturers Eastman Chemical Company about what they actually hoped to accomplish with such a competition and according to them the competition allowed its organizers and competitors to observe and learn each others techniques in carrying out the vehicle tinting process. And to my surprise there were.

Y.B. Datuk IR. Dr. Wee Ka Siong, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (in the middle) posing
for a group picture together with Champion Ju Jungcheol from South Korea, 1st
Loke Choon from Malaysia and 2nd runner-up Zheng Shihai from China

The team from South Korea won the event (and its USD3,000 prize money) and it seems they actually brought some new film application techniques to the table. Not very interesting you may say but imagine bringing more precision to the laying of film as well as a lack of air bubbles (which is the bane of any film installation). What will now happen is that the technique will be analysed and then it could become the standard to what should be done when we install our own tints on our cars and other vehicles.

I also asked about the current situation in Malaysia regarding the JPJ’s (Malaysian RTD) latest rulings on tint levels. Tint Auto’s CEO Mr Michael Tan mentioned that LLumar can supply any level required and while the new rulings allow a higher level of tint, he noted that people are still cautious with what was allowed and what was not. There is still a wait and see attitude overall. Of course, we would still see those brave ones who would just do first and then see what happens.

Oh, the Malaysian team which participated came second. Looks like our guys can tint cars properly. 

PRESS RELEASE

Winners of the Asia Pacific 2014 Tint-Off Competition in Malaysia Announced!

Y.B. Datuk IR. Dr. Wee Ka Siong (centre), Minister in the Prime Minister’s
Department, Michael Tan (first from left), Chief Executive Officer, Tint Auto (M) Sdn. Bhd., Dr. 
Jim Ziegler (second from left), Regional Business Director, Eastman Chemical, Datuk Kelvin 
Teoh (second from right), Group Chairman, Tint Auto (M) Sdn. Bhd., Mark Gershenson (first 
from right), Director, Global LLumar Brand Management Eastman Chemical at the Asia Pacific 
2014 Tint-Off Championship

Sunway Kuala Lumpur, November 20, 2014 – Automotive window film installers from across the Asia

Pacific region revved up their game at the Asia Pacific 2014 Tint-Off Championship, organized by U.S-

based Eastman Chemical Company, the manufacturer of LLumar® automotive window films, and its sole

distributor in Malaysia, Tint Auto (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, that was held yesterday at the Sunway Convention

Centre.

The tinting competition which took place in the afternoon, pinnacled at the Gala Dinner during the night

where contestants from three countries were announced as the top three winners for this year.

Mr. Ju Jongcheol, a professional installer from South Korea took the Championship title as this year’s

most professional and best automotive window film installer in the region. Completing the skillful task with

a score of 95 points, he defeated 15 other participants from around the Asia Pacific, Australasia and

Middle East regions.

Mr Lim Loke Choon from Malaysia emerged as the second place winner with a score of 94 points and Mr

Zheng Shihai from China took the third place with a score of 93 points.

“This challenge really puts your skills as professional automotive window film installers to the test,” said

Mr Ju Jongcheol, the Asia Pacific 2014 Tint-Off Champion. “It was definitely a close competition as there

were several highly capable and skillful professionals, but I am proud to win the Championship title. This

is truly a sweet victory! Thank you LLumar and Tint-Auto (M) for the opportunity!”

Officially launched by Y.B. Datuk IR. Dr. Wee Ka Siong (Minister in Prime Minister’s Office), the

Championship event began with high-energy performances that created excitement prior to a formal

briefing session on the competition rules for all contestants.

Each contestant was given a competition bay that included a Volkswagen Passat and a supply of high-

quality AIR series of automotive window film from LLumar which, with its nano-ceramic technology and

high protection from ultra violet rays yet enhanced visibility, has gained high traction in the Malaysian

market.

The competition underscored the importance of skills and pride for a job well done. Amid roaring cheers

from supporters and spectators, contestants exhibited energetic enthusiasm in their quests to complete

the perfect tint job within the stipulated timeframe.

Dr. Jim Ziegler, Regional Business Director of Eastman Chemical, Performance Films business unit said,

“As one of the leading producers of high-quality, aftermarket window films and high-value precision-

coated film and film components, LLumar® is enthusiastic and passionate about bringing installers of

LLumar  automotive window film from around the Asia Pacific, Australia and Middle East regions together

in this exciting event.”

“The car tinting industry is one of the most important peripheral sectors of the automotive category. This

international competition provided an opportunity for installers to raise standards, exchange best

practices and network during a fun event, while we recognize and award the best professional skills in the

business.”  

Using LLumar automotive window film, contestants were seen striving for perfection during the

competition. Winners were judged on factors including tidiness of installation, cleanliness of

vehicle/handover readiness, and quality of application (gaps, edge cuts and visible damages).

“Installing car window film may look easy, but it isn’t,” said Mr Michael Tan, CEO of Tint Auto (M) Sdn.

