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Monday, April 28, 2008

COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW: Toyota Altezza AS200 (Lexus IS200)/ RS200 BEAMS DUAL VVTI

COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW: Toyota Altezza AS200 (Lexus IS200)/ RS200 BEAMS DUAL VVTI


My (Jeff LIm's) VIEWS:

In this review, I’m covering mainly Lexus IS200. In Japan’s the European IS200’s known as the Altezza AS200. The AS200 is mechanically the same as the UK Lexus IS200, using the same engine and gearboxes. In addition, I'd like to add my own review on Altezza RS200 BEAMS DUAL VVTI.

Why I review this model? It’s because of the ROCK SOLID Resale value pricing in Malaysia. A year 1999 Altezza RS200's up for RM80,000, while a 2000 model Altezza RS200 still fetching RM88,000. A 2001 model’s up for RM98,000. AN Unregistered 2002 model (from Japan): RM120,000. Why is it so? It's all due to the supply and demand thingy. Grey importers brought in Limited units to Malaysia. But the demand's there for Toyota Altezza RS200.

It's all due to the state of the art engine and gearbox. Check it out: Maximum Power 210ps @ 7,600 rpm, Torque: 216Nm @ 6,400 rpm. What the... why so high revving? It's TUNED BY YAMAHA that's why. Gearbox: 6 speed manual or 5 speed Sport-shift (tiptronic) automatic (something Toyota forgotten to install in todays' cars). Eg. The New Camry and the newly launched RM120,000 Corolla Altis still powered by 4 speed Automatic(!).

However the basic specification of Altezza is lower than the equivalent Lexus IS200 but with many options available.


My Toyota Altezza RS200 brief review:

I got a chance to drive a year 2000 Altezza RS200 for a short 20 minutes. The dashboard quality's still akin new with nice to touch plastics. The Dash meter's like a Breitling watch (see picture somewhere in this review). The car's fitted with Electric Sunroof, powered seats, climate control, high quality leather.
In every car there's a downside. For the Altezza's interior, it's the rear seat legroom - it's cramped (I'm only 5 feet 9). It's as bad as BMW E36 3 series.

The Japanese Domestic version of the Lexus IS200, the Altezza RS200's 3S-GE engine was specially tuned by Yamaha to produce 210 PS @ 7,600rpm. It is also the first Toyota to be equipped with BEAMS Dual VVT-i which is only recently available for the newer range of Lexus.

DRIVE TIME

The RS200 gives out an explosion of power, almost comparable to the Honda BIG VTEC (DOHC), feeling and sounding like a race car as the variable valve gear starts. The Toyota Altezza is very enjoyable to drive with a race-feel engine GROWL (when you REV it past 6000rpm) and great build quality. If you are looking for an automatic, the Japanese version has the 5 Speed F1-Style gearshift which is also great fun to drive. Performance of the RS200 is much much greater than the AS200 and there are many after market performance parts available which are lacking on the AS200/Lexus IS200.

Now, the ride and handling: This car handles very very well (My friend's car's fitted with 17" OZ Rims & a set of Continental ContiSport Contact II shoes)! It's one of the better handling cars which was pleasure to drive. It corners like rails with no hit of oversteer cornering at 100km/h (it's a rear drive car remember?), A real driver's car; awesome steering feel and response. Best appreciated on twisty roads. Again, the downside: Due to the hard suspension, the ride was jittery over Malaysian rough roads. The engine's smooth (typical Toyota) when you drive sanely (NOT REVVING IT) but spoiled by my friend's aftermarket Loud 2" Exhaust system.

END OF RS200 review. That's all I can comments, can't review the car properly as I just spent 20 minutes with the car. All is not lost, again, I dished out a detailed Lexus IS200 (Toyota Altezza AS200) "Supertest" by GoAuto Australia topped with NINE OWNER'S Review from Belgium, Canada, US, UK, Sweden, Australia and Ireland.

i)Carsurvey.org (owner's review 1 to 7) and ii) autos.msn.com (owner's review 8 and 9).

CREDITS also given to LEXUS OWNER’S Club UK for some of the Specifications. ALSO, Bonsaicars.com for Top speed & Acceleration times. Here’s the "Go Auto Australia" review. Enjoy!:

Overview (SUPER TEST)

Model release dates: March 1999 - October 2005


LEXUS has always been a brand to be feared in the luxury class and now, with the IS200, it tackles BMW's heartland where the 3 Series has reigned seemingly forever. The IS200 has a balanced chassis, outstanding handling and a sweet six-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine, whereas its similarly priced competition only offers four cylinders. The IS200's only real problem is it lacks a clear sense of identity. And that's rather important at this end of the market. In certain markets, the IS200’s also available in Sportscross wagon (Altezza Gita in Japan). Picture below.


The Car

THERE'S no doubting Lexus' intention with the IS200; claim the small sports crown from the 3 Series BMW. Under the skin it adopts the same front-engine rear-drive philosophy as the BMW, but the exterior and interior design states bluntly that this is a sports sedan rather than a sports tourer. Check out the wedge-shaped side-profile, the aggressive trapezoidal headlights and the large alloy wheels.

Seat Plan

THE IS200'S interior and boot space is optimised by placing the fuel tank ahead of the rear wheels. The compact multi-link rear suspension aids space utilisation as well. There's a lockable flock-lined glovebox with lamp and an upper and centre console, front and rear door pockets and front and rear-centre mounted cup holders.

