Posts tagged ‘malaysia’

Text By James Wong, Photos By Amrit Changaroth


I find it a bit of a struggle to wake up at 715am every day. However, like all petrolheads out there, I tend to make an exception when it comes to driving. I have woken up like clockwork at 4am at Switzerland to catch the first sunlight for mountain roads, 5am in Singapore to hit the B-roads just when the sun rises, and I’ve never really complained. Neither has my body. I find it incredulous, none more so than my alarm clock which has had more than its fair share of snooze snubs.


Along a fabulous piece of B-road one faithful morning, there lies an even more terrific thing – an empty area of tarmac that, according to banners put up by possibly nobody, is used for drifting events. I’ve never seen any drifting event held there, and I am happy for it. It’s a place where it’s safe to put a car through its paces, where there are cones and tyres already in place for you to set up your own course. In short, there cannot be a better place to drive to within 2 hours of Singapore…

So, three cars assembled for the short blast, incidentally all with a real fetish for the letter ‘S’. Suzuki and Subaru are the brands, and Suzuki Ignis Sport (SIS), Suzuki Swift Sport (SSS) and Subaru S204 are the models. Call them the Triple S.


Every road trip seems to have its eventful twist, and each of the Triple S had their fair share of white-knuckled moments. Along the B-road, the SSS was traveling ahead of the S204 and a truck, and disappeared left on a blind corner. Moments after, I (in the S204) saw the truck braking and as the road became visible, the SSS was nowhere to be found!

Before panic set in, I saw it scurrying back onto the road, slipping nonchalantly in front of the truck as if nothing happened. Over the intercom we had to ask incredulously, “What the heck happened?!”

As it turned out, rear tyres as bald as a monk gave way mid-corner, possibly due to a sandy surface and water seeping through the grass. The car oversteered, and went into the hedge! Thank God the casualty was only a frayed bumper and a missing number plate, but we did go retrieve the number plate later.


The next moment happened when an innocent squirrel stood firmly on its paws on the road, having what must be the best nuts in the world as it didn’t want to move when the S204 approached it… Quickly deciding that I didn’t want any squishy bits to bring home with my car, I swerved, got onto a dirt patch along the side of the road and oversteered a little before the sterling AWD brought me back to the road with little sweat.


The SIS was spared any incidents when we reached the tarmac area. Given the experience of two drivers on the trip of driving the wheels off their cars, they quickly devised a track layout and we started time trials. I had a go in all 3 cars, and it was pretty clear that power is of little importance here. The SIS, with its short wheelbase, gave an agility that likened it to a sniffing dog onto a treat trail. Its gearing was perfect for the conditions, giving short bursts of acceleration that, while wasn’t fast, was enough to thrill the driver and reward clean shifts. At some points, going into gear 1 and then pulling the handbrake was necessary, which is where the SIS excelled again as it yawed on its front axis like a natural. Cocking up the inside rear wheel was, of course, something the SIS did everywhere it went. It sounded the business too.


Dropping into the SSS, it was startling how similar some things were, like the upright seating position (giving great visibility) and the ease of controls. However, the SSS felt more mature and better built, adding a slight heft to its handling that deprives it the razor sharp responses of the SIS. It however had a more confidence-inspiring steering feel, and definitely felt like a proper hot hatch, again cocking up its inner rear wheel as it resolutely held its line rather than understeering severely. It’s no doubt the SIS felt more natural in the narrow confines of this circuit though.


As I drove the S204 on this circuit I gathered that, like many enthusiasts think of Subarus, there is a inherent understeer bias. What surprised me was how difficult it is to quell it to get a clean lap; with the DCCD left in Auto the car simply preferred to understeer into the hedge rather than move power around to fix it. As such I felt backing off the throttle was necessary, although I much preferred to power through and let the car ‘sort itself out’. I tried the same lap again on different settings on the DCCD, this time heading down the progressive chart and finding out the difference. Although with each lap the difference was hardly noticeable, by the time I reached the opposite end of the scale from Auto, the car was much cleaner on its lap and power was being distributed more efficiently to neutralise the handling. By then however, my front tyre sidewalls were already melting, and mechanical sympathy stopped me from going further!


