Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cool Cars: Brabus E-Class Coupe


Engine: 6100cc, V8
Power: 462 bhp
Torque: 615 Nm
0-100km/h: 4.7 seconds
Wheels: Options from 17” to 20” alloys
Topspeed: 315 kph (196 mph)
Price: Euro 29000
Available: Now
Verdict: Brabus' cool interpretation of the muscular new E Coupe

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Test Drive: Peugeot 207cc

The new 207cc debuted in Malaysia in 2009. It replaces the 206cc which was a best-seller and introduced the affordable coupe-convertible to the masses. The new car looks bigger, more macho and less feminine.
Exterior & Design: The first thing one would notice is that the 207cc looks more coherent. Gone are the weird looking rails on the 206cc’s boot. The front lights and bonnet looks more aggressive. In keeping with the current Peugeot design cue, the front grille maintains the big smiley appearance. The car looks good with the top up and even better with its top down. And the transformation from coupe to cabriolet is very fascinating. However, it can only be done with the car stationary. 

Interior: The interior feels solid and well built being a continental car. However, the Malaysian version does not come with the in-dash LCD screen. The leather seats are comfortable and the seating position is rather high for a coupe. It comes with 4 airbags, an air-conditioned glove box and CD/MP3 player with AUX input as standard. The rear seats are suitable for little kids or dwarfs only. The roof comes up or down with the touch of a button and there is no need to release any latches.
Engine: In Malaysia, we only have one choice of engine which is the 1.6L BMW-Peugeot Prince engine which is also used in the Mini Cooper. This engine produces 120bhp with 160Nm of torque and is mated to a 4-speed Tiptronic System Porsche gearbox.

The Drive: Getting into the 207cc is easy as it is about the same ride height as normal sedans. Offering only the 120bhp 1.6L engine, the 207cc is more of a cruiser than a bruiser. The steering is light and driving the car around the city is easy. It is also stable at high speeds. However, the steering feel could be improved. The car feels solid and everything seems well put together. I reckon the dash is a little too high but it does not intrude the forward view.
Conclusion: The Peugeot 207cc is the most affordable new coupe-convertible available in the Malaysian market at the moment. It is priced at RM158888 for a new car. This car offers a stylish and comfortable boulevard cruiser for the poseurs. Those who are looking for a sports coupe cabrio are advised to look elsewhere.

Addendum: A new facelifted version of the 207cc has recently being launched in the UK. The front grill and bumper looks less smiley and more aggressive.
Rivals: Mazda MX5, VW Eos, BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK (All of these cars are much more expensive. There are no real rivals at this price in Malaysia.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fast Cars - Super Saloons

Porsche Panamera Turbo

The first four-door Porsche sedan in Turbo guise can be considered the ultimate uber sports saloon. Not only is it wickedly fast, it is also a piece of superbly and wonderfully engineered machine. It is equally capable in a straight-line and also for attacking corners. It costs GBP100000, measures over 16ft long, weighs 2 tonnes and guzzles fuel at less than 8km/L. It is endowed with a 4.8L V8 twin-turbo engine which pumps out 493bhp and 700Nm of torque. The Panamera Turbo does 0 – 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, 0 – 160 km/h in 9 seconds and has a top speed of 300 km/h. However, some people may not agree with the way it looks.

Maserati Quattroporte Sport GTS 

Many people consider the Maserati Quattroporte a sexy car. Being Italian it certainly oozes sex appeal from all angles except its rear end which to me is a bit boring. The Quattroporte Sport GTS feels like a four-door Ferrari with lots of Alcantara in its cabin and a lively and loud engine note from its 4.7L V8 engine. It produces 434 bhp and 490 Nm of torque. 0 – 100 km/h takes 5.1 seconds and its top speed is 283 km/h. If it drives as well as it looks, it would have been a great car. The Quattroporte Sports GTS costs GBP90000.

Aston Martin Rapide 

The Aston Martin Rapide was unveiled in the Frankfurt Motor Show 09. The concept was first introduced in 2006 and it became a reality within 3 years. Aston Martin describes the marque’s first four door sedan as encapsulating the core values of power, beauty and soul. The Rapide features a hand-built 6.0-litre V12 engine producing 470 bhp and 600 Nm peak torque at 5000 rpm. A specifically tuned six-speed Touchtronic 2 automatic transmission features as standard, allowing the driver to change gear automatically or manually via the steering column-mounted magnesium paddles. It does 0 – 100 km/h in 5.3 seconds and has an estimated top speed of 303 km/h. First deliveries of the Rapide is expected early 2010.