The Car - Seats

THE IS200's interior speaks of its sporting intent and the marque's luxury heritage. The seat trim is Chenille fabric with metal-fibre highlights, the driver's seat eight-way adjustable and the front passenger's seat four-way adjustable. There are separate headrests for all passengers with the front headrests being four-way adjustable; the rear headrests are two-way adjustable. There are seat back pockets on the front seats.

The Car - Dash

THE IS200 has unique chronograph-style instruments and round air vents. Instrumentation includes speedometer, tachometer, instantaneous fuel consumption meter, fuel level gauge, coolant temperature gauge, voltage meter and automatic transmission shift indicator. The dash is a two-tone design, with a metallic colour highlight running across the centre of the crash pad. There's an electronic odometer and twin trip meter to complete the package.

The Car - Controls

THE IS200's leather steering wheel has perforated leather inserts, accentuating its sporting intent. There are chrome highlights on the gearshift, air vents, doorhandles and handbrake lever button. Electronic cruise control with resume and coast function is available only with the optional automatic transmission. There's a centre mounted digital clock and front centre console bin. Power window functions are mounted in the driver's door.

The Car - Wheels/tyres

LEXUS says the tyre choice for the IS200 was specifically developed to match local conditions and driving tastes. So what do we get? Quite a choice actually. While the standard offering is a 16-inch x 6.5-inch alloy wheel mated to the 205/55R16 V-rated Bridgestone RE030, the Luxury Option offers a machine-finished 17-inch x 7-inch alloy wheel combined with a 215/45 17R Z-speed rated Bridgestone RE040. Two accessory 17-inch wheels are offered: one from Japan the other from OZ Racing in Italy.

The Car - Luggage

THERE'S no split-fold rear seat, but there is a "Trunk-through" capacity which adds to the IS200's flexibility. A sports ski port bag, which can hold four snow skis or two snowboards, is an accessory. A safety triangle and a comprehensive first-aid kit are located in the boot. The kit includes items for communicable disease protection. There are chromed luggage tie-down hooks in the boot.

The Car - Stand out features



THE IS200 reeks of individuality, thanks to its bespoke exterior and interior, including the striking chronograph instruments. The performance of the chassis is outstanding, backing up the sports look, and the gearbox is exceptional. Its equipment levels are high and the pricing is attractive. There are also plenty of options and accessories to customise your car.


The Car - Climate control

CLIMATE control air-conditioning is standard in the IS200, and includes a pollen filter which keeps pollutants to a minimum. Rotary type heater/air-conditioning controls are used. There are also rear seat passenger ventilation ducts. An external ambient temperature gauge is part of the package.

The Car - Sound system

THE Australian Spec IS200's stereo is a premium-grade Fujitsu Ten audio system with 220 watts of power and eight speakers spread around the cabin. The sound system include a six-disc in-dash CD player with controls that includes random and repeat functions. The tape deck includes full logic controls and metal tape facility. The radio has 12 FM station presets and six AM presets. The IS200 has a roof-mounted pole antenna for the radio.

The Car - Security


LEXUS claimed the IS200 anti-theft system was the most sophisticated ever offered in a Lexus when it launched the car. The security system is designed to protect contents as well the car. Keys are laser-milled; theft-preventing radar intrusion sensor detects movement inside the vehicle; a transponder-type engine immobiliser is standard and a self-powered siren is located in boot. The IS200 is also fitted with specially-strengthened door locks (pictured).


We like (+ve): Delightful chassis, smooth, melodic engine, Lexus quality
We don’t like (-ve): Melodic engine lacks punch, car lacks identity



GOAuto's Opinion

By TIM BRITTEN 30/07/99

"THE IS200 is probably the most hyped Lexus since the original LS400 was launched in 1990.

Neither the ES300 - which shares its basics with the Toyota Camry and poses the question of why it should be necessary to spend a lot more money merely to get a supposedly more prestigious badge and a little extra equipment - nor the muscle-bound GS300 that came during 1998, stirred the industry as much as this blatant attempt at claiming a plot in BMW's heartland.

And blatant it surely is, because it is not necessary to dig too deep into the IS200's styling, pricing or mechanical layout to see signs of the 3 Series BMW - or even Mercedes-Benz C-class - peeking through.

The little Lexus apes 3 Series dimensions in all directions, except it is a smidgin smaller, and runs an inline, six-cylinder engine of modest capacity and a liking for high rpm.

It uses short overhangs front and rear, and is styled to appeal to prestige buyers with its sporting lines overlaid by a certain conservatism.

Toyota obviously squeezed every drop of expertise from its suspension engineers because the rear-drive IS200 is undoubtedly the best balanced, neatest handling Lexus yet.

It adopts double wishbones and coil springs at the front, and a multi-link double-wishbone system at the rear, all contrived to give an exquisite ride/handling compromise.

Mate this with the clean revving, twin camshaft, multi-valve six - along with BMW-style variable (inlet) camshaft timing - and there you have it: the magic ingredients that should result in a car no prestige buyer can resist.

And, without doubt, the Lexus scores on every point - with the exception of one significant flaw.


The standard of finish is pure Lexus - tight panel fit and deep, glossy paint - but a few aberrations exist.

And the surprisingly messy under-bonnet layout looks like an amalgam of early Mercedes and Iveco truck with its essentially black treatment, while a conglomeration of plastic component covers keep the viewer guessing as to what sort of engine lies underneath.

