Sunday, September 27, 2009

RSR it is!

The stock Continental ContactSport 2s already showing signs of tiredness and all have went past minimum indicator. At 32k kms mileage, funny enough to report, I felt the dry grip is still tenaciously good for all around performance tyres almost like when it was new only the wet traction or specifically aquaplaning resistance were not. Still during balik kampong trip, the car happily cruising at 90-120km/h without much drama during the rain.

Goodyear F1 Asymmetric definitely out of the list not because I don’t want it but because 205/45/16 size is not available, same goes to Revspec RS. Azenis ST115 isn’t available anymore and Ziex 912 isn’t really true successor to it. And original Contis are too pricey to justify. After months of mind juggling, it all came down either Federal 595 RSR or Michelin Pilot Preceda 2 and at the end I opted for RSR simply because the Pocong needs tyres than can mask its handling impurity.

Woke up awkwardly early this morning, had the car brimmed with Techron 97 fuel, pickup up a friend (the negotiator hahaha) and off we go to a tyre shop, non other than Jooi Seng, Klang. I was told I’m in luck because they’ve last 4 pieces available. RM390 per piece of RSR, RM10 for stainless steel valve each, RM24 for alignment and RM45 for dented rim repair which amounting to RM1669 excluding GST and 2.5% credit card merchant fee. Once Malaysian style negotiation ended, the towkay agreed to tone down the price RM1540 after trade the old ones RM100 (I was hoping of RM200!) and some other ‘have-to-discounts’ and no merchant fee!

Installation was no brainer and they even took the liberty of washing the rims completely inside out before fitting it in. Seems like this time around their customer relation is have taken another step better than what already good in recent years.

But my so called luck ran out of pocket when the foreman a.k.a alignment sifu told me both sides of front lower control arms’ bushes have cracked! *Sigh* Whiteline kit is inevitable then!

It started raining minutes after getting the keys. In the wet, capability of this RSR is still a notch down compared to Contis and Vredestein Sportrac. That’s not really a bad thing because personally I rated these two as the best in the wet, better than F1 GSD3 and ST115 which are also ultra performance tyres mind you. For semi slick, it’s darn good indeed. Where the R888 will struggle at 60 kmh, this RSR can still cruise 110-140 kmh without much drama on the wet.

And when the road surface became 80% dry, on the way back home, I started teasing the RSR through a sequence of left-right-left corners from Glenmarie towards Jalan Kemajuan Subang and from there to Federal Highway entrance. For street legal, it’s the best I’ve experience yet! Lateral grip is just phenomenally brilliant and never once felt overcooked. And if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know Pocong doesn’t have clean, direct, and positive steering feel but with the RSR I’m amazed it managed to mask this problem nicely. At this point, some may ask if it’s better than AD07. This though I couldn’t answer specifically because I haven’t used one but I do note that AD07 is more skittish in the wet than the RSR.

Road noise is quite well controlled just like Contis but not as serene as the ST115 but I’m sure it’ll get noisier like lorry after sometime. Given that its sidewall is pretty stiff, I’ll be toning down the pressure to 33 front and 32 rear (cold) and begin to learn more about this Taiwanese made tyres and at the same time bedding it properly before having a shiok sendiri sunday drive via Ulu Yam road this coming Sunday to visit my sister-in-law and her two notoriously hyperactive cats.

Freshly made in week 28 2009

Pretty thick!

Out goes Conti to make way for RSR

Installation done ... waiting for alignment

Cracked lhd lower control arm bush

Cracked rhd lower control arm bush

Bedding in time before coming Sunday!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

‘Official’ 30k km service

I had already sent Pocong for its 30k km service at Auto Reign prior C99 track day but because I took leave today & tomorrow and it’s FOC, it make perfect sense to send her again for fresh oil change and get the CBV changed as well at Goh Brothers SC in Kampung Gajah Butterworth.

30k km service consists of (I took the liberty of identifying the prices as well):-

Castrol TXT fully synthetic VW505 5w40 (4.8 ltr) RM340.00
VAG 1.8T oil filter (06A 115 561B) RM35.00
Pollen filter RM61.00 (optional)
Washer RM10.00
Labour RM90.00

Upon changing the CBV, the SA did diagnostic test via VAGCOM and true enough it detected one error code mentioned something like “loss of pressure due to throttle valve”. It’s CBV alright but I’m still hunching that the hose too need to be replaced with stronger material.

After getting these done, just like Yip & Jed, I felt the boost comes in stronger particularly at low revs and more linear as it reach towards midrange. And on another node, Caltex Techron suits Pocong better in giving better response & fuel efficiency than Shell Super but on the downside Caltex stations aren’t always nearby.

