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A few days before the Malaysia GP at Sepang International Circuit where Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 team finished one-two with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, there was another race at KLCC park with the two drivers, and we were among the few who was invited to the event.

Before that, I would like to congratulate the two drivers for the historic win. It was the first one-two by the Mercedes factory team since 1955!

Nico Rosberg and team, with Lewis giving advise?
Nico Rosberg and team, with Lewis giving advise?

This was an invitation where top scorers from the PETRONAS Primax Challenge facebook game got to claim their prize – teaming up with the F1 drivers for an up close and personal session playing the final round of the game.

team Lewis working hard
team Lewis working hard

After some intense driving (with the keyboard), Nico’s team, with his partner Kenny, won over Lewis’s team in the challenge. It was a fun and relaxing session, I can’t imagine what must go through the drivers’ mind as they are getting ready for the weekend’s race.

interview with Raja Mazhar Mohar Bin Raja Tun Mohar
interview with Raja Mazhar Mohar Bin Raja Tun Mohar

We also got the opportunity to have a chat with Raja Mazhar Mohar Bin Raja Tun Mohar, head of PETRONAS Customer Experience Department. He explained that the fuel used in the Formula 1 cars basically used the same base as those we find at every PETRONAS station, except with a higher RON rating of about 100 (we can get PRIMAX 95 and 97).

Through this partnership, PETRONAS also came up with higher quality lubricant that can penetrate the thinner crevices of the Formula 1 engine. The same fuel and lubricant (SYNTIUM) is used in every circuit on the calendar, and PETRONAS PRIMAX fuel powered every race for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 team.

the PETRONAS Team with Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg
the PETRONAS Team with Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg

During the session, we also discussed about how PETRONAS view their fuelling stations as something more than a place where you only go when your tank runs empty, and this is achieve by adding other conveniences like the Mesra store, partnership with banks in hosting their ATMs.

He also mentioned how PETRONAS is committed to improving the customer experience by constantly finding ideas to enhance their service.

At the end of the session, we asked him about Sunday’s race. The man predicted a one-two with Lewis coming ahead, and boy he was right.

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

F1 season is dawn upon us again, and last in conjunction with the Formula 1 race at Sepang International Circuit, PETRONAS Motorsport put up a show at KLCC area for the racing fans a weekend prior.

I was lucky enough to be invited as a member of media to this prestigious event and got to meet Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg up close and personal yet again!

PETRONAS F1 Demo Run, 2014
PETRONAS F1 Demo Run, 2014

The roads outside KLCC was cordoned off with hospitality tent and spectator stands set up just for this event. If you’re a petrol head, this was something that you would absolutely love.

For those who are familiar with F1′s new regulation going with the 1.6 turbo engine for the 2014 season, this event was also one of the last chances to witness and to hear the high revving engine of the F1 racing car’s engine from 2013. It was absolutely thrilling and ear-drum shattering experience.

the 2013 Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 race car being prep
the 2013 Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 race car being prep

The event started with track inspection by drivers and riders while the technical team gets busy preparing the racing cars and bikes. The F1 car in a beautiful machine if you ever get to see one up close and personal. Every piece of body work serves a purpose, giving the car more downforce, dispersing heat, and so forth.

Stunt show by Aaron Twite and Nick Brocher
Stunt show by Aaron Twite and Nick Brocher

The first show that came on was the stunt riding by Aaron Twite and Nick Brocher.

They could do things on bikes I wouldn’t even dare on bicycle. The two experts did plenty of wheelies, stoppies, making donuts, and even standing on top of their heavily modified Triumph Speed Triple’s fuel tanks.

It was an awesome show of talent. I was very impressed.

Safety Car demo run
Mercedes DTM safety car demo

Next up was the Mercedes DTM safety car heading out on the street. While technically not a racing car, this is still a mean machine capable of exhilarating speed with an impressive exhaust note. I love the livery of Syntium gold with PETRONAS green.

The DTM car was driven by Daniel Juncadella, and a few lucky participant got a taxi ride in it too. I can only imagine the G force that machine can pull.

PETRONAS AAM Malaysian Cub Prix bikes
PETRONAS AAM Malaysian Cub Prix bikes

On two wheels, we had PETRONAS AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championship bikes doing their rounds. They include PETRONAS Yamaha riders such as Md Affendi Rosli, Shariffudin Shamsuddin, Ahmad Fazli Sham, Abdul Muhaimin Roslan, Md Izrul Huzaimie Amran, and Md Azam Omar.

These are the names that could rise up the rank to compete in bigger cc bike categories in the future.

Pillion Ride session with professional rider Shahrol Yuzy
Pillion Ride session with professional rider Shahrol Yuzy

They said lighting doesn’t strike the same place twice, but I was lucky enough to be chosen as a pillion rider again (I did  last year too!).