The dash, with its ribbed upper surfaces and uninspiring centre console, is not readily warmed to - although the radio controls are large and user-friendly - while the seats, at first well-shaped and supportive, can tend to create a little discomfort after more than two hours at the wheel. And the wheel has only a primitive, one-way adjustment.

The front seats are available with electric adjustment but only on the driver's side; front passengers must be content with normal, manual operation, right down to a primitive lever-style ratchet backrest adjuster and no seat height control.

The back seat caters well enough for its passengers with reasonable legroom although there is no split/fold backrest to make the most of luggage space. A ski port behind the central armrest is at least provided.

But the driving experience is something well above the ordinary. The little inline six, wound out to its red line of around 6300rpm, does not mind a bit and it emits a nice, muted throaty tone at the same time.

But the acceleration is about what you would expect of a 155hp, 2.0-litre engine being asked to propel a 1.3-tonne body - it provides rapid forward motion but needs to be revved hard, just like the six-cylinder 320i BMW in its previous E36 guise - not surprising when you consider maximum torque in the Lexus appears at a high 4600rpm.

All that said, the chassis balance and ride quality are outstanding. Few cars come to mind that cope so well with (optional) low-profile 17-inch 215/45 tyres in terms of ride quality, while the handling is pin-sharp and secure with only minimal suggestions of the bump-steer that comes as standard when wheel offset exceeds certain margins.

The Lexus is thus a nice car in which to go in search of fast, winding, traffic-free roads, especially in the six-speed manual version which offers a polished metal, quick-throw lever and well matched gear ratios.

So, overall, the IS200 is a thoroughly refined competitor in the compact prestige class and a real threat, in terms of what it offers buyers (such as the various after-purchase benefits offered with the Lexus package) and in terms of its unquestioned capabilities. It is also very well priced.

The baby Lexus is a carefully contrived offering in the prestige class that loses nothing to its European competition except a clear sense of identity."

END OF GOAUTO Australia's opinions

Mechanical - Plan views


DOES this sound familiar? A small capacity inline six-cylinder engine mounted longitudinally and driving the rear wheels. BMW? No, Lexus IS200 - a most sincere form of flattery.


Mechanical - Engine


THE IS200 is powered by a straight six engine developing 155hp @ 6200rpm and 195Nm of torque at 4600rpm. The engine is mounted longitudinally and powers the rear wheels. It is a sophisticated engine, with power and torque spread aided by intelligent variable valve timing and variable-length induction tracts.

THE IS200'S front suspension is by double wishbones, controlled by coil springs and two-stage gas-filled dampers. The rear suspension is a double wishbone, true multi-link system with a toe control arm for improved rear wheel directional stability under hard braking.

SIX computers control all the major systems of the car. The engine features fully sequential fuel injection. The transmission is electronically controlled, as is the throttle. The electronic throttle is networked to the engine computer to provide idle speed control, shift-shock reduction control, cruise control (with auto only), traction control and snow mode.

Mechanical - Transmission


THE standard transmission in the IS200 is a six-speed manual. A four-speed automatic is optional. The new manual transmission was developed by Aisin-Warner, a Toyota subsidiary, and the IS200 is its first application outside Japan. The auto is intelligent, adaptive and electronically-controlled.

Mechanical - Brakes & steering

THE braking system is vacuum-boosted dual circuit hydraulic with four-wheel discs. The front brake hardware for the IS200 is 296mm x 32mm ventilated discs with twin-piston, floating callipers. The rear brakes are 307mm x 12mm solid rear discs with single opposed piston callipers. The anti-lock braking system is a four-sensor, three-channel type.

THE rack and pinion power steering system is engine-speed sensitive. The overall steering ratio is 15.7, with 3.25 turns lock-to-lock and minimum turning circle of 10.2m.

Safety

AIRBAGS are mounted in the IS200's steering wheel, passenger dash and front seats. The front seats are designed to reduce whiplash injury, through careful placement of the upper section and the head restraint. Lap-sash seatbelts are standard all-round and the front seatbelts have pretensioners. The steering column is energy-absorbing and four-way collapsible. The optional skiport bag was crash tested to ensure it remains in place in an accident. A traction control system is standard on IS200.

END OF REVIEW BY GO AUTO AUSTRALIA.

SPECIFICATIONS:

ENGINE:

1) LEXUS IS200 @ Altezza AS200
* In-line 6, 24v, longitudinally mounted REAR WHEEL DRIVE
* Capacity: 1998cc
* Induction: Twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, electronically-controlled variable inlet camshaft timing. Multi- point fuel injection
2) ALTEZZA RS200: As above except in-line 4, 16v BEAMS DUAL VVTi, Yamaha tuned

1) * Bore/Stroke: 75.0mm x 75.0mm
* Compression ratio: 10:1
2) ALTEZZA RS200: 11.5:1

MAX POWER/TORQUE:

1) Lexus IS200 @ Altezza AS200
* Power: 114kw (155hp) at 6200rpm
* Torque: 195nm at 4600rpm

2) ALTEZZA RS200: 1998 4 Cyl 3S-GE
210ps @ 7,600 rpm
216Nm @ 6,400 rpm


TRANSMISSION:

1) * Six-speed manual, Four-speed automatic
2)*6 speed manual, 5 SPEED SEQUENTIAL SHIFT AUTOMATIC

SUSPENSION:


* Front: Independent double wishbone with lower coil
* Rear: Independent multi-link double wishbone with lower coil

STEERING:

* Power-assisted rack and pinion
* Turns lock to lock: 3.25
* Turning circle: 10.2m