Although the S204 clinched the fastest eventual lap time, the clear winner from behind the driver’s seat is the SIS. From ground up, it was built for situations like this and it was completely at home. Pity this specific model is going to be scrapped in two weeks…

Anyway, we left off where the SIS has no incidents, but before it got back to Singapore it unfortunately wasn’t spared. On the B-road back, a serious off-camber corner nearly drove the car into the oil palm plantations, and upon reaching Gelang Patah the car started leaking coolant fluid. A stone struck the radiator, just a small wound, but enough to give the car the thirst of a parched athlete. It limped back to Singapore and stopped periodically to get its coolant topped up!

All in, it was an incredible Saturday morning that showed thrills are never too far away from our island. We just need to know where to look.


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By Ken Ng

Lenspeed attends Big Mac’s 650S launch party in Kuala Lumpur


It has only been nine months since McLaren Kuala Lumpur’s opening right smack in town, but it has wasted no time unveiling three cars in nine months – a sign of growing market demand within the rich radius of Malaysia’s capital.


Three cars have been unveiled since October 2013 – the MP4-12C (or 12C in 2014 speak), the P1 and the 650s. We were invited for the launch of the 650S, and as its name suggests, it boasts a power output of 650ps (641bhp), with the familiar M838T 3.8-litre twin turbocharged V8 motor capable of helping McLaren’s latest addition to the stable sprint to the century in three seconds.


Greeted with the only 50th anniversary 12C Spyder in Malaysia, I was pretty certain that the night will not disappoint. Like any other supercar unveiling, the event was accompanied by finger food and drinks.


The main star of the night however has to be the 650S itself. According to McLaren, it is not meant to be a replacement to the 12C. Rather, it was developed to sit alongside the 12C as a higher priced offering. Despite McLaren’s claims, it remains clear that both cars look very similar, at least to the untrained eye.


At RM1.2million before duties and RM1.3million before duties for the Coupe and the Spyder respectively, owners of this new supercar will be happy to know that most of the optional extras are already included for Malaysia customers. Carbon ceramic brakes, parking sensors and camera, lightweight forged rims – previously costly upgrades for the 12C now come as standard in the 650S.


To differentiate the 650S from the 12C, McLaren has included the unique headlights derived from the P1. The ‘swoosh’ badge is also replaced with the classic McLaren logo found on the F1. To accompany the increased downforce provided by the front, the rear is fitted with a three-piece bumper inspired by the GT3 variant of the 12C. Although the 650S looks stunning, I would still opt for the 12C mainly due to its more cohesive design language. But beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and supercar purchases are often bought with your heart (and a deep pocket of course!). If you are in the market for either a 12C or a 650S, rest assured that you would never go wrong with either one.

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By The Lenspeed Team

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With a big banner saying ‘Muzium Pengangkutan Melaka’, we weren’t sure if we understood what it meant when we passed by it, careening along the A-road leading into Melaka. However, quick glances at the building housing the banner stole glimpses of cars on display, one of which was a Bentley prominently placed on the centre-stage, plus a couple of other classics.  Just our good fortune to chance upon a motor museum – just when we were just planning to make the trip purely for food! We decided that after filling up our tummies, we had to give this one a proper look. Capturing the museum’s location, we traced back our steps again to look for probably what no one else in Singapore has ever seen (or bothered) to see: Melaka’s very own autocity.

There is scant information about this promisingly-named area, but from what we gather it is meant to be an agglomeration of workshops, dealerships, authorised servicing centres and auto suppliers in one central location. Unfortunately from our visit on a weekend it seems like 90% of the area is unoccupied, and Proton is pretty much the only major active tenant there. Its placing nearby to the Melaka International Trade Centre (MITC) seems to serve no purpose but for the fact that car park lots are aplenty.

While it may be somewhat of a ghost town, its Transportation Museum does offer some reason for a visit if, for one reason or another, other attractions in Melaka just don’t appeal to you. If, at this point, you would probably not visit this place again ever in your life, count on us to show you how it is like anyway!

The Transportation Museum was, reportedly, opened on 2 January 2010 “as an adjunct” to Malaysia’s (booming) car industry – HICOM (Heavy Industries Corporation of Malaysia), Proton, Perodua and MODENAS (National Motor-cycles and Engines, not the place in Italy, mind!). We like the idea, but we can’t help but be a bit curious when we were just about the only visitors when we dropped by. Fans had to be turned on and legs lifted off tables as we – alas! – paid the entry fees to visit the museum! Enjoy our photo tour.

