Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Peugeot 208 - The Little Car than Can

If you've just started out in life and money doesn't come easy, a little pocket-rocket like the Peugeot 208 would be out of the question. But give it a few more years and, God Willing, this little beauty would be within reach.

Priced at just above RM80,000++, the Peugeot 208 is designed to meet the trendy needs of the young (young at heart). It's fast, it's stylish and it's jammed packed with electronics or as I'd like to call it "drivertronics".

Right from the get-go, the Peugeot salesperson will tell you to test drive the 208 hard and I mean really hard; rev it up high and quickly, zip it around corners and fly it over humps, so that you instantly feel how nippy and sturdy the car feels for a one-point-something-litre-engine small thing.

And I must admit, for someone who really isn't a Peugeot fan, the experience was exhilarating.

Not for the first time, Peugeot has produced a great little small car. But in the 208, Peugeot has outdone itself.

"This car was built for you to drive with your body," said the salesperson.

I didn't get what he meant at first. But after the test drive, I got it. I really got it.

The sheer thrill of driving the Peugeot 208 made me feel like I just had to keep driving the little thing. But alas, I already have enough good cars under the porch. So, I won't be buying the 208 any time soon...sigh!

Just so that no one gets the impression that the Peugeot 208 is only a driving enthusiast's wonder of a car, inside, it has many of today's life-comforts e.g. fully digital in-car entertainment system with a reasonably large touch-screen display, comfortable bucket-like seats, and a spacious cabin with enough headroom, leg-room and elbow-room to make you feel like you're in a compact class car (instead of a sub-compact).

This means that the passengers you bring along would be in for an entertaining and comfortable ride, provided they have the stomach for your fast driving (and not throw up half way through). And believe me, in the Peugeot 208, all you want to do is drive fast most of the time.

In a nutshell, the Peugeot 208 makes other small hot-hatch/hatchback cars appear to be less than value-for-money.

Then again, if you're not a Peugeot fan like me, you'd think twice or even three times.

Why? Well, personally, I don't really like Peugeot's styling choices. To me, they look really odd.

The one thing in particularly that really turns me off about the Peugeot 208 is its front grill design. It's "carved" out of the front bumper, making the 208 look like it's sticking out its lower lip in grim sadness.

It's like the little thing is complaining, "Help! I'm being driven hard and I don't like it!"

Oh! Well. Peugeot can't please everyone with its design choices, I suppose...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Perodua Viva - Tin Can in Motion

Perodua's Viva is a nice car to look at and drive. It's nippy, stylish and economical.

When mated to a 1 litre engine, the Viva can really fly - I once trailed one that was actually going as fast as 145km/h!

But it's one thing to go fast and completely another to stop safely.

Many Vivas we see on the roads don't have anti-brake lock system (ABS). So, if they go fast and run into trouble, they won't be able to stop quickly enough, or worse, when their brakes lock, they won't be able to steer to avoid collision.

And if they crash at high-speeds, well, the picture above shows what can happen.

Like a veritable tin can, the Viva can surprisingly rip apart upon impact, throwing passengers out.

Of course, being a Muslim, I am taught to believe that life and death is in the hands of Allah Most Gracious, Most Merciful. So, no matter how good our preparations to live long, safe, healthy lives are, when the time comes for us to die, we will die.

Still, there are lessons to be learnt. Foremost is that, if you are driving a Viva with no ABS, then you really shouldn't be driving more than 110km/h. 

Anything faster would be near suicidal, because chances are, you won't be able to slow down quickly enough before certain impact, let alone steer, making the Viva's 3-Star NCAP rating inconsequential. 

Secondly, not all cars are built equally strong regardless of their NCAP ratings. Minis, for instance, tend to fare worse than compacts or sub-compacts in accidents, albeit they have the same NCAP ratings.

Thirdly, while cars are preferable to motorcycles, when driven by the young or spirited, they can be equally dangerous, if not more so.

Hence, if you are going to drive a Viva with no ABS, or for that matter, any car with no ABS, don't drive like you're on a race track. Keep to 110km/h or slower where appropriate and drive defensively.

On the spur of the moment, you may not have any regard for your life or the safety of your passengers, but think of your loved ones.

If you die because of your recklessness, how will they cope after you're gone?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hurray for the Kia Rio!

Ever since the Forte, Kia's been on the right design track.

This is evident with the new Kia Rio, which looks stunningly superb for a little hot-hatch/hatchback.

Mated to a mere 1.4L engine, one would think that driving this little dream machine would be boring, but this misconception is quickly put to rest by the Rio's pleasantly surprising torquey engine feel.

And unlike the CBU Forte, the Kia Rio's shocks are suitably stiff for Malaysian roads, especially when hugging corners. So, from the get-go, the Rio does almost everything right.

I say "almost everything" because, well, nothing is perfect. Not even the Rio.

To begin with, the car's bucket-like seats are rather small even for the average-size Malaysian. So, imagine how uncomfortable driving the Rio would be for taller, chunkier Malaysians.