BRAKES:

*Vacuum-boosted dual circuit hydraulic with four-wheel discs.
*Front brake: 296mm x 32mm ventilated discs with twin-piston, floating callipers.
*Rear brake: 307mm x 12mm solid rear discs with single opposed piston callipers.
*Anti-lock braking system: four-sensor, three-channel type.
*TCS (Traction Control)

DIMENSIONS:


*Length 4400 mm
*Ground clearance 150 mm
*Width 1725 mm
*Height 1420 mm
*Total (curb) weight 1360 kg / 2998 lb
*Wheelbase 2670 mm
*Track front 1495 mm
*Track rear 1475 mm

Both 1) and 2) IDENTICAL
AVERAGE FUEL CONSUMPTION:
1) FC: 11.6km/l
2) FC: 11.0km/l
*Fuel tank: 60L

PERFORMANCE:

1)* Top speed: 215km/h (Top speed: 207km/h - Auto)
*0-100km/h: 8.5 secs (11.2 secs Auto)

2) *Top speed 233km/h if unrestricted (JDM limited to 180km/h)
0-100km/h: 7.2 secs (MANUAL)
*Top speed 230km/h if unrestricted (JDM limited to 180km/h)
0-100km/h: 8.0secs (AUTO)

http://www.bonsaicars.com/Altezza/
Top speed and 0-100km/h source)


COLOUR CHOICES (All colours can be seen in this Blog, in “Owners’ review”: Silver, Super WHite, Pearl White, Bright Yellow, Super Red, Met. Black, Met. Grey, Dark Green Mica, Dark Blue Mica

STANDARD EQUIPMENT:

* Driver and passenger airbags
* Side front airbags
* Anti-lock brakes
* Climate control air-conditioning
* Alloy wheels
* Six-stack CD player
* Limited slip differential
* Traction control
* Trip computer
*Leather seats with front driver seat 8 way electronically adjustable

- END OF SPECIFICATIONS -











The following were sourced from MSN Auto US website:
http://autos.msn.com/research/userreviews/reviewlist.aspx?modelid=10618

MSN Auto (US) User Reviews
9.1 Overall Rating

9.4 Styling
9.1 Performance
8.8 Interior
9.2 Quality
9.1 Recommendation











END OF A LONG REVIEW: Thanks for having the patience to read it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Subsidised diesel to go can, give us better quality diesel 1st.

JEFF Lim's comments: It's disheartening to hear that the Government wanted to remove diesel subsidy. They don't realise that our diesel quality's the "Worst of the Worst" @ EURO 1 where as the World already using EURO 5. You know what, ironically Malaysia produces the BEST DIESEL in the world by the name of "Shell V-Power Diesel" only to be exported. Here's an extract of article 1. I felt very angry upon reading it... WHY we, Malaysia don't get this quality diesel, YET the Government want to remove the diesel subsidy.

"Shell V-Power Diesel is a top performance diesel fuel designed to help modern diesel engines deliver more power, for longer. Already available at about 5,000 service stations across Europe, Shell scientists have used the same fuel technology behind V-Power Diesel to create this special racing fuel for Le Mans."

"This remarkable result was due in part to the inclusion of Shell GTL (Gas to Liquids) Fuel in the race formulation. Shell V-Power Diesel is the first and only premium diesel to use this special synthetic fuel technology which is created from natural gas in Malaysia using a unique Shell synthesis process. Shell GTL Fuel burns more cleanly and efficiently than conventional diesel because of its outstanding purity and cetane quality."

Here's the DISAPPOINTING ARTICLE 2 taken from today's The Star:

Friday April 25, 2008
Subsidy on diesel to go first, says Shahrir
By TEH ENG HOCK

""KUALA LUMPUR: The restructured fuel subsidy scheme will see the removal of subsidy on diesel first.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Samad said diesel would soon be sold at the market rate at the pumps when a mechanism to deliver subsidies directly to those entitled has been decided upon.

“We are looking at diesel first, and how to ensure that subsidised diesel gets to the right groups, especially to the transport sector and (those involved in) certain economic activities which require diesel subsidy so that we can cut out leakages.
“Schoolbuses for example. We have to have a mechanism on how to deliver the diesel (subsidy) to the schoolbus drivers so that the cost of transport will not go up,” he said.

Without the subsidy, diesel will cost more than RM2 a litre. The price of diesel at the pump now is RM1.581 a litre.
Shahrir said the move to restructure the fuel subsidy was necessary to ensure the money was not wasted through various ways such as diesel smuggling.
“We want to look at diesel first, then obviously we will have to look at petrol subsidies,” he said.

Shahrir said crude oil prices were at US$117 (RM372) per barrel, and the Government spent RM33bil on fuel subsidies last year.
He said another RM20bil of subsidy was spent on natural gas to subsidise Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s power generation.
“You are talking about RM53bil. And that does not include the subsidised amount that people pay. Our oil export in 2007 was RM77bil.

“So it is almost one-to-one what we consume and what we export,” he said.
On the Food Security Policy, Shahrir said it had been discussed in Cabinet and the Agriculture Ministry would look into increasing production to counter inflation.
“What we have not resolved is the delivery and distribution to consumers. We need to take into account some things. For instance, I want uniform pricing for foodstuff in Sabah and Sarawak and the Peninsula.”

He added that the inflation of food prices was higher than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which recorded 2.8% in March.
“We cannot use the CPI as an indication of inflation as it does not reflect the price rise in food. The CPI is a theoretical basket of goods based on the consumption of a theoretical average family.

