Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

2012 Ford Focus Hatchback Review

The all-new 2012 Ford Focus Hatchback
By contributing editor David Colman
Vitals Statistics:
$19095      Focus 5dr HB SE
4-Door Front Wheel Drive , 160 bhp, 146 lb-ft, 5-sp Manual, 26/36 mpg
5 passengers, 2900 lb, 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine, 18.1 lb/bhp
  • Euroslick styling
  • Gem-like interior fittings
  • Razor sharp handling
  • Eager engine that is happy to work hard
  • Hatchback model has added utility over sedan and looks great
  • Long list of upgrades and high-tech options

  • Lack of paddle shifters for dual clutch automatic
  • HVAC dials where radio controls should be and vice versa
  • Driving concentration distracted by Ford Synch GUI
If you think of the Focus as Ford’s VW Golf beater, you’re aiming too low. Golf was just the low hanging fruit in Ford’s quest to redefine the sport compact sedan. The real target was Audi’s A3, a loftier goal indeed. Has Ford succeeded in outdoing the A3? Not quite, but close enough to give Audi reason to be concerned. If you want to build a better sport sedan than Audi, you’d best hire Germans to design it, and that’s just what Ford has done. The Focus was conceived in Germany, and has been on sale across Europe for more than a year. It has already established a successful track record in World Rallye competition as well as World Touring Car track contests. While Focus may be new to the US, it is by no means an unproven entity abroad.

2012 Ford Focus
Looking at this svelte sedan from outside, you are first struck by the clean-lined ethos of its design. The snout sits low while the butt remains slightly elevated to impart a feline rake to the static posture. Horizontal detailing around the front grill is handsome without being fussy. The side view looks racy and succinct, with windshield A pillars so extravagantly flattened that the sedan version posts a stellar wind tunnel coefficient of 0.297. Although the Cx of the five-door hatchback we drove is slightly higher than that, the hatch chassis is stiffer because the five door openings require added structural chassis reinforcement. The solidity of the platform, which Focus shares with the European C-Max minivan, is indisputable. Over the worst road irregularities, the Focus evinced no squeaks, groans or deflections. The interior remains ethereally silent no matter what racket the road surface beneath promises to impart.
Ford Focus instrument cluster

Handling of the base model Titanium hatchback is responsive and predictable. The steering is perfectly weighted, with lots of road feel passed back to you through the fat rimmed, two-tone steering wheel. Continental SportContactPro tires measuring 215/50R17 are standard, but if you wish to upgrade handling, the Titanium handling package, including stiffer anti-sway bars, springs and 18 inch wheels and rubber, is available for an extra $595. Even without that package, the handling of the Titanium Focus is strong enough to justify sticking with the base suspension system.
Performance of the 2.0 liter Duratec four cylinder motor is hardly scintillating, especially when coupled to the slow-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox. If you want more pop underhood you should wait for the 247hp turbo motor, coming sometime in the next year. In the meantime, opt for the 5 speed manual gearboxmodel to coax the most performance out of the Duratec base motor.
2012 Ford Focus high-contrast Titanium model interior
Where Focus really shines is inside the cabin. All 4 seats are Posturepedic, with the fronts luxuriously supplied with multiple electric positioning controls. Even the fixed rears are acceptably comfortable for long day trips. The interior of our test Focus, finished in a pleasing medley of burgundy and black, mimics the cabins of much more expensive vehicles like (no surprise) the Audi A3 or the BMW 1 Series. If you’re in the market for a small sedan with fit, finish and handling comparable to cars costing twice as much, be sure and give the new Focus a test drive. You’ll be amazed at how far Ford quality has come since they hit bottom several years ago.
  • ENGINE: DOHC, 16 valve in-line 4, aluminum block and head
  • HORSEPOWER: 160 @ 6,500 rpm
  • TORQUE: 146 lb.-ft. @ 4,450 rpm
  • TRANSMISSION: 6-speed Powershift automatic transmission
  • FUEL CONSUMPTION: 25 City MPG/ 36 Highway MPG
  • PRICE AS TESTED: $23,490