BMW 760Li

Many of you would be wondering why am I including a 7-series BMW in the comparison of Super Saloons. The BMW certainly does not have the same pedigree as the Porsche or Maserati, but the 760Li can show the pedigreed Panamera and Quattroporte a trick or two. For starters, the 760Li is equipped with the 6L V12 twin-turbo engine which pumps out an amazing 537bhp and 750 Nm of torque. It propels the 2100kg 7-series to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds. Select Sport+ in the 760Li and the suspension firms up and the car transforms into a more aggressive animal. Not exactly a beast yet as this is still a 7-series mind you. The 760Li manages to keep up with the Panamera Turbo and certainly outshines the Quattroporte Sport GTS.
Bugatti Galibier

The Bugatti Galibier is currently still a concept. But it is expected to be launched by 2013 if there are enough rich people to afford it by then. Production of the Galibier is expected to start once the Veyron ceases in 2012. Bugatti technical boss Wolfgang Schreiber said that the idea of the Galibier is to be the “world’s fastest, most accelerative and powerful four-door car”. The Galibier is expected to be powered by the same W16 engine found in the Veyron with twin-superchargers pumping out around 800bhp. The price is expected to be approximately GBP900000! The Galibier is, in every way, a car of excesses but it would certainly be an exciting engineering feat.

Brabus CLS Rocket

The ex-record holder of the “world’s fastest street-legal sedan” (top speed: 365.7 km/h), the Brabus modified Mercedes CLS 500 definitely lives up to its namesake. Powering the Rocket is the revered 6233cc V12 twin turbo engine from Brabus (SV12 S) which is capable of 730 bhp and 1320 Nm of torque. The Rocket accelerates to 100 km/h in 4.0 seconds, 200 km/h in 10.5 seconds and 300 km/h in 29.5 seconds. Brabus extensively modified the CLS including the engine, drivetrain, suspension, brakes and aerodynamics. Priced at Euro420000, the limited edition Rocket is a very rare and special super saloon indeed. The Rocket’s top speed record was set in 2006 and held on until November 2008 when it was beaten by the G-Power modified Hurricane RS M5.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cool Cars of Tokyo Motor Show 09

This year's Tokyo Motor Show feels less glitzy with the absence of major car-makers from Europe & America. The current economic recession adds further salt to the wound. However, the Japanese still do have something up their sleeves. They do not need the rest of the world to show them what they can do. Afterall, this is the land of Doraemon!

Among the stars of the Tokyo Motor Show 09 are the Toyota FT86, Honda CR-Z & Lexus LFA.

Toyota FT86 - front view

The Toyota FT86 is touted as the successor to the famous AE86 Trueno. The AE86, which is nicknamed 'Hachiroku', is regarded as the best handling rear-driven car among its legion of fans.

Toyota FT86 - rear view

It is made even more famous by the manga Initial D. The AE86 was introduced way back in 1983 and until now (26 years later) it is still one of the favourite drift cars.

Toyota FT86 - interior

The FT86 sure has huge boots to fill. But based on the way the FT86 looks, Toyota sure has a winner in its hands.

Toyota FT86

Here's hoping that the FT86 drives as well as it looks and that it lives up to the expectations as the heir to the legendary AE86.

Not one to be left out, Honda launched their new CR-Z sports car at the Tokyo Motor Show. We wrote an article about the concept a few months back and now the concept is becoming a reality. Honda has confirmed its production and it should be in showrooms in Japan as early as February 2010 and by June 2010 for the rest of the world.

Honda CR-Z - front view

The CR-Z is the successor to the Honda CR-X del Sol which was a targa convertible 2-seater coupe. Production of the CR-X was stopped in 1997 and now with the CR-Z, the CR series has been revived.

Honda CR-Z - rear view

CR-Z is the acronym for "Compact Renaissance Zero" and it will be a hybrid sports car. It is tipped to be endowed with a 1.5L iVTEC engine in combination with Honda IMA hybrid system and power is estimated at a modest 130-150bhp.

Honda CR-Z - interior

The Honda CR-Z will come with a manual or automatic transmission and the battery will be nickel metal hydride units.

Honda CR-Z

Perhaps the most glamorous and most anticipated launch in the Tokyo Motor Show 09 was the Lexus LFA. The LFA concept has been around since 2003 and now after 6 years of waiting, the Lexus LFA is finally a reality.

