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SNF TV: SNF 7 – 2011

This is it, finally, we have a proper SNF TV show!

This month, covering SNF 7 highlights, focusing on 2 of the top drivers from FF Festival category: Raul Ariola in his turbo EG Coupe, and Ali ProDrag and his controversial EK Civic. Also the highlight was rapper Altimet’s performance, and we get some great words with the man himself!

Be sure to watch this one, an entertaining show produced by and our fabulous video-dude Ronald Yeo!


REVIEW: Honda Insight

Rising environmental awareness and burgeoning petrol prices have spurned many consumers to search for alternative and affordable means of transport, and in the past few years hybrid vehicles have gained high media interest, more so attributed to celebrities such as Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio being seen plodding around Hollywood in them!

The Government must be lauded for introducing greater incentives for end-users to run hybrid vehicles thanks to its decision in the last Federal Budget to grant full excise duty exemptions on hybrid vehicles below 2000cc.

It's not as pathetic as you would have thought!

Honda Malaysia has been able to take full advantage of this, and has brought to us the 2nd-generation Honda Insight, the most affordable fully-imported vehicle currently available in Malaysia at only RM 98,000.00 on the road.

For less than six figures you get a well-built, thoughtfully-designed economical runabout vehicle suitable for the young Malaysian family. The controls are well positioned and the interior is cosy, with a flat rear floor making it easy for kids to muck around at the back. There are numerous cubbyholes and cup holders, with dark cloth material blanketing the seats. The boot is large but not deep, as the battery pack is located underneath.

The Insight runs on a combination of a petrol-driven 1.3-litre engine sporting i-VTEC and 65 kW (88 hp) supplemented by an electric motor which adds 10 kW (14 hp). However, more importantly and as is common with electric motors, it is the linear torque curve and additional 78 Nm of torque that plays a very important and overlooked role, as it boosts total torque to 199 Nm. That’s equivalent to the torque output of a 2-litre engine!

The meter console features a couple of functions that you can play around with, all related to the eco-personality of the Insight. Above and beyond the now usual Fuel Consumption and Range information, there is an ‘Eco-Scoring’ function and ‘Energy Flow’ display. I suppose there are some which will gain much joy trying to chase a high Eco-Score with every drive they make, all for the longevity of mankind on planet Earth.

Meter features MFD displaying how 'green' you drive

I must admit that I initially had negative feelings for the car, even though I had never driven one, based purely on its styling alone: futuristic and sleek it is, manly and bruising it is not! However it did not take long for me to begin to enjoy the Insight for more than what it is – a penny-pinching fuel-saving hybrid – as the drive is a very pleasant experience, especially around town where most owners will undoubtedly run it day-in day-out.

This is where the magic of that bulky but linear torque delivery matched to the CVT gearbox comes in: once you find that sweet spot, the Insight can actually be shunted along pretty rapidly in the City’s traffic and tight lanes, whilst using the minimal amount of fuel. I did gun it pretty quick at some points, managed some high-speed highway cruising and even some corner thrashing: although not part of the product brief, the Insight handled it all very well indeed.

Very affordably priced and combined with Honda’s record for high-quality and reliability, the Insight is a practical car for the practical family. And it’ll help you sleep a little better at night knowing you’ve made a change for the sustainability of the environment.

The rear is spacious and comfortable enough!

Speedworks tuning kits for Inspira

Speedworks have long been established as a premium-quality provider of tuning parts and kits for various cars, and with the introduction of the Proton Inspira, are one of the first on the scene with high-quality hop-ups that raise the performance of the standard car quite impressively.

I had the opportunity to take their Inspira 1.8 demonstrator for a whack over a few days, and upfront compared to stock car the improvements are very noticeable. Set-up with a K&N filter and Injection kit, coupled to a full Hot Bits extractor and exhaust system, power is up by 23hp to 150hp @ 6300rpm. Of particular interest is the torque output, now 182Nm which is what a good 2L engine puts out. This comes at 5500 rpm though, hinting at a revvy nature in order to make the most of the new pulling power.

High-quality parts make the Speedworks kit

The car is also fitted with a full-on double-adjustable Hot Bits DTI coil-over suspension kit. I was expecting a hard bone-jarring ride, which is typical of many coil-over setups but surprise-surprise, Speedworks have worked hard at tuning the ride on this particular setup to be pleasantly compliant and supple, reminiscent of what we like to call ‘Euro-feel ride and handling’.

“The Hot Bits adjustable coil-over suspension is of course infinitely tune-able. For the Demonstrator we decided a good euro-feel would be a best example of our capabilities,” claims Eugene Ng, Technical Sales Manager for Speedworks.

I decide to take the Speedwork Inspira up to Genting Highlands in order to extract the most out of it: from smooth highspeed highway climbs to steep and twisting mountain roads, it’s the best available route!

Heading out of the Gombak toll, the first thing that’s noticeable is that, 150hp or not, this is still a 1.8L. A bunch of revs needs to be dialled in to keep the momentum for the high-speed climbs that is required of Karak highway. Keep it spinning in 4th gear instead of 5th, and above 4000rpm the exhaust note is quite butch with a biting rasp, but thankfully not booming so it’s comfortable to spin the engine hard.

