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Motorsports

Down, but not out!

AT - TIME

It was no consolation, I tell you, even after Powerzone managed to clock some impressive times for the century sprint with my SR3 on Saturday. Sirazul of Powerzone was rather delighted with the numbers – quickest being 7.25s, from the previous 8.56s some months back. Way back when it was still virginal, stock with cat intact. With the PowerZone LSD kit installed to the standard F5M22 1.8 gearbox, improved traction meant better transfer of power from the engine to the front wheels, resulting in better times. A cheap, effective mod although no replacement for a real LSD gearbox.

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Automotive

MyVI vs Savvy : The great Malaysian debate

IA - TIME

Perodua’s MyVI and Proton’s little Kei-car Savvy seems to be caught in an intense battle for honours. From what I gather and observe in forums and blogs, the bigger MyVI seems to have the upper hand. At times not due to merit alone, but mostly echoed by the negative sentiments about Proton.

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Categories
Automotive

Captain, this planet is hostile!

AT - TIME

In what seems to be a prequel to War of the Worlds, the R3 thread on Zerotohundred has been invaded by hostile aliens for over a week. Seemingly endless fighting between naysayers and non-believers of the R3 (Race Rally Research, Motorsports Division of Proton) movement and SR3 owners and its supporters have brought much intensity and colour to the recent spate of dullness in the thread. Apparent unhappiness with Proton as a whole and accusations that the Satria R3 is a mere rebadged, hasty snap-on job by Proton Motorsports to clear inventory, has sparked some fiery debates. Some backed by facts and constructive opinions. However, many baseless accusations, blatant flaming and below-the-belt personal attacks have ensued.

Efforts to diffuse the intensity has so far been futile as personal insults, at times involving fathers, mothers and the family dog, litter the thread.

I find it amusing how one car can cause such controversy. I’ve heard that no publicity is bad publicity, but this borders on the ridiculous! True, the Satria is a rebadged Mitsubishi Colt sourced from Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), and has been around for at least one and a half decade. And true, if my math skills have not failed me, it is an old platform.

Having said that, R3 simply took a tried and tested platform (the Satria platform is still raced in some countries) and improved on it. And thus the Satria R3 was born. Out of the intention to release a performance-bred, no-frills car for the enthusiast. This is the first effort, mind you. Without sounding like a kiss-ass Proton groupie, I’d say it is a good effort, though far from perfect. The AMG, M3, Brabus, Ralliart, Honda Type-R and Nismo comparisons are unfair for the 20-man strong outfit which probably had their fair share of hell with corporate Proton just to see the project through.

The Arguments
This is so typical of Proton, taking an old car, giving it a bodykit and new rims, then selling it as a new ‘special edition’. Look at the Proton Saga SE, Wira SE, Satria SE. Same old bloody engine! Same with the Satria R3. And it’s expensive! Anyone could have given it a SGTi bodykit, Recaro seats, MOMO steering, big brakes and suspension. What a rip-off!

Why use an aged platform when Proton has the Waja, Gen.2 and Savvy to work its magic on? From a purely enthusiast point of view, R3 took a base platform that worked, improved it, redefined how it performed and handled, then marketed it as Proton’s first official performance-bred product. The key word here is ‘factory-backed’. Reassuringly, a car with performance parts fitted that is backed by factory warranty. And 2 years at that.

The Satria/Colt/Mirage platform has been around for quite a while. This translates into plenty of spare parts, and availability of aftermarket modifications, many local. It makes perfect sense from a business point of view to make full use of the platform. From the bodywork, to carbon fibre bits, exhaust system, strut bars and suspension components, the SR3 consists of parts developed by well-known local tuners.

Remember, this is R3’s first effort. The Savvy R3 Concept already shows that R3 is serious about its upcoming projects. From way back when the Satria R3 was first conceived, it was said that the ‘R3 treatment’ would be applied to every single product in Proton’s stable. R3 versions of the Gen.2, Waja, SRM and PRM should see the light of day in the near future.

The Satria R3 isn’t just a slap-on job. It took research and development and lots of testing to get the level of performance it proudly bears at this point. Mods you do not see, like the spot-welding of the chassis translates to a great handling car. When you look at the SR3 as a whole package, I dare say you will not find a comparable performance-based new car at that price point, local or otherwise. At RM78K, it’s just a RM5K premium over the more luxury-based SGTi.

My SGTi does 7.8seconds in the century sprint. Why is the lighter, more expensive SR3 slower than its predecessor coming in at slow-poke 8.6seconds?

