Sunday, August 23, 2009

Alfa MiTo, god I LOVE it!

In case you haven’t notice, Sime Darby’s Auto ConneXion finally launch Alfa MiTo last Friday, priced at on the high side of RM153,888. No way I’m going to let this MiTo passing by without at least having a brief drive. Joined by three laysing old timers, we went to its 3S dealership in Section 13, PJ the day after.

Visually, it’s love or hate thing when it comes to chrome side mirrors and bug eyed inspired by 8C Competizione. To me, it brings charms and lovable character, a bit of retro flavour from the snooty shield shaped front grille, exact replica of Satria Neo front fender, 17” alloys with P-Zero rubbers, to its rear high waistline with circular LED lights, making it unmistakenly an Alfa but with a modern day looks. Imagine it as Satria Neo made by Italians only better looking and sexy. Mind you Proton Satria Neo is already a nice looking car. 50 year old chaps wouldn’t have problem scoring with the ladies if they’re driving this I think.

Powered by the economical 1.4 ltr inline 4 albeit turbocharged, you’d get 155bhp@5500rpm and typical turbo torque 230nm@3000rpm transfer to the front wheels with 6-speed manual box and electronic diff. It also equipped with Alfa ‘DNA’ 3 settings – Sport, Normal and All Weather. Plenty of controls too namely ASR, HHC, MSR, CBC, TBC, DST, TTC to complicate things further. Personally I would consolidate these simply as ESP. Yeah the more acronyms, the more canggih impression to the customers!

Suspension is pretty much straight forward, coilover setup, Macpherson independent front, torsion (twist) beam on the rear and 17” wrapped with 215/45/17 Pirelli P-Zero rubbers. Alfa went slightly mad when it comes to brakes, they fitted the MiTo with 4 potters BBK on the front which sourced from Brembo, and these are the same ones used on the Brera!

On the inside, it’s typical Alfa affair. Black themed cabin with CF looks dashboard on top, dials as usual are hooded and four prominent round air vents where each made up of horizontally split vanes. Alfa classic ribbed leather seats by Pelle Frau sums up the ambiance, although I’m not so sure whether the Exora looking steering should be in there. Ergonomics may not be as user friendly as VW or Toyota but when you’re inside seduced by its aura, somehow you’d have forgiven the idiocy. There’s a proper space at the back for two adults but legroom might be a little bit crampy. But boot space for a car this size, I’d say generous.

Lets talk about fit and finish if I may, the MiTo’s materials are pretty solid and impressive (slightly below par than its bigger brother 159 and Brera) but the glossy silver painted on the centre of the dash and some parts of the steering definitely be exhaustive over few years to come especially in hot climate countries like in here. And they’re still behind VW, Toyota and Mini when it comes to gaps consistency especially between door trim and dashboard. Equipment wise, the ones selling in our shores comes with pretty high spec-ed - 7 airbags, cruise control, 6 speakers in-car entertainment, bi-xenon headlights, and separate zone climate control.

The test drive route was a rather short one, not enough to see it hot hatch-ness ability but then it’s better than none. Initial impression, I find the steering is too freaking light weighted much akin to earlier Slyphy I drove recently. I stopped by the road side for a while to change the DNA setting to “Dynamic”. Now the steering feels better weighted but somehow not direct enough. On another note, the engine response seems to be better and in-dash screen started displaying boost reading.

As impressive as they seems on paper, the boost comes in late at around 3.5k rpm stays until 6.5k rpm and delivery feels like a bit kuih lapis. Don’t get me wrong, it’s powerful and in MiTo chassis, it will go bonkers than standard Polo GTI but it’s just not my cup of tea. I’m sure it some of it attributed to ‘oversized’ front mount intercooler. It goes to show that no replacement for displacement still relevant in today’s world. Gone the Alfa grows, the engine note is more like crackly though slightly muted compared to Pocong. Still great noise but I prefer 2.2 JTS engine on the Brera and 159, and yet the 2.2 engine still not as pronounced as 2.0 ltr equipped Alfa GT.