Bhd.  “Experience, good skills and high-quality film are pre-requisites to ensuring long-lasting protection

of the car and benefits to its owner. A flawless installation will ensure that no dirt or other contaminates

are left behind, which could destroy the chance of winning the competition. LLumar is recognized for its

wide product selection and strong brand name, especially for safety and security film which is trusted by

many car owners in Malaysia. This competition selects the best installer of the products.”

“LLumar automotive window films are known and trusted by the numerous automotive brands for their

quality and proprietary scratch-resistant coating. Furthermore, today’s gadget-equipped drivers would

also be glad to know that these state-of-the-art nano technology films do not interfere with cell phones,

radio reception, radar detectors, or global positioning systems,” added Dr. Ziegler.

The competition started 14 years ago in the United States (U.S.) when the U.S.-based manufacturer of

LLumar professional window films began sponsoring and organizing international tint-off conferences and

competitions. The success of the U.S. competition led to a spin-off in the Asia Pacific region, with the first

Championship being held in Shenzhen, China in 2011 and the second Championship held in Jakarta,

Indonesia in 2012. Thus, this Championship was held for the third time in the region and first time in

Malaysia.

A total of 16 teams from countries including Malaysia, China, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan,

Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman took part in the

competition.

The judges for the competition include experts from Eastman Chemical Company: Danny Wong Kam

Lam, Regional MTS Manager; Richard Dill, Quality Assurance Manager; and Charlie Zhao Li, Technical

Training Team Leader.

About LLumar® Window Films

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of high performance films for automotive and

architectural applications, LLumar window film is one of the brands under Eastman Chemical Company.

LLumar window films are proudly made in the U.S.A. and distributed to nearly 100 countries. Production

capabilities include color dyeing, sputtering, metallizing, solution coating, laminating, and slitting. Eastman

Chemical Company is proud to have one of the largest and most integrated window and performance-

coated film manufacturing sites in the world. The flagship factory is located in Martinsville, Virginia. To

help ensure the products are of the highest quality, the window films are inspected using advanced

testing equipment and procedures. The company is proud to be an ISO 9001:2008 Certified Company

(Certificate #FM 35957). Numerous independent testing associations validate the quality and

performance of window films. Verified by independent laboratories in accordance with accepted testing

methods, LLumar meets criteria established by the industry’s most respected organizations, including

ANSI, General Services Administration, National Fenestration Rating Council, and current European

standards. Eastman Chemical Company is also proud to be associated with the world’s leading industry

associations, including the International Window Film Association.

About Eastman Chemical Company (Eastman)

Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of products found in items

people use every day. With a portfolio of specialty businesses, Eastman works with customers to deliver

innovative products and solutions while maintaining a commitment to safety and sustainability. Its market-

driven approaches take advantage of world-class technology platforms and leading positions in attractive

end-markets such as transportation, building and construction and consumables. Eastman focuses on

creating consistent, superior value for all stakeholders. As a globally diverse company, Eastman serves

customers in approximately 100 countries and had 2013 revenues of approximately $9.4 billion. The

company is headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, USA and employs approximately 14,000 people

around the world. For more information, visit www.eastman.com.

Reviews to look forward to: The 2014 Ford Ranger and the 2014 Ford Eco Sport

I have been a tad bit busy with things happening around me. As such, I have two reviews that I have to come up with within the next few days. But here are some pics on the two cars that I have had the pleasure of testing over the past month or so – The 2014 Ford Ranger and the 2014 Ford EcoSport.

For the 2014 Ranger, let’s just say that the only real difference compared to the one that was first launched in 2012 is the ISOFIX rear seats for ISOFIX equipped cars seats and the addition of traction control or Electronic Stability Program (ESP). This certainly helps cure the Ford Ranger’s tendancy to actually tail out at every corner that has a whiff of sand or water if you use full throttle. I had tested the automatic version, which was practical in the traffic in and around KL (and very useful for those lazy people who want a dose of the contractor lifestyle without the complication of shifting gears themselves).

The 2014 EcoSport does not run the EcoBoost 1.0liter turbocharged engine. It has a 1.5liter engine and a DSG transmission unit powering the front wheels. Eco here stands for ecology or something like that. Not for economy although I did manage a fuel consumption of around 9.3ltrs per 100km. Which was pretty good considering that we spend a lot of time mashing the pedal to the floor. Sport here is short for Sports Utility Vehicle. Not sportscar.

So there you have it. Stay tuned folks. The review for the Ford Ranger should be arriving shortly.

Driving the Ford Ecosport up and around Genting

Commercial Vehicle News: Volvo Buses Back in Malaysia and Launches New Bus Chassis Range


I attended the launch of Volvo Buses new chassis range for buses in Malaysia. It also marks the return of Volvo Buses (via the current Volvo Malaysia setup) to Malaysia after a number of years.

