Monday, December 31, 2012

Onwards into 2013!

Happy New Year everyone!!! I hope 2012 had been a great year for you, regardless, let's all charge into 2013 blessed and charged for happiness!!! May all your automotive dreams come true!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My very own webshop!!! (Finally)

I have finally (got off my lazy ass) put together my very own webshop to sell my prints! These are both illustrated by me and so far, the first 2 in a "I Am Legend" series. I will be doing up more but in the meantime, have a look and if you like, buy one maybe? (Free delivery within Singapore!)

Shop link:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hypermiling Like A BOSS. Driving the Active Hybrid 7

Hy·per·mile verb (used without object), hy·per·miled, hy·per·mil·ing. to improve fuel mileage in a motor vehicle, as by adopting certain driving techniques or making design alterations to the vehicle. It is with the latter where we start our review of the Active Hybrid 7. At first glance, you'd be hard pressed to tell that this is anything different from the per-facelifted 7s, and if you miss out on the badges, even harder to put this apart from it's regular non-hybrid compatriots in the 7 stable. But the changes or design alterations are there, apart from the fan-blade wheels, there are little nips and tucks to create a slightly more aerodynamic shape to boss through the air. Our test car came in a lovely dark and elegant shade of blue, helps give it a nice understated flair i reckon. Big cars always look good in dark paint. With the exterior retouches kept to a minimum, you wonder where did the bulk of the "design alterations" go? Even opening the bonnet, the only indication of anything different is the blue stripe with "Active Hybrid" indicating a slightly greener drive train. How much greener? Well, on paper, it claims 6.8litres for every 100km traveled. Unfortunately, our driving style and the limited time we had with the car did not allow us to substantiate these claims. Power delivery on the other hand did not take any step back as aided by the electric motors, this "Eco" 7 pumps out 354 horses and a good 450Nm of torque. In comparison, the non-hybrid 740Li while delivering the same amount of torque is short of 34 horses. While the Active Hybrid does gain some additional weight from the additional electric drive train, you hardly feel it when you're foot is on the floor. Inside, leather and wood is all around, put together with the technical precision and solidity deserving of a top-of-the-line German manufacturer. For the driver, all the controls fall into place neatly and something worth bringing up, is the revised iDrive system. It now comes with with fluid transitions and looks and flows great. The added smoothness seemed to have been included at the cost of the 3D rendered buildings we used to seeing in the navigation maps and hopefully that will be rectified in a future software update. Of course, being a 7, the main arena here is for the occupants in the back. With a fully adjustable massage chair, loads of legroom, luxurious carpets and individual climate controls, there is hardly anything to complain about. Except for just one small thing, i couldn't figure out how to control the rear tv screens from the back. Poor driver up front will just have to contend with commands from the rear seat passengers then. Being the limousine of the BMW range, this car must be comfortable and it must cocoon the rear occupants from the dreary outside world we live in. Those in the back have it pretty much covered. The 7 makes long trips feel shorter then they really are. This might have something to do with the hybrid system as it envelops the cabin with silence when the car is only running on electric power. Especially when coming to low speeds or halts in traffic, the silence of the interior being interrupted by the whirr of the aircon or the crystal clear sounds of the fantastic audio system. It's oh so quiet... One thing we must not forget though, while this is a luxo-barge, it is also a BMW, which means, it must also drive well, it must take corners with dynamism, and it must to put it lightly, have an element of fun. For the driver, multiple modes toggle the driving characteristics of the car giving this big barge the capability to be hustled along roads quickly on the right (or wide) roads with the onset of understeer only when you push hard into corners. It takes some effort to shift the back end loose even after disengaging the electronic nannies, and even then, the chassis reacts well to tightly bring the car back on line. This eagerness to change direction does come with a slight tradeoff as even on the most comfortable of chassis presets, the dampening might still be a tad firmer than it's rivals. It doesn't detract from the high levels of comfort though as on cruises, i even missed a couple of expressway exits as the car just propels you along into just enjoying the ride. The boot space does take a slight hit as the batteries take up a bit of space, as you can see from the picture, it will still take quite some effort to fill it up. The Active Hybrid 7 comes in at SG$426,000, so it surely can't be for someone mulling over the recent hikes in fuel prices. $426,000 is coincidentally, the same amount of money as it's regular albeit less powerful non-hybrid stablemate, so, more car for the same amount of money perhaps? Do i like it though? To be honest, the thought that kept coming back to me after the drive was that the Active Hybrid 7 although a technological powerhouse and having the "feel good" eco image, showcases just how good the regular revised 7 Series is, even without the Hybrid drive train. It isn't for everyone... If you like technology, this is for you. If you like technology and prefer to sit in the back, this is for you. If you like technology, prefer to sit in the back and want more car for your dollar, this is for you. If you like technology, prefer to sit in the back, want more car for your dollar and you are public image conscious, this is perfect.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kansai 2012 - Visiting RWB Kansai!

