Autoworld blog
Blogs     Previews     Test Drive Reports     Feature Stories     News     Motorsports 


Posts Tagged ‘4g18’

How far can you go on one tank?

Monday, April 6th, 2009

If you’re a regular listener of the local English radio stations, you must have, at some point or other, listened to the advertisement that stars an Encik Rahman, asked to spell out in one breath how far can his Perodua Viva go in one tank. Encik Rahman then goes on like a locomotive naming “Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Kuching ….” before running out of breath.

Well, Encik Rahman, I’ve got news for you. The exercise would have been a lot shorter with a Proton Waja, “KL, Singapore, and back.” On average, my Waja, a manual Campro MC3 version gives about 10 kilometres out of every litre of fuel burned. In its 60 litre tank, this translates to an extrapolated range of 600km per tank. Driving in urban traffic, this figure varies between 570km (9.5km/l) and, if I am good, 620km (10.3km/l) on the rare occasion.

On pure highway driving, I’ve managed to extract up to 14 km/l (extrapolates to 850km per tank), which, on last July, led me to attempt taking the car to our neighbours down south and back using only one tank of petrol. The journey to the island was driven by my brother with me as passenger and all his luggage in the car boot, while I brought the car home on my own.

We filled the tank up to the brim just before leaving, and in the island, the car was in the custody of my brother for a couple days before I headed home. On my way back up north, I even took a detour to Batu Pahat which added 60km to the trip meter by the time I got back to the PLUS highway. The fuel warning light came on while I was still in Malacca stretch, but I drove on until Kajang before refuelling with 827.2km reading on the tripmeter.

This little ‘success’ led me to repeat the attempt with Penang, twice. Both attempts, which were actually part of motor treasure hunts which I participated, failed, as I eventually had to refuel either at Tapah or Simpang Pulai on the way back down south. The full load, multiple stopovers and the need to keep to time made an economy run almost impossible. Further diminishing my chances were the fact that the PLUS highway route up north has substantially more gradients and curves compared to the southern stretch.

For my previous car, a 3-speed Iswara 1.5 auto, this challenge would have been even more hopeless, even if I was driving alone. The car needed only one leg of the journey to empty its 45-litre tank, even while averaging below the national speed limit. A KL-Penang trip in that car would easily be a three tank affair – one tank to drive to Penang, one tank to drive around the island, one more to drive back to KL.

Further back into the past, a friend once drove five of us in a Waja 4G18 auto from KL to the island. I remember back then how we were fooled by the less than linear nature of the Waja’s fuel gauge into thinking we still had half a tank of fuel left despite not refuelling since arriving from KL three days earlier. We passed Juru, Gunung Semanggol, Sg Perak and Simpang Pulai rest stations without stopping, the light came on, and the fuel gauge was apparently racing to the ’0′ mark. It was a nervy 40 kilometres of 90kph driving before we reached the petrol station at Tapah.

Last week, when I was invited to the Life in the Fast Lane event featuring Eddie Jordan in Penang, I saw an opportunity to attempt this ‘one tank’ challenge again. This time, the odds are better stacked in my favour. I was going alone, I was carrying clothes for only a day, I needed two rest stops at most, and there wasn’t going to be a lot of town driving taking place. I was simply going to drive straight to the hotel, and head back to KL straightaway the next morning.

The event was scheduled to start at 7pm, but thanks to my tight schedule, I only managed to depart KL city centre at 1pm. The heavy traffic of the city, and also a pre-departure fuel stop at Kepong meant that it was past 2pm when I finally got onto PLUS highway. This was bad news on two folds – precious minutes and kilometres could be lost just like that. The lost minutes would mean that I will have to floor it a little in order to make the function on time, and by not moving, I am burning fuel without extracting any kilometres out of it. On both counts, this would lead to certain penalties in my final fuel consumption (FC) figure. At that point, I could only hope it wouldn’t turn out to be costly.

Refuelling at Kepong
Filling up at Kepong

Heavy traffic had affect on both time and economy.
Heavy traffic had affect on both time and economy.

