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MEGA REVIEW: Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT-S

Subaru Levorg!  This is the Sports wagon I'm looking forward to...  I loved the car so much that I downloaded and scanned the Singaporea...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Savvy Won 4 cars shootout in Taiwan! Malaysia Boleh!


MALAYSIA BOLEH!!! Just picked up an October Issue of "TAIWAN MOTOR" Magazine (PAGE 130 to 147)... SUPER COMPREHENSIVE test report... Comparing "SAVVY vs PICANTO vs MATIZ vs March"...

I'm actually a BANANA... Bought the magazine after seeing "SAVVY vs PICANTO vs MARCH vs MATIZ comparison on its magazine cover...

Being a BANANA, I can't read, just checked out the photos, Numbers (specs) AND the Ratings (in STAR)...

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, SAVVY WON! SAVVY WON! Yes, EDITOR's CHOICE. Savvy PWND its Competitors by being the only car with (Read and weep!): ABS+EBD, DUAL AIRBAGS, 15" low profile RIMS. Non-of its competitors have ABS and Airbag. Most of its competitors have 13" STEEL rims.

Savvy scored 5 Stars in ALL Except "Interior space" (4 stars). It scored 5 stars in:
1) Ride and Handling
2) Engine
3) Equipments

Interior space SAVVY only Loses out to Nissan MARCH. 0-100km/h SAVVY's the FASTEST. BUT the NVH, Savvy's one of the NOISIEST. THE REST I dunno how to read... Anyway, the SAVVY (test car)'s painted in WHITE! Da-mn GORGEOUS!

What else can I say... DO YOURSELF a Favour JUST BUY OCTOBER ISSUE of TAIWAN motor!!! and TRANSLATE it HERE! I was shocked, RM10 only! for a 450 PAGE foreign Magazine! Same PRICE as HYPERTUNE!!!

NOTE:
1) The Nissan March 1.3SLX's Previous Generation 90's model. Believe it or not, it was reintroduced 2 yrs back after complaints that The New "March Super"'s too expensive.
2) ALL 4 fall in the SAME PRICE RANGE. NT$400,000 (RM40,000)
3) The magazine Sing praises to Savvy's Ride and Handling, AMT Gearbox and Solidness.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

RM40,000. What CAR can you buy?

A lot of people most of which are YOUNG Grads asked me, "What NEW car choices do I have if I got RM40,000 budget. I told them, for NEW car, the choices are VERY VERY LIMITED. It's limited to: ANY PERODUA cars Except MyVi 1.3, Kembara, ATOS, SAVVY, Saga/Iswara, Picanto, Naza Sutera. IN SHORT, There's LESS than 10 choices available.

Now the Picture is very different if you are considering USED cars. Suddenly, you are SPOILED for Choices. For RM40,000, there's LOTS of Varieties of cars to Choose from in any forms...

But if you are getting LOANs (I'm sure FEW will have the money to PAY CASH RM40k!), I'm afraid you can only buy UPTO 11 yrs old cars (typically) with Lowish interest rates (Below 5%). Ie. Oldest 1995. After 11 years, YOU typically HAVE TO PAY CASH or ended up paying HIGHER interest rates (as high as 6%)! In this scenario, LUXURY cars such as BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Jaguar IS OUT as these cars will be too old by that time it Reaches the RM40k mark.

Case Example 1, I saw an ad in Lelong someone wanted to sell 1981 PORSCHE 944 for RM29,000!!! He is the 1st OWNER!, BUT CASH ONLY!!! If you have the CASH and the money to Maintain and Insure the car, then it's a good buy...

Case Example 2: This friend of mine was VERY EXCITED knowing that He can owned a 1992 MERCEDES 230E W124 (with AMG 17" rims, "77" no plate, bodykit, Automatic, Sunroof etc) for RM40,000. Ie. within his budget (Initially he thought). BUT he was disappointed, CANNOT GET LOAN as the car was too OLD... This means that he HAD to PAY CASH! Having ONLY 2 yrs work experience and still working as a TRAINEE, obviously he cannot afford... What a waste...

