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After the successful launch of the new A-class, Mercedes-Benz now introduced the new CLA, a four-door premium coupé in the intermediate market segment during the Mercedes Petronas F1 party (which also coincide with the successful one-two finish in the Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix).

Mercedes-Benz CLA 200
Mercedes-Benz CLA 200

The new Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 is a thing of beauty, with a gentle sloping roof contour, a design element that provides the CLA with a coupé-style character from the rear. A four-door coupé that is.

First off, lets look at the skinny:

  • Engine displacement: 1595 cc, 4/in-line, 4 valves per cylinder
  • Mixture formation: Electronically controlled direct petrol injection with piezo injectors, exhaust gas turbocharger
  • Transmission: 7G-DCT automatic transmission (yes, that’s 7 speed)
  • Front axle: McPherson suspension with spring strut and wishbone, coil springs, gas pressure shock absorber, stabilizer bar
  • Rear axle: Four-link rear axle, coil springs, gas pressure shock absorber, stabilizer bar
  • Braking system: Internally ventilated disc brakes at front, solid disc brakes at rear, electric parking brake, ABS, Brake Assist, ESP®
  • Steering: Electromechanical rack-and-pinion power steering
  • Wheels & Tyres: 7.5 J x 18, 225/40 R 18
  • Output: 115kw, or 156 hp at 5300 rpm
  • Torque: 250 Nm at 1250-4000 rpm

LED daytime running light
LED daytime running light

The above information basically means that the car is able to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 8.5 seconds and has a top speed of 230 km/h while only having a combined fuel consumption figure of 5.2-5.5 L/100 km.

In another word, it consumes less gasoline than some bigger displacement motorcycles and be able to fit five adults with a week’s worth of luggage.

The exterior of the car is breathtakingly beautiful, with LED daylight running lights arranged in a way that create a “flare effect”. The front is classy yet aggressive, with a width-emphasizing rear that radiates power and athleticism.

the interior of Mercedes-Benz CLA 200
the interior of Mercedes-Benz CLA 200

The sporty appearance of the CLA continues inside the car, with round vents in high quality electroplated finish and every part that reveals meticulous attention to detail. For example, the free-standing display screen features a black piano-lacquer-look front panel and seats that feature coloured contrasting stitching.

The front seats are electrically adjustable with memory function, and the steering wheel comes with 12 function buttons. Then there’s also a high-resolution 11.4 cm colour display in the instrument cluster, things you expect from a Mercedes-Benz.

rear view of Mercedes-Benz CLA 200
rear view of Mercedes-Benz CLA 200

On the safety side, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 is certainly not lacking. There are four phases of safety approach built into the car.

Phase 1: safe driving
Adaptive Brake Lights (flashing), Attention Assist, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), headlamp assist, Collision Prevention Assist (issues warning when the system detects the danger of a rear-end collision, activates when traveling faster than 7km/h), and Adaptive Brake system all come standard.

Phase 2: in critical situation
Anti-lock braking system (ABS), Acceleration skid control (ASR), and Brake Assist System.

Phase 3: in an accident
Airbags for driver and front passenger, active engine bonnet, ISOFIX child seat attachment, kneebag for driver, sidebags for driver and front passenger, and windowbags

Phase 4: after an accident
To reduce consequential damage, the engine can be turned off automatically and the fuel supply can be cut off, hazard and emergency interior lights can activate automatically, door locking mechanism can be automatically released.

The performance, design, and the frugal gasoline consumption are awesome, but what really impressed me the most is the host of safety features in the CLA.

If you’re in the market for a new car in this segment, the CLA 200, priced at RM 235,888, is certainly worth taking a look at.

For more information, kindly log on to www.mercedes-benz.com.my or visit Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/MercedesBenzMalaysia

I remember the days when Korean cars is just an after thought for most when it comes to purchasing new cars, even as early only some 10 years ago, they weren’t viewed as something that is of equal to European and Japanese counterparts.

