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Category / Japanese Make

In the previous post on Mitsubishi FTO, I’ve mentioned Japanese car maker’s reluctance on making affordable performance cars in the past decade or so. This painted a pretty bleak picture for sports car enthusiasts (who aren’t also super loaded).

There’s good news on the horizon. Apparently this trend might see a reversal with the news of the concept car from Toyota – the FT-86

Toyota FT-86 concept sports car

The FT-86 is pretty much inspired by the popularity of AE-86 that is made popular by the comic series Initial-D. Nicknamed the tofu car, AE-86 has a huge cult following especially in the drift racing series, and still cheered upon whenever appeared at Autocross events.

interior of Toyota FT-86

A collaboration between Subaru and Toyota, the FT-86 is to come with a new 2 liter Toyota-Subaru “D-4S” Boxer engine. Targeted to cost around US $20,000 when it is eventually launched, that’ll place it cheaper than a fully loaded Honda Accord (or Toyota’s own Camry for that matter).

I, for one, welcome Japanese manufacturer’s return to this segment, 6 speed manual with 2.0 liter boxer sounds like a good combination to me.

Check out wiki page for more details.

black and white mitsubishi FTO

In the early 1990s, the Japanese car makers offer quite a good lineup of pretty affordable sports cars. Cars that were geared towards enthusiasts who aren’t necessarily fixing their midlife crisis.

Mitsubishi had two models that fit into the category, the GTO (and Dodge Stealth), and the little brother, the FTO.

FTO stands for “Fresh Touring Origination”, and it is really a sleek little car that is rather capable. Equipped with a 2.0 liter MIVEC V6 engine with 24 valve. The car produces up to 200ps at 7500 rpm without an aid of a turbo. Quite impressive.

The 0-100 km/h speed is in the mid to high 6s mark, not quite as impressive as its closest rival, the Toyota MR2, but would still beat over 80% of the cars out there with it’s NA engine in FF configuration.

Specification:

  • Engine: 6A12 2.0 L DOHC 24v MIVEC V6
  • Weight: 1200 kg
  • Wheel base: 2,500 mm (98.4 in)
  • Power: 197bhp
  • 0-100 km/h: 6.5s (GPX version)
  • Top speed: 225 km/h

The second (or third of many hand) FTOs are now trading in Malaysia for about RM 40-50k region. Since FTO was produced only from 1994 to 2000. There aren’t many of them around anymore, so if you can get your hands on one in awesome condition, I’m sure you won’t regret it.

After all, how many cars were in Jackie Chan’s movie Thunderbolt (1995)as one of the main characters? Check out the video below for some old time classic!

Not too long ago my Toyota MR2 was having a weird problem. The car would be able to start, but after running for a while it would stall, and have very bad air fuel mixture, black smoke and all. After consulting with several owners, one suggested that I check for leaked capacitors on the ECU as that might be one of the causes.

Toyota MR2 ECU
ECU located at the rear boot

The ECU on second generation Toyota MR2, in this case a 1991 3S-GTE version, is located at the rear boot wall that is seperating the boot from the engine, just behind the carpet. You will need a Philip screw driver and if I remember correctly, a 9 or 10 mm wrench to undo the mounting.

Toyota MR2 ECU
look at the 3 connectors at the bottom of the ECU

There are 3 connecting sockets located at the bottom part of the ECU. You should be able to disconnect them without much effort. The 3 connectors are of different sizes, you can’t go wrong when putting the thing back together. Do note that you should always disconnect the car battery and properly ground yourself before diving into such endeavour.

Toyota MR2 ECU
the 3 connectors

The ECU consists of two PCB boards, take off the 2 screws connecting both and you will be able to expose the innerds. In my case, I did not find any leaking capacitors. The problem was later found out to be caused by a faulty airflow sensor.

Toyota MR2 ECU
the capacitors on the ECU

More technical info on MR2 can be found on this page, including the Engine error code and how to diagnose them.

Mazda 6 is the Japanese car maker’s flagship sedan going head to head in the market dominated by Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. I was fortunate to test drive the 2.3 liter Mazda 6 a couple weeks ago at the Mazda showroom in Petaling Jaya during their launching of the long awaited Mazda 3 in this country.

Mazda 6 2.3 liter test drive, front view
the handsome Mazda 6

The 2.3 liter powertrain is good for around 166 hp, similar to the 2.4 liter iVTEC engine from Honda Accord. The Mazda, however, feels a lot more zippy during acceleration (8.9s to 100km/h). This might due to the curb weight of 1390kg, some 60 kg lighter than the Accord. As I floored the accelerator while in the fully automatic mode, the engine revved up to almost 7,000 rpm before switching gear, I guess the 6 does deliver some zoom zoom spirits.