All is not LOST, depends on your criteria, RM40k still have LOTS and LOTS of "CLASSY" and/or RESPECTABLE Japanese and "COLD European" cars which is below 11 yrs old and can still obtain Loan... Here are some of My recommendations:

EXECUTIVE Japanese Car:


1) Honda Accord 2.0i (1998) OR 2.2i(A) 1997 = RM40k
2) Nissan Cefiro V6 3.0i 1998 = RM32,000 (This is the BEST V6 engine, surprisingly Economical for a 3.0L car, But Road tax RM2000!). A 2.0iV6 model is RM5-7k more and Road tax RM391.00.
3) Toyota Camry 2.2GX 1997. RM36,000. The 1994-97 old model.
4) Ford Telstar 2.0i Ghia. 2001 model: RM42,000. THIS is the Newest "2000cc" used NON-Proton your money can buy... 5 YRS OLD for RM42k, Note that BRAND NEW price is RM110,000! (It is actually Mazda 626 with Ford badge hence LOWER Maintenence and reasonable priced spare parts). I am a happy OWNER one of these...

Executive "COLD" Continental car (ie. Weaker demand) which still can obtain loan easily.


1) Audi A4 1.8i Non-turbo, 1997 RM43,000.
2) VOLVO S40 2.0i Non-turbo 1999. RM48,000. But beware of the High maintenence costs and reliability.
3) Peugeot 406 2.0 Deluxe 2000, RM45,000.

Other 4 door cars:


1) Mazda Lantis 1.8i(A) Hatchback 1997, RM32,000. Stylish car with "Pillarless doors". In DEMAND, hence the Highish price (for the age).
2) HYUNDAI ELANTRA 1.8iGLS(A) 2003(!), RM38,000(!). Wonder why RESALE value so LOW. Note that brand new: RM90,000. Within 3 yrs value dropped so MUCH! Bad news for 1st owner BUT GOOD NEWS for YOU!
3) HONDA Civic EK 1.6i VTEC 1997, RM42,000. Another HOT Demand car, Very HIGH resale value and ENDLESS Modification OPTIONS...

4) Toyota Corolla AE101 SEG 1.6 1995, RM29,000. This 7th Generation Corolla, according to many IS THE BEST 1.6 Corolla. Known as "MINI LEXUS", better than AE111 and Altis 1.6. Why? AE111 (1996-2000 model) Corolla Shrunk in size, more cramped, boxier looking, designed and build in middle of recession=A STEP Backward in quality and refinement. BELIEVE IT OR NOT the AE101 SEG: 0-100km/h in 9.7 secs (M), 11 secs (A). That's faster than The newer AE111 SEG and ALTIS 1.6 (which is underpowered), lose out to Altis 1.8 VVTI though. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

IF YOU WANT FAST car for RM40k, there's the following choices:



1) VOLVO 850 T5 2.3i WAGON (97 onwards known as V70). 1997 model priced RM43,000 only. This TURBOCHARGED car has a Top speed of 230km/h and 0-100km/h in 7.3 SECS!!! It's so fast that our POLIS used as Chase car. Though Maintenence is HIGH and Reliability is BAD. But if it's in GREAT Condition with low mileage and Service record or 1 owner, then GRAB IT!

2) PROTON PUTRA 1.8i DOHC 2000 model RM34,000. This is, in my opinion THE BEST PROTON! Very stylish. 0-100km/h below 8 seconds and top speed 210+ km/h. VERY WORTH THE MONEY!
(I Recommend it over the Satria GTI as I feel it's More practical with Boot and more rear seat space, more exclusive (Rarer), AUTOMATIC Option, and slightly better Looking!).

3) BMW 325i E36 1994. RM40,000. ANOTHER POWERFUL car, Just missed the cut for Lowish Interest rate loans (more difficult as oldest recommended year to obtain LOAN is 11 yrs old). But If you CAN GET LOAN, this is the ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE. FUN car. The IT CAR (Very CLASSY). Rock solid Resale value. Maintenence and Spare parts costs are not an issue as there's MANY Units on the road and TONS of "CHOP SHOPS" and spare part shops...