As I was getting out of the city in a hurry, my first stop was made early in the journey, at Rawang for a quick lunch. Grabbed a couple of pastries from the bakery; not particularly good, but they were sufficient to keep my tummy filled. As I headed out of the the rest stop, I spotted what seems to be an abandoned stolen car. Anyone who has recently lost a grey Proton Wira Aeroback (registry JFR 4572), please head to the north-bound PLUS rest stop at Rawang.

Lunch stop at Rawang rest stop. Pastry here not recommended.
Lunch at Rawang rest stop. Pastry here not recommended.

Missing car - Proton Wira Aeroback JFR 4572
Missing car – Proton Wira Aeroback JFR 4572

On the highway, with the objective of keeping FC down, I maintained almost feather weight pressure on the accelerator. My Waja duly obliged, rarely breaching the 100kph mark as we took almost an hour just to cross into the borders of Perak. In fact, it felt as if as the car itself also intends to complete the entire trip in one tank. Usually, on the highways, after settling into 5th gear at 90-110kph, even under light throttle, the speedo would cheekily inch its way to the 130 mark and settle there. Then, as the highway stretches even longer, the Campro motor would slowly pull itself into its peak torque sweet spot of 4,000rpm and hold position.

The Waja was keen to settle at mundane speeds of 90-100kph… initially…
The Waja was keen to settle at mundane speeds of 90-100kph… initially…

This time, it behaved differently. Even applying a light shove on the throttle, for overtaking, it just lazily spins a few revs more to get closer to the national speed limit. Being its owner for two years, I am quite certain that this car really has a mind of its own. I was approaching Ipoh when that thought crossed my mind, and at that moment, the car suddenly came to life.  Without even the slightest provocation on the accelerator, came a sudden rush of torque from the engine. I happily rode the surge to a few notches above the national speed limit before reining it back.

But, at the end of the day, it was still most comfortable at the higher reaches of the speed limit.
But, at the end of the day, it was still most comfortable at the higher reaches of the speed limit.

The Waja is a car not without flaws, even if we exclude the build quality problems which plagued earlier batches. While the quality issues are pretty much resolved with the Campro and CPS versions, other quirks remain. It would seem that Proton was too pre-occupied infusing it with Lotus-inspired handling, they neglected to give it the same driveability in tight spaces. Its ergonomics, turning circle, and all-round visibility, if I am to be kind, is far from being the best in the business.

Once on the highway however, the Waja settles into its element, with rock solid stability along the straights at any speed. Its weighty controls, which can be tiring in congested city driving, becomes confidence inspiring on the highways. High speed stability is definitely the Waja’s biggest trump card as far as I am concerned. Despite being nearly a decade old, this remains an excellent chassis design.

Going through the famous Jelapang tunnel.
Going through the famous Jelapang tunnel.

The famous twisty stretch after the tunnel and Jelapang interchange called for some third and fourth gear action to help rein in the Waja’s understeering tendencies. While this added a few revs to the engine, it made keeping the car in line so much easier, especially useful when overtaking at a corner. The older 4G18 Wajas, with their stiffer spring settings, would be better acquitted to this stretch. For the MC3 version which I am driving, the emphasis has been shifted towards comfort, a theme continued in the CPS version, which migrated from 55-series to 60-series tyres.

After clearing the twisty bits, I gave myself and the car a brief respite at the Sg Perak rest area before hitting the road again. Picking up the pace, I reached the bridge just over an hour later at 5:30pm. My timing couldn’t be more excellent, departing KL at lunch hour and arriving at Penang in the evening, I found myself squaring up against rush hour traffic of two of the country’s most congested cities in one day. The function was scheduled to start at 7:00pm, so there was still plenty of time for me to make it to Batu Feringgi.

What about for manual cars?
What about for manual cars?

Traffic on the Penang bridge threatens to hold up progress.
Traffic on the Penang bridge threatens to hold up progress.

As I crawled through the snarling traffic on the Penang bridge, it was time to evaluate my chances of making the return trip back to KL the next morning without refueling. To those of you not in the know, there’s a little quirk in the Waja’s fuel gauge – it’s not linear. The ‘full’ and ‘empty’ positions are correctly marked, but that’s it. I’ve worked out that the ’3/4′ mark corresponds to half-tank. I also know, from experience, that the fuel warning light comes out when there is about 10 litres of petrol left in the tank – good for about 100km in mixed driving conditions.