Ruling: The redesigned Ford Focus comes out with impressive changes to its exterior and interior styling. And it is also more fun to drive than the previous generation.
The 2012 Ford Focus has been completely redesigned and it looks good. The interior redesign was first on the list and it now features more high tech options that assist the driver and keep them connected to their electronic devices. Available with the 2012 Focus are the MyFord and MyKey systems. MyFord integrates entertainment, navigation, and communication into a touch screen console. MyKey is a safety feature that restricts vehicle speed and stereo volume while your teen drives.
Looking sportier and more aggressive than a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, the exterior updates for the 2012 Focus move far away from the vanilla sedan look and is much more satisfying to drive.
Standard engine for the entire Focus line for 2012 is an all-new 2.0-liter direct-injected four cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with either a 5-speed manual or six-speed PowerShift dual clutch automatic. Fuel economy with the automatic transmission is 28 city / 38 highway /31 combined mpg. The sedan outfitted with the SFE package is estimated to get 28 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined.
A Focus five-door hatchback model is also available.
David Colman has been writing vehicle tests for 25 years. His work has been featured in AutoWeek, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Marin Independent Journal. In 1987, he helped start Excellence, The Magazine About Porsche, which he edited for many years. He has been an active participant in racing and Solo events since 1961. More car reviews written by Colman can be found at

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fourth Generation 2012 Honda CR-V Ready for U.S. Late 2011

2012 Honda CR-V concept

This is the all-new, fourth-generation CR-V that is set to go on sale in the U.S. by the end of 2011 and in Europe in Autumn 2012
The new Honda CR-V goes for a distinctive new design and bold styling direction. Compared to the previous generation CR-V, the concept model has a more aggressive stance with deeper sculpting of the body lines and a bolder front grille. Overall the lower front bumper design integrates more smoothly into the fascia for improved aerodynamics and curves upward to convey off-road capability. There are also five-spoke alloy wheels and bolder fender flares.
Powertrain details haven’t been released, but the new CR-V is expected to be outfitted with a more efficient engine and deliver improved fuel economy. Also look for more interior room and reduced curb weight.

The Five Ugliest Cars of All Time

Raise your hand if you’ve owned an ugly car. Scream out loud if you actually loved your ugly car.
1975 AMC PacerLet’s face it—for every great car we produce on this planet, they’re bound to be a couple of real duds. Unfortunately, failure is just a fact of life. These vehicles probably looked really good on the drawing board, but in reality they were design disasters that are best forgotten.
1.) 1975 AMC Pacer: One of the lowest points in the history of car making, the AMC Pacer was a disaster of great proportions on many levels—from the 95hp inline 6-cylinder engine all the way to the terrible fuel economy—18mpg. So, not only did it not turn heads (except in shock), this vehicle rode like a covered wagon with one bad wheel. The design reminds me of something you’d see in a 1950’s “B” sci-fi film. Consequently, the Pacer has become the poster child of 1970’s bad automotive design. If there are any of these cars left out there, they should be destroyed, for the good of the race and the culture. When other civilizations look back on us 1,000 years from now, the Pacer will undoubtedly be cited as the beginning of the end.
VW Thing2.) 1974 VW Thing: Aluminum siding meets bad design, the Thing looks like a Sear storage shed on wheels. Originally designed by Volkswagen for the German military, this piece of rolling junk must have had Hitler rolling over in his grave. The German Army had a lot of success overtaking their enemies driving this vehicle–they essentially laughed themselves into submission. The Thing didn’t last long in this country, when it was deemed unsafe by U.S. standards. Some people actually thought this car was “cute”, which goes to show you that there’s a fine line between pretty and ugly. (Just look at Cameron Diaz in the wrong light and you’ll see what I mean.)
3.) 1974 Ford Mustang II: After the oil embargo of 1973, Detroit starting making ugly cars featuring poor performance, all in the name of cost savings. This Pinto-ish car is the one Ford would love to forget. Mustang has had a great run with some awesome models along the way, but they can’t all be winners. The 1974 Mustang is the Dopey of the Seven Dwarves. The best motor you could get with this car was a 171 cubic inch V6, generating 105hp and getting from 0-60mph in 14.2 seconds. A lot of people aged rapidly while waiting for this car to get up to highway speed.
1988 Citreon 2CV4.) 1988 Citroen 2CV: Why are French people always frowning as a rule? Maybe it’s because they can’t get this ridiculous car out of their minds. Literally meaning “two steam horses” this vehicle drove more like “two lame mules.” French designer Pierre-Jules called the Citroen 2CV a “low-priced umbrella on wheels.” Described as “rugged” and “reliable”, traveling in this car was like riding a roller coaster from hell. It had the amazing ability to swerve on a perfectly level, straight road.
5.) 1986 Yugo GV: Over-priced at $3,990, the Yugo GV came as close to being a disposable car as anything before or since. With a 1.1 litre motor generating 58hp and featuring a terrible transmission, if this car wasn’t on the road it was in the shop, keeping the auto repair industry busy for more than a decade.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Driving Sports TV - Nissan Rogue vs. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport Holiday