The 6-speed manual ratio is relatively close enough but gear change feels imprecise and rowing through the gate is a little bit longer and plasticky. Bar the steering feel which is numb even on Dynamic, the chassis is well balanced and chunkable through the corners. And tricked suspension electronics helps in reducing roll without making the ride too harsh. It may not be MCS league but sure fun to toy around. The brakes feels sharp and sometimes may be ‘over powered’ so it’s a good excuse to uprate the power should you ever get one. :)

In short brief moment with the MiTo, I sum it up as a feisty little hatch with to die for looks (well almost), typical Alfa flair but not quite as sporting as its looks might suggest. The so many electronic trickeries are unnecessarily complex, and it does not enhance the overall handling experience. And at RM154k price tag, it’s considerably expensive to justify for many motorheads but people will still buy it because seduced by its charms and sexiness. I could be one of them but I’d rather wait for the GTA variant – 1.75 ltr 240 bhp. White or Cream will do along with red leather seats hmmm that gives something to think about!

Oh yes, we do tried the Brera and 159 too. We just simply fell in love with the 159, it has the looks, Italian flair, plenty of space inside, impressive build quality, engine that grows and priced way cheaper than other Germans at RM188k. So for the E90 320i owners, you’ve bought the WRONG car! hehehe

Satria Neo replica front fenders!

By far my favourite colour but god it looks GOOD!

High waistline with circular LED lights inspired by 8C Competizione too ... some say from 599 GTB!

Another look at Italian's flair

Bug eyed, either you like it or hate it

Typical Alfa affair

Don't you love this classic ribbed leather seats???

As impressive as they're, displacement don't lie

17" dial wheels, and unmistakenly 4 pot Breambo BBK

I agree completely, sign this VSO might end up having you presign your divorce paper!

Images courtesy of Azdilizan

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Getting seriously wet @ City Karting Shah Alam

After C99 Track Day @ Kg Gajah, my mates and I decided to unleash our ‘missingness’ of the event at karting, and no better place to do it than City Karting, Shah Alam and no better time than this evening, just now.

Luck wasn’t on our side when few minutes pass 2 p.m., massive rainfalls started showering with all the monsoon thunder! It was so heavy that the track itself was almost flooded! After some sweet negotiation with the towkei, he was willing to install wet tyres onto the karts and allow us a bit more track time. Hats off to him completely :)

10 minutes passed 4 p.m. and we’re good to go. We’re the first one to start actually while the pros started observing us to see how wet it was out there. I started among the front runners and taken the lead at the beginning so that I could try to get better feel on wet tyres equipped kart, which is my first time having it. Things got off with further complications when I realised that there’re still some standing water puddles, naturally I couldn’t flat out there. And almost zilch front end grip at entrance of tight corners, it was so much different than when it was dry. Not sure whether most of it attributed to the wet tyres. But you know what, I wouldn’t care!

Come to think of it, it was lucky for us that it rained heavily and the track was soakingly wet. It allows us to experience behavior of how the kart throwing away grip understeer, oversteer at lower speed and that allows us more time to think and react accordingly. And drifting comes into mind too :)

At the end we wet ourselves pretty badly but no short of fun and good experience. Here’s my rundown on most laps I did:-

Coming from last corner, flat on the start/end straight, flat again through Turn1, slowdown going through standing water section, tackling Turn 2, try masking lots of front end grip loss with slight power oversteer injection, going through Turn3 and Turn4 as one with me normally taking Turn 4 very wide to have better exit speed on another sequence of Turn5 and Turn6 flat (in some laps I lift off slightly to kick out the tail to get the nose kisses apex of Turn5). Approaching Turn7 needs to be done cautiously as it was really slippery and that cause me often running wide sideways at the exit, then flat out before slowing down going through standing water again at entrance of Turn8. Brake really early approaching Turn9, no front end grip had to somehow initiate some kind of Scandinavian flick to get the car line up to close the apex, flat short straight and then carry on speed towards Turn10. Really nail the throttle on back straight which includes Turn11 squeezing as much speed as possible before suffering again loss of front end grip approaching Turn12 and exit it wide close to the grass, line up late approaching Turn13, initiate full drift from entrance till exit before another tight turn i.e. Turn14 and then continue again through the start/finish straight.