With this, I need to make sure of two things the following day. One, the fuel gauge is still hovering at the ’3/4′ mark when I reach Batu Feringgi. Two, the fuel warning light comes out well within a 100km radius of KL. These two indicators would be the markers of my potential success or failure. Coming back to the present, traffic on the bridge continued at a snail’s pace as I took almost an eternity to get onto the island. Like it was in KL, the jam in Penang was threatening to give me bad news on two folds.

Traffic did ease up as I got closer to Batu Feringgi, but it still took one and a half hours.
Traffic did ease up as I got closer to Batu Feringgi, but it still took one and a half hours.

The immediate concern was time – I eventually reached Shangri-La just on time at 7:00pm, despite having more than one and half hours to get from Butterworth to Batu Feringgi. Upon my arrival, I spotted a very familiar looking car at the parking lot. It was a Honda Accord, which I instantly recognised as one of the test cars Honda Malaysia lends out to the media. In fact, YS had already driven this very same car in the middle of 2008.

Watch out for this car in one of the auto magazines next month.
Watch out for this car in one of our local auto magazines next month.
(Click here for YS Khong’s test drive report)

I had to head home immediately the next morning. A quick check of the fuel gauge: it’s hovering just below the ’3/4′ mark. This is going to be close. I moved without delay. By 8:30pm, I had already checked out of the hotel and headed home. Traffic on the way out of the island was surprisingly clear, and I was back on the highway in no time. It was a pretty uneventful drive back, as I maintained light but steady pressure on the throttle. Only quick stops at Sungai Bakap and Simpang Pulai punctuated the journey as I was scheduled to be back in KL by 2pm.

A quick check of the fuel gauge before departing in the morning. There should be just about enough to get back.
A quick check of the fuel gauge before departing in the morning. There should be just about enough to get back.

Smooth traffic out of island helped save time and petrol.
Smooth traffic out of island helped save time and petrol.

Quick stop at Sg Bakap
Quick stop at Sg Bakap

Now at Simpang Pulai, refuelling still not necessary.
Now at Simpang Pulai, refuelling still not necessary.

As I approached Tapah, the fuel warning light has yet to come out. Good. That means that I have more than 100km worth of fuel left in the tank, which is as well, because the next petrol station is over 70 kays away at Ulu Bernam. You can’t afford to bypass this stop if your tank is running low. My fuel gauge well into the lower half, but still some distance away from being empty. There should be enough to get me comfortably into the confines of the Klang Valley, and certainly more than enough to reach Ulu Bernam.

The warning light eventually came on just shy of the Perak/Selangor border, with the tripmeter reading just over 640km mark. If I don’t drive like an idiot, the Federal Territory was definitely within touching distance. Completing this challenge was going to be a formality. With that knowledge, I drove on past the petrol station at Ulu Bernam, but the fuel gauge continued its almost visible downwards slide.

The digital tripmeter displayed the big seven-oh-oh, a rare occurence as far as this car is concerned. Satisfied that I was sufficiently deep inside the Klang Valley, I pulled over at the Sg Buloh flyover restaurant to refuel with the tripmeter reading 708.9km. The nozzle at the Esso station only let in 56.650 litres of fuel into my tank. The simple arithmetics say that on average, my fuel consumption was at 8 litres/100km, or 12.5km/l.

Final tripmeter reading at Sg Buloh - 708.9km.Approximately 56.65 litres needed to bring a Waja to Penang and back.
Final trip meter reading at Sg Buloh – 708.9km (Reflection on meter panels ruined many attempts at photographing meter face). Approximately 56.65 litres of petrol needed to bring a Waja from KL to Penang and back.

To be honest, I have recorded better consumption figures with this car on the highway, but this is definitely the best I have managed on the northern stretch of the PLUS highway. If you’re wondering, there was no need to drive at a snail’s pace or with the air-conditioning off. I was driving, especially on the return leg, with a pretty liberal interpretation of the national speed limit. All I did was to ensure a steady build-up of speed and then attempted to maintain the speed with a minimum of effort. There were even times where I explored the upper ranges of the engine’s rev range to pull away from tailgaters.