Luxury cars were a dime a dozen in the museum, like this 1960s BMW saloon…


And this stretched W114 Merc. Best of all, most them were unlocked so if you wanted (and if you risked getting security onto you), you could get a seat in these which you probably can’t do in most other ‘proper’ museums.

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There were a couple of Mercs. Either the museum loved them a lot, or their donors did! Here’s another W114.

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There’s even a W220 S500, although we’re unsure why it’s held up by jack stands. We reckon it’s to prevent the AIRMATIC suspension from seizing up.

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There were beauties, like our personal favourite, the Volvo P1800…

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And the rear-engined Kharmann Ghia (related to the Beetle).

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There were also rarities, like this unidentified Volkswagen vehicle…

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Complete with Wolfsburg logos and Mk3/Mk4 Golf seats! We suspect it’s based on the Beetle, because of its central twin exhausts.

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But also oddities, like this crumbling horse-drawn cart.

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For our JDM fans, a Datsun! (Sorry we haven’t got a clue what model this is.) Oh, and yes that’s a jet plane you see at the back.

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We understand the museum is a ‘rare gem’, so the cars may not be in their best condition (yes that’s mould in the E32 7er’s interior)…

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But hey, at least the coach line on the Bentley remains well intact.

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Interestingly enough, this Bentley Eight’s interior reminds us of both the interiors of a modern Rolls-Royce (door design) and a modern Bentley (dashboard, especially the top one-piece leather).

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That’s all folks! If you want to find this place for yourself, here is the address:

Address: Melaka Autocity, Taman Tasik Utama, 75350 Melaka
GPS coordinates: N 2.283982, E 102.270656




By Ken Ng


The Ferrari California T is probably not a stranger to you. It has been unveiled in many other countries but today marks the official launch of the all new Ferrari California T in Malaysia.

Revealed in an exclusive preview at Naza Italia, we were greeted with models and ushered to a photo-taking session – a nice touch from Ferrari’s 2013 South East Asia dealer of the Year. Dinner was also kindly provided and I have to admit, I am very impressed with the way they added extra flair into the menu.


The main star of the night has to be the car itself. Ferrari mentioned that two new colours are introduced with this car: Rosso California and Blu California, with the Blu California version on display. Personally, I would prefer Rosso California but Blu California started growing on me the longer I looked at it.

Mr. Giuseppe Cattaneo, Managing Director of Ferrari Far East, exclaimed when he introduced the California T: “Italia owners, watch your rear view mirrors!” And with good reason – the new entry-level Ferrari will rocket from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 316 km/h (claimed). This is possible through a 3.8-litre bi-turbo V8 engine that produces 552bhp and 557lb ft (755Nm) with an improved 7-speed dual clutch gearbox.


Ferrari owners should feel right at home in the cockpit. The cluttered steering wheel is featured here like in other new Ferraris, an attempt at ensuring that the driver can reach all the controls without having to remove their hands from the wheel. Ferrari also claimed that it is more daily drivable. The back seats can be discarded to store a golf bag in it! But they could have at least improved the interior of the car – it feels dated compared to other similar priced offerings in the market.

But make no mistake about it, for RM 888,000 (S$343,000) before taxes and duties, you are paying for an amazing piece of architecture, and of course, the chance to own a piece of the most powerful brand in the world – a Ferrari.

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By The Lenspeed Team

Holy trinity picLenspeed’s take on three most appropriate cars for Malaysian roads

Most of us associate road trips with breathtaking sceneries and frequent pit stops to indulge in local delicacies. But there’ll be a select few who place equal emphasis on the mode of transport. This, we feel, defines a proper road trip experience. Most cars can ferry passengers to destination Z fast, but only a handful can keep the driver absorbed in the experience to keep petrolheads satisfied. Lenspeed takes a look at three cars (tried and tested, of course!) for varying budgets that can perform well on the freeways, without diluting the element of fun when navigating through challenging B Roads.

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI (Mk7)

It might be the least powerful car of the trio here, but there is plenty of usable torque at the lower regions of the rev range to extract maximum potential out of the 122bhp motor. Although steering inputs could be sharper, there is sufficient feedback through the rack to keep a keen driver engaged. It handles well too – dealing with gradual switchbacks in composed fashion.