Image taken from

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bigger snail for Plautos -> GT2860RS

As expected, he's going for GT28 turbo upgrade, GT2860RS to be specific. Immediate target is going to be 310hp consistently. Must be going after the Imprezas in Interlagos I think!

Images courtesy of Plautos

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Alpine CDA-7998R

Introduced in 2002, Alpine CDA7998R was rated as top of the range HU, just a wee bit below CDA7990 aka #F1 status. Personally, I think it’s one of the best HU come out from Alpine. One if the very few built on copper plated chassis.

For those who’re into cosmetics, you’d love the XL sized FantomFace interface and unique motorized mechanism automatically put the “face plate” behind an inconspicuous face plate the moment you leave your vice versa.

For entry and mid level ICE, you can’t go wrong with this one. Built in with 3-way digital crossover, 6-channel digital time correction, optical digital output, base engine pro etc. give you plenty of tuning point to optimise your setup.

Even now, this 7998R can still do wonders and giving the new age HU a run for their money. And because it has aged, it’s has become one of the best bargain if you can sourced good used unit. Just be wary of the motorised faceplate.

* Optical Digital Output
* Disc Title Memory
* CD TEXT Display and Scroll
* Regulated 1 Bit DAC
* Music Scan
* Track/Folder Search Menu
* MP3 Decoder/Playback
* Play List (MP3)
* Digital Servo
* Music Sensor Up/Down
* Forward/Backward
* Disc Play/Pause
* M.I.X. One/All (Random Play One or All)
* Repeat
* CD-R/-RW Compatible
* Bass Engine Pro
* Subwoofer Level Control
* Subwoofer Phase Selector
* 6-Position HP/LP Digital Crossover
* 3-Way or 2-Way Digital Channel Divider
* 6ch Adjustable Digital Time Correction
* 5-Band Parametric Equalizer
* Bass Focus

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tribute to a Legend... My Satria GTi

It’s almost a year three months I’ve parted ways with my old Satria GTi, the first hot hatch and the first car I started venturing into money sucking, time wasting modding hobby. Although Pocong is the better car in many ways, somehow this SGTi is the car I affectionate most. It has a soul that Pocong lacked, a recipe by Proton that well received locally and internationally. Hence, this is a small tribute to the car I dubbed as Hocus Pocus.

I’d like to apologize first of all because I’m going to bored you again about how much I adore the ‘Mat Rock’ styling sprayed in Ducati Silver and the wheels inspired by the late Lotus Esprit (I think). As a package, it managed to stunt not only local motorheads but also the Brits and Australians. Imagine it as a tasty nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf and used newspaper at a price where people can afford. It made SGTi and ordinary Satria looks world apart… really!

No surprising that I want to have one, it’s already in my checklist since it was launched in 1998 anyway. After started working for three years, 2003 that is, I started to hunt one. Because of financial constraint, I can’t afford to buy one new, so second-hand is feasible choice. And it make more sense because Proton has started putting in Siemens ECU that made 4G93P feet like kueh lapis on post October 2001 model onwards.

If you read through my write up on Kuman’s FigtherVek, I spotted one in Ming Heng dealership, back in October 2003. Two years old, almost stock condition like except for grey OZ Superleggera replica wheels, Tanabe Medalion G exhaust and last one came with MMC ECU! Without looking through the details, I’ve closed my eyes and booked it straight away. This proved to be a ‘lemon’ one.

Took them three weeks to get the loan and ownership transfer done, and if not mistaken it was on 3rd Oct 2003 that I finally able drive it out of the showroom. The moment it’s out of the showroom, I still remember that I told myself “My God, what have I DONE??!!”. Tyres are basically bald with different brands put on each corner, heavily dented wheels, front ARB broke are just the start of my first year horrid experience. Oh, don’t get me started on the driveshafts, the first year I think I’ve replaced both twice and new timing belt I just changed snapped at 30k kms of usage.