If you’re wondering why I bothered with this exercise, well, the reason is that simply because I can. It was simply the satisfaction of doing it, not to mention the good story telling material available when the topic moves into fuel consumption. Without quoting figures, ’driving from KL to Penang and back in one tank’ sounds quite impressive to many people. The other part of the truth, which I don’t really need to share in my storytelling, is that the second thing that Proton got right with the Waja after its ride and handling, was definitely the size of its fuel tank.

Showroom Experience: A quickie with the Honda City.

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

With all the hoo-haa surrounding the City’s launch on 18 Dec, the Honda showrooms all over the country braced themselves for what was going to be an extremely packed weekend, as car buffs and buyers flock to check the new car out. Traveling in disguise, I headed to the premises of Tenaga Setia Resources Sdn Bhd, better known as the ‘Honda Jalan 222 showroom’.

It is one of the more famous navigational landmarks around Petaling Jaya, and being prominently located right alongside one of the busiest roads of the city. As such, it’s one of the first Honda showrooms to cross people’s minds. This, together with the limited amount of space in and around its premises leads to cars of visitors parked by the road side becoming traffic hazards.

“You turn at Jalan 222, and then you see the Honda showroom there, bla bla bla…”
“You turn at Jalan 222, and then you see the
Honda showroom there, bla bla bla…”

I arrived at the showroom at 3:30pm on Sunday, and it still had a very healthy crowd. There were two display cars in the showroom, both being the Grade S variant. It was not the smartest setup, as this deprived visitors of the opportunity to compare both spec variants live. As a result, the salespeople were seen escorting people outside to view the Grade E test car between test drives. The test car was also decked in the Modulo bodykit and sport rims, that would add over RM7k to the retail price – think properly before ticking these options!

30pm. Had to wait for over an hour for my test drive.
Plenty of visitors even at 3:30pm. Had to wait for over an hour for my test drive.

Only Grade S City on display.
Only
Grade S City on display.

A customer gets ready to take the City for a spin.
A customer gets ready to take the
City for a spin.

Due to the sheer number of customers present, it was over an hour before I got a chance to take the car out for a quick spin. This gave me plenty of time to examine the car in much closer detail, observe the actions of other visitors and also put some of the salespeople to test with their product knowledge.

Having pored through the entire press and technical release kit I picked up from the launch, I also have a reasonable degree of familiarity with the City’s features and technical bits. However, most people (me included) still have no idea of what the gear ratios are, as this piece of information was not available anywhere in the sales catalogs or press kits.

I am not looking for accuracy of each ratio to four decimal places, but I was curious whether the fourth gear was a 1.000 or an overdrive ratio. When quizzed about this, the salesperson I asked told me that there was ‘no overdrive, only got paddle shift.’ Well, I saw no point proceeding further, and I was none the wiser.

While the salespeople were not expecting to face someone secretly armed with info from Honda’s press release, they seemed more than ready to face the rest of the masses, as I saw all of them talking customers into nods. How many of those nods translated into bookings, only they would know, but we could see the Malaysian car inspection culture at its meticulous best – anything that can move was tested to its full range of motion. Every panel was felt to its entire length. The doors, and the boot were opened and closed more times in that one day than what most cars get in a year.

“Engine powerful or not? Save petrol or not?”
“Engine powerful or not? Save petrol or not?”

With the brighter lighting in the showroom compared to during the launch at Mandarin Oriental, I was able to get a better look at some of the smaller things in the car. The gadget-happy folks will be glad to know that their iPODs will dock with the audio units of both variants. And, as highlighted in the brochures, there were plenty of storage spaces for small objects, though the centre console box is shockingly tiny, being definitely smaller than even those found in a Wira.

iPOD dock available even in Grade S trim.
iPOD dock available even in Grade S trim.

I had a bigger centre console box in my Wira.
I had a bigger centre console box in my
Wira.

In what was definitely the most shocking omission from a car’s spec sheet of all time, good old UMW Toyota actually specified the Vios J without intermittent wipers. Thankfully, Honda did not go down that route in the cost-cutting stakes, and kindly included intermittent wipers as standard. However, with the Grade S, you don’t get variable speed adjustment, and you have a stalk that so obviously blanked out that feature.