Fast forward to 2014, and things couldn’t be more different. I stopped by the KIA Roadshow at The Curve Mutiara Damansara to check out their latest models as well as a test drive last weekends and came away very impressed.

Kia roadshow at the Curve
KIA roadshow at the Curve

KIA took the whole centre court at the Curve and had it set up with the World Cup 2014 theme. There were five KIA vehicles being showcased around the green football field inspired carpet – Picanto, Sportage, Cerato, and Optima K5.

There were also official KIA merchandises, PS3 games, and even a KIA speed kicker game where you win a souvenir if you can kick a football over 100 km/h (I only managed 90 km/h)

official merchandise, KIA speed kicker game
official merchandise, KIA speed kicker game

At the centre of it all was the counter where you can register for a test drive.

For anyone who likes football, travel, or driving, this is a great news. If you register for a test drive, you are given 1 coupon which entitles you to enter into a lucky draw where winner gets to attend the 2014 World Cup semi-final game in Brazil! But if you booked a KIA for as low as RM200, you will be given 2 coupons to enter the lucky draw which gives you a higher chance of winning

Naturally I took a test drive, these kind of opportunity doesn’t come along often.

we test drove the Cerato 1.6
we test drove the Cerato 1.6

After filling up the paperwork (you have to have a valid driver’s license), I took the KIA Cerato to a spin around the block. I chose the Cerato 1.6 as it is priced below RM 100k, something that falls within my financial ability when it comes to a new car.

For vehicle of this class, I must say that the specification is rather impressive. There’s reverse camera, six airbags, brake assist, traction control, ABS, climate control (including vents for rear seat passengers), LED side repeater and puddle lamp (a light that illuminates the ground around the door before you step into the car), paddle shift, keyless entry, keyless ignition, and a healthy dose of controls available right at the driver’s finger tips.

the Kia Cerato is rather spacious and comes with a host of features
the KIA Cerato is rather spacious and comes with a host of features

The 1.6 litre petrol engine powering the Cerato is rated at a healthy 128 hp and mated with a 6 speed automatic transmission. Although we didn’t manage to take it to highway speed, the car showed good acceleration and handling around the block. Wind and outside noise is also minimal.

The car can host 5 adults comfortable, and also comes with a 421 litre boot space. As a comparison, my pretty good size fridge is about 380 litre.

The styling of the car too is also something that I find very attractive. Led by Peter Schreyer, the influential automobile designer at KIA certainly brought out fresh and original styling that appeals to this generation.

Kia Sportage comes in 5 colors
KIA Sportage comes in 5 colors

For active families, there’s KIA Sportage. (I had an old story with involving Sportage driven by Margie). The SUV starts just below RM 140k and comes with roof racks, sun roof, and can accommodate up to seven passengers.

the Picanto comes with 6 airbags
the Picanto comes with 6 airbags

The Picanto, on the other hand, might appeal to the first car owner and the younger generations.

While diminutive in size, the Picanto certainly doesn’t lack in features. It also comes with 6 airbags, LED daytime running light, electronic stability control, ABS, brake assist system, and rear parking assist system. The 4.9 meter turning radius should also make this car very easy to park and navigate around tight areas.

Optima K5 has a  4.3-inch TFT LCD and luxurious interior
Optima K5 has a  4.3-inch TFT LCD and luxurious interior

For ultimate in luxury and comfort, there’s the KIA Optima, a car with pretty much every important features found in all other models, and then some. This car is suited for executives and business owners who likes something classy, comfortable, while not lacking in driveability and safety.

For those who didn’t manage to visit the roadshow at the Curve, there’s upcoming KIA roadshow at KSL City on the 4th-6th April in Johor, and another KIA roadshow at KLCC on the 16th and 21st April, 2014. Don’t forget that you will also get the chance to participate in the lucky draw that might just put you in Brazil!

I’ve always been a fan of the Mercedes GP PETRONAS Formula One Team, I attended the demo run back in March 2013 to catch the SLS AMG GT3 car and the 2013 Mercedes AMG PETRONAS race car, caught Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at KLCC, and went to the 2013 Formula 1 race at Sepang as well.