Shahrol Yuzy was yet again our rider. We donned full leather and complete safety gears, then hang on to dear life while Shahrol rode the 600cc Supersport Yamaha bike up to 210 km/h right in front of KLCC.

There were light rain last year and I think we went a bit slower, the condition this year was perfect so he went all out. I sweated a bucket load, but the experience was awesome!

Asia Cup series race car
Asia Cup series race car & F1 drivers taxi ride

Another racing vehicle that got on the road was the Asia Cup series race car. That “baby F1″ machine was not any less impressive.

A few lucky guys, including my buddy Willy, got to be passengers in taxi rides driven by Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes A45 AND Mercedes A250 respectively as well. It was surely an experience of a life time.

Nico and Lewis also demonstrated the F1 routine in PETRONAS PRIMAX fuelling session, the only time we get to see this up close and personal with KLCC as the backdrop.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, after demo run with F1 race car
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, after demo run with F1 race car

The two professional drivers then showcased their skills on the F1 race car as well, racing down Jalan Ampang in front of KLCC and burning tyres doing spins right at the intersection of Jalan Ampang and Jalan P. Ramlee. An impressive sight to say the least.

Lewis Hamilton introduced as PETRONAS Primax's Technical Performance Consultant
Lewis Hamilton introduced as PETRONAS Primax’s Technical Performance Consultant

At the event, Lewis Hamilton was also announced as PETRONAS Primax’s Technical Performance Consultant. In this role, Hamilton, together with his team of experts will provide input to the PETRONAS team to continue innovate PETRONAS PRIMAX to deliver greater efficiency and performance.

PETRONAS PRIMAX fuel is the result of the knowledge, technology and innovation obtained through the PETRONAS Fluid Technology SolutionsTM (FTS), a formula that maximises engine performance, available at over 1000 PETRONAS stations nationwide.

It was safe to say that the drivers had a great week in Malaysia, as they ended up finishing One-Two in  Malaysia Grand Prix!

It is 2014, the year of FIFA World Cup. The good thing – awesome football action participated by 32 countries in the world. The not so great thing – you have to stay up all night catching the best actions. The greatest thing – you can actually win a trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and watch the game in person!

win a trip to world cup 2014

Now personally I’ve gone through a lot of online competitions, many of them requires a hand eye coordination practise that you’ll never use again, or requires taking photos of yourself in silly costume/situations/poses that you might not want anyone else to see 5 years later.

But this one, is different.VISA’s new 2014 FIFA World Cup Financial football game is something else altogether. It is actually a game that is educational, fun, and rewarding all at the same time.

Before we start, lets ask the most important question.

Visa Financial prizes

So what you can stand to win? That’s the ultimate question isn’t it?

Well, here’s what the Grand Prize includes:

  • round-trip coach class air transportation between Kuala Lumpur and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • participation in a four-day, three-night hospitality program
  • two category two tickets to see a FIFA World Cup in Brazil
  • one US$300 Visa prepaid money card.

The 2nd to 5th placed finalists will each win Sony and Adidas merchandise.

The 6th to 10th placed finalists will each win an Adidas merchandise pack.

On top of that, the entry with the highest score each week will win an BSN Premium Savings certificate (BSN Sijil Simpanan Premium) worth RM1,000.

I hope I captured your attention.

The game itself is fairly straight forward, and I think, rather quite ingenious.

2014 FIFA World Cup Financial football game

  • step 1: visit http://bit.ly/VisaFFMY
  • step 2: register and login
  • step 3: click on “Play The Game” and select “Single Player”
  • step 4: ready to start the game
  • step 5: select question difficulty: Hard, Medium, or Easy
  • step 6: answer the questions correctly to advance
  • step 7: score to win
  • step 8: post your score

2014 FIFA World Cup Financial football game

I actually learned quite a lot from the questions, such as the meaning of being a “good credit risk”, or how to minimize interests while paying down multiple credits, just to name two.

There’s also a time factor in this game, the faster you answer, the more goals you can score, and thus, more points!

Here’s the scoring matrix:

Financial Football scoring matrix

The contest is on-going and will last until 16 April 2014, so start playing now! The top ten scorers will be invited to compete at the Grand Final on 23 April for a chance to win the trip to Brazil.

To learn more about personal finance, which not only will help you score better in this game, but most importantly, managing your money better in real life, VISA partners with consumer advocates, educators, and financial institutions to develop the Practical Money Skills program.

Check out practicalmoneyskills.com and whatsmyscore.org where you can find great educational resources related to the topic that will help increase your knowledge and awareness, and perhaps send you on a trip to Brazil!

So,  head to http://bit.ly/VisaFFMY and play the game today!

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!

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