Without insulting any SGTi owners, it is a well-known fact that the original manufacturer claimed performance figures of 7.8seconds for the century sprint is over-optimistic. Even with the more powerful MMC ECU-based EMS, pre-2001 SGTis manage around 9seconds at best. Siemens-based SGTis are a tad slower at 9.3s, mostly due to emission standards compliance. Looking at the math, the power-to-weight ratio of the SR3 is simply more superior as compared to any SGTi, be it MMC or Siemens-based. Quoted power output figures of 105kW, is also slightly higher than its SGTi variants (103kW).

To summarize, the 8.6seconds 0-100km/h is a proven, honest-to-God figure. No over-optimistic marketing bullshit. This has also been backed by dynos amongst some SR3 owners. 120whp, true to spec.

Don’t buy the SR3. It’s a waste of money. Better off spending the money to buy a Avanza. Or a MyVI. Or buy a 2nd hand 1.3litre Satria, stuff in all the goodies and you will still have cash to spare for 2 teh tariks and indomie rebus (with telor mata kerbau some more!)

If you think buying a 1.3litre Satria, seam-welding it then stuffing in equivalent or better performance bits into it is a smarter idea, then go ahead. But it won’t be a new car. And ever heard of chassis fatigue? How about manufacturer backed warranty? No? Ok. One could easily tread this route, as do many, but look at it this way, R3 has done the R&D and packaged the SR3 with attractive, proven bits of kit. It also is giving you 2 years worth of warranty and support. It is also giving you exclusivity with the rest of the 149 owners.

The MyVI and the Avanza are good cars in their own right. But they are NOT performance cars. It is silly for the SR3 to be compared to these cars. Different target market. Different requirements.

Still not convinced?
Let me tell you why I like the SR3. I’ll break it down to 10 principal reasons just to keep it short and sweet. Alrighty, this is Verne’s SR3 Top 10 List:

Numero uno – the handling. It is an excellent handler with different characteristics to a SGTi. The SGTi is a good handler too, no doubt, but has handles different. This is apparent when you observe how a SGTi takes a corner as opposed to a SR3. The pitch, the roll. Different. Strut bars, custom damping, bigger front anti-roll bars, 10mm drop in ride height. They all contribute to the superior ride and handling. The damping of the SR3 is not overly stiff. Some people are shocked at the damping rates – just 2.5kgs front and 1.8kgs rear.

No. 2 – Better brakes. The front and rear cross-drilled discs coupled with Mintex is brilliant.

No. 3 – Top class steering feel. This is a major plus. No feeling of lifeless, over-assisted power steering. This is what is lacking in most cars. The feel is direct, much like driving a go-kart. Autoworld Malaysia likened it to driving a Mini. Direct, point-and-steer. Brilliant.

No. 4 – Better seats. The Recaro SR4 is firm and offers excellent support.

No. 5 – The Momo Tuner steering with supplied boss kit.

No. 6 – The stock anodised front and rear strut bars.

No. 7 – The rubber. Yokohama Advan AD07s are the stickiest road tyres in the market. Nothing comes close. FYI, the whole ride and handling feel of the SR3 was developed around the AD07s which is what gives it the confidence and grip on the tarmac.

No. 8 – The lightweight 16″ Advanti rims. Less unsprung weight translates to a lighter and more responsive car overall.

No. 9 – The full exhaust system. The tuned length stainless steel 4-2-1 header all the way to the cat bypass pipe to the free flow piping. Slightly bassy and pretty quiet at idle. Being non-restrictive, this is a performance feature.

No. 10 – The CF bits – carbon fibre spoiler and cam cover. Lightweight and trick-looking.

Notice that I haven’t really mentioned anything cosmetic. This is simply because the SR3 isn’t about bling-bling. Not that it is not aesthetically pleasing. It’s not about being a chick-magnet although to a certain extent it is. It isn’t about looks and making people’s heads turn when you swing by. It’s about driving. And true to its claim, it is a driving experience to savour. Every single time you step on the fun pedal and swing it through those tight bends. The looks, in every sense of word, in understated. No unneccessary body extensions and accessories. And yet, it does have presence.

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IA - TIME
Categories
Automotive Motorsports

Satay Celup and Life In The Gravel Pit

AT - TIME

I looked forward to Saturday with zest and little-boy enthusiasm. Although hardly catching enough sleep due to a crazy drive down to Melaka for ‘satay celup’ the previous night and returning at 3am, my eyes were wide open in anticipation of the adrenalin rush from burning rubber at the Sepang F1 circuit. The rather spontaneous decision to head down for grub with 3 other colleagues resulted in getting a little jammed up in Seremban (as usual!) and getting slightly lost after the Ayer Keroh toll plaza. But the B-roads were wonderful. Twisty, dark but well-laid out with tarmac, I was high from the rush. The SR3 was made for this. Absolutely thrilling.