Once off the highway and dragging up the mountain, the suspension’s handling take a front seat and the fast pace I’m keeping is punishing as we push hard up the steep climbs. Turn-in was initially not very confidence-inspiring, so I stopped by the road side, turned-down the damping, and set-off again. With that simple exercise, the car was transformed and responded quicker to my driving inputs, yet never too exciting that it threatened to bite. Job well done!

On the drive back down the next day, I was sorry to have to return the car as I had become quite attached to it. The Proton Inspira is a pretty well-built car, nothing compared to the nightmare days of the first batch of Gen2s released from Tanjung Malim, and Speedwork’s hot-up bits made it a bit more fun and frenzied to drive hard, yet had fabulous ride which I thoroughly enjoyed.

If you’re interested to turn up the wick of your Inspira, do swing by Speedworks at Jalan 227 in Petaling Jaya.

K&N Air Filter Element RM 530.00
K&N Air Filter Injection Kit RM 600.00
Hot Bits Injection Kit Heat Sheild RM 300.00
Hot Bits Extractor – Stainless Steel RM 580.00
Hot Bits Exhausts System Mid-section RM 600.00
Hot Bits Exhaust System Rear-section RM 800.00
Greddy E-manage Blue ECU RM 1,500.00
Hot Bits Adjustable Suspension Kit RM 4,000.00
AXT Oversize Discs Fr 350mm OD RM 1,750.00
AXT Oversize Discs Fr 340mm OD RM 1,450.00

VIDEO: Satria Neo R3 reviewed the way it should!

The PROTON Satria Neo R3 has just been launched, and there has been a lot of excitement surrounding the specifications and expectations. Think of it as an affordable Satria Neo R3 Lotus Racing, which was launched about a year ago.

Some of the hop-up specifications are familiar now: R3 carbon-fibre airbox, 272 degree performance camshaft profiles, exhaust system, and recalibrated programmable ECU. And some of the improvements are new: R3-design 16 inch wheels mated to Bridgestone RE001 205/45 tyres, R3 performance springs, 400C fast-road brake pads, new R3 front splitter (which looks fabulous!), R3-design red / gun-metal interior with new, lower buckets seats.

The exterior styling is very aggressive but done in good taste, and it comes in one colour: Fire Red with black roof, and dark titanium strips. As a whole, the package looks fantastic and on paper promises much. Yet there are still sceptics: RM 79,797.00 for a Proton Satria Neo?

So after all the hype, the question that everyone wants to know is: is it really that good? We’re one of the first to find out, and there’s no better place to wring a car worthy of the R3 badge than the old Bukit Putus road!

The climb up Bukit Putus isn’t as steep as Genting, but it’s a climb nonetheless and one that highlights the lack of outright power the PROTON 1.6L CPS engine has compared to more modern performance saloons which sport 2L engines. However rev it hard and whack it all the way to 7000rpm, blaze through the closer-ratio gears, and you’ll be rewarded with a sexy rasp from the exhaust and a zippiness that lacks from the base CPS car.

R3 are a certified mastery at handling setup!

Flinging the car on the Bukit Putus downhill highlights the magic that is R3’s masterclass: the complete package. It goes beyond the bolt-on go-faster bits, as the car is imbued and optimised with entirely different geometry and settings. The brakes still feature ABS and EBD, but you would think they almost don’t exist as you stand on them hard and throw the rear out, the Satria Neo R3 turning with exceeding fluidity, lots more grip provided by the tyres.

Within a few corners of hard driving you’ll feel like a tarmac-rally hero: gunning the car hard to the redline, snatching gears up and down the box, diving into every corner just like Chris Atkinson. If you’re too quick, a mild lift-off and it tightens like a good FF car should. Turn-in understeer is not part of its vocabulary. Foot back on the power as you exit, the response is instantaneous and you burst out of the turn far quicker than you thought possible!

If you’re still not excited by that experience then you’re not the target market. For those that can appreciate quality performance engineering, then – just like the original Satria R3 of 2004 – the hand-finished Satria Neo R3 will keep you amused for many a sinewy road.

And if you still need more, just ask the R3 boys nicely and they’ll show you to their building where there’s even more power and performance via further upgrade packs. Plus – pssst!! – we heard rumours a turbo setup could very well be a reality very soon *wink!*

VIDEO: Speedworks Myvi Turbo

Speedworks have made bolt-on turbo kits seem so simple, but there’s definitely nothing simple about their Myvi 1.3 turbo kit that we tested: 136hp and 174Nm torque. The torque more than anything provides an incredible surge of acceleration, yet the result is so smooth that you can cruise down the highway at speeds that would leave other Myvis gasping for air.

We thought it was such an incredible day-to-day car that we put it through our usual Hillclimb route, and also the rigours of Sepang! It excelled in the twisty mountain trail, but if you’d want to take it tracking often we’d recommend some upgraded brakes.

In the end, we were left incredibly impressed. For a day-to-day runabout that can (sort of) cover more hardcore exuberant driving, and all for just RM 7,600, the Speedworks Myvi Turbo is a fabulous achievement!