Famous Fords on Film Come Together in London

Ford Anglia 105E and 6-wheel Ford badged FAB1Five of Ford’s most memorable vehicles to feature on film and television have been brought together at Elstree Studios, London to celebrate 100 years of Ford of Britain.
The Ford Anglia 105E from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, lined up alongside the pink FAB1 from Thunderbirds, James Bond’s Ford Mondeo from the 2007 film Casino Royale, a Ford Granada as seen in The Sweeney TV series and Dr Who’s yellow Edwardian vintage car.
One of the most watched vehicles in film history is the turquoise Ford Anglia 105E seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
“I’d been involved with Ford Anglia clubs for 30 years when I was asked by the film makers to provide a car for the movie,” said owner John Colyer. “After that it just took off and I ended up supplying around 15.”
One of the most eye-catching vehicles at Elstree was the six-wheel Ford-badged FAB1, that starred in the 2004 live action film Thunderbirds. Famous for its multi-function ability on the road and in the air, FAB1 is, of course, road-legal and fully operational.
Ford's most memorable vehicles featured on film and television
For Daniel Craig’s debut as James Bond, in Casino Royale, which debuted ahead of the launch of the production Ford Mondeo in 2007, he took to the wheel of a hand built prototype.  Following the film’s release, the car was donated by Ford to the Ian Fleming Foundation and can now be seen at the Bond exhibition at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu.
On the small screen, Ford vehicles have featured in many series including two popular British programmes − gritty police drama The Sweeney and science-fiction drama Dr Who.  The familiar car chases of The Sweeney helped the Ford Consul GT and the Ford Granada achieve cult status with car fans − and are still loved 40 years on.
Canary yellow Edwardian vintage car with unique WHO 1 number plate
The canary yellow Edwardian vintage car with unique WHO 1 number plate and indicator ‘hand’ makes regular appearances at Dr Who conventions, and several Dr Who fans have used the car for weddings.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Honda-Hot Import Nights KL 2011 Happens This Month In Shah Alam – Promises Hot Girls & Modded Cars

There will be a new car show in town, billed as a mini SEMA or Tokyo Auto Salon of sorts. It’s called Honda-Hot Import Nights Kuala Lumpur 2011, and it will happen from 17-18 December at Shah Alam’s Malawati Stadium. It’s gonna be a fully indoor event that will go on rain or shine, and the entry fee will be RM20 per day. Organisers are expecting a crowd in excess of 25,000 for both days combined.
Calling themselves the “world’s largest touring automotive lifestyle show” Hot Import Nights (HIN) was founded in 1996 in Australia by a group of uni students. It has grown since then, and Jakarta, Indonesia held its first HIN in 2001. Today, HIN is an annual event in USA, Australia, Indonesia, and if it takes off, Malaysia. Honda Malaysia is the title sponsor for the HIN KL 2011.

There will be plenty of sexy ladies and modded cars of all sorts (HIN is expecting over 100 show cars), and the cars will vie for the many trophies up for grabs. Among the titles are Too Damn Low, Best Custom Bodykit, The Killer Colour, Hottest Engine Bay, Best JDM Look, Best VIP, Hottest ICE, Cinema on Wheels and “Best” titles for various brands, from Audi to Proton. There will be three King Nominees that will fight for the main award – The King.
Also, there will be a Dynowars contest, which will have trophies (top 3) for the most powerful RWD, FWD, AWD, NA, Turbo, VTEC, 4G63 and Campro, among other categories. For the ICE fans, there are a couple of awards, too.

The judges are experienced blokes. For the modded cars, HIN has secured Randy Ly, Tommy Ha and Mitchell Mark, all ex-NCCA judges from America. The man in charge of Dynowars is Todd Lewis from Mainline Dynamometer Australia.
I’ve been to some of these events before, and there are more photographers mobbing the (lady) models than those who actually appreciate the cars, so if you belong to that category, HIN KL will be organising a Car & Model Autophotography contest. The ladies you’re shooting are also competing, but for the Miss Honda-Hot Import Nights KL 2011 title. RC and PS3 fans will have contests of their own. Finally, some international DJs are performing and there’s a concert by rocker Awie on 18 Dec.