You at least get intermittent wipers, but no variable speed though.
You at least get intermittent wipers, but no variable speed though.

Fortunately, for the rest of the car, there didn’t appear to be many obvious cost-cutting measures that can be deemed unreasonable at this part of the market. However, the rear shelf panel does appear to be rather cheap being made of a rough grade of hard plastic, and for the Grade S, there was just empty space which made me wonder how much would the underseat tray specified for the Grade E variant have cost.

Honda claimed that they have shifted the pedals of the new City 15mm to the right from the outgoing one, though I am not sure why they even bothered. The reason for this shift was to accomodate a footrest for the left foot, but having did all the hardwork redesigning the geometry of the linkages, all Honda did was slap a rubber piece which almost blends into the floor. It really didn’t feel like it was even there.

You call that a footrest?
You call that a footrest?

For the rest of the interior, I have few complaints, though it seems that the rear headroom has been reduced, with my head now just touching the roof when sitting upright. Reduced practicality aside, this is still a well-designed and well-built interior – definitely superior in quality and equipment compared to the Toyota Vios even in the RM89k 1.5S trim.

In case you didn’t know, the new City’s bootspace increased from the outgoing model by a total of six litres, bringing it to 506 litres of bootspace. Access to those 506 litres is facilitated by opening a bootlid that has an inverted Y-shape shutline, and a C-shaped type hinge. In order to avert interference between the bootlid and taillights when opening, the geometry of the bootlid’s opening motion was engineered to come slightly outwards before going up. The C-shaped hinges also do not intrude too much into the bootspace, which is a problem I trust Proton Waja owners will definitely be familiar with.

“Upside-down Y” shutline consumed many engineering hours.
“Upside-down Y” shutline consumed many engineering hours.

Finally, time to hit the road. As I reversed the car out of the parking spot, and maneuvered to exit the showroom premises, I immediately noticed that the steering is weightier and had more feel than the previous City. Thumbs up to Honda for addressing that one. I remember when testing the old City, I almost ‘over-steered’ the car onto the kerb, being not used to the degree of assist from the electric power steering (EPS).

The new 1.5 i-VTEC engine packs sufficient punch when pressed. The engine does roar a bit past 4,000rpm, which might not be to everyone’s taste, though it’s not as gruff as, say, the Waja/Lancer 4G18. The response of the paddle shifts were quick enough under hard acceleration, with only a very minor delay in shifting time. There wasn’t sufficient time to draw a proper conclusion, but the powertrain’s performance is adequate for most city and even PLUS highway driving conditions.

Whether this City is an improvement to the old is a matter of debate. Some argue it is, some argue it isn’t, both for, amazingly, very same reasons. Some like the sportier edge of the new model, others moan the sacrifice of the old model’s renowned practicality. Some think dropping the CVT for a 5A/T is a great idea, while others think the opposite. The outgoing City was more practical, and had a lot of clever and thoughtful ideas. The new one drops a few of these ideas and embraces a more outgoing image – more conventional, yet more aggressive. It’s hardly a better car, though in the eyes of many, it’s probably more likeable.

Sepang Drag Battle – 15 Nov 2008

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Armed with a pair of media passes, this writer and his companion were given free access to the paddock and pits for the 5th round of the 2008 Sepang Drag Battle.

For Round 5, participating cars were divided into seven categories, labelled A to F. Category A was defined as the Open Category (read: no-holds barred) where teams are not restricted in terms of the modifications they perform to the car. Cars playing in this category are the meanest of the lot, with extensive powertrain and chassis modifications.

Some cars in Category A were observed to have had their complicated multi-link rear axles stripped and replaced by a solid axle in the name of weight saving. The winner of the category was Lai Wee Sing of Team R-Engineering in his Proton Satria. With this victory, Wee Sing was crowned overall winner of the Sepang Drag Battle season for 2008.

It was the same story in Category B – 2WD Forced Induction, with Wee Sing’s Team R teammate, Mohd Zamri Ahmad, who won both the round and the season, though unlike Wee Sing, Zamri had sealed his crown much earlier in the season. Category B cars are limited to 3,000cc engine capacity and can only have one of either turbocharging, supercharging or NOS.