The B7R chassis comes in the normal flat top or high riding ladder frame chassis for normal long haul (express) buses as well as the B7RLE low entry chassis which allows for high passenger capacity and quick entry and exit for use in urban environments like those utilised by RAPID KL in Kuala Lumpur. It is powered by a 7 liter diesel engine that makes 290bhp and 1200Nm of torque. It also is quite clean even with our lower grade of diesel and its DPF filter cuts out 80% of the harmful particles emitted by the engine.

The B11R chassis is the heavyweight for buses. Meant for longer and more heavy duty trips, the B11R gets a 11 liter diesel engine that has a minimum of 330bhp and 1600 to 2150Nm torque depending on configuration. The best thing about Volvo Buses is that they are Euro 3 compliant at the very least and having them on Malaysian roads is a good thing.

The unique thing about the bus industry in most countries is that the manufacturer supplies a rolling chassis which are then brought to coachbuilders who actually make the bodies you see on the buses. Here in Malaysia, there are many. At least twenty of them competing for the business. The best thing about coachbuilding, like those used by luxury car manufacturers is that everything is customised according to the customer’s tastes and preferences. So if you want a bus with yellow aircraft style seats trimmed in velvet you could do so. The sky and the budget given is the limit.

So aside from the new Volvo B7R,and the B11R chassis on display for us to view. Volvo Malaysia had also displayed a seven year old refurbished RAPID KL Volvo bus. One that is part of one hundred units that the company will refurbish for the urban transport authority. Quite a good job I must say. The refurbished bus is the work of Volvo Malaysia as well as local coachbuilders Quality Bus & Coach (M) Sdn. Bhd. (QBC)

QBC are also engaged by Volvo Buses to build complete buses for Volvo to be sent over to Australia – an achievement for a Malaysian company in my opinion.



PRESS RELEASE
Volvo Buses Launches New Chassis Range

Volvo B7R and Volvo B11R set to drive Malaysia’s public transport and travel to new heights

L to R – Mr Steve Hedouin, General Manager, Region Singapore, Volvo Buses, Mr Muralli Muthusubramaniam, Country Manager, Volvo Buses Malaysia, His Excellency Mr Bengt Carlsson, Ambassador of Sweden to Malaysia, Mr Mats Nilsson,  Managing Director of Volvo Malaysia,  Mr David Mead, Vice President of Asia Pacific, Volvo Buses

SHAH ALAM, 19 November 2014 – Volvo Buses Malaysia today proudly unveils its new chassis range

to the Malaysian market – the new Volvo B7R and Volvo B11R. Launched in the presence of the

Ambassador of Sweden to Malaysia, Volvo customers, partners and members of the media, Volvo Buses’

new chassis range are poised to offer the best solutions for next-generation public transport and travel in

Malaysia.

“The launch of the Volvo Buses Chassis Range today spells an additional significant advancement in the

operations of Volvo Malaysia. It also underscores our commitment and deep interest to play an even more

active participation in the country’s transportation industry,” said Mr Mats Nilsson, Managing Director,

Volvo Malaysia

Both the Volvo B7R and Volvo B11R are chassis models that were designed with versatility in mind and

made for efficient, safe, and profitable transport, both of which have enjoyed increased demand in other

David Mead, Vice President, APAC, Volvo Buses Corporation said, “This chassis range we are launching

today provides first-class driveability, outstanding fuel-efficiency and low on environmental impact. The

versatility of this chassis range allows our customers to customize according to their needs, as they are

easily tailored to suit school bus, long distance charter and touring coaches.

“Our customers choose Volvo for a reason – Volvo Buses is much more than a premium bus or coach. Volvo

customers can look forward to a complete solution, tailored to their reality. This solution includes the right

bus or coach, the right combination of leading support services, and our commitment and expertise

throughout the lifetime of the bus and beyond.

“Volvo Buses also has a City Mobility programme that addresses issues faced by the public transport

industry and we have worked directly with many major cities in solving their public transport challenges by

offering complete solutions,” said Mead.

Volvo vehicles are recognized for its renowned safety, high level uptime and efficiency in fuel consumption –

which are important features for a quality public transport system. An unmatchable safety feature in the

Volvo B7R and the Volvo B11R is its Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and its Electronically-controlled

Braking System (EBS).

As a standard feature in all Volvo buses, the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) reduces the risk of the driver

losing control over his vehicle in critical situations; for example in sharp curves or on slippery surfaces. The

Electronically controlled Braking System (EBS) on the other hand, has anti-locking disc-brake system

offering high braking effect and instant alertness thanks to electronic signal transmission.

All Volvo Buses models are also equipped with integrated retarder with additional Volvo Engine Brake, 4 disc

brakes with higher and constant braking, and separate front and rear brake air circuits for maximum safety.

“Customers moving towards new technology naturally also want security; and we are proud to say that Volvo

Group has undeniably one of the toughest safety standards in the world. Safety is not only encompassed in

our products; it is also incorporated in our entire production, supply, aftersales and value chain. We therefore

offer various business packages whereby we undertake all maintenance processes for the entire bus,” said

Mr Muralli Muthusubramaniam, Country Manager, Volvo Buses Malaysia.