SUV Options:


1) Toyota RAV4 2.0i 5dr. 1995. RM43,000.
2) Ford Ranger Pickup 2.5i Turbodiesel 2001 (M). RM41,000. Auto add another RM2-4k)

Other cars:

- See motortrader, for "abnormal National car" such as "Wira EVO, Satria 1.8 GSR, Waja Mivec, Perdana V6 Twin Turbo. Ie. "Modified MILOTINS". Not recommended as the BODY and CHASSIS can't cope with the power, unless you reinforced it. But few will bother to do that coz it's EXPENSIVE. Also, some have no JPJ approval.

- In motortrader, There's FTOs, RX7, Levin AE86, Silvia 180SX, Original EVO1, MR2 (Ferrari like version) within the 40k budget... BUT MOST ARE OVER 11 yrs old and DIFFICULT TO GET LOAN. But If you are lucky and able to get loan, then your choice will be even wider...

MPVs

I won't recommend as This "write-up" is meant for Young Grads or Below 30 yrs old with 40k budget to spend.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

REVIEW: Honda Odyssey LA GREAT 3.5 V6 1999-2004

Honda LAGreat Exclusive (Aka. Odyssey) lasting appeal



In this Used car Review, I'm reviewing an MPV called Honda LAGREAT Exclusive for JDM and Odyssey in American market. In Malaysia, ALL of grey importers import the JDM model as it's Right Hand Drive (Duh!) JDM model is the Same as American version except it's lesser specced. Eg. JDM version have no "Voice recognition software", and lesser airbags...

The LaGreat became a force in the minivan market after it was redesigned and re-engineered as a larger van in 1999.

In its reincarnation, this comfortable-riding, front-wheel-drive van was the first to pioneer third-row seats that flip and fold down easily into a cavity in the floor at the back of the vehicle. Honda officials called this rear-seat unit the "Magic Seat," and it was quickly appreciated by exhausted moms everywhere who had come to hate lifting out the big, bulky third-row seats of other minivans whenever they needed room for large cargo. Today, the LaGreat still has the flip-and-fold third-row seats. They've been copied by other car companies, too.

The LaGreat is the first minivan in this country with a nifty, fold-away center console tray between the front seats. It's a feature that continues today. The LaGreat also have 7 or 8 seating configuration. The middle row captain chair seat can be pushed together (combined) and viola, 8 seating mode...

High technology

The Odyssey LaGreat is a high-tech minivan. The optional navigation system has a large screen that sits up high on the dashboard for convenient viewing. And there's voice recognition software, so a driver can give some verbal commands, rather than distractedly using hands all the time at the nav screen, to find and set locations.

The Odyssey Lagreat's interior quietness can be akin to that in a luxury car, thanks to noise-cancellation technology that's included in some uplevel models.

The, "anti-noise" balances out engine noise by broadcasting the sounds through Odyssey's audio system speakers, thus cancelling out any incoming engine noise. No other minivan has this. Parents should be aware, however, that the Odyssey Lagreat noise cancellation is not programmed to cancel out children's voices, though there might be times when it would come in handy.

Engine technology
Honda engineers have a reputation for getting the most out of their engines—the most power, reliability and miserly fuel use.

The Odyssey Lagreat's V6 is no exception. Though it has to power a rather heavy vehicle—weighing more than 4,300 pounds—the Odyssey Lagreat powerplant developed a healthy, 210hp and 240 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm.

It was enough to move the van in a sprightly manner, both in the city and on the highway, and the five-speed transmission managed shifts smoothly.

A safety leader
The Odyssey laGreat is a Best Pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in frontal crash testing.

Indeed, every Odyssey LaGreat comes standard with a full complement of safety features, including curtain airbags for all three rows of passengers, front-seat side airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control. Unlike the Toyota Sienna, though, the Odyssey LaGreat does not offer all-wheel drive.

Odds and ends
I just wish Honda could engineer its sliding side doors as well as it does its engines.
In the test Odyssey LaGreat, they annoyed me with their slow open-and-close motions, and when I tried to help them along by manually yanking on the door handles, they resisted my efforts.