Also, the Rio, while punchy, won't outpace most other hot-hatches/hatchbacks out there in the market due to its 1.4L (only) engine.

So, despite its sporty, contemporary design and punchy feel, this isn't a car that you really want to drive fast most of the time, lest you'd be disappointed by its (under)performance.

Still, if you're in the market for a sporty-looking hot-hatch/hatchback that is not a "national car" and is under the RM89,000 price range, then the Kia Rio is something to seriously consider. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

F1 Secret is Out: Vettel Uses the Jin!

Yes, the big secret it out. Vettel's secret formula to winning almost every F1 race is the Jin.

That Jin is the very same one that helped former multi world champion Schumacher win F1 races repeatedly.

If you look closely at Vettel's race footage, you'll see that he gets a magical speed boost on straights.

And at corners, his tyres don't touch the ground because the Jin carries his car around the corner at great speeds!

If you're not smirking already after reading all that, and if you believe all the above to be true, well, perhaps you need a psychiatric evaluation :P

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mazda Gets the "6" Right Again

Mazda has had its share of detractors, but in my books, when it comes to the "6", Mazda has been getting it right, all the way from the start.

Now in its third edition, the Mazda6 is stunningly beautiful. Check out those sleek lines and curves.

Even the sporty station wagon Mazda6 looks stunning.

The amazing thing about Mazda's "6" is that every edition has been done up right, such that every edition of the "6" is a gem to have.

Right now, someone like me who loves the Mazda6 would be tempted to buy the latest edition, but seeing how beautiful the older "6" is still, I'll hold on to mine just a while longer.

In terms of driving feel, the new "6" is not all that different from my older "6", but the new "6" has a much more powerful engine that's coupled with a slew of hi-tech gadgetry that'll let you conserve energy.

Called Skyactive, the system is designed to reclaim energy from braking as well as save fuel by turning off the engine when the car is stationary at junctions or during traffic jams, among others.

Get the new Mazda6 if you are planning to go into the hi-end of the car market.

Or if you've always been a hi-end conti car user, give the new Mazda6 a go.

You'll be amazed just how good the car is compared to conti cars of the same price range.

Addendum: My old Mazda6 is still a beauty to behold, in my opinion as a die-hard car lover. So, I'll hold onto it just a litle while longer.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thanks for Your Kind Support

Dear readers of Grinner's Cars Malaysia (including my old friends from school and college),

Thank you for your kind support thus far. I'm heartened to see that although I haven't blogged for a few months, I still get people visiting my Cars Malaysia blog and leaving messages of encouragement.

I've been away for some experiential learning, as a way to review my life-long career as a writer, trainer and public relations practitioner. I've connected with some good old friends in the process, who have given me valuable insights to life.

And I've done some soul searching.

I've concluded that life is too short to be worrying about things that make me unhappy; that now is not the time to chase after pipe-dreams. In short, I should go on doing what I do best and let the rest take care of itself.

So, I'm going to focus on my current passion, which is writing, training and public relations. And I'm going to enjoy all the little things in life that I've been taking for granted, because I was too busy chasing after the "big" things in life.

Moving forward, Grinner's Cars Malaysia blog will have more frequent postings again, God-willing. It would also have a mirror blog-site that I hope would help me monetise my blog entries on cars - the latter is the result of your continuing support by coming to my blog-site and leaving words of encouragement, even though I had stopped blogging for quite some time.

Again, thank you all for your continuing support.


Addendum: The Mazda 626 above is the same model as my old red Mazda 626. I chose that picture as a symbol of my return to the simpler times in the my life; before things got overly complicated because I was chasing after "big dreams" and leaving most of the little things that make life meaningful on the sidelines. While I can't reclaim the past, I can make things better from this point on.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lexus GS350-250 - Luxurious Comfort with Old School Styling

Lexus has been described by BMW as a real contender for the luxury car segment. That was indeed high praise. With quality and design that rivalled leading European marques, it was not surprising for Lexus to be viewed as such.

Today, Lexus continues to produce high quality luxury cars that are remarkable, such that no one would ever doubt the status of its owner as a high income earner with a taste for high quality, if we see a Lexus like the GS350/250 driving by.

But then, one can't help but ask, "Can't he or she do better?" This is not simply a question of affordability. People who are rich enough to buy a Lexus can buy just about any other luxury make.

It's a question of contemporary design. Compared to other makes/models in its class, the Lexus GS350/250 is a little behind or "old school" - save for the Autobot-looking front bonnet and grills.

Of course, there is really nothing wrong with old-school, unless you put the Lexus GS350/250 side-by-side with, for example, the new Mazda 6.

Then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Someone who prefers the Lexus GS350/250 would probably think that the new Mazda 6's Shinari Design is a little too funky.

Personally, I prefer the new Mazda 6, but I've always been a Mazda fan. So, I'm a little biased...