“We have a network coverage of 11 dealerships across Malaysia, with an aftermarket service quality that is

on par with our global service standards. We also provide 24/7 road assistance where technical support will

be dispatched to our customers in case of a breakdown.

“Volvo also very much focuses on training for bus technicians for specific technical support to offer

customers a complete ownership experience when purchasing Volvo Buses. Volvo’s aftersales service helps

our customers’ bottom line over the entire lifetime of the vehicle” added Muthusubramaniam.

The Volvo B7R runs smoothly in service, maintenance and on the road. The flat top of the framework

permits efficient body construction and guarantees a long, productive life. Rigid front suspension in

combination with a compact and service-friendly driveline installation create a spacious and efficient vehicle.

The Volvo B7R is primarily intended for long-distance and tourist duties, but is also suitable for use as a city

bus. The low-entry version, Volvo B7RLE, allows for high passenger capacity and quick entry and exit. Its

kneeling function and wide centre aisle make for efficient passenger flow, and the chassis layout permits

Rear view of the 7liter diesel

The B7R’s 7-litre diesel engine is one of the most efficient in its class and it complies with Euro 3 emission

standards. An output of 290 bhp and 1200 Nm of torque contribute to smooth handling in all situations. The

choice of automatic and manual gearboxes allows for combinations that will suit any need, and Volvo’s

single-reduction rear axle is available in a range of ratios. The benefits are the traditional Volvo hallmarks of

first-class driveability, outstanding fuel efficiency and low environmental impact.

The Volvo B11R’s highly fuel-efficient Euro 3 engine cuts operational costs, and Volvo’s quality standards

combine functionality with passenger comfort and lifecycle productivity. Rigid front suspension in

combination with a compact and service-friendly driveline installation extends the scope for creating a

spacious and efficient coach.

The B11R is available in a 2-axle chassis and possesses a stable and pleasant driving character with

passenger comfort. Its powerful engine is able to produce a power output of 370 to 430hp yet its high fuel

efficiency further adds low running costs and sustainability.

The B11R’s new 11-litre Euro 3 engine combines strength, reliability and economy in a right-sized but

equally powerful package. With 370 and 430 hp and massive torque from very low revs, the B11R is more

than capable in taking passengers to their destination swiftly and safely. The legendary Volvo I-Shift

transmission, which combines smooth and silent shifting with fuel efficiency, is also available in the B11R.

About Volvo Bus Corporation
Volvo Bus Corporation is one of the world’s leading bus manufacturers, with a strong focus on vehicles and systems for

long-term sustainable public transport. The product program includes complete transport solutions, city buses, intercity

buses and coaches, as well as services in financing, vehicle service, vehicle diagnostics and traffic information. Volvo

Bus Corporation is part of the Volvo Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses and construction

equipment and drive systems for marine and industrial applications. The Group also provides complete solutions for

financing and services. www.volvobuses.com

About Volvo Malaysia 
Volvo Malaysia, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Volvo Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers

of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines and services. The company is the

distributor of  commercial vehicles and construction equipment manufactured under the Volvo Group. Volvo

Malaysia offers a range of medium to heavy duty trucks under the Volvo and Renault umbrella as well as

construction equipment under Volvo Construction Equipment. The UD Trucks business is distributed via Tan

Chong Industrial Equipment (TCIE). Volvo Malaysia aims to provide total transport solution to customers in

 Malaysia. Volvo’s work is based on the core values quality, safety and environmental care.

CARAMA BY CASTROL IS NOW IN JOHOR

Carama, which is Castrol’s the value added online guide for car servicing, car maintenance and automobile workshop guide has now expanded to areas in the state of Johor. This means that you can now use Carama.com to book car services over there too instead of just the Klang Valley. 
Basic facts about Carama include over 250 certified and listed participating workshops which aims to ultimately rebuild the trust between Malaysian car owners and workshops. Carama provides all Carama users a 3 months / 5,000 km warranty on labour and spare parts. Additionally, users are entitled to 3% cashback on their total bill. On top of assurance and savings, all Carama users are entitled to 2 x FREE MyTeksi rides (worth RM15 each) whenever they make a booking on Carama.com, ensuring they have transportation to and from their car workshop.

The website also features a Service Price Calculator where Malaysians can get estimates for various repairs and services across a range of car models (most common makes are in this list). This helps motorists know how much the would need to allocate for a repair. It would help those who haven’t a clue of how much maintaining their ride costs. Some buy a car without taking this to consideration. Carama may assist you in certain aspects.
PRESS RELEASE
Choose from 250+ car workshops in Malaysia, now including Johor Bahru and surrounding areas Kulai, Skudai, Ulu Tiram, Senai, Kluang, Batu Pahat, Segamat and Masai

KUALA LUMPUR – 14 November 2014 Carama, Malaysia’s first and only online service for trusted car care, is now available in Johor.