No choice, I had to face the music and be very very patience. Each month, I had to dedicate small sum of dough to fix and restore the car at a pace that won’t “C-4” my pocket. There on, I’ve joined Satria GTi Club where TT session became my weekly appointment and Sunday Drive became part of my monthly agenda. That is the start where I learnt few tips and tricks on car control and reluctantly my rempitness nature started to grow….

First few years with financial limitation factor meant I kept the car stock and barrel. Parts change selection heavily down on affordability than desirability. But this doesn’t mean I skimp on those important. However, 2005 onwards with better financial status, I started venturing into the black art of modding. As a kick start, stock SGTi rims and new Falken Azenis ST115, new clutch, fully engine rebuild and used reconditioned Titan coilovers from buddy Arish (yeah the same coilovers he went ‘flying without wings’ in his SGTi).

These petty works seem adequate for me for a year but things started to shift into 2nd gear after went for baseline dyno at GT Auto. From there on, I opted for E-manage as a piggybag to squeeze more juices. And when I came back from my short stint in Indonesia, I sourced really good ICE stuff like Alpine 7998R HU, TRU T.465 amp, Scanspeak 5.5” drivers and Dynaudio MD130 tweets.

All is good until another timing belt failure haunt me back. Like the previous predicament, all most all valves dented and again it failed around 30k kms usage. I went for another round of rebuilt only this time sourcing another cylinder head, porting and polish it, metal gasket add in adjustable cam pulleys. It took my mechanic a week to get it done while I’m on our super duper efficient public transport.

Another week, I went to GT Auto for some fine tuning. And another horror strikes when huge smoke coming out from the exhaust during initial run prompted Thomas to do baseline dyno run instead of tuning the e-manage. I suspect the recent timing belt snapped has caused the piston ring somehow damaged and unintentionally ‘overbore’ one of the pistons. If things are ok, I honestly think the car should register 140-145hp on wheels without using high cams. Bummer!

Since then, patience has been somewhat pretty much thinned and my head started bugging for new car. After test driving the Polo GTi, I signed and sealed VW VSO and traded the SGTi in. Unexpectedly, before I handled out the keys, it already has ready buyer in waiting.

Still, I’m very much thankful that SGTi was among the car I ever owned. It’s the car that taught me a lot on car control, automotive techies and modding experience. A legend on its own way. Should I’ve some capital on second car, a used SGTi with transplant auto box could be wicked for wifey or made it hardcore for weekend use :)


Rebuilt 4G93P
Ported & polished cylinder head
1.0mm metal gasket
4G93P 81mm piston
Apexi PowerFlow & CAI funnel
4G93P throttle body polished
4G93P intake manifold polished
4G93P distributor (advance 2 deg)
Arospeed adjustable cam pulleys (intake advance 3 deg; exhaust 0 deg)
NGK IX spark plugs
GAIDO 100,000kms timing belt
Transparent Timing Belt Cover

Exhaust System

R3 Stage 2 4-1 extractor
2” piping
Tanabe Medallion G muffler

Electronics/Engine Management

E-manage Blue
Harness: Ignition


PERT PU steering bush
Eagleye HID 6000K kit 2800 lumens


Satria GTI (OEM)
Recaro NJoys seats
Alpine CDA7998R HU
Dynaudio MD130 tweeter
Scanspeak 5.5” midrange
Tru T.465 amplifier running active
Audiobahn RCA
Monster speaker cable


Titan monotube coilovers 5.5kg front & 4kg rear

Transmission & Drivetrains

4G93P gearbox
Lightened flywheel


OEM brake system
Bendix carbon ceramic brake pads

Wheels & Tyres

Satria GTi 16” rims
Goodyear Eagle F1-GSD3 205/45/16

135.94 hp on wheel
157.3 nm torque on wheel

Managed to locate some pictures of this legend!

First run 122.35hp/151.82nm

E-goreng effect 131.49hp/153.7nm


Sunday, August 2, 2009

C99 Track Day 2009

A tiring day for a blasting day, that’s for sure. As you may have read in the previous posting that C99 organised C99 track day yesterday and I’ve been invited to tag along together with fellow Polo GTI driver, Azdilizan.

