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Thursday, June 29, 2006

News: Porsche Tops J.D. Power Satisfaction Study


Porsche AG and other high-end auto brands performed best in the annual J.D. Power and Associates study of satisfaction after 90 days of ownership, but domestic companies showed improvement.

Porsche topped J.D. Power's 11th-annual survey that measures performance, layout appeal and customer satisfaction with cars three months after they were driven off the dealers' lots.

Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln brand was ranked 11th, highest among the domestic nameplates, and two Ford cars were the best in their classes.

Luxury auto makers such as BMW AG's BMW brand, DaimlerChrysler AG's Mercedes-Benz, Toyota Motor Co.'s Lexus, Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti and Audi AG, Volkswagen AG's luxury arm, all finished at the top of the survey, according to results released Wednesday.

Full report here @ AsiaOne.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Review: Ferrari 612 Scaglietti


ONE.MOTORING reviews on the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and this is what it says:-

"THE F430 IS a near 500bhp go-kart and the 599 GTB Fiorano is the greatest road car I've ever driven, so where does all this leave the 612 Scaglietti?

As the replacement for the 456 GT, the 612 adopts a very different brief from those of its two siblings. It's a big, front-engined GT, designed to swallow continent-spanning distances in a single bound.

It's also meant to do the above whilst carrying four people and their luggage in great comfort. Therefore, it's a bit softer and less of a balls-to-the-wall driving machine than the other two cars mentioned. That said, this is all relative. A "soft" Ferrari is still a damned focused drive when compared to other sports cars.

The 612, Ferrari's flagship series production car, was the first contemporary model to showcase Ferrari's now standard all-aluminium construction techniques. The Scaglietti designation is a tribute to Sergio Scaglietti, the famous Modenese coachbuilder with whom Enzo Ferrari enjoyed a close working relationship. Scaglietti the company is now owned by Ferrari, and does all the latter's aluminium body work.

For the 2006 model year, Ferrari is offering what it calls the GTC Handling package for the 612. This series of options plumps up the 612 dynamically, helping it to keep up with the wonderful F430 and knee-tremblingly awesome 599. Ferrari hasn't gone and made the car more sporty at the expense of its GT brief, though, rather the tweaks have all gone into honing the 612's already sharp edge.

The performance improvements made to the car shown here include revised adaptive damper settings, an improved semi-automatic gearbox, an extremely fruity new exhaust, as well as an optional set of vast carbon ceramic brakes."

Full review @ ONE MOTORING.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Review: Volkswagen Passat

Carma reviews on the Volkswagen Passat and this is what it says:-

"The latest Volkswagen Passat occupies a pricing sweet spot between the Camry/Cefiro wet market and the 320/C180 supermarket. If a 2-litre Toyota or Nissan owner gets a new Passat, he is definitely upgrading, but if a compact BMW or Mercedes owner does the same thing, he is not necessarily downgrading. After all, the sixth-generation Passat looks like a million marks, its monolithic grille chromium-plated to perfection and its bodywork laser-welded to millimetric precision. The LED tail-light clusters are bright and beautiful too.

The German good looks continue inside the Passat, where Teutonic grace meets fantastic space. Indeed, the sizeable exterior dimensions are translated into impressive roominess, both in the cabin and in the boot, the latter offering a useful 485 litres supplemented by an extra 80 litres in the spare wheel well, with the split-fold rear seatback and quadruple lashing straps providing additional loadspace options. Further boosting the Passat’s practicality are several strategically-placed pockets of storage space like compartments in all four doors, a utility box integrated with the central rear armrest, dashboard mini-drawers and shuttered overhead stowage in the roof. The glovebox is lockable, its interior illuminated and refrigerated, and there is even a dedicated umbrella slot in the driver’s door.

On the road, Passat power is provided by a sweet 2-litre FSI four-cylinder with 150bhp and a healthy 280Nm at just 1800rpm. The torque, good from low to medium revs where most daily driving is done, is what gets this car ambling along efficiently, although outright acceleration from standstill is significantly less sharp than the mid-range pick-up. The gearbox is a six-speed Tiptronic that shifts cleanly in auto mode and keenly enough in plus/minus manual mode, the latter useful when setting up the car for corners, which it relishes. The body is rig, the electrical-mechanical steering is fluid and pretty fast from lock to lock and the Dunlop Sport tyres grip strongly, enabling the Passat to power smartly through turns accompanied by mild whiffs of wheelspin. There is positive feel and feedback through the grippy steering wheel, the driver’s seat supports splendidly, and the drivetrain is game to play some low-impact GTI sports despite its boring engine note."

Full review here at Carma.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

News: The Lexus RX350 is bigger, faster, better

From AsiaOne Motoring.