“We are extremely excited to announce Carama’s expansion into Johor as part of Carama’s efforts to make trusted car maintenance services available to car owners across the nation.”

“Johor has the second highest number of registered vehicles in Malaysia and Carama aims to be the one-stop solution for car owners here by enabling them to make hassle-free car bookings instantaneously online,” said General Manager Sumeet Wadhwa.

Carama currently has over 250+ certified and listed car workshops within Klang Valley and Johor. Certified workshops on Carama are assessed by an independent party based on a rigorous 40-point annual screening process. This ensures that car owners receive the highest standards of transparency in pricing and repair.

Carama aims to ultimately rebuild the trust between Malaysian car owners and workshops; and in doing so, provide all Carama users a 3 months / 5,000 km warranty on labour and spare parts. Additionally, users are entitled to 3% cashback on their total bill. On top of assurance and savings, all Carama users are entitled to 2 x FREE MyTeksi rides (worth RM15 each) whenever they make a booking on Carama.com, ensuring they have transportation to and from their car workshop.

The portal also features a Service Price Calculator where Malaysians can get estimates for various repairs and services across a range of car models.

Audi A3 Sedan – The Audi 1.4TFSI & 1.8 TFSI Quattro driven back to back

This is the A3 Sedan 1.8 TFSI Quattro – How do I know? I don’t. I had to look through my notes and then found out that the wheel design makes it a 1.8 TFSI Quattro – Ten Spokes.

Audi has recently launched the A3 Sedan in Malaysia and we get two variants, one is the 1.4 TFSI and the other the sportier 1.8 TFSI Quattro. Launched in 2013, the Audi A3 sedan utilises the Volkswagen Group MQB platform first seen in the current Volkswagen Golf and then in the A3 Hatchback and Sportback variants. It is because of this basic chassis sharing that the Audi A3 Sedan is a very familiar animal to drive.

But before we get to that lets start off with the similarities between the two A3 Sedans that we can get in Malaysia. Specs for both variants are high and if you aren’t paying attention, you think that you were driving the same car. You get xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights, fog lights, headlight washers, anti glare rear view mirror, automatic air conditioning, 7 airbags, stability control, traction control, electronic diff lock, ABS, EBD, brake assist, immobilisers, ISOFIX, hill hold assist, Audi Drive select via MMI, Electric handbrake, light and rain sensors and some more in both variants.

What you don’t get in the 1.4TFSI are anti glare on the 1.8 driver side mirror, some aluminium trim inside, a slightly different steering wheel, different design for the 17 inch wheels (of the same size tyres), keyless go and sports suspension instead of something called the ‘dynamic’ suspension. Things are so slight that the only difference externally are the different wheels used. You get ten spokes in the 1.8TFSI Quattro and chunky five spokes in the 1.4TFSI.

So once you get into either car, you get the same quality of any Audi. It may be smaller than the B8 Audi A4 sedan but it actually quite similar to a B5 Audi A4 from the late 1990s. Those that drove one of those would feel just at home in terms of space and size. Of course, the only difference is the design and styling of the A3 Sedan, very up to date and current. It may be a little stubby looking compared to the A4 but not by much as it is still easy to get confused as to whether you are looking at an A3 sedan or an A4 sedan. It also shows that Audi needs better designers as they all look the same from the A3 to the A8. Nice, but too similar.

As for quality, typically Audi. The interior is top notch and comparable to the ageing A4 in some aspects. It may be slightly simpler in design owing to the fact that is is entry level Audi but the materials used as well as the switchgear incorporated are of typically Audi class leading standards. It is a nice place to be inside an A3 but aside from the round air vents, you could operate the car blindfolded if you came from a Mk7 Golf as the layout is similar. Platform sharing. Makes things extremely monotonous sometimes.

Anyway, the A3 1.4 and 1.8 Quattro both look the same. I suppose what counts here is the engine (both transverse instead of longitudinally placed in bigger Audis) and drive train. The 1.4TFSI is front wheel drive. It gets a 1.4liter Four cylinder direct injection turbocharged engine that makes 122 bhp and 200Nm torque. It gets VW Group’s 7 speed DSG transmission which is the latest dry clutch variant used in the current 140hp Mk7 VW Golf that we get here. It seems we got the lowest horsepower version –  most probably for reliability’s sake as this makes the engine very unstressed so it probably is good for the engine’s lifespan and would not overwhelm the dry clutch type dual clutch gearbox connected to it (Note ** being an Audi it will be built much better than a Volkswagen and should be very much more trouble free in my opinion.)

The 1.8TFSI Quattro gets the 1.8liter engine you see in the larger A4 but gets All Wheel Drive. 1.8liter four cylinder with 180bhp and 280Nm torque to play around with a Haldex (not like the permanently driven setup of the larger Audis as it is an on demand system no matter what Audi tells you) based transmission system running a 6 speed wet clutch type dual clutch gearbox. Much more power here.