In between the monstrous R32 and Golf GTis is one puny Pocong

Yanking out the stock CBV, still having nervous breakdown when somebody touches the car

Out goes Edge in goes TXT

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

S204 successor and it's going to be affordable!

It’s a ZTH photo I think. It looks like S204 replacement, I’m guessing its name would be Probaru Impreza WRX STI S216 hehehe

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Crankcase Breather Valve soon going to heaven!

My friends Yip and Jed made a shocking discovery that stock Crankcase Breather Valve part # 034129101A has failed on their rides. True enough, upon taking out the engine cover, mine too soon going to heaven!

When this happens, boost pressure from the manifold will leak into the crankcase and if it got worst oil will blow out from the oil filler cap. Yup, this is what the CBV is designed to prevent in the first place but just like the VAG 2.0 TSI, it’s not doing it reliably at least on chipped ones. Luckily for me, there’s no significant oil loss by looking at the dipstick.

At the moment, we’re playing guessing game that the one fitted on Audi B5 A4 1.8T to be more reliable, part # 034129101B for RM80.00. Quite astronomically pricey for a “knob” made out of rubber and I still need to wait for 2 weeks, but AVS Auto folks will try to give speedier delivery. Oh well, if this also fails, I’m phoning Darian to courier TDI ones :)

Stock BCV on Polo GTI ... leaking

Hoping this is much stronger!

AfterBurn not just for the fighter jets!

It’s yesteryears story but just in case I can’t get Ron97 fuel for the Pocong especially outside Klang Valley, I hope this AfterBurn will help to ‘upgrade’ the fuel besides giving better engine response and power. Well hey, Aerotech published dyno chart to back up their claims! And well written review can be found here

3 bottles of this are in my trunk and behind it are packages that yet to be in my stomach!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Custom Declaration – The moment of truth or is it??

Here's AP declaration on the Pocong. It works out like this :-

CIF – RM39242.00
Import Duty (30% on CIF) – RM11772.60
Excise Duty (97.5% on CIF) – RM38260.95
Other Taxes (~22% on CIF) – RM8927.56

Total Cost RM98203.11

Given this RM98203.11 is the cost of the car for dealers here, they should have gross margin of ~RM40684.89 based on published price of RM138888.00. While I'm utterly disgusted on the Duties & Taxes charges are, I’m so amazed by the CIF value of the car, RM39242.00 which is about GBP6,800. A very ‘fair’ value I must say :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

VW Polo GTI - Think of it as the Golf GTI before it got fat

A very entertaining review by Clarkson himself on Polo GTI. Not everything is true though like you can never achieve Mk1 Audi TT 240bhp with just remaps, you need K04-001 too :P


by Jeremy Clarkson []

When you buy a washing machine, does it ever cross your mind that the water could be injected into the drum a little more quickly, or that the spin cycle could be turbocharged in some way? No? Well what about your lawn mower? Ever thought of chrome plating the blades or supercharging the two-stroke? Really? You’ve never felt the need to fit blue underfloor running lights or add a whale-tale spoiler? Of course not, and rightly so. There is a very good reason why you leave your household goods alone; because you have a sense that they’ve been designed to be as good as possible, and that if you start tinkering you’re going to make them worse.

I bet, therefore, that your toasted sandwich maker is exactly as it was when it came from the shop — still in its box, even. And I’m also willing to bet that you have not modified your car in any way, either.

Obviously this doesn’t apply in America, because any nation that can’t make a cup of coffee and is utterly confused by the recipe for “a pot of tea” is going to struggle pretty badly when it comes to something as complex as making a car.

So if you have a Buick or a Chevrolet, then even a four-year-old child with a Fisher-Price screwdriver set could make dramatic improvements. If you have a Pontiac Aztec, you may as well wheel it to a spot under your kitchen worktop and attach it to the plumbing, because it would make a better washing machine than it does a car.

That’s why America is awash with small tuning companies to whom all car enthusiasts turn when they’ve bought a car from GM, Ford or Chrysler.

What’s more, Americans always think they can do better. It’s why they try to tune and customise shows like The Office instead of just buying ours.

Here in Europe, however, things are different. Yes, there are tuning companies — Overfinch for example — who do good work. But as a general rule we steer clear of trying to make improvements because we have a sense that when it comes to the business of making cars the car makers are better qualified than some bloke who rents an arch from Network Rail.

I looked at a new Jaguar XK8 last week that had been modified by a company called Racing Green. It looked tremendous and the performance figures were impressive too. But I noted the enormous wheels and the low-profile tyres and couldn’t help thinking: “If they work, then why didn’t Jaguar fit them in the first place?” More worrying are those who try to change a car’s performance using nothing but a laptop.