For Honda owners, Honda Malaysia will be picking four cars to be displayed in their booth at HIN KL. If you think you have the ride to impress, email a pic of your car and details to

Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 Review

The Carreview Window Sticker
Specs: $67k price, 302 HP, 19/26 Mileage and 0-60 in 5.5 seconds
  • The best SLK styling in years
  • Slingshot Acceleration and excellent handling
  • Custom Tailoring
  • Slick Roof with on-the-fly adjustable tint
  • A roadster that appeals to many of the buyer’s instincts
  • Lack of Storage
  • No Manual Tranny
  • Steep price of $67k
The Review:
The SLK is the closest thing Mercedes makes to a sports car. It is small, nimble and fast, seats only two, and functions as a convertible or a closed coupe. The SLK is a stunning piece of design. You can learn more about a car’s true mettle if you wash and dry its metal. In the process of cleaning the SLK for a photo shoot, I marveled at the complexity of its shape. This roadster has more flutes than a champagne glass. In fact, you can hardly find a single flat plane on the entire body. The bodywork looks muscular and buffed, with short overhangs fore and aft, and bulging fenders to accommodate the beefy tires and AMG alloys. 7.5 inch front rims carry 225/40ZR18 Pirelli P Zero rubber, with 8.5 inch back rims equipped with 245/35ZR18 Pirellis. The simple AMG 5-spoke rims are part of a $2,500 Sport Package that includes appealing “Sport Body Styling” plus haunting interior illumination in “SOLAR red.”
What prevents the SLK from full sports car status is lack of manual transmission availability. Like so many other manufacturers, Mercedes sees no point in Federalizing a separate (manual) gearbox for a customer take rate of 5 or 10 percent. Still, those are the very customers who will buy an Audi TTS or Porsche 911 expressly because those companies offer them the choice to shift gears by depressing a cutch pedal. Not that the SLK’s 7-speed automatic is a bad piece of engineering. To the contrary, it offers the driver Efficiency, Sport and Manual modes, while providing small steering wheel-mounted paddles to control up and down changes. Even so, the SLK is less driver-involving than it could be with a slick stick shift.

Tony Fernandes' Caterham F1 Team Unveils New Logo

You would have known by now that the Lotus vs Lotus naming row is over, and in 2012 Lotus Renault GP will race as ‘Lotus’ while Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus has changed its name to Caterham F1 Team. The AirAsia boss and friends bought over British sportscar maker Caterham back in April.
Caterham F1 Team has unveiled its new logo for the 2012 F1 season, which uses a familiar green background with yellow accents. Tony Fernandes explains that the name change makes perfect sense for him.
“With Team Lotus, I would have battled to the end if I felt it was the right thing to do, but when you take a dispassionate look at where we were it made absolute sense to start with a clean sheet, and Caterham has given us that chance,” he told the team’s magazine.
“It’s the best possible solution for where we want to go – partly because it gives us complete control over everything we do and, obviously, because there’s simply no point racing to promote a road car company I don’t own. The road car business has always been a sector I’ve wanted to explore and so here we are.
“But I can’t stress enough; this is a serious business venture for us. If I just needed a new name, I could have called it anything, but the synergy with Caterham works better – and it’s what I do – take a small business with the correct core values and purpose and expand it and grow it into the global marketplace.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Subaru BRZ GT300 Race Car - Tokyo Motor Show 2011

Subaru BRZ coming to Malaysia next year!

We’re in Bangkok now for the year ending Thailand International Motor Expo, and yours truly picked up a pleasant surprise. No, the show girls did not offer to follow me home, but Motor Image is set to bring the just launched Subaru BRZ to Malaysia! Unveiled at the ongoing Tokyo Motor Show, the BRZ is Subaru’s version of the Toyota GT 86, which it helped develop.

The BRZ is mechanically similar to the new hachi-roku but sports minor styling differences. It is powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine with 200 hp and 205 Nm of torque, with drive going exclusively to the rear wheels. A six-speed manual is the natural choice of gearbox, but there’s an auto box for those who can’t DIY.

Estimated date of arrival? According to Gleen Tan, Executive Director of Tan Chong International and head of Motor Image, they will be trying hard for the second or third quarter of 2012, with a possible launch time that coincides with the Super GT race (the BRZ will be competing next season in the GT300 category). Trying hard because worldwide demand for the BRZ is expected to be great and there are many higher priority markets to satisfy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


HKS and Taniguchi have for years been a winning combination, setting records wherever they go. Time attack has always helped push the tuning envelope further, as extreme parts and modifications eventually trickle down and are able to be used on street applications. This is what will eventually happen with the R35 GT-R. HKS definitely have something up their sleeves as we all saw at the recent R's Meeting event

Once Taniguchi pitted after his second track session I went to take a closer look at the R35. The temperatures on the screen showed that a good thrashing was given but they weren't as high as I've seen on these new GT-Rs so I'm guessing that whatever cooling upgrades they have carried out, are working efficiently. 