Mazda 6 2.3 liter test drive
a nice driver’s car

The 6 speed triptonic gives you the flexibility to change gears when you feel like having some spirited drive, and it is intelligent enough to not let the driver over-rev or bog down the engine. As I found out when putting the car on 2nd gear driving up hill, when the I stopped the car, it automatically dropped to 1st. Very nice. The car feels pretty good around the bend too, does not have too much body roll for a car it’s size.

Mazda 6 2.3 liter test drive, the cockpit
the cockpit of Mazda 6

The car looks great on the outside, the interior does not dissapoint either. The 2.3 liter version comes with full leather interior, including all the seats, door panels, and even the shifter and handbrake. In dash 6 CD changer comes standard with a pretty decent in car steroe system.

Mazda 6 2.3 liter test drive, 6 speed transmission
6 speed automatic with tiptronic

The cockpit backlight is red in color and are pretty driver oriented. Other than the standard speed, techo, water temperature and fuel, the gear is also displayed, very useful while on tiptronic mode. Stereo and auto cruise controls are conviniently placed on the steering wheel.

Mazda 6 2.3 liter test drive, center console
the center console

Instead of the usual 2 air conditioning vents in the middle, the 6 comes with 3, this is pretty good for the rear passanger. However, there is no individual climate control like the one found in the 2.4 Honda Accord. There is only one single temperature control.

Mazda 6 2.3 liter test drive, side view
2.3 mazda 6, side view

Priced at around RM 160-170 thousands, the Mazda 6 2.3 is in direct competition with the 2.4 Toyota Camryand Honda Accord. While 2nd hand value of Mazdas might be lower in this country as compared to the other two Japanese brands, the Mazda 6 does offer a very good alternatives for it’s performance and arguebly higher asthetics. If only they offer the 2.3 turbo version that puts out 273 HP..

Extra: video of Mazda 6 on the mazda malaysia website here.

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006

The Toyota MR2 club organised a convoy to Ulu Yam at Selangor on the New Year’s day. Though most of us had partied the night before, about 13 cars and over 20 people still managed to show up for the fun drive on the first morning of 2006. There were 3 MRS, an MK1 MR2 with super charger, 7 SW20 MR2s, an EVO, and an S2000. By about 11am, we have had our breakfast at McDonald’s near the Curve and was on our way to the Petronas petrol kiosk before heading off to Ulu Yam.

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006
filling it up for the trip

I had some trouble starting up the car at the petrol kiosk, but after the guys removed and put back the relay, it seems to be fine again. So we started our journey to Ulu Yum. About 20 kilometers later, we regrouped at Selayang. It was there my car stalled at idle and refused to be started again, most probably due to some electrical problems. We left our car there and I followed another member to continue the convoy.

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006
passing by Batu Caves

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006
this was where my car stalled

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006

By the time we regrouped again at another petrol station. Another MR2 faced with a mechanical problem and had to abort the convoy as the clutch would not engage. The car had to be towed back, it was lucky we weren’t at the hilly area of the jorney yet.

We then reached Ulu Yam and had lunch at Hock Lay restaurant. Ordered steamed fish, asam prawn in coconut shell, vege, deep fried squid, guiness chicken wing, and tofu. It was very good, and at RM 15 per person including drinks, pretty reasonably priced too. We then decided to go to Fraser’s Hill instead.

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006
lunch at Hock Lay restaurant

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006
negotiating the bend

At Ulu Yam the elevation was only 75 meters above sea level, by the time we reached the foothill of Fraser’s, it was already 800+ meters up and the temperature was pretty nice and cooling, feeling like air conditioned atmosphere. A very welcoming breeze especially when KL averages more than 30 Celcius.

As the road going up to Fraser’s hill (8km) is small and only wide enough for a single car, the authority sets up a system whereby the traffic is alternate every half an hour between going up and downhil. We waited at by the gate for quite some time before we got to go up to the top. The drive up the hill was curvey and very tight. The guys enjoyed it alot.

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006
going up to Fraser’s hill

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006
installing the spare tyre inside out

Well, 3rd time is the charm. Sure enough, we had the third casualty of the day. Another MR2 had a flat tyre on top of Fraser’s hill. We put in the spare tyre in the reverse way since it wouldn’t fit otherwise due to the rear brake. It had the maximum offset look that was rather hillarious. By then it had started drizzling and was pretty foggy. We decided to call it a day.

Toyota MR2 Convoy New Year 2006

About an hour later we go back to where I left my car. Luckily, after resting for some 8 hours, I was able to start the car without too much trouble, and drove all the way back home pretty smoothly. However, the car stalled again in the car porch at home. Will have to get a mechanic to sort out the problem soon.