You may not know this but the engine in your car, providing it isn’t a Riley or something else from the days when black people were funny, is controlled by a computer with simply awesome power.

It reads the humidity, checks the weather and notes the ambient temperature. It sees where you have your foot on the throttle, what gear you’re in, whether you’re going up a hill or down the other side, and when it has all the information it needs it refers to a “map” and thinks “Okay. If it’s this hot, and the car is in this gear, and the throttle is in this position, the ‘map’ says I must inject precisely — to the nearest atom — this much fuel into the cylinder”.

And if you have a four-cylinder engine turning at 4000rpm the computer is referring to the map and making these infinitesimal decisions 133 times a second.

The map is drawn by clever people who live with their mothers and do not know what daylight looks like. It is designed so that the engine uses the smallest amount of fuel while providing the cleanest possible exhaust and the maximum amount of power.

The map, then, is a series of compromises and if you, too, are the sort of person who lives in the dark and likes to hack into defence computers and start world war three, you can access it with a simple laptop and make changes.

Great. But it doesn’t always work. Recently, at the MPH show in Earls Court, we needed to change the handling characteristics of the new Jaguar XKR. On the slippery floor there was too much understeer and any attempt to kick the rear end out with a bootfull of throttle resulted in one rear wheel spinning uselessly.

Naturally I suggested hitting it with a hammer, but no. A man plugged a laptop into the car’s computer and with each strike of the keyboard he made the handling just a little bit worse. Each time he made alterations to the map, trying to improve one thing, something else would cease to exist altogether.

I’ve seen this before, at various Formula One races, and when very high performance cars are delivered to the Top Gear test track. People in corporate short-sleeved shirts try to cure misfires, and a million other maladies besides, by plugging the car into a laptop and giving the map a new set of compromises. It never works. Ever.

The misfire may be cured but the downside is that when you start the engine it immediately sucks all of the sky into its cylinders and then bursts. Or it shoots so much carbon dioxide out of the back that the temperature shoots up to a million and we all die.

I’m not saying that car companies always get it right. They don’t. But they’re more likely to get it right than you. And that brings me on to the Volkswagen Polo GTI.

This comes with a 148bhp version of the turbocharged 1.8 litre 20-valve engine that produced 237bhp in the old Audi TT. So why not simply change the map and, hey presto, you have a 237bhp Polo. Wow. With something like that, you could bend time.

Hmm. I advise caution, because while the engine is certainly strong enough to handle 237bhp, the car isn’t; something you will discover about half a second before you hit the tree.

If Volkswagen thought that the Polo could handle 237bhp, then it would have 237bhp. They’ve decided that 148bhp is about right, and I agree.

In many ways this little car is the spiritual successor to the original Golf GTI. Back in 1981 that cost £5,700, which in today’s money is around £13,000 — £7,000 less than the current, much bigger Golf GTI.

The Polo is not only closer in size to the original hot Golf but at £14,810 closer in price too.

And spirit. It has few of the fancy add-ons that have all but killed off the hot hatch as a volume seller these days. Apart from a lower ride height, and a honeycomb grille, it just looks like a small car that happens to have a big engine. And I like that.

I liked the handling, too, the sense that you can go round any corner at any speed. And I liked the power. Yes, there’s a bit of turbo lag, but if you stir away at the gearbox that’s eliminated and you’re left with a little car that’s genuinely nice to drive.

It’s also surprisingly practical, well equipped and easy to park. And it’s easy to mend, because of course the wing on a Polo GTI is exactly the same as the wing on a normal Polo.

The only problem is that if I wanted a fun little car I’d rather have a Mini — a car where you really can save money and get better performance with a bit of after-market tuning.

An £11,000 Mini One does 0 to 60 in 11 seconds and has a top speed of 112mph. A Mini Cooper, with exactly the same engine, does 0 to 60 in 9 seconds and has a top speed of 126. How? Simple. The “map” is different.

So instead of buying a £13,000 Mini Cooper, go for an £11,000 Mini One — which is exactly the same — and then pay someone with an Oedipus complex a hundred quid or so to change the map.

I hope that, for once, I’ve been of some use this morning.

Vital statistics

Model Volkswagen Polo 1.8 GTI
Engine 1781cc, four cylinders
Power 148bhp @ 5800rpm
Torque 162 lb ft @ 1950rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual
Fuel 35.8mpg (combined)
CO2 190g/km
Acceleration 0-62mph: 8.2sec
Top speed 134mph
Price £14,810
Rating 4/5
Verdict The new Golf GTI, but that said, I’d still prefer a Mini