Two 1.4 TFSI in white and a black 1.8 TFSI Quattro – its all in the wheel design

Of course when you drive both back to back you can tell that the 1.4 is slower in acceleration and grips a tad bit less on the twisties and bends. In most fast corners the understeer sets in much earlier than the dynamic suspension equipped 1.4TFSI compared to the sports setup in the 1.8TFSI Quattro. Even though the ride height of both variants are similar, when you drive the 1.4 through a high speed corner it feels less tied down with the front tyres (225/45/17 on both variants) feeling like its folding under the car. It also has a slight twitchier tail that is more willing to wag about. Most probably due to the front buckling under the car much earlier putting more weight transfer over the front wheels thereby making the tail lighter.

And in the 1.8TFSI Quattro, due to the sportier suspension (I doubt its the all wheel drive system at work due to it being an on demand system) things feel better tied down. Most would notice that you could take a corner at least a good 10kmh faster in the 1.8 TFSI Quattro than in the front wheel driven 1.4 TFSI. This is not to say the A3 1.4TFSI isn’t fun to drive. It is. It drives quite like the MK7 VW Golf 1.4TSI I tested a couple of months ago. It has about the same (quite high) grip levels and the same steering feel as that car (mainly because it has that same electro-mechanical steering system, which means that its nicely weighted but a little numb when it comes to steering feel).

On the point of power, the 1.4 TFSI with its 122bhp and 200Nm of torque isn’t all that bad. Audi claims that it can do the 100kmh sprint in 9.3 seconds and have a limited top speed of 205kmh. It actually feels slightly faster to 100kmh and even though its cornering limits were lower, an experienced enough driver (or a road tester) would be able to wring out every last drop and have some fun. Everything is predictable even though it is slower than the 6.7seconds to 100kmh and 225kmh top speed (limited) A3 1.8TFSI.

The 1.8TFSI Quattro in fact feels a little saddled with the extra driveshafts and weight as whilst it states that if would get to a hundred kilos faster than its smaller engined brethren, it actually feels just as slow, or as fast. I suppose the extra grip in the sports suspension makes things calmer and since its grippier, you could be going faster than you think.

Anyway, the point is that the 1.8 is faster than the 1.4. There is however more drama in the 1.4 due to its looser chassis setup but then again, if you want to get from point A to B faster, take the 1.8 TFSI Quattro.

And aside from that, there is no actual reason to buy the 1.8 TFSI Quattro. If you aren’t into barrelling down Genting every weekend or heading down South to Singapore to hit Sentosa Island or Marina Bay Sands for a game of cards, you are better off just driving the 1.4TFSI. It bloody looks the same. It is also more refined as at high speeds it does not have a throaty engine note. Above 4,000rpm, the 1.8 TFSI engine starts clearing its vocal chords a lot louder than the 1.4TFSI. The grip you get in the corners is also translated to a slightly harsher ride. Not by much and not as ridiculous as a Mercedes A250 but you know you’re buying a performance oriented sedan instead of a refined entry level premium sedan.

And buying one is the issue. The 1.4 costs RM179,900 without insurance whereas the 1.8 costs RM240,888 without insurance. How much is that? RM60,000? That price could give you an Audi A4 1.8TFSI (fwd not quattro but you don’t need it really) which is still the better car even though its on its last legs. Dry clutch over wet clutch DSG in the 1.4 over the 1.8? Heck, RM60,000 would get you tons of spare parts worth with change to spare IF the gearbox goes bust. Furthermore, the first few years are definitely covered under warranty if things go wrong. If you keep within the service schedule and drive within limits I don’t see why the 1.4TFSI should not be your first Audi to buy. And since its a 1.4liter engine and not a 1.8 that is coupled with AWD, its gonna cost you less at the petrol pumps too.

The 1.8 TFSI Quattro isn’t a bad car. Just ridiculously priced here in Malaysia in my opinion. You would still impress your office mates with a 1.4 as they wouldn’t actually know it was one. Seriously folks, only a very anal Audi fan  could tell the difference. I honestly can’t tell as after I drove both cars, I saw one on the street and I had to refer to my notes to tell which A3 sedan is was. It’s that similar folks, so safe your money and buy the 1.4TFSI.

1.8TFSI gets a sportier three spoke steering wheel inside……..

………………….1.4 TFSI gets a four spoke steering wheel and a normal key to start it up instead of a button.

Trucking News: SIN THOW JOO BRICK WORKS TAKES DELIVERY OF FIRST SCANIA TIPPER TRUCKS


L to R – Chairman of Sin Thow Joo Brick Works, Mr Tan Chin Kim  - Managing Director of Sin Thow Joo, Mr Denny CH Tan -  Scania Southeast Asia Sales Director for Truck and Engine, En Roslan Effendi.

Press Release


CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY VETERAN SIN THOW JOO BRICK WORKS
TAKES DELIVERY OF FIRST SCANIA TIPPER TRUCKS 

Chemor, Perak, 5 November, 2014 – Scania Malaysia today delivered the first two units

of Scania P410 CB 8×4 HHZ tipper truck with Scania Opticruise to construction industry

veteran Sin Thow Joo Brick Works Sdn Bhd, based in Chemor, Perak. These vehicles

also come with financing and insurance coverage from Scania Credit Malaysia.