You can imagine how much I anticipated the launch of the all new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, as a fan, all those teasers videos only exacerbated the excruciating wait.

what a handsome creature, the A200 of course
what a handsome creature, the A200 of course

Mercedes-Benz has always been synonymous with success and achievement. While there is a lot yet that I have to achieve to consider myself successful in my career and as a person, I would love to own a Mercedes when I get there. The A-Class would be the perfect vehicle at that point. Don’t I look pretty decent next to the car in the picture above? *bow*

In terms of styling, features, and performance, it’s really hard to find anything that comes close to what is offered here. I’m a bit of a car enthusiast myself so this post will talk about the car in detail from the impression that I get after attending the launch event on the 27th of June at Renoma Cafe.

Mercedes Benz A200 and A250 steering wheel
I can certainly get used to be behind this everyday

At first glance, the A 200 and A 250 exude design and dynamism. The exterior is a blend of sporty curves punctuated by bold styling, and the interior is pure class, we’ll get into that a little later.

The A Class comes in two versions and both shares the same five-seater, 2-box design. The rear seats fit for three adults, and the boot volume is a surprisingly large 341 litres. As with most hatch, folding down the rear seats give you additional boot volume, and in the case of the A Class, you get all the way to 1157 litres.

To put things into perspective, my fairly large kitchen fridge is only about 1/3 of that storage capacity.

A 200 BlueEFFICIENCY (left), A 250 Sport (right)
Mercedes-Benz A 200 BlueEFFICIENCY (left), A 250 Sport (right)

It is a very beautiful car, lets talk about the exterior.

The headlights with the configuration function within them are key elements of the design concept, with the LEDs behind headlamp cover glass arranged in such a way to create a “flare effect” for daytime driving lights and indicators.

At the rear, the light functions are provided by fibre-optic cables and LED modules as well, with design that emphasizes  the width with the muscular shoulders towards the back.

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia VP for Sales and Marketing - Mr. Kai Schlickum
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia VP for Sales and Marketing – Mr. Kai Schlickum &
CEO Roland S. Folger with the A200 BlueEFFICIENCY

Both versions spot 18″ alloy wheels, the A 200 has a black radiator grille featuring two louvres with a central star, while the A 250 comes with the striking diamond radiator grille.

In any angle, the A-Class looks absolutely stunning, and with a drag coefficient of only 0.28, they are sleek not just for the eyes, but through the air as well.

the new Mercedes A-Class - A 250 Sport and A A 200 BlueEFFICIENCY
the new Mercedes A-Class – A 250 Sport and A A 200 BlueEFFICIENCY

Under the hood, the A 200 BlueEFFICIENCY runs the 1.6L turbocharged in-line 4 that pumps out 156 HP at 5300 rpm with 250 Nm of torque starting from 1250 to 4000 rpm. That is some impressive number for a 1.6L engine, which gets you a combined fuel consumption of only 5.4-5.7 l/100km while being able to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in a respectable 8.3s. Top speed is 224 km/h.

Meanwhile, the A 250 Sport is equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged engine with 211 HP at 5500 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from 1200 to 4000 rpm. Combined fuel consumption is rated at 6.4 l/100km and the car is capable of 6.6s in the century run with top speed of 240 km/h.

The A-Class uses slightly different versions of 7G-DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission on the BlueEFFICIENCY and Sport model, and yes, they have seven speeds.

diamond grille, 18" alloy wheel, big trunk space
diamond grille, 18″ alloy wheel, big trunk space

If the look and performance of the car hasn’t impressed you, take a look inside. Both cockpits were beautifully designed, with sporty instrument cluster, TFT color display, 6-disc CD changer, Bluetooth connectivity and 6-speaker system with a total output of 4×25 watts.