Thank god we got slightly lost. Never would have found that engaging 20km experience to Melaka town. Fourth gear almost full throttle, then 3rd gear and occasional 2nd gear downshifts. Wow. We were of course rewarded once getting into Melaka town as we gobbled down as many sticks of grub as we could at the satay place. Yums.

Anyways, I have to thank the Satria GTi Club for inviting Satria R3 owners to join them for their track day. Professionally organised, the early morning started with a briefing and registration (I was late, so missed out on most of it). About 20 SGTis and 4 SR3s were present. An enthusiastic bunch, I have to say. A few beginner drivers had experienced appointed instructors alongside to guide them through the course.

After reinstalling my racing harness which I removed last night to accomodate my colleagues in the rear, I got strapped in and started my much awaited track day. Car felt especially good after having it serviced the night before at Proton Edar 3S Mutiara Damansara. BTW, my experience with PESC Mutiara was exceptionally positive this time round. Will be writing a written commendation for the level of service and attentiveness shown. This is how the flagship centre should perform, all year round. Thumbs up!

Did some warm up laps just to get a feel of the track. Re-acquainted myself with Sepang, but braking later this time round, much thanks to the spanking new Goodridge steel-braided hoses + EBC fluid I recently got installed. Confidence-inspiring now doubt.

Here’s a little account of how I take Sepang in my SR3:
Powering to about 175km/h at the pit straight, I brake hard slightly beyond the 100m mark, downshift to 3rd then 2nd before turning in late at the ridiculously slow Turn 1. Brake slightly before turning in to Turn 2, then exit at full throttle for Turn 3. I catch fourth gear before having to brake hard at 140km/h at the sharp right Turn 4. Some take it in 3rd, but I personally drop to 2nd to have a little more exit torque for Turn 5. Turn 5 is a constant wide left, which can sometimes be off-camber. Have caught some off-guard as the weight of the car shifts to the right for Turn 6. The back can unexpectedly step out if weight transfer is not smooth. Tends to understeer too. I am usually in 3rd at this point, then catch 4th briefly before approaching my favourite Turn 7 and 8 double-apex.

Usually a balls-out affair as the double-apex is symmetrical. You can usually touch 100km/h to 110km/h here. The idea here is to be as smooth as possible, then exit quick for the very short straight before the dreaded Turn 9. Upshift to 4th as I usually manage to catch 140km/h or slightly more before having to brake really, really hard at 100m to heal-and-toe down to 3rd then 2nd, for the tricky Turn 9. With no LSD to help, car usually understeers and can cause some to veer off the course if entry speed is too high. This used to be my least favoured corner as I always found it too slow and too understeery, but have conquered it, or at least know how to handle it after a couple of track days. Does not pose any major problems any more!

The right hander Turn 10 is where you try to maximise exit speed before breaking slightly for Turn 11. This is actually quite a tricky corner when you turn in very late. If you angle is too shallow, you will end up being too wide past the apex, causing you to be less competitive for the next corners. I try to keep it smooth here as the car has tendency to oversteer as you brake and turn in.

Turn 11 is pretty straightforward. A left then approach the odd Turn 12. I keep wide and keep the steering straight as I brake, drop to 2nd and turn in. This is by far one of the trickiest corners. Have seen many cars spin in front of me or hit gravel here due to shift of weight. Lotus Elises are very prone to oversteer here. I managed to overtake one or two SGTis here due to their incorrect racing lines. Even an Elise on one occasion. The short back straight usually sees 145km/h on my speedo. This is also usually where the Elises and modded SGTis overtake me as we approach Turn 13. Stick on the wide right, brake slightly after 100m then heel-and-toe down to 2nd before turning in. It’s always a challenge to balance entry speed, turn-in and power out just as tires get full traction again.

Exit speed here is important to be competitive on the pit straight. Again, the faster SGTis and Elises would pull away (the Elises more so) as I upshift at 6500rpm to catch 4th.

An unexpected thing happened on my warm-up laps, maybe during the 9th or 10th lap. I approached Turn 7, dropped to 3rd then turned in. The rear stepped out unexpectedly. There was a slide. I applied throttle and some opposite lock. The Yokos complained as the car slid then fishtailed, with 2 SGTi tailing behind. The car veered off course then hit gravel. The moment it did I remember thinking in my head, “Don’t flip, don’t flip!”. Cars tend to flip here they happen to dig in to the gravel, as happened to a Kelisa some track days ago.