Year to Year Changes

2000 Honda offered a class-exclusive accessory for 2000: a satellite-linked onboard navigation system, optional only on the upscale EX minivan. Similar to the one available in the TL sedan from Acura, Honda's luxury division, the navigation system used an in-dash touch screen to display a map or point-to-point driving directions. Otherwise, little changed for 2000.
2001: TRANSMISSION RECALLED in America for 1st few batches of Odyssey LaGreat.
2002 Odyssey LaGreat's 3.5-liter V6 engine gained 30 hp and replaced its problematic 4-speed automatic transmission with a 5-speed for 2002. Minor cosmetic changes, retuned suspension, and standard rear disc brakes vs. drums also were new. Front side airbags joined standard ABS and traction control. Newly optional were leather upholstery and a DVD rear-seat entertainment system.

USER(S) REVIEW source : autos.msn.com:

-------------------------------------

1) Great Van!"
2004 Honda Odyssey EX w/ Leather/ Nav System
By: An MSN Autos Consumer
Owned: Less than 1 year
Review ID: #457937
9.0 Overall Rating

Pros:

I looked at the Sienna, MPV & Quest before deciding the Odyssey was the best fit for my family. I had a '93 Mitsubishi Montero. I was searching for a minivan that was reliable, comfortable, had a good warranty, and cargo capacity. The Odyssey handles well, rides like a car. It is easy to get in and out of especially for my toddler. The heated seats work extremely well! The folding third row is so easy. Once folded, there is a lot of room for cargo, more than I can imagine using! Even when the 3rd row is not folded, the cargo area is very big. The navigation system is easy to use. The gas mileage overall is about 18mpg.

Cons:
I wish the center storage was a little better. I was used to having more storage in my Montero.


Overall Review: The Odyssey is a great van. I would recommend to anyone!

-----------------------------------
2) "2004 Odyssey: A very good vehicle, value, safe, performance, reliability"
2004 Honda Odyssey EX
By: Gary from Overland Park, KS
Owned: Less than 1 year
Review ID: #457883
8.7 Overall Rating

Pros:
1.) Contrary to others I like the styling (I like the 2005 as well though). 2.) Regular gas (Sienna requires premium). 3.) Power (240 HP). I sound "geekish" saying this but this van is actually fairly fast. 4.) Gas mileage is pretty good for a 4,600 lb vehicle. (Mine has been about 18-19 in city and 24-26 on highway). 5.) Very safe (NHTSB ratings are outstanding). Wife and kids are in this vehicle. 6.) Value. We paid $25,000 out the door for our EX. Thought I was getting a lot for a fair price. 7.) Extremely low insurance costs (2004 Odyssey is less expensive to insure than my 1996 Accord. Weird.) 8.) Very smooth on the highway. Great road trip vehicle.


Cons:
1) Wish the interior looked a little better. Sienna interior is nicer IMO. 2.) Didn't like the fact that 2 weeks after we bought our's a transmission recall came out. We have not had any problems at all though (I've heard that Honda will replace even if past the 36K mile warranty). 3.) The fuel gauge - Fill it up and the needle never really shows full. Also, the low fuel light comes on with 5-6 gallons left in the tank! This is not a huge deal but somewhat annoys me. I'm used to it now though. 4.) At times there is some pronounced road noise but nothing that is deafening or ear-splitting. Could be quieter though. I've heard that Honda addressed this in the 2005's re-model.


Overall Review:
Overall a very good vehicle at a good value. Tons of room and power. Pretty good mileage for a vehicle this size (using regular gas). Low insurance costs. I like the styling but I tend to be a conservative person. Interior could be a little nicer (I like the Siena's interior better).

------------------------------------

3) "My Dream Car Gone Bad"
1999 Honda Odyssey LX
By: Big Al from Rhode Island
Owned: 5 years
Review ID: #418708
4.8 Overall Rating


Pros:
Lots of interior room, although the seats are not as comfortable as my other vehicles.
Cons:
Tranny, tranny, tranny.

Overall Review:
Replaced the tranny twice, never ran like new. Sold it to someone who knew about the tranny problems but liked the price. Had to twist the service department to fix tranny second time. He acted like I was crazy. Looking at the other postings, I realize I made the right decision to sell. Driving a Chevy conversion van that runs like a dream. Go figure.