"IT'S interesting to note that Singapore's most popular luxury SUV didn't get a major facelift until mid-way into its model life. Rather, the RX300 has been given a bigger and more powerful engine so that it is now the RX350. In fact, the only new item that is immediately obvious is the accomplished 11-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, which is now standard in all three variants.

Then again, why change your appearance when you're already good-looking? The Lexus RX sport-utility vehicle is arguably a pretty vehicle, with well-sculpted lines and pleasing proportions. Since it arrived here three years ago, it has been a volume seller, consistently accounting for about a third of annual Lexus numbers. And the RX350 looks like it will continue to do the same despite the larger displacement and the obvious question about higher pump prices. This is because Lexus says the 3.5-litre engine is more economical than the old 3.0 unit. When tested under the EC combined cycle, the fuel consumption for the new car is 11.2 litres per 100 km, versus the smaller engine's 12.2 litres per 100 km.

But more interesting than its frugal nature is the power hike. The number of horses has jumped from 204 previously to 272 hp - or a third more."

Full report here are AsiaOne Motoring.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

News: Temporary closure of road

The stretch of road along Woodlands Avenue 5, between its junctions with Woodlands Drive 50 and Woodlands Avenue 4, will be temporarily closed to traffic on Tuesday 13 June 2006 from 1:00 am to 5:00 am. This is to facilitate the launching of concrete beams for the pedestrian overhead bridge near Block 520 along Woodlands Avenue 5.

Motorists affected by the road closure can use the alternative routes along Woodlands Drive 50 and Woodlands Avenue 1 as shown in the plan.

Blinking lights, barricades and diversion signs will be put up to guide motorists. Motorists are advised to drive carefully and follow the directional signs displayed in the area.

Full report here @ AsiaOne Motoring.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Update: Basic Theory Test

You can book now your Basic Theory Test through the schools' websites or service kiosks. You need to open an account with the schools.

You are required to go down personally to the schools to open an account except for SSDC which now allows online enrolment. Check out the website here. Look out for the ENROL ONLINE Banner on the left.

To open an account, SSDC charges $5.25, I am not sure about other schools yet.

Private candidates need to book through the schools. They just need to open an account with the schools. Private candidates are encouraged to leverage on the schools' booking system and longer opening hours to book the slots. They can enjoy the same benefits as students of the driving centres, until such time as the school decides otherwise.

Comments and updates are welcome.

Update: Computerised Theory Test (CTT)

Looks like there's a new system in place of the paper format for taking BTT and FTT. It's called the Computerised Theory Test (CTT). Below are some FAQs on CTT from the traffic police.

What is CTT?
CTT is the acronym for Computerised Theory Test. It allows the candidates to take the tests on Basic Theory of Driving, Advanced Theory of Driving and Riding Theory via a computerised environment.

What are the benefits of CTT?
CTT will better serve the public because it

- Provides instant test result;
- Conducts the theory tests in the four official languages - English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil; and
- Offers user-friendly, efficient and convenient touch-screen terminals so candidates can answer the test questions by "touching" the selected answer.

How does candidate take the theory tests under CTT?
Under CTT, candidates will take the theory tests by answering the questions on a touch-screen computer. There will be simple instructions on the computer screen to guide candidates through the questions. An invigilator will also be present to provide a short briefing before the test and render assistance throughout the test. Candidates will be given 1 hour to complete the test. After the test, candidates will be able to see their results on the computer screen.

Where and how can I book for the CTT?
The booking for CTT can be done at any of the three driving centres at Singapore Safety Driving Centre, Bukit Batok Driving Centre and Comfort Driving Centre. To book the CTT, you will need to first open an account with any one of the three driving centres. After you have opened an account, you may book for the CTT at either self service kiosks or the internet website of the specific driving centre.

What are the various charges involved?
To apply for theory tests at the driving centres, an account has to be opened with them. The driving centres charge an administrative fee of $5.25 inclusive of GST (non-refundable) when opening an account. This account provides candidates with the following services:

Schedules of test dates, timings and classroom allocations
Booking of test dates via Internet, including changing and canceling bookings
Eyesight tests conducted by the Driving Centre
The test fee under CTT remains at $6.00, the same as the paper-based test.

What time/days would the CTT be available?
The CTT will be conducted from 8.30 am to 9 pm on Monday - Friday and from 8.30 am to 12 pm on Saturday. No tests will be conducted on Sundays and public holidays.

Can I choose the date and time of the test?
Yes. You can choose the test slot displayed on the respective school 's self-service kiosks and internet website.

How long do I have to wait before a CTT test date is available?
When you apply for the test at any driving centre, you can book the next available slot and sit for the test. On average, a test slot will be available 2 weeks from the date of booking. However, candidates are urged to book their test date well in advance so as to allow them time to prepare for the test.