Then came the big surprise as I glanced at the HKS lap timer. While most tuners were out for nothing more than a few demonstration laps, HKS was out to break records! On the second outing Taniguchi managed a best lap of 1'45"82, the fastest an R35 has ever gone around Fuji. The top speed, 300 km/h (186 mph)!

That puts the R35 in hot pursuit of established older GT-Rs like the Autech Tsukada ATTKD BNR34 and Auto Gallery Yokohama BNR32 which both lap in the 1-minute 43-seconds (on street-legal, semi-slick tires)

HKS, up until late last year, were using the stock radial tires on the R35, managing a best of 1'48"94 before switching to slicks. Their first attempt on the sticky race tires yielded a best of 1'47"126 with Orido behind the wheel. You can see the video of the lap here. Now with the new 20-inch Advan A-005, the time has dropped further.

The very loud titanium exhaust.

Behind the 20-inch Yokohama AVS Model F7s are serious Endless brakes, forged monobloc 6-pot calipers front...

...the laptop to be connected, making last minute ECU program alterations quick and easy.

The dry carbon wing has been bolted down directly to the trunk lid... 

...the aluminum stays allowing 9 different angles to be selected.

Taniguchi looking through his lap times on the HKS Circuit Attack Timer module.

The R35-specific EVC boost controller is fitted in front of the gear selector along with the HKS AFK A/F meter.

I would personally love to see what the HKS R35 would be able to do around Tsukuba, with and without the slick tires. The bar has obviously been raised, so it will be interesting to see how all other R35 tuning shops will respond.
R35-only time attack even at Tsukuba anyone?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011 Porsche Race Edition Pilot by Adidas Review

Exceptional functionality coupled with a striking design - since 2006, that has been the standard of the Porsche Design Sport Collection, a collaboration between adidas and the Porsche Design luxury brand. As part of its Spring / Summer 2011 collection, Porsche Design Sport is presenting its first made in Germany shoe: the Race Edition Pilot. 

The manufacturing of the Race Edition Pilot takes place at the long-established adidas shoe production facility in Scheinfeld (Bavaria), where football shoes, such as the Copa Mundial and World Cup are produced. About a dozen employees are currently entrusted with manufacturing the Race Edition Pilot. 

Inspired by open-road racing, the Pilot features a rounded heel and collar padding for comfort. A TPU midsole shell is engineered with shock-absorbing adiPRENE├é® for platform stability and a smoother ride, while low-profile rubber outsole inserts facilitate fluid pedal work. Supple and lightweight, the Pilot's elegant silhouette is crafted from premium Italian full-grain aniline leather. 

One hundred pairs of Porsche Design Sport's most innovative Driving shoe to date are currently produced each day, employing components, uppers and soles supplied from Asia. This requires about 30 production steps, of which the following are crucial: attaching the insole, lining up the toe, pre-spreading the lasting margin (lower edge of the upper), clipping the side margin and heel, buffing and finely polishing the uppers, cementing the lasting margin and sole, applying and pressing the sole, finishing, and final inspection. 

Porsche Design Sport is a collaboration between the adidas brand and Porsche Design. Launched in 2006, the Porsche Design Sport collection fuses engineering excellence with an inherent commitment to refined style. The range of luxury sportswear utilizes the industry's most advanced technologies in concert with luxurious, exclusive materials, performance-enhanced details and impeccable craftsmanship. Stylish yet understated, casual yet technical, Porsche Design Sport is defining a new era of engineered luxury sportswear. 

adidas is a global designer, developer and marketer of athletic footwear, apparel and accessories with the mission to be the leading sports brand in the world. Brand adidas is part of the adidas Group, a corporation that includes brands such as Reebok and TaylorMade-adidas Golf. 

Porsche Design is a luxury brand with particular focus on technically inspired products. The brand was founded in 1972 by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, whose products have ever since stood for functional, timeless and purist design. The product portfolio includes classic men's accessories, a sport and fashion collection as well as electronic products and a men's fragrance range. The products are designed in the Porsche Design Studio in Zell am See, Austria, and sold worldwide in the company's own stores, shop-in-shops, high quality department stores and exclusive retail outlets.