-------------------------------------------

4) "Worth the money"
1999 Honda Odyssey EX
By: Pete - Canton, OH
Owned: 4 years
Review ID: #414105
8.3 Overall Rating

Pros:
Clean solid interior, good curb appeal, dependable - always starts. Great on a road trip! Tons of room.

Cons:
Transmission needed replaced, but honda covered it - they extended the warranty (7 yr - 100,000). A couple of the interior knobs have broken???? and need replaced.

Overall Review:
I'd buy it again. We don't do a ton of miles, but it has never left me stranded. The transmission problem was covered, to Honda's credit, and that was out of the normal warranty. I think at year #7 I'll unload this car and it will STILL be worth a good buck on the open market.

-------------------------------------
5) "Dissappointed"
1999 Honda Odyssey EX
By: RoleD
Owned: 2 years
Review ID: #399785
4.8 Overall Rating

9 Styling
9 Performance
6 Interior
5 Quality
1 Recommendation

Pros:
The size and folding back seat are great

Cons:
Transmission may have to be replaced. Replaced mine at 51,000

Overall Review:
Would not by a used 99 because the transmission may have to be replaced.

----------------------------------------------

AND LOTS MORE REVIEW AT: http://autos.msn.com


Honda Odyssey 3.5 V6 VTEC Specifications
2004 ODYSSEY EX and EX-L
ENGINE . .
Type: Aluminum-Alloy V-6
Displacement (liters) 3.5 (3471cc) 3.5 (3471cc)
Horsepower @ rpm (SAE net) 210 (156kw)@5,500
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm) 242@4,500
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Valve Train: SOHC 24-Valve 3-Rocker VTEC(TM)
Fuel System: Multi-Point Fuel Injection
Ignition System: Electronic w/Immobilizer

DRIVE TRAIN
Type: Front-Wheel Drive
Automatic Transmission: 4-Speed (Replaced with 5 speed auto in 2002).
Final Drive Ratio 4.2
. . .
BODY/SUSPENSION/CHASSIS
Body Type: Unit Body
Suspension: Front Strut/Rear Double Wishbone
Stabilizer Bar (mm., front) 22.0
Power Rack-and-Pinion Steering
Turning Diameter, Curb-to-Curb (ft.) 37.7
4-Wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
Electronic Brake Distribution System (EBD)
Traction Control System (TCS) (NA in EX model)
Wheels 16 x 6.5 Steel w/ Full Covers 16 x 6.5 Alloy
Tires: All-Season 225/60R16 225/60R16

EXTERIOR DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase (in.) 118.1 118.1
Length (in.) 201.2 201.2
Height (in.) 68.5 69.7
Width (in.) 75.6 75.6
Track (in., front/rear) 66.1/66.1
Curb Weight (lbs.) 4310 to 4409
Towing Capacity (lbs.) 3500
Headroom (in., front/middle/rear) 41.2/40.0/38.9 41.2/40.0/38.9
Legroom (in., front/middle/rear) 41.0/40.0/38.1 41.0/40.0/38.1
Shoulder Room (in., front/middle/rear) 62.6/64.5/61.7 62.6/64.5/61.7
Hiproom (in., front/middle/rear) 57.8/67.0/49.1 57.8/67.0/49.1
Cargo Volume (cu. ft., behind rear seat) 38.1 38.1
Cargo Volume (cu. ft., maximum) 146.1 146.1
Passenger Volume (cu. ft.) 170.7 170.7

FUEL CONSUMPTION:
City: 18mpg
Highway: 26mpg
Averaged: 23mpg

PERFORMANCE:

Top speed:
112MPH (180km/h) limited (JDM spec)
130MPH (210km/h) (US spec)

0-60mph: 8.6 secs

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Apparently in America, the 1st few batches 1999 to 2000 model of “LAGREAT Exclusive” had transmission problems on the 4 speed models. At least 3 of them experienced transmission problem before 80,000 miles. Dunno whether the JDM models are affected…
Also, the power sliding doors is not working properly, at LEAST 10 of them said mechanism problem, slow opening and closing doors, some wished they can convert to Manual sliding door…

IN MALAYSIA. There's about 150+/- units of JDM right hand drive Version (Japanese spec) imported by grey imports. Today, it is priced between RM92,000 for a 1999 model and RM115,000 for 2001 model. Note that the price is VERY CLOSE TO the smaller Odyssey 2.3i. A 2000 model Honda Lagreat exclusive is yours for RM105,000. As a comparison, a 2000 model Odyssey 2.3i ALSO costs RM105,000. You might think, What??? SAME PRICE AS Odyssey 2.3i? Why is it so?