If I book for a test at a particular test centre, can I take the test at another centre?
No. Candidates can only take their test at the driving centre which they have opened their account and placed their booking with. As such, candidates are urged to decide carefully which Test Centre best suits their needs before opening an account and booking a test date. To apply for a test at another centre, the candidate will need to open an account with the new Test Centre which he is making the booking. The same charges stated in item 8 will apply.

What is the duration of the test?
The test will take one hour, excluding briefing time.

How long would a candidate take to complete CTT? Is it any faster than taking the written theory test?
This will depend on how well the candidate has prepared himself for the test.

If I am late for the test, will I be allowed to sit for the test?
No. Late comers will not be allowed to sit for the test to avoid disrupting the class.

Will there be any invigilators?
Yes, there will be an invigilator to present a short briefing and oversee the smooth running of the test. He will also render necessary assistance to those who are not familiar with CTT.

What if I need help during the tests, if I am unfamiliar with how to use the computer?
The invigilator will render whatever assistance necessary. However, candidates are encouraged to attend the training and trial tests conducted by the driving centres to familiarize themselves with CTT before taking the test. Bookings can be made at the respective centres.

How soon can I know the test result?
Upon completion of test, CTT will display the result to the candidates.

Can I get a copy of the test result?
Yes. You can print a copy of the test result upon completion of the test at the self-service kiosk located outside the classroom.

What is the passing mark of the test?
Out of a total of 50 questions, not more than five mistakes can be made.

Will I get the same questions if I retake the test?
No. CTT has a database of questions. The questions for each test will be randomly selected from the database.

What are the kinds of theory tests that will be tested on computers?
All theory tests, namely: basic theory, final theory and riding theory.

How many pc terminals are there in each classroom? How many classrooms are there?
There is one classroom with 44 terminals in each of the 3 Driving Centres.

Are training available to prepare candidates to take the CTT?
Yes, the three driving centres have each set up a classroom to train candidates in CTT. These classes are available to students from the driving schools and those taking driving classes from the private driving instructors.

Can I book for a Final Theory Test immediately after passing my Basic Theory Test?
Yes, you can book the Final Theory Test at the school's self service kiosk or via its internet web-sites.

Guide: Getting Class 3 License in 3 months (Part 1)

Part 1 of this guide will cover the the first 3 points of the overview in the previous post.

1.) Age requirement
To drive a car, you need a Class 3(manual) or 3A(auto) driving licence. To ride a motor-bike or scooter, you need a Class 2B riding licence. The minimum age is 18 years for both classes.

2.) Basic Theory Test (BTT)
This is a test designed to test your knowledge of the rules and regulations of the road, the traffic signs and signals. You have to pass the BTT before you can apply for the Provisional Driving License (PDL) which is required before you can start taking any driving lessons.
NOTE: You need both the BTT and PDL ready before you can take any driving lessons.

How do I book for my Basic Theory Test?
You can book your BTT personally with your NRIC/passport at any of the following 3 driving centres.

Batok Driving Centre (BBDC)
815 Bukit Batok West Ave 5
Singapore 659085
Tel : 6561 1233

Comfort Driving Centre(CDC)
205 Ubi Ave 4
Singapore 408805
Tel : 6848 0617

Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC)
3 Ang Mo Kio Street 62
Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 3
Singapore 569139
Tel : 6482 6060

BTT fees cost $6.00 each.

Alternatively, if you sign up as a student with the the above 3 centres, you can book online via their websites.

News from SSDC: Private student (including foreigners applying for conversion of driving licence) can enrol online and book for Traffic Police Basic Theory Test. If you are doing self-study for your Basic Theory Test, you are advised to book for SSDC Theory Trial Test. SSDC Theory Trial Test is using similar questions from Traffic Police.

You can check the respective test dates (all types) on their individual websites before booking.
BBDC - Test Dates
CDC - Test Dates
SSDC - Test Dates

How do I learn for my Basic Theory Test?
There are basically 2 ways to do it. Decide whether you want to learn from a private instructor or from a driving school for your driving lessons. This will determine your path.

Private instructor: Buy a copy of the official handbook on the Basic Theory of Driving from the BBDC, CDC, SSDC or major bookshops. Study real hard and book a test date.

Driving school: Sign up with any of the following driving schools
Batok Driving Centre (BBDC)
Comfort Driving Centre(CDC)
Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC)

Signing up means taking the whole package. They will take care of your theory, practical and to your driving test. These schools will provide theory lessons for its students. Sample papers will be also be given and they are very similar to the BTT questions so that you will be prepared. It's like doing 10 year series basically.
The school will also make the student take their own local theory trial test first, the student has to pass the school's version before allowed to go for the actual BTT.

CDC - Theory lesson schedule

SSDC - Theory lesson and trial test practice schedules

Comment: The basic theory test basically consists of 50 questions, back at my time you can afford to make at most 3 mistakes, anything more, likelyhood you will fail.
Results will be sent to you in 2 weeks time.