Both front seats are electrically adjustable with memory functions, and the multi-function steering wheel comes with gear shift paddles too. The A 250 distinct itself further with carbon-fibre look and various red trims inspired from the AMG bodystyling.

the interior of the A250 Sport
the interior of the A250 Sport

Other safety measures incorporated are adaptive high beam assist (A 250 only), attention assist, brake hold function, hill-start assist, active parking assist (you will love this!), reverse camera, and PRE-SAFE.

Mercedes-Benz has always been associated with symbol of success and achievement in life, it is definitely a car worth a serious consideration for anyone who is looking for their next ride.

The Mercedes-Benz A 200 is priced at RM 198,888 on the road, while the A 250 at RM 238,888. With a downpayment of RM 39,777.60, monthly instalment will be at RM 2,333 for sixty month (5 years).

note: There’s a RM 50,000 deferred payment –

End of the Agreement Options:
1. Pay off the deferred amount and take full ownership of the vehicle.
2. Extend finance by re-financing the deferred amount.
3. Trade in your vehicle for a new Mercedes-Benz.

Click here for more details.

As Mr. Kai Schlickum said, there is no direct competition for the A-Class. I agree.

Check out more details at Mercedes-Benz’s website.

We were invited to the launch of the all-new Kia Rio at e-Curve last week to take a sneak peek at Naza Kia’s latest offering – the All-New Rio. I always liked the sleek and young design of Kia Rio hatch, but the latest version took it even further in terms of looks, capability, and performance.

performances prior to the launch of Kia Rio
performances prior to the launch of Kia Rio

The event was hosted by JJ from Hitz FM with a couple performances that’s full of energy to pump up the mood. Datuk Hafiz Syed Abu Bakar, the COO of Naza Kia Malaysia, delivered a speech and officially launched the highly anticipated Rio.

According to Datuk Hafiz, the All-New Rio will allow Naza Kia Malaysia to tab into the growing B-segment market in Malaysia.

Datuk Syed Abdull Hafiz Syed Ahbu Bakar, CEO of Naza Kia Malaysia launched the new Rio
Datuk Syed Abdull Hafiz Syed Ahbu Bakar, COO of Naza Kia Malaysia launched the new Rio

The event showcases three different colors (5 available) and I think the design of the car is gorgeous. The signature “Tiger Nose” radiator grille looks sleek, and the LED daylight running light is usually only found in cars that are priced much higher. There’s automated folding mirrors and LED side repeaters at the back too.

The Rio also comes with 16″ (EX model) or 17″ (SX model) alloy wheels to complete the sporty exterior.

Electric Blue, Signal Red, and Clear White are among the color choices
Electric Blue, Signal Red, and Clear White are among the color choices

For a B segment car, the interior is rather spacious, and the centre console packed with Bluetooth connectivity and audio system by Arkamys that comes with AUX, USB, and iPod connectivity too. Other features include tilt and telescopic steering wheel, ABS, vehicle stability management, and six airbags.

Some of the premium features found only on the 1.4 SX model are sunroof, push-start ignition, front fog lamps, and cluster ionizer.

interior is sleek, and there's a full size spare tyre at the back
interior is sleek, and there’s a full size spare tyre at the back

Under the hood, the car is powered by Kia’s Gamma 1.4 MPI CVVT engine which produces 109 PS and 137 Nm of torque. That’s pretty impressive for a 1.4 liter engine that delivers 16.6 km per liter (just over 6 liter/100 km) with CO2 emissions limited to 130 gram per 100 km.

The motor is mated with a four-speed automatic transmission that comes with a shift gate for manual-style shifting, nifty when you need that extra boost to overtake on freeways.

mandatory picture of the cute model at the launch, Cheesie & I were there
mandatory picture of the cute model at the launch, Winner of the New Kia Rio, Cheesie & I

Oh, for a B-segment car, the boot space of Rio is plenty big as well, and I particularly love the fact that it carries a full size spare tyre so that you can just swap out the flat and keep going at full speed in the case of the inevitable.