Car came to a halt. A marshall came over to check me out. Asked if I needed to be towed but I said I’d try to get the car out myself. Which I did incidently. The car did not sound good at all. Slowly made my way back to the pits where scrutinised it for damages. Some major scratches to the Advanti rims, and bodywork. Ouch. Not good. Had a nice time removing stones and gravel from the rims and tyres. Was worried that there was undercarriage damage, but in the end found nothing of that sort. Was also concerned that I damaged my expensive Yokohamas, but cleaning up at Revo later proved my concerns unfounded.

The price you pay for an error. I had to sit out most of it, but got at least 1/2 hour worth later, just to test out the car. No funny noises, squeaks or unwanted sounds. I did some more laps before the track closed at 12pm. Enjoyed the competitive racing with another SGTi which was either tailing or leading me. It has slightly better speed on the straights, but later spun at Turn 6.

The damages would be quite costly. But that’s the price you pay for thrills (and spills) Another SR3 was T-boned by an Elise at Turn 2. Even more painful.

An eventful day no doubt. Looking forward to the next track day!

Categories
Automotive

A savvier Savvy

IA - TIME

Amidst the excitement surrounding Perodua’s mini-MPV MyVI (and the general public scrambling to make bookings), national monolith carmaker Proton releases the Tiara Replacement Model (TRM) oddly named Savvy. Rumours had it that it was initially coined Sassy, much to the horror of some. Having returned to a more ahem masculine name, the Savvy is 2nd after the Gen.2, to not hold a Bahasa Malaysia moniker i.e Tiara, Wira, Satria.

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Automotive

Proton Satria GTi : An unsuccessful 4-pot Turbo, apparently

AT - TIME

You never can believe what you read or hear can you? I am baffled, and am wondering who supplies the bulk of information found on Answers.com. Pretty obvious that accuracy and credibility are not their priority list. The ‘Wikipedia’ has this to say about Proton cars:

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Automotive Motorsports

Black Stallions Invade SIC

IA - TIME

The morning started off early as 4 Satria R3s (No.6, 7, 8 and 9) assembled at Dengkil Rest Area with Faisal (R3 Marketing) and Amin (R3 Media Manager) in their Proton Perdana Pace Car. It was quite a sight to see a small convoy of ‘Incognito Black’ hot hatches led by a fiery red Perdana cruising towards the Sepang International Circuit.

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Automotive Motorsports

Track day tips and preparation

AT - TIME

A total of 10 Satria R3s will be joining 20 Lotus cars for a special track day at Sepang International Circuit tomorrow morning. For most of us, except car no.6, who popped the cherry last weekend with the K-cars at the Japan K4 Grand Prix, this would be THE inaugural track day. And for the hardcore few like me, I am pissing my pants in excitement. Tengku Djan, successful racecar driver and Head of Race Rally Research (R3) will be there to give us tips and tutorials on proper control of the SR3 as well as track familiarisation. Djan, evidently, was trained by Lotus, and he personally tuned the suspension of the ‘one of the best handling hot hatches in the market’ (as quoted by Autocar – Feb 05 issue).

Here are some track day tips and tricks to ensure safety, vehicle preservation and maximum fun (credit to Luke, owner of SR3 #13).

Categories
Automotive

Satria R3: Life at 2000 clicks

AT - TIME

“Tweet tweet, tweet tweet”, goes the stock alarm of the black stallion some of us know as the Satria R3. Then the Captor. I open the unfamiliar door and wiggle my way into those snuggly red-black Recaro SR4 semi-bucket seats. Adjusting it slightly for optimum reach and leg positioning, I grip excitedly on the MOMO Tuner steering. Keys in the ignition, crank. I am greeted by an enthusiastic growl then muted burble. My heart races.

Fast forward 2,000 kilometres. It’s amazing. It’s been a month since that fateful day I collected my car. Many days of driving pleasure no doubt! My first impressions of the nippy sudo-race car were positive, although slightly marred by the usual Proton QC problems like power windows, flimsy plastics and questionable installation quality. And drive, I did, while considering suitable fuel to feed the tuned 4G93P lump.

Categories
Automotive Musings

V-Power : Real Performer or Over-priced Unleaded Petrol?

AT - TIME

Fellow enthusiast Eric had questioned my choice of fuel for my spanking new Satria R3. Since some time ago, I’ve religiously fed my Persona with Shell V-Power and now my SR3.