Continuing from Part I of the SMMT Test Day 2013 series, where I test drive the 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo, the 2013 Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC, the 2013 Toyota Auris Hybrid, the 2013 Toyota GT86 and the Toyota AE86.
About James WongThe only writer to be based in Asia, James provides a refreshingly different perspective to the automotive industry with his unique experience of living in the Far East. He is a prolific journalist who has written for several leading automotive publications in Singapore, including Torque Singapore and REV Magazine Singapore. He believes in the thrill of driving and champions for an appreciation of driving pleasure above the horsepower race. In September 2010, James relocated to the United Kingdom, London, bringing him to a whole new environment from which to start a new chapter in automotive journalism.
I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to the 2013 Test Day of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), given our relatively minor presence among the British press. It is a great step for Autosavant, a golden opportunity to network with motor manufacturers as well as to drive the latest cars in the market.
An almost audible gasp from the automotive world was heard when Porsche announced – unapologetically – that the newly revealed 991 GT3 will come equipped with Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) only. It will be the first time ever in the GT3’s history that a manual gearbox will not be offered. Apart from the change of the Mezger engine to the new, completely unrelated direct fuel injection (DFI) engine of the lesser 911 models, Porsche’s decision on PDK has got to be the single most talked about controversy surrounding the 991 GT3.
I have always considered the XF’s looks to be severely compromised because of its awkward-looking headlights with ‘exposed eyeballs’. But now that is all gone – the facelift has fixed the last blemish of the design, and now the XF looks complete – it is, from bumper to bumper, absolutely handsome.
The entire automotive world had its eyes pinned on Toyota. The largest carmaker in the world was about to create one of the world’s most affordable rear wheel drive (RWD) coupés, equipped with a limited slip differential (LSD) and promising low weight, a hunkered stance that suggested a low centre of gravity and a short, compact wheelbase. It was a nostalgic return for Toyota to creating truly desirable sports cars again.
A university project I am working on recently got me reading about Ferdinand Piëch, the venerable chairman of the supervisory board of Volkswagen AG. One of the man’s radical ideas was that Volkswagen was to build a luxury saloon that can rival the best of any of its German rivals, but is understood never to be able to make any money. The Phaeton, as it was called, was to be the flagship of the company, the car to create the halo for the rest of its products, the car that the average Golf owner would aspire to.
It’s the Muslim fasting month and a consistent chant from a nearby mosque starts to drift into the hotel room at the break of dawn. A sharp chill lingers around Fraser’s Hill as a sleepy haze refuses to relinquish its grip on the Malaysian highlands. I sit awake, wondering about what lay ahead in the day – tackling mountain passes in a 225PS 2.0-litre naturally aspirated legend, the Civic Type-R, against the quintessential Euro hot hatch, a 2.0-litre turbocharged favourite, the Golf GTI. They are polar opposites, philosophies that clash with each other in nearly every way possible – and I am here 572 kilometres from home to celebrate the greatness of both. I jump out of bed to get ready for motoring heaven.
To most people in the world, Japan is the ultimate Asian model of industrialised success. After World War II, its economy rose spectacularly to become the second largest in the world, behind only the United States and surpassing the growth of any other nation within such a short time span. Western observers were curious about the Japanese model of industrialisation, perplexed that there is, perhaps, another way of running an economy instead of the tried-and-tested ways of capitalism.
On 14 May 2003, Mercedes announced its new 7G-TRONIC gearbox, a world’s first for an automatic gearbox with seven gears. In its day, it was something revolutionary when its competitors were either on 5-speed or 6-speed automatic gearboxes. Seven gears, Mercedes said, would vastly improve fuel consumption and acceleration.
From 2013, some radical changes will be taking place in Singapore’s highly-regulated automotive scene.
A new Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) will take effect from 1 January 2013, which is a rebate or surcharge that would be levied on a car depending on its CO2 emissions. According to government studies, most cars sold in Singapore will fall in the ‘neutral’ band of 161-210 CO2 g/km, where neither a rebate nor surcharge will be implemented. This appears to be a step in the right direction, penalising cars that emit more carbon emissions while rewarding cars that are less polluting.
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