“In the basket, there’s the food component, transport, clothing and so on. If you take out other components and only focus on the food component, then you will see that the (inflation) rate is higher than the CPI,” he said.""

END OF a STUP1D Article.

BA$TARD Shahrir, as I said in my previous post, just remove the stup1d subsidy (except subsidy card/s for School Buses, Lorries, Fishermen, and those needed) and REMOVE whatever Excise Duties, Sales taxes as well. I'm sure ALL Malaysians will thank you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Remove fuel subsidy. Yes! But remove duties & taxes 1st...

Firstly, I'd like to mention that the Government cannot afford to subsidise petrol and keep prices artificially low forever.

However, I want to point out that when you talk about the price of petrol, you have to also talk about the price of cars in Malaysia. These two items goes hand in hand.

If one expects we Malaysians to pay the real price of petrol (say, RM3.00 per litre) in the future when the petrol subsidy is zero, then the price of cars must also be real, ie, duty and tax free.

If one expects the people to pay the full, real-world price of petrol – and I must say it is a perfectly reasonable expectation – then we Malaysians expects, also reasonably, to buy cars at real-world prices, without the exorbitant taxes currently imposed.

For example, a Honda Civic at the real price is about RM65,000 (as in Labuan). Instead, it's priced artificially high at RM112,000 in rest of Malaysia.

Now, when the average consumer buys a car, he has already paid (in the form of import duties, excise duties, and sales tax) to the Government, IN ADVANCE, a sum GREATER THAN THE PETROL SUBSIDY he can expect to enjoy over the time he owns the car.

Let me give you a scenario:

If a consumer buys a Honda Civic at RM112,000, the duties and tax he pays, up front, to the Government is more than RM50,000.

Then, he enjoys the fuel subsidy each time he fills up with petrol. To benefit from the RM50,000 that he has paid, in advance, it will take approximately 16 years (assuming he uses 60 litres of petrol a week and the subsidy is RM1 per litre)!
So, it is not fair to say that the subsidy of petrol has to be reduced or removed when the commodity price goes up, without reducing or abolishing the hefty taxes on cars.

You can’t use the “cheapest petrol in South-East Asia” and “price of crude oil has skyrocketed” excuses to justify the reduction in petrol subsidy as long as the ridiculously high tax is imposed on cars.

Any Malaysian won’t buy your story because we know that we, as motorists, have already paid for the petrol “subsidy”. In advance.

My conclusion: BOTH the Fuel subsidy AND "Import Duty, Excise Duty, Sales tax and ALL sort of other Vehicle taxes" MUST GO. As seen in The UK, where the petrol price's sky high BUT the car prices there are one of the cheapest in the world. If UK can, so can Malaysia.

Ironically, the British average monthly income's GBP3,000 but their average 1.6cc mid-size car's only GBP13,000 (Toyota Corolla 1.6) whereas we Malaysians earned an average of RM1,800 (GBP280!) but our Corolla Altis 1.6 were priced at 110,000 (GBP17,000), thanks to the Excise Duties, import duties and sales tax.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

FULL REVIEW: Proton WAJA (Impian) 1.6X

FULL REVIEW: Proton Waja 1.6X 4G18. Proton Impian in UK.

Model release dates: December 2001 - July 2006

MY REVIEW:

I have 3 Wajas owned by relatives, 2 in Penang and 1 in KL. All were 1.6 Standard Models. I only have the chance to drive once for mere 10 minutes. It’s a 2001 Automatic model. Hence, there’s not much I can test. Based on my observations, the car’s Ride and Handling’s superb, cornering at 80km/h like rails, absorbing bumps and potholes comfortably, seats were quite comfortable. Engine’s smooth for a 4-pot, Great steering feedback. TIMELESS Design (already 8 yrs on, still looks quite good). THAT”S ALL MY COMPLIMENTS. Almost forget, the power is there, pickup’s quick and linear from start till 70km/h before it reached a flat spot, hence quite pleasent city driving. However, 120km/h onwards the car picked up again till the Maximum speed. The Waja’s stable at high speeds believe it or not as I saw lots of Wajas overtaking me at around 160km/h!

Here comes the Bad point: FIRSTLY, THE BLIND SPOT due to HIGH REAR glass & thick C-Pillar. The dashboard’s made of cheap plastic, the glovebox gap is getting bigger and difficult to close, the steering volume control button came off twice, the Aircond switch came loose, the fabric seats’ not grippy as rear passengers slide around (slightly) as I was taking corners. My Uncle’s Waja’s Power windows broke down 4 times (twice driver, 1 front passenger, 1 rear right), once, the Door handle came off. The brakes’ not quite effective (No ABS for Standard spec). THAT”S ALL the CRITICISMS. Nevertheless, I still liked the body shape, ride & handling.

WHY I decided to write about WAJA? Of all the cars why Waja?
Most importantly, I got lots of friends looking for used Waja but they can't find any detailed review of the car hence I get the ball rolling.

Secondly, it's for my own interest. I read somewhere someone bought a Waja and transplanted a Mitsubishi FTO Engine, gearbox, brakes, dashboard. Hmmm… Sounds like a good idea. Should I get a 1.8X budget RM28k, 2003 (full spec with ABS & Airbags, stiffer body), used for 1 year, then upgrade to FTO (OR Galant VR-M) engine, brakes, tiptronic gearbox, fuel tank? (RM12k budget). Ttl: RM40k, just within my budget. Or should I just buy a Perdana V6 (for 2002 RM38k) and be contented? CAN ANYONE advise me?