Answer: Due to: 1) prohibitive Road tax (RM2500++ per month), 2) Highish Fuel consumption (18mpg City driving wor!), 3) Well known transmission problem (Worldwide recall back in 1999-2000), 4) TOO BIG (in Size) for Malaysian taste.

Bottom line: A Value for money buy compared to the Smaller 2.3L Odyssey if you are RICH and can afford RM2500++ road tax and bear with 23mpg (Averaged) fuel consumption.

As a comparison, a year 2000 model recond Smaller Toyota Estima 3.0i costs RM125,000. That's 20,000 more than the LaGreat!!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Best time to buy a NEW/USED car...

When is the right time to buy a new car? One might asked. To find out, read on.

Case example 1: A relative of mine learned the hard way. Her car was registered on End of November 1999. But when trade in time, it was deemed as 1999 model though ironically, it is only less than 6 weeks away from year 2000. It's like "so near yet so far" scenario.

Another case of registering a new car in the wrong time and losing out is like my current car. Why?

Case example 2: My Ford Telstar was registered in late January 1999. Technically, it should be a year 1999 car. But no! Ironically, it was manufactured in November 1998. What a big bummer... As a result, it's deemed 1998 model. How pathetic!!! Why this problem happened?

Due to KIASUNESS! Or afraid to lose. Apparently, the previous owner is KIASU, want to book and register a car before Chinese New Year just for the sake of "Showing off". Chinese New Year usually fall between Late January to Early February. Buying a car before Chinese New Year means taking delivery by late January. The consequence?

Unless it's a Perodua or a Hot selling car such as Toyota Vios which manufacturing and sales turnover are high, (Eg. stock turnover within 1 week); chances are previous year stock will roll on until February and sometimes up to 6 months plus from date of manufacturing to date of sale. In which it's typical for Imported cars such as FIAT, Imagine "NEW" 2004 stock of Fiat Coupe HAVEN'T CLEAR).

As a result, he/she often would ended up with a car manufactured A YEAR BEFORE!!! When it's time to sell the car, though it's registered in say February 2007, IT IS STILL MANUFACTURED in NOV 2006!!! It'll be deemed as 2006 model!!!

Therefore, according to my humble observation, the best time to buy a new car is between March to October. March because by then typically MOST CKD car manufacturer has cleared the previous year stock. Till October, why? Because buying a car in the month of November means losing out. As in case example 1 above, it's registered 1 month to the subsequent year (eg. 2007) and is deemed as 2006 model BUT ironically after owning for 31 days, it's 2007. Hence it is assumed that you've owned the car for 1 year though in reality, you only owned the car for 31 days!!! Think and ponder about it...

NOW let's shift your attention to used cars. The best time NOT to get a used car is 1 month before ANY FESTIVE SEASONS and after getting your bonus (End of December to mid January). Why?
Cause most used car dealers will jack up the price during that period. The rest of the time IS a GOOD time to buy a used car.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED time is:
1) RECESSION time! Strange but true, as Almost everyone will dispose their car DESPERATELY at bargain basement price. Same theory applies to buying a property, ALMOST everyone will sell their property at Riduculously LOW price out of desperation.

2) FOLLOWED by the month of December where most car owners desperate to get rid of their car before the value drop further.
3) Also, AFTER CHINESE NEW YEAR OR HARI RAYA. There are LOTS of KIASU jokers desperately getting RID of their "Old cars" for NEWER car(s). As a result, there would be oversupply of used cars as LOTS of people traded in or sold their cars.

Also, for Car dealers, the "CASH IN" or "PEAK season" period is over as the "URGE" of buying car(s) already DIMMED after Festive seasons. There would be OVERSUPPLY of USED cars as people "Dumping" their Old car(s) for NEWER car(s). Thus, A GREAT BARGAIN AWAITS!!!

Good luck to those Shopping for car(s), whether NEW or USED.