Another five units are to be delivered to the brick manufacturer upon completion of the

long wheelbase ‘tipper’ which are currently under construction.

“Transporting our bricks have always been a challenge and we needed to ensure

minimum wastage in terms of breakages of our load to the buyers’ development sites. We

also needed to haul larger loads to the designated site on time in order to be competitive,”

stated the Managing Director of Sin Thow Joo, Mr Denny C.H.Tan.

“With the latest addition of our first Scania tipper trucks to our fleet, complete with

financing and insurance coverage from Scania, we believe the trucks will perform to

our requirements and give us the most in terms of reliability, uptime and fuel economy,”

added Denny Tan.

Established in 1972, the family run business began alongside the strong demand for

development of housing within Perak. The advent of cheaper wall blocks and bricks,

saw Sin Thow Joo facing stiff competition for the red bricks that it manufactures but their

commitment to quality and delivering within set deadlines, has enabled them to withstand

two recessions in Malaysia and it is now among the largest brick suppliers in the state of

Perak.

To date, some of Sin Thow Joo’s customers range from developers of educational

establishments such as the Poi Lam and Sam Chai Primary School in Ipoh, right up to

several thousand units from housing projects all over Ipoh.

The most prominent structure that Sin Thow Joo can be proud of will be the Aman Jaya

Bus Terminal, at Meru. Others include supplies to development of shop-houses, factories,

the De Garden Shopping Complex in Ipoh Garden and the Ipoh Downtown Hotel, to name

a few.

Handing over the keys at this inaugural event to Mr. Tan was the Sales Director for Truck

& Engine, Scania Southeast Asia, Mr. Roslan Effendi.

The Scania tipper truck has excellent manoeuvrability and handling and they are fit

for hard work in the most challenging conditions. Apart from that, these trucks are

assembled following strict guidelines set by the government agencies such as SPAD and

PUSPAKOM.

“A Scania tipper truck will make a significant and positive effect on productivity, which

in turn will maximise profitability for our customers. The truck can now carry 29 tons of

load after customizing to our customer’s needs; 17 tons more than before. And yet our

specifications that include Scania propriety technology like Opticruise, will still help the

driver and owner to achieve better fuel economy,” says Mr. Roslan.

One for a motorhead’s reading list: The Most Famous Car In The World- the story of the first E-type


I still pick up a book or two every few months or so. More if they are about cars. This book by Philip Porter titled The Most Famous Car in the World is a good read about the first Jaguar Etype ever made. It became a showcar at motor shows, media test car and then neglected and then restored.

Of course in my opinion the most famous car in the world is the Aston Martin DB5 that James Bond made famous. But the E-type comes close. Especially one as well knowned as 9600 HP.
A good read I might add. Lots of insight about the car and Jaguar during the 1950s and 1960s.

Test Drive: The Proton Iriz 1.6 Premium CVT – Better specs and an automatic make it a better Iriz to drive