Lexus LFA

However, don't expect to see too many on the road as it is priced at Euro 361000! For that amount of money, one can get a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 plus a Ferrari F430!

Lexus LFA

The LFA comes with a bespoke 4.8L V10 pumping out 552bhp and 480Nm of torque.

Lexus LFA

The Lexus LFA does 0-100 kph in 3.7 seconds and has a top speed of 323 kph. It's kerb weight is 1480kg with a power-to-weight ratio of 373bhp per tonne.

Lexus says only 500 units of the LFA will be built. With its exorbitant price tag, the Lexus marketing team would need to be really creative. LFA chief engineer, Haruhiko Tanahashi, said that the target buyer is one who is not as extrovert or showy as the traditional supercar customer, and someone who is interested in technology.

Lexus LFA - rear view

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cool Cars: McLaren MP4-12C


Engine: 3800cc, V8 twin-turbo
Power: 600bhp (estimated)
Torque: 587Nm (estimated)
Weight:1300kg (estimated)
0-100km/h: Around 3 seconds
Gears: 7-speed dual clutch gearbox
Topspeed: 200 mph (estimated)
Price: GBP 160000 (estimated)
Available: 2011
Verdict: Hopefully it’s as good as its predecessor the ultimate McLaren F1

Friday, October 23, 2009

Test Drive: Mercedes Brabus CLK D4

The Mercedes CLK is the stylish, classy coupe for the affluent. However, in its standard form, it does appear slightly mundane & dull. Renowned Mercedes tuners Brabus has taken the standard CLK and added more power and also a more sporty looking bodykit complete with nicer & bigger sports rims to create the Brabus CLK.

Exterior & Design: The Brabus bodykit complements the CLK’s classy design besides aerodynamic enhancements. The CLK looks more aggressive and sits lower thanks to the set of Brabus suspensions together with the Monoblock light 18” alloy rims. Double xenon foglamps are nestled snugly on either side of the Brabus front spoiler. An array of Brabus emblems are added to remind onlookers of its Brabus lineage. A pair of stainless-steel BRABUS sport exhaust systems and sport rear muffler complete the look at the rear.

Interior: The interior is solidly built as it is afterall a Mercedes Benz. Leather seats are comfortable and rear seats sit 2 adults comfortably. The CLK comes with a high-end in-car hi-fi which sounds impressive, powerful & refined. The dashboard & buttons are all driver-oriented and easy to use. It comes with a huge boot space which is able to fit all your luggages & 2 golf bags for a weekend getaway.

Engine: My test unit is the Brabus D4 which is based on the CLK 270 CDI. The Brabus D4 Tuning Kit boosts power of the common-rail turbo diesel engine from standard 170 bhp / 125 kW to 215 bhp / 150 kW. Maximum torque increases to 450 Nm. The Brabus D4 is definitely responsive with its 475 Nm of torque available early in the rpm range.

The Drive: Getting into the Brabus D4 feels very special. It looks classy & exciting and definitely begs to be driven. It is equipped with a keyless entry & keyless drive system. Just keep the key fob in the pocket and depress the Merc logo on the gear lever to start the car. On the outside, the engine sounds a little bit more harsh compared to a Merc petrol engine. But on the inside all is quiet, comfortable and serene. Depress the throttle and the car responds immediately. 0-100kph is dispensed in just 8.4 seconds. The steering is light and responsive. A little bit more steering feel would have been great. However, the Brabus D4 handles beautifully during both low & high speeds. The Brabus D4 feels planted to the ground even when cruising at speeds above 180kph.

Conclusion: The Brabus CLK D4 is the classy coupe for the discerning gentleman. It is not a racer but a coupe for cruising the boulevard with style. It is an able all-rounder which sits 4 adults comfortably and provides enough grunt shall the need arises. Driving the Brabus CLK D4 makes one feel special as it is indeed a special & rare car. With the upcoming E-series Coupe, the CLK moniker will no longer be used but this Brabus CLK D4 will remain in memory.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cool Cars: Ford Shelby GT-500


Engine: 5411cc, 32 valve, V8 supercharged
Power: 540 bhp
Torque: 690 Nm
Weight: 1780 kg
Power-to-Weight ratio: 303 bhp/tonne
0-100km/h: 4.6 seconds
Gears: 6-speed manual
Topspeed: 250 kph (155 mph)
Price: USD 48175
Available: Now
Verdict: Superb & sexy American muscle