Dial it up a notch through sweeping corners and it settles into a predictable understeer – throttle off and it steps back neatly in line. Its tidiness through the bends came as a surprise for us, since there is also plenty of travel in the suspension, allowing it to glide through potholes efficiently. We have to stress that the magic lies with the 16” rubbers that might not look aesthetically pleasing, but works wonders with the suspension to supply excellent damping even under duress for extended journeys. (FYI: The Golf Sport comes with 140bhp and 17” rubbers, but felt less well sorted and resolved than the 122bhp variant). Best of both worlds in a “back to basics” Golf. This car punches far higher than paper specifications. A brilliant choice for a family of four.

Renault Megane R.S. 265

This French pocket rocket receives a slight tweak over the 250 Cup. Aesthetic differences of the R.S. 265 over the predecessor include 18-inch matte black alloys and glossy black lacquer finish on the door handles, extended LED housings and darkened eyelids. And those keen in this segment of the market would be more interested in the technical enhancements – it receives a 15bhp and 20Nm hike over the 250 Cup, accompanied by a “freer-flowing” exhaust for more vocal presence.

We took it out for a spin and the enthusiasm attained right from the get-go is primarily attributed to the inertia-free unit that revs freely to redline. Its initial climb is characterised by feint turbo whiffs up to 4000rpm, replaced by more beefy resonance once it reaches boiling point. And it gets more dramatic when you engage “ESC Sport”, which is when you get to fully utilise the extra performance over the 250 Cup. (We’d pick the sound of high-revving NA cars in a jiffy, but we’d be more than happy to settle for this).

Despite this power hike, the Cup Chassis remains unruffled and eager to impress. 1379kg of heft isn’t entirely featherweight to begin with, but you can still plough it into a bend and let the chassis work its magic. It deals with irregularities cleanly, and the suspension manages to find a fluid rhythm on surfaces where others tend to jiggle and lose pace as a result. And because it is mated to a proper self-serviced 6-speeder, it entitles the driver a full expression of mechanical involvement, which makes it an accomplished and satisfying “B Road” weapon for those craving for optimal driving involvement. We assure you that the R.S. 265 will be perfect for stretches leading up to the plantations in Kota Tinggi.

Porsche 997.1 GT3

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the GT3 is too hardcore for the road. Yes, its low stance may pose a problem for car parks, and yes, it may drink a fair bit of fuel. But you’d be surprised to learn that the GT3 is a beautifully damped machine, giving a firm but wholly appropriate ride that seeks to get as much tyre on the road as possible, whatever the tarmac condition.

It is also a relatively long-geared car. So if you’re intending to cruise at somewhere above 150km/h, the car won’t discourage you. In fact, because the basic GT3 model has so long gears, it has received some criticism for its slightly lazy driving experience behind the wheel, with a laid-back countenance that’s not quite GT3. But you’d hardly complain on a long highway.

The result is a car that is genuinely comfortable enough to be on a highway jaunt, yet equally game for a B-road blast.  While ultimately less focused than the RS model, this GT3 could be the best balance struck for real world situations.

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By Gerald Yuen

FD2R Update pic-2-2

It has been quite a while since I last posted updates on the FD2R. That could work both ways… either that I’m not learning anything new from the car, or I’m busy wringing every drop of performance out of the K20A.

But it would be ridiculous to harp on the former, because the manner in which it delivers driving pleasure on an emotional level the past two years still engages me as a driver. We’ve made a couple of tweaks along the way. Most obvious change would be to swap the stock suspension for a set of aftermarket coilovers from APi Racing (tuned to the softest setting). I was against this idea initially, but it would be utterly selfish for me to make my family withstand a harsh ride during dinner outings. And my dad uses the car 80% of the time for work, so that works out to be a no-brainer.

The softer ride gives it more fluidity when darting through bumps and cambers, and I could keep it on the boil more regularly without the fear of the rear hopping wide, and this translates to more traction as the dampers labour to gather more grip. Initial turn in does not feel as sharp as before, with the front leaning more towards understeer on part throttle. But once you give it more angle, the stiff rear (although less jarring than the OEM setup) can still hold ground effectively.

It wasn’t easy switching from proven OEM setup to one that has yet to demonstrate its worth. But to be honest, I’m very satisfied with this swap. The OEM suspension is way too stiff on our pockmarked tarmac (the rear dampers are 300% stiffer than the regular FD2). Now, there’s more reason to utilise the K20A’s top end rush without the fear of losing traction over irregularities.

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