Let’s cut straight to the chase. The Proton Iriz 1.6 CVT Premium is a much better car to drive than the Proton Iriz 1.3 manual I tried earliet. Some of you may be wondering how can a CVT automatic be better to drive than a manual transmission? The actual answer is the car with the better overall package wins.
It’s quite straightforward. Its the extras over the base bread and butter model that does it for me. In the Iriz 1.6 CVT you get the following extra – the 1.6liter (modified) CAMPRO is more powerful than the 1.3 variant (95hp/120nm over 108hp/150nm), the suspension is slightly firmer and sportier in the 1.6 (which rides slightly harder but actually makes the car less bouncy over most surfaces. I.e more suspension tuning here), you get 195/55/15 tyres over 175//65/14 and the Iriz 1.6 Premium interior gets better leather wrapped seats which seems more grippy than the base model seats as well as a leather wrapped steering wheel. All of this, and maybe more makes the Iriz 1.6 a better driver’s car and a better buy even if it costs a whole lot more – RM62,888 (in the spec tested) over RM47,888 (1.3 Executive (M) tested earlier).
I suppose its the usual ‘You pay peanuts you get monkeys’ argument in play here. Of course it is. There never is such a thing as free lunches these days especially in the very tough small car market. But how much better is it?
You start up the Iriz 1.6 Premium with a start button instead of a key (Keyless Go feature) and like the entry model you get a pretty good driving position with the steering wheel (only allows tilt) nicely square to your chest. The seats in this Premium are leather clad and are grippy at the sides and are quite nice to seat in even after a couple of hours. And so after all the usual adjustments, you slot in the gear lever into ‘D’ and drive off.
The ride is firmish but not uncomfortable. Proton have done quite a good job here as usual (where you get good handling but usually sub-par finishing elsewhere) and the chassis grips well on most fast sweeping corners. The car resists understeer quite well and is predictable. Now you add the fact that you now have 108hp over 95hp it gets even more adjustable on the throttle. The Iriz isn’t fast mind you. It is now slightly more sprightly instead of just pedestrian. The 150nm does not make itself felt and the Iriz 1.6 feels very linear and nothing thrilling in terms of acceleration. Of course you get the all too efficient CVT transmission helping you out but it isn’t fun in terms of making outright speed, just decent forward progress.
Now the reason why the 1.3 manual isnt as nice to drive is partly down to the extra power of the 1.6 has and the fact that the manual gear shifter is too notchy for its own good. I can take notchy gear shifters, but this one is one of those shifters that feel that it has too much resistance when selecting any gear. It is a letdown as usually petrolheads would love a rifle bolt-like shifter, smooth and precise instead of having resistance spoiling each gearchange. So avoiding the gear shifter is a good thing. But there is a ‘but’ involved here.
The ‘but’ is that the CVT based transmission is super duper droney. It will hold 5,000rpm almost throughout full-bore acceleration. This means that if you are at the traffic lights, you press on the loud pedal and the Iriz 1.6 gets SUPER LOUD for as long as the accelerator pedal is fully depressed. Imagine going from 0kmh to about 140kmh in full throttle. You would need a good 11.1 seconds to reach 100kmh and say you took another 5 seconds to reach 140kmh. It would mean high revs for almost 20seconds. Even with soundproofing (and you must remember that this is an affordable hatchback and not a Mercedes S-class) those seconds would be a tad bit annoying. 
Of course, CVTs are usually like that and rubber band-like in feel. But the reason that transmission is in the Iriz is that Proton needs to get better fuel economy figures and a CVT is good at efficiency. Even when coupled to an engine that isn’t very efficient (yes, the CAMPRO derived engine is only slightly more efficient that before in terms of fuel figures). So it needs that CVT transmission to get fuel consumption figures closer to its competitors (it does not win and is still about 6.6-6-9l/100km (according to internal sources for mixed driving conditions) over compared to way under 6l/100km for the Myvi 1.5, Polo 1.6, Swift 1.4 and the newly launched Honda Jazz 1.5)
But that being said, if you drove it as a daily driver to the office and back the Iriz is very capable. At normal traffic speeds it is quiet enough to be very relaxed in it. The entertainment system is pretty good (with Navigation in this Premium spec) and again, the driving position is good. I suppose the grippy yet comfy seats and that leather wrapped steering wheel adds to the driver and car contact points. And that dashboard looks pretty good too (even with that fake moulded stitching). The only thing really wrong with an Automatic Iriz is the gearlock. It is bloody annoyingly loud. It is a loud ‘kerlack!’ when you start and stop the Iriz 1.6 Premium. When it comes to Proton, I truly wonder how they can make the hard things like handling and ride seem easy but make simple things like gear locks and some other stuff hard.
As for the rest of the car I have no complaints. Yes it is pricey at RM62,000, but name me any car with traction control (in all variants) as this price range and every other gadget that you’d want in a car. If you don’t want most of the gadgetry like daytime running lights, auto fold mirrors leather, etc, the base 1.6 Executive CVT sells for RM58,000 but loses the driver interaction part a little with the lack of leather bits which I kinda like. I think at RM58,000 most Malaysians think that they’d rather buy the cheaper 1.5liter Myvi SE which comes in at RM55,000.
Most think that the Perodua is the better car in terms of quality if not for specs. If you add ride and handling, the Iriz beats the Myvi hands down. In terms of interior material used and its quality I have to say that the Iriz 1.6 is as good as the Perodua Myvi. It is public perception and the fact that Proton can still get a few things wrong here and there. Not in terms of build quality per se but on the design factor (like the loud gear lock mechanism and the overall styling of the car which looks like the car is an econobox with small wheels and a big body – you can read what I think of the styling in the Iriz 1.3 Executive Manualhere).

So how do I conclude this article on the Proton Iriz 1.6 Premium CVT? can Proton make me an Iriz 1.6 CVT without the gadgetry BUT with leather seats and leather steering wheel and sell it to me for under RM55,000? That would be the price which I believe most people would have no problem in buying a 1.6liter hatchback from Proton.  

Newspaper blunder


Our reporters need to do more research or proof read their articles. Can a Mitsubishi Evolution X be as puny as the specification stated in the picture which was published in a local Malay daily a while ago?  
1.2 liters,100nm torque and 800kg weight to quote. Then it still does over 200kmh max speed. The article mixed the Mitsubishi Mirage/Attrage with some Lancer Evo specs.

This also tells you people out there to check multiple sources instead if just one. In Malaysian politics the best example are the 40000 Bangladeshi voters purportedly brought in to help the ruling party. To date not obe shred of proof has been seen.

To state further, the Lancer Evo makes more than 280bhp and over 350nm torque from a 2.0 liter engine. But I bet you petrolheads already know that.

Where we speak our mind about motoring

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