Why V6? Cause I was hooked to them. Recently sat in Friend's Cefiro V6 AND a Perdana V6, I simply loved the "GROWL" of the V6 engine. Hence, I told myself, next car, must buy a V6. Now I'm in a position to buy a used car to replaced my 13 yrs old car and my budget is RM40k only (at the moment).


Anyway, As I do not have a car for DETAILED TEST, I dished out a “Super test”, comprehensive test by GoAuto Australia. Note that Australian Waja 1.6X have ABS + TRACTION Control, CLIMATE CONTROL, 3 yrs, 1 MILLION km warranty with 15,000km service intervals AND 4 Airbags. PRICE: AUD25400 only (RM72,000). This shows the DOUBLE standard Proton practices. ENJOY:

Overview

PROTON is stretching things a little - well, a lot, really - when it describes the Waja medium-sized sedan as a car equal to rivals from Europe and Japan. True, it has smart outer skin and lots of features contained within. Lotus-tuned handling also impresses. But these do not give the car an automatic ticket into the big league, considering the underpowered 1.6-litre engine, lack of interior comfort and quality glitches found throughout the car. At launch, the car was also overpriced, although this has since been addressed with a $4500 price drop.

The Car

DESIGNED at Proton's Shah Alam studio in Malaysia, the Waja has adopted clean and smooth lines in an orthodox "three-box" sedan shape. Its creators have attempted to imbue both European and Japanese influences, all the while keeping aerodynamic drag - and therefore fuel consumption and wind noise - to a minimum (0.31Cd). The front end features a strong V-shaped bonnet crease that descends down to form the border for a secondary "V" with the corporate badge oozing over the five-bar chrome-bordered radiator grille. Front driving lights are included on 1.6X models. More chrome is found at the rear - on the boot lid above the number plate recess and on the exhaust tip.

Did you know?
Waja is the first car designed and built from the ground up by Proton

The Car - Seat Plan

WAJA seats five people, offering the front occupants frontal and seat-mounted side-impact airbags and seatbelt sash height adjustment, pretensioners and load limiters. All passengers are provided with three-point seatbelts, with rear seat headrests limited to the outboard positions. The centre rear position also doubles as an armrest. Storage facilities include a lidded centre console bin, a tray under the dash fascia, small bins in the front doors, lockable glovebox and two seatback pockets. Two cupholders are provided in the front compartment and two in the 1.6X's rear armrest.

The Car - Seats

THE 1.6X Waja uses leather trim on its "sports" bucket seats, which throughout the range offer 240mm of fore/aft adjustment, seat cushion angle adjustment and 120mm of front head restraint adjustment. This range-topping Waja also has lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat. All seats have three-point seatbelts with the front belts featuring a pretensioner and load-limiting device. The rear bench seat has a 60/40 split and two head restraints - the centre-rear position misses out in this regard.

The Car - Dash

THE 1.6X Waja has a two-tone dash treatment with charcoal grey across the top portion of the dash (and extending to the door panels) and lighter materials used below. Mock wood veneer inserts on the gearshift, steering wheel, doors and glovebox lend an air of prestige, together with the leather trim on seats and doors. The centre stack is sharply angled toward the driver - some would say to the exclusion of the front passenger - and a large hood sits over the instruments in front of the driver. The main cluster has conventional gauges for fuel, coolant temperature, tachometer (redline 6500rpm) and speedometer (to 240km/h).

The Car - Controls

THE 1.6X Waja driver has seat cushion angle and lumbar adjustment, and steering column height adjustment with which to get comfortable behind the wheel. That wheel has basic audio switches on it with the column stalks including a left-hand indicator and variable intermittent wipers. The right-hand side of the dash has the instrument dimmer and controls for the wing mirror, which includes a button for inward folding. Electric window switchgear is situated on the door with switches for the front and rear foglamps, hazard lights and rear demist on the centre stack. A driver's footrest, front and rear maplights, front passenger vanity mirror and internal releases for the boot and fuel access are provided.

The Car - Wheels/tyres

THE 1.6X Waja is fitted with 15 x 6.5JJ alloy wheels in a seven-spoke design and 195/55 R15 85V Goodyear Eagle NCT3 tyres. A temporary spare wheel, a jack and some basic tools are provided in the well underneath the boot floor.

The Car - Luggage

WAJA'S boot provides 1030mm in floor length to the seatbacks, extending to around 1700mm (depending on front seat position) when the 60/40 split-fold rear seat is used. Maximum boot width is 1350mm, reducing to 920mm at the narrowest point. Height to the parcel shelf is 490mm. The use of bootlid hinges instead of struts can serve to restrict luggage space and there are no luggage tie-down hooks with which to secure small items. A temporary spare wheel is located underneath the floor, as is a small storage at the back end near the seatbacks. There is no boot handle; access is made via a key or an internal release. Claimed boot capacity is 408 litres

The Car - Stand out features

THE premium pricing at launch (since dropped by up to $5000) mated with an undernourished engine will hurt Proton's chances of making Waja a success in Australia, however the vehicle has a fair dose of equipment to make it more palatable to prospective owners. All variants are fitted with four airbags, ABS brakes and traction control, for example, with 1.6X upping the ante with niceties such as leather and climate control air-conditioning. As Proton has done in the past, it has used Lotus engineering with the suspension to provide appreciable benefits in both handling and cache. (NOT FAIR!)