3.) Provisional Driving License
If you received a letter from the traffic police saying that you have pass your BTT, congratulations. Proceed on to any of the 3 schools to apply for your provisional driving license (PDL).

To apply for a Provisional Driving Licence:
a. You need to go to the test centre in person.
b. Bring along your identity card.
c. You will have to undergo an eye test.
d. There is a fee of S$25. The renewal fee is the same and can be done at any post offices.
e. The Provisional Driving Licence is valid for six months.
After obtaining your PDL, you can then learn driving on public roads.

This concludes Part 1 of the guide. Hope you find it useful. Comments are welcome!

Step by Step Guide: Getting your Class 3 License in 3 months

Hi, I am going to start a guide on how to get your class 3 driving license in 3 months. This requires great persistence and determination especially going for your driving lessons.

Here's the overview:
1.) Age requirement
2.) Basic Theory Test (BTT)
3.) Provisional Driving License (PDL)
4.) Driving Lessons
4.) Final Theory Test (FTT)
5.) Passing Rates of Driving Centres
6.) Booking of Test Date
7.) Getting your photocard license.

With this guide, I hope it will make things clearer and easier for people going for their Class 3 license.

Friday, June 09, 2006

News: British unions urge boycott of Peugeot, Citroen cars


Two of Britain's largest trade unions launched a campaign urging a boycott of Peugeot and Citroen cars because of the company's decision to close its British factory.

The Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) and Amicus will place advertisements in national, regional and trade newspapers, plus display posters on hoardings across Britain, to encourage people not to buy either Peugeot or Citroen models.

French-owned PSA Peugeot announced last April that its factory at Ryton, near Coventry, west central England, would shut in 2007 with the loss of 2,300 jobs. Workers there voted against strike action on Monday.

TGWU general-secretary Tony Woodley said Peugeot was motivated by "sheer greed" in its decision to switch production to cheaper factories in eastern and central Europe.

Full report here @ TodayOnline.

Dodge Caliber 2.0: Who Let The Dodge Out?


OneMotoring reviews on the Dodge Caliber and comments:-

"The Caliber looks appropriately distinctive so that's a good a start. Dodge's signature cross-hair grille dominates the Caliber?s frontal aspect, along with wheel arches that have been blown out to almost cartoonish proportions. What Dodge's designers seem to have done is to basically render a big dollop of unadulterated aggression in sheetmetal form.

The overwhelming impression you get is that the Caliber looks just like an Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). The tall stance, and faithfully translated SUV styling cues all make it very hard to think of the car as a hatchback, which it sort of technically is.

From the side, the car's lines are all swoopy and dynamic, and describe a pronounced cab-rearward profile. Dodge has included black accent strips running from the top of the A-pillars to the tailgate, and these help accentuate the rakish roofline even further.

The 2.0-litre unit develops 156bhp and 190Nm of torque. Respectable figures but as the Caliber is no featherweight, weighing in at over 1,390kg, it needs all the grunt the engine can muster. From a standstill, 100km/h comes up in 11.3 seconds.

The Caliber uses a newly-developed Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The unit works pretty well, but is a little hesitant to change its (virtual) ratios when you need it to. It does come with a manual override called "Auto Stick", it's simple to use and quite effective.

The Caliber is expected to list for under $90,000 including COE.

Full review on the Dodge Caliber here.

Review: Peugeot 307:: The Lion Kink


Carma reviews on the Peugeot 307 and this is what they say:-

"Flair over practicality. This is what owners of quirky French cars had to contend with in the past. Poor seating position, dubious build quality, wheezy engine… the list goes on. However, French cars like the Peugeot 307 show that practicality does not have to take a backseat to avant-garde design and a sublime ride. For those who like the sensuous, curvy lines of the diminutive 206 but need more space, the 307 is a natural choice. The latter has just received a minor cosmetic makeover, and while the changes are not earth-shattering, it does make the 307 look a lot sharper. The biggest changes are to the front of the car – there are new crystal headlamps that make the face much fresher and a new, bigger Peugeot corporate grille a la 407. At the rear, changes are limited to the tail-lamps which are now prettier and brighter.

Under the hood there is still only one engine and transmission option available for the five-door 307 hatch (the SW and CC have 2-litre power). The 110bhp 1.6-litre four is smooth-spinning and more than adequate for everyday commuting, with nary a sound permeating the well-insulated cabin even when the engine is spun towards its 6000rpm redline. With 1243kg to lug around, straight-line performance is mediocre, so performance akin to Marcus Gronholm’s 307 WRCar can only be realised on your PS2.

If you’re in the market for something different from your neighbour’s Toyota Corolla Altis and don’t really want to spend nearly $80k on a Honda Civic, do consider the refreshed Peugeot 307 and its offer of roomy accommodation and classy French flair for just $70k.

Full review on the Peugot 307 here.