The All-New Rio comes with a five year unlimited mileage warranty, if you’re in a market for a new ride, here’s one to check out.

Go to www.kia.com for more information on the All-New Rio.

While waiting for the commencement of a stand up comedy show at Velvet underground sometimes last year, a few of us started talking about cars, or more specifically, the cars we used to own. That’s when I found out that an ex colleague’s friend was the owner of 5 successive Volkswagen cars in his life.

Which begs the question why? Why would anyone gives up variety and keep buying the same car over and over again?

Well, I got closer to answering that question after having the newly launched Volkswagen Polo Sedan for over the weekends not long ago. This is my impression of the car.

Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Seri Wawasan bridge, Putrajaya
Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Seri Wawasan bridge, Putrajaya

The Volkswagen Polo Sedan is the most affordable offering from the German automotive giant, retailing at RM99,888. This makes it a direct competitor to some of the similarly sized Japanese and Korean imports in the country, and one of the more lower priced cars with a European badge.

Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Putra Mosque
Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Putra Mosque

The exterior:

To be honest, the styling of Polo Sedan doesn’t scream, nor will it beg too many second looks like some of the other Volkswagen offerings. That being said, the Polo Sedan does have a very classy frontal look, with one of the most attractive headlight assemblies. Its side profile has a pretty smooth flow punctuated by a set of very decent 7-spoke 15″ alluminum alloy wheels.

The car doesn’t look particularly long, but you won’t call it a mere elongated version of the normal Polo.

center console, steering, air conditioning vent
center console, steering, air conditioning vent

The interior:

Inside, the center console is simple yet elegant, with bits of chromed parts and leather steering giving it a heightened status. Radio/CD player, air conditioning (and even heater is functional), and vents are all pretty minimalistic in design and functional in operation.

The car also offers very good leg rooms for its class, and no one under 6 foot should ever need to worry about head room.

The cup holder is easily big enough to fit your favorite plus size bubble tea cups, and the Polo Sedan does come with a glove compartment that is big enough to smuggle a couple domestic cats.

meter cluster, 6 speed tiptronic transmission
meter cluster, 6 speed tiptronic transmission with sports mode

Engine & Performance:

The Polo Sedan comes with a 1.6 liter multi-point injection engine mated with a 6 speed automatic transmission. Tiptronic shifting is available, and there’s a sports mode for spirited driving as well.

While the 105 PS engine might not sound that impressive on paper, the car does feel quite nimble. Sound insulation is so good that we thought the car wasn’t started yet after turning the key, but when you step on the paddle in sports (or tiptronic) mode and let it hit over 5000 rpm, it does gives a good roar.

Volkswagen Polo Sedan, Putra Mosque
Volkswagen Polo Sedan, Putra Mosque

0-100 km/h can be achieved in 12.3 seconds, and the 183 km/h top speed should be more than enough for anyone in Malaysian highways. For a sedan, the car does perform pretty decent around the bend, and still provides good riding comfort over those pesky parking lot humps.

Fuel consumption is reported at 6.5 liter per 100 km. I collected the car with a full tank of gas, and returned it with 7/8 full on the indicator after two trips from PJ to Bangsar, a trip to from PJ to Sunway Pyramid, and another round trip from PJ to Putrajaya. The 55 liter fuel tank should last you well over 600 km or more.

454 liters worth of boot space, with a full spare tyre
454 liters worth of boot space, with a full spare tyre

Perhaps most impressive of all is the 454 liters of boot space. Without even flipping down the rear seats (which you can to create even more room), one can easily fit 4 sets of diving equipment, or at least 3 full size golf bags in this car. The rear boot door can also be opened via the remote. (which has ON/OFF/BOOT buttons)

Overall, despite the price point and a less imposing performance figure, the Polo Sedan does carry the prestige of Volkswagen very well. The interior, design cues, and those little features in the car are well thought out and makes driving a pleasure.

Which brings us back to the guy who had 5 Volkswagen, it doesn’t seem unreasonable anymore.