The Car - Climate control

AIR-CONDITIONING is fitted standard across the Waja range, with the premium 1.6X model offering an "automatic" function for air distribution and fan speed. Otherwise, the system operates in a conventional manner with three rotary dials covering the major controls. The centre fan speed dial has the air-conditioning on/off button placed conveniently on it, with a separate button used for recirculation. The rear demist control is located alongside ancillary switches such as foglights and hazards.(AGAIN, NOT FAIR, WE MALAYSIA DON”T HAVE THIS!)

The Car - Sound system

ALL Waja models are fitted with a six-speaker, single-CD Clarion AM/FM stereo system. Volume and station search can be adjusted from controls on the steering wheel or from the (neatly integrated) head unit, which is easily reached by the driver thanks to the sharply angled dash. A bee-sting aerial is mounted on the roof above the rear window.

The Car - Security

WAJA is fitted standard with an engine immobiliser and (single stage) remote central locking with an integrated alarm. Attempting to lock the vehicle with a window or door open/ajar will prompt a loud beep to warn the owner. Unlocking the doors does not bring the interior lights on and the automatic function on the driver's window applies only to opening.

THE GOOD: Handling characteristics, long standard equipment list, external appearance, interior and boot space
THE BAD: Underpowered engine, manual shift action, quality


Our Opinion (GOAUTO's opinion)

By TERRY MARTIN 23/03/2002

IT IS true that this is the most complete Proton ever built, a car constructed from the ground up on its Malaysian home soil and which at last helps the company break free from the perception that it is a builder of old-generation Mitsubishis.

But to describe the Waja medium-sized sedan - as Proton has done - as a world-class car equal to rivals from Japan and Europe is stretching the truth.

It has a degree of presence with its clean, smooth and conservative shape, made memorable with the bonnet tip oozing down over the chrome-bordered grille.

And it has a comprehensive list of features which in the "X"-rated form tested here includes cowhide on the seats and doors, climate control air-conditioning, mock timber panelling, high-grade stereo, traction control, four airbags, ABS brakes, alarm, a warranty lasting one million kilometres - we could go on like this for some time.

We must stress, however, that a smart outer skin and lots of features contained within do not give the Waja - a Malay word meaning "steely warrior" - an automatic ticket into the big league.

There is the matter of performance which, until a Renault-sourced 1.8-litre engine arrives, is limited to a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder unit producing 76kW at 6000rpm and 140Nm of torque at 2750rpm.

There are also concerns over quality and smaller but equally niggling aspects like driver comfort.

And there is the price: at launch, Waja was priced at about $28,000 for the baseline 1.6 model and $30,000 for the 1.6X. Slow sales saw the sticker dropped by up to $5000, with the entry level 1.6 now set at $22,990 and the 1.6X at $25,490, plus $1850 for the auto.

Despite the absence of a "handling by Lotus" sticker on the Waja's rump, the most positive aspects we found with the car derived from Proton's 80 per cent ownership of the renowned British sports car and engineering house.

As it has done with the Satria GTi, Lotus has again stamped its mark on what is otherwise quite an ordinary vehicle.

This is more than just marketing hype. Using MacPherson struts at the found end and a multi-link configuration at the rear, the suspension produces a firm ride that maintains excellent control and does a competent job of dispensing with road irregularities - even rough stuff dished out on crook Australian roads.

The ride never becomes harsh, suspension noise is kept in check and bodyroll is not a factor. Grip (and, at times, noise) levels, on the other hand, are high from the 195/55 tyres on 15-inch rims, though understeer refuses to emerge until the car is pushed well beyond the norm.

The steering, too, impresses with its weighting, feedback and response at speed - and we like the feel of the thick-rimmed, three-spoke steering wheel - though some might find the steering too heavy during slower-speed driving around town.

There is no kickback through the tiller across chopped-up corners, however vibration will make its way up to the driver's hands.

With such excellent handling and a well-sorted ride, it seems criminal that the Waja owner is lumped with such an underpowered engine.

Where a humble Corolla, for example, can find 84kW per tonne in the power-to-weight stakes, the range-topping Waja tips the scales at just 64kW/tonne. Claimed acceleration from rest to 100km/h is a believable 12.2 seconds.

Sourced from Mitsubishi, the engine struggles at low and mid-range engine speeds, and though it gets a wriggle on at higher revs the noise, vibration and harshness that arrives about 5000rpm will send the driver back each and every time.

Frequent use of the standard five-speed manual gearbox will keep the Waja running with most suburban and highway traffic, but the shift action is notchy and slow, and fuel consumption increases markedly when the driver decides to stir things along.

Even as it stands now, Proton's claimed figure of 7.7 litres per 100km (combined) is unrealistic. Premium unleaded fuel is also called for at the pump.

The spacious interior features light colours, a modern design, some soft plastics across the dash and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. But the heavily angled centre console tends to exclude the front passenger, the front seats are flat and unsupportive and some of the switchgear is brittle and uninviting to use.

Higher-mounted temperature controls would have been welcome, as would steering wheel reach adjustment, cruise control, better radio reception, larger door bins, a driver's vanity mirror, less-reflective instruments and - a problem specific to our test car, we hope - dash plastics which were starting to peel off from their base.

Indeed, there were other examples of poor-fitting interior trim and a number of creaks, squeaks and rattles that emerged during our time with the car.