Fetched my friend at 0615 and drive through GCE towards NSE, had early breakfast while waiting for him. But unexpectedly he was late. Supposed we’ve to meet at the R&R Bukit Beruntung but it turns out that R&R Bukit Beruntung is actually R&R Rawang which I’ve just passed. Realising this, I’ve called Addy to catch up with me as I pottle along at 80km/h. It was not until 20 minutes that we finally met at Hentian Tanjung Malim and waited another 10 more minutes more for Joe (if not mistaken). It was already 0730, and it’s LATE! We had to drive FAST on the NSE as well as trunk road and spotted ‘The Artist’ driving his CW Polo GTI going towards north. At last, we reached there at 0915 but that’s before we got lost in locating the track.

Registration was fairly simple. For an event run by non event company, I’d say fairly organised with scrutineering checks on all cars by Izan, a techie guy whom I knew when I was in Satria GTi club. Briefings were adequate just that like me I didn’t ticked the “Drag” chequebox in the submission form but still kena to be in it :O

350m drag strip has been set. First sparring partner is Addy, I’ve got to a shitty start where power suddenly was being paused for a moment and that moment allows him to have a car length distance. Not willing to give up, I just proceed with nailing 1st, 2nd and 3rd allowing just enough to pass him. Then I was told to wait for Addy to have a crack at Satria GSR modded, and unexpectedly lost. And then, it’s my turn. Screwed up the launch again and was only able to close the gap on 3rd. The Satria driver launching memang kelas! And Toyo R888 also helps la. And since I’m a loser in this category, it’s me and Addy again and I still win hahahaha. And that, I finally know why the power was paused for few secs, it’s the ESP, should have turned it OFF!

Come to time attack, Addy seem to have a good outing with RSR, managed to tuck onto the lines layered by the previous trackers. Nothing can be said the same to me though. First of, as much as I like Conti CSC2 on long sweeping corners, it’s just too wallowy and soft making it harder for me to tuck onto the corner and throttle pedal works are basically useless on turn 2,3,4,5. And it turns out I was 9 sec off the pace with him (and he’s the fastest). At this moment, I’m thinking of most formula 1 drivers excuses like Barrichello would use when things doesn’t sing well. Although I wasn’t pushing (need to safeguard the tyres for few more months L) but still 9 sec off is a lot down to my inability to steer the Pocong properly on that course. And I’d say RSR brings about 5 secs per lap better than Conti.

Just after lunch break, a Ver 8 WRX STi owner wants to have a crack at me for 350m. I thought t would definitely lose out with its AWD capability but what the hell, I could at least see how much difference between his Ver 8 V-Limited and my Pocong as long as he didn’t use the LC. Maintained at 2.5k rpm upon launching, nailed 1st, I was leading, 2nd I was still leading and 3rd I won by a car length I think. Before I looked smug on this, the reason is down to the driver, it’s his first time letting the car loose on the strip (claimed), given proper set of hands/foot, definitely I should be an easy meat.

At 1600, Addy and me headed back to Klang Valley with very much sweet memories of today’s event. So much things to learn and so much things to do and so much things I want to get! What ever it is, C99 Track Day 2009 organisers have done splendid job and I’d like to thank you guys for your invitation. Can we plan for endurance karting? Addy, I want a repeat, one more time :)

We were LATE!

Some camera whoring junkie

Custom air box

Pocong bearing T1 competition no

King Bae giving his speach

Izan giving his speach, notice the shoe, it's Satria GTI race gear!

Why their mouth being covered? H1N1 test ka?

4G93 queuing for drag

The car who petik me

After our game, he's up with the white Wira.

The Satria GSR-ed on the left is heavily moded on Toyo R888 somemore

But the owner claimed he only use cam pulleys, I don't buy it, sorry. TD05 and cams definitely in and block I suspect bored/stroked to 2ltr!

Putra from Alor Setar

Engine rebuild and mods was done DIY

Custom manifold!

Addy on Pole during CCT

Bucks and gf smiling before heading for CCT

What a day this has been for the Pocong