In Category C – 2WD Natural Aspirated, cars with engines up to 2,000cc are allowed. The engines can be equipped with variable valve timing systems, but must not be fitted with NOS or forced induction systems. The title in this category went to Mohd Maziz Ahmad, who could afford to skip the round and make way for Ahmad Firdaus Ahmad to win the race on the night.

The regulations are further tightened in Category D – 2WD Limited, with maximum engine capacity shrunk to 1,600cc and variable valve timing prohibited altogether. Ismail Mutalib won it for this category and thus sealing the Category D title for himself.

Category E – K-Car was the playground of all the souped up Kancils and Kelisas. These are Peroduas that you don’t want to mess with, as I personally timed a couple of them to have clocked 12 – 13 seconds during their practice lap. To put that figure into perspective, that’s the territory of cars like the BMW M5, Ferrari 612 and Mercedes55 AMG” variants.

It should be noted that, these cars were given the option of turbocharging or supercharging, with minimum weights of 650kg (NA) or 750kg (forced induction) invoked on the cars. The Category E winner on the night was Azlee Awang, who came in ahead of season champion Azery Mohd Norazli.

Category F – Avantech On The Road Class was a playground filled mainly by Hondas and Satrias. Split into VTEC and non-VTEC subcategories, cars in this category battle it out only as a one-off, with no season titles at stake. The technical restrictions are almost identical to that for Category C in addition to the cars needing to be road legal and having their exteriors and interiors intact. Zainal Abidin Abdul Rashed and Kamarul Azeman Arshad won it for the VTEC and non-VTEC categories respectively.

The final category was Category G – Campro, where, you guessed it, Campro-powered cars contest amongst each other in yet another one-off. This category was originally opened to 4G18 and 4G92 powered Protons before the organisers changed their minds and renamed this category to be the Campro Drag Battle.

Participants in this category see far more technical restrictions than the rest. For a start, the cars must be powered by Campro engines displacing no more than 1,601cc. Participants are free to modify their transmissions, brakes, suspension and ECU, but the car must weigh more than 1,500kg (excluding driver). It was even stipulated that the front and rear passenger seats were to be in place – not that I saw there were any.

Indeed, it made me wonder if the engine capacity restrictions were adhered to. The stock Campro already displaces 1,597cc and a simple reboring or restroking by just half a millimetre would already increase the engine capacity to 1,618cc or 1,606cc respectively - that’s just half a millimetre. I know for a fact that there are tuners who have rebored and restroked Campros up to nearly 1,700cc.

Winning the Campro Drag Battle, was Mark Darwin, who drove the only Proton Waja on the day, beating a score of Gen.2s and Neos. Further down the pecking order are a couple of Proton Personas who participated under the banner of the The Persona Club.

With the end of Round 5, the Sepang Drag Battle 2008 concludes. However, the action at Sepang did not end there, as there is the A1 GP this coming weekend to look forward to!

Reference:  News | Sepang Circuit

Pictures courtesy of Mr. H.C. Gui.

This is one mean Satria
This is one mean Satria.

Solid rear axle, with drum brakes!
Solid rear axle, with drum brakes!

The VTEC army ready to take on Cat F
The VTEC army ready to take on Cat F

Cat G participants pit here - for Campro Drag Battle.
Cat G participants pit here – for Campro Drag Battle.

Poor Gen.2 stripped to bits.
Poor Gen.2 stripped to bits.

Stock-standard looking Persona
Stock-standard looking Persona

The Kancils mean business too. Many of them clocked 12-13 secs for the quarter mile.
The Kancils mean business too. Many of them clocked 12-13 secs for the quarter mile.

Cars lining for the first practice.
Cars lining for the first practice.

…and off they go!
and off they go!

It all went past us in a blur.
It all went past us in a blur.

The sun sets, but the action goes on.
The sun sets, but the action goes on.

All the Hondas jockeying for positions
All the Hondas jockeying for positions.

Beauty shot of the grandstand.
Beauty shot of the grandstand.

Malaysian dragsters
Malaysian dragsters

Check out those massive tyres…
Check out those massive tyres…

Visitors from Singapore also present.
Visitors from Singapore also present.

Crouching camera, hidden power
Crouching camera, hidden power.

Crowd and cars together.
Crowd and cars together.