Rear seat space is good in all directions bar legroom and all seating positions employ a lap-sash seatbelt. Only the centre rear passenger misses out on a head restraint in a position which doubles as a pull-down armrest with integrated cupholders.

Boot space is generous and luggage capacity extendable with the 60/40 split-fold rear bench, however, the underfloor storage compartment is a clumsy design - bootlid hinges cut into the available space and the spare tyre hidden under the floor is a temporary fix.

The Waja might be the most complete Proton ever but its shortcomings force it to become just another unplaced horse in the race.


Mechanical - Plan views

LIKE all Protons, the front-wheel drive Waja employs a transversely mounted four-cylinder engine up front, driving the front wheels only.


Mechanical - Engine

A 1.8-LITRE engine is expected for Waja in the not too distant future, but for the time being the vehicle makes do with a 1.6-litre, DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder that produces 76kW at 6000rpm and 140Nm at 2750rpm. Premium unleaded fuel is required to deliver its best, which includes a claimed sprint from standstill to 100km/h of 12.2 seconds (14.6 seconds with the auto) and average fuel consumption of 6.2L/100km (6.6L/100km for the auto).

Mechanical - Suspension

WAJA suspension comprises MacPherson struts with coil springs and a stabiliser bar up front and a multi-link configuration with coil springs and stabiliser bar at the rear. The suspension was tuned by Proton subsidiary Lotus. Proton claims the driver can experience the benefits of the suspension through the following ride and handling elements: steering effort and response, linearity, straight-line handling, cornering, lane change, body control, wheel control and comfort from a smoother ride.

Mechanical - Transmission

WAJA is available with a five-speed manual transmission with single-plate dry clutch or an optional electronically controlled four-speed automatic. The manual shift was designed to offer both a relatively short throw and close ratios between gears, to deliver a sportier feel. Final drive ratio for the manual transmission is 4.052; for the automatic it is 4.042.
Did you know?
Proton cars are exported to 50 countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and Latin America

Mechanical - Brakes

WAJA has four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system and traction control fitted standard across the range. Ventilated at the front and solid at the rear, the discs measure 355mm in diameter. The ABS is designed to prevent wheel lock during braking, assuring directional stability and maintenance of steering during braking. The traction system controls each wheel individually to give drivers better control of a variety of low-traction road surfaces.

Mechanical - Steering


WAJA uses a rack and pinion steering system with power assistance. Just 2.8 turns of the three-spoke steering wheel are required from lock to lock. The tiller combines a wood veneer effect with leather and contains stereo controls for volume adjustment and preset station search. The steering column adjusts for height only. The turning circle is 10.2 metres.

Safety

ALL Waja models are fitted with dual front and seat-mounted side airbags for front seat occupants. Inflation of the frontal airbags is claimed to be 0.2-0.3 seconds, with side airbags claimed to inflate within 0.12 seconds. Front occupants also benefit from the standard fitment of seatbelt pretensioners and load limiting devices. All passengers are provided with a three-point belt, however the centre rear seating position does not have a head restraint. Anti-lock brakes and traction control are standard across the range.


SPECIFICATIONS:

WARRANTY:

* Three years/1,000,000km
* Major service intervals: 15,000km

ENGINE:

* 1.584-litre front-mounted SOHC 16-valve transverse inline four-cylinder
* Power: 76kW @ 6000rpm
* Torque: 140Nm @ 2750rpm
* Compression ratio: 10.5:1
* Bore x stroke: 76.0mm x 87.3mm

TRANSMISSION:

* Four-speed automatic or five-speed manual

SUSPENSION:

* Front: independent by MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
* Rear: independent by multi-links, coil springs, anti-roll bar

STEERING:

* Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
* Turning circle: 10.2 metres
* Turns lock to lock: 2.8

DIMENSIONS:

* Length: 4460mm
* Width: 1740mm
* Height: 1420mm
* Wheelbase: 2440mm
* Front track: 1475mm
* Rear track: 1470mm
* Kerb weight: 1190kg
* Power to weight: 64kw/tonne

STANDARD EQUIPMENT:

* Climate control air-conditioning
* Power steering
* Traction control
* Four-wheel disc brakes
* ABS brakes
* Dual front airbags
* Front side airbags
* Seatbelt pretensioners
* 15-inch alloy wheels
* Tilt-adjustable steering wheel with audio controls
* Leather trimmed sports seats
* 60/40 split-fold rear seat
* Electric windows
* Electric mirrors
* Wooden instrument panel strip
* Six-speaker CD-stereo
* Remote central locking
* Engine immobiliser, alarm
* Front and rear foglights

FUEL CONSUMPTION:
Tested by me in Malaysia 7.8L/100km (around RM0.16/km) (A). Tested on Manual in Australia – 6.2L/100km (RM0.12/km mixed)

PERFORMANCE:
Claimed Top speed: 190km/h (M), 186km/h (A)
Claimed 0-100km/h: 12.2secs (M), 14.6secs (A) [ANYONE CAN CHALLENGE THIS CLAIMED FIGURES???]

END OF REVIEW:
Thanks for reading this.

PS. The Waja scored a respectable 3 stars in the EURO NCAP. And from 2006 onwards, the Engine's no longer Mitsubishi's 4G18, instead it's "110hp CAMPRO" powered (for the 1.6). Recently, 2 months ago, Proton launched a CAMPRO CPS, a new engine with 125hp & 150Nm of Torque, an increase of 15hp and 7Nm over the Campro respectively.