While most automotive freaks on a trip to Kansai would have jumped onto a bullet train and headed towards the capital of Tokyo, our more leisurely holiday saw us instead, taking in the sights, smells and sounds of cultural Kyoto, quirky Nara, and vibrant Osaka. And as our vacation came to an end, there was just one more place for us to visit. See the rather muted building back there? Look closely and you might just make out the words, "RAUH WELT". I think it is safe to assume most viewers would have seen the articles and photos of the main shop in Chiba, but as that is of somewhat considerable distance away from where i was based, we visited the next best thing. RWB Kansai! Located pretty much in between the cities of Osaka and Kobe, i'm guessing this is where the Kinki RWBs hang out. One part sales office for niche automobiles, the other half houses Kansai's RWB base. I wondered what conversations went on within these walls. Jamie sitting inside the RWB office. I think not many Singaporean girls will get this chance. :P Plenty of quality literature here... Strange thing i realised was finding these "mooks" even within Japan, isn't that easy when you're not within the confines of the Auto Salon. Which is your favourite? Maybe i should have bought one of these... Hmm... Mini Porsches on the table. There was Porsche memorabilia pretty much everywhere. Awesome. Is this the Tamiya built with the special RWB transkit? Or do you prefer something smaller? Looking outside the windows, i spot a familiar shape or two. It was by this time, Ichiraku Toshi-san arrived after taking time of his busy schedule. We had a brief chat and shortly after, headed outside to take a look at the compound. So... How does one feel when standing in front of an RWB Porsche? I don't know about you but it sure feels great! Although not my first time seeing an RWB in the flesh, the same feeling of awe and amazement still fills me up inside. These cars just have such presence. Even the local on the bicycle had to stop to take a look. My previous encounters with RWBs earlier this year at the 2012 Tokyo Auto Salon and in RWB Thailand have both been 993s. Today, in front of me, is a viper green 964 and an absolutely stunning 930 coated with the sweetest sugary hue of metallic burgundy. So sweet you can almost lick it! It was at this point some rain started to drizzle down, and Toshi-san brought out a couple of brollys for us. You might imagine the slight drizzle to dampen our mood, but on the contrary. The little raindrops just made the cars pop even more and giving some extra depth to the pictures. Check out the little dribbles of water on that those curvaceous hip. That's just duuuuurrrteh... As you can see, i totally geeked out. And fell in love with the 930. How much is it kind sir? Ah, about 428mang Yens. (That'd be 4,280,000 Yens) *Faints* (That's about SGD$64,000... For overseas readers, that sort of money can't even buy you a brand new Corolla here) Local automotive laws be damned!!! If you coughed up what it roughly cost to buy a brand new Corolla in Singapore, this is what you can see in your driveway for the same amount of money. Such thoughts make us sad... Sitting within the same compound under a tarp was another Porsche, not an RWB though. This is a 964 RSR that's not registered for us on the street and has seen plenty of use on the circuits of Japan. Check out that center exhaust. Onto something a little closer to my heart, I spotted this pair on the way to the office. I have seen pictures of Toshi-San's E36 on the internets and from what i remember it was black. I was actually secretly hoping to see it here because i was secretly hoping to see a BMW decked out in RWB colors. So imagine my surprise when i see not one but two E36s! Nothing really wild about these cars other though. From what i learnt from Toshi-San, E36 318is's are actually quite popular track-day cars here in Japan. Does this make my car cooler now? RWB approved!!! After much more oogling, it was time for us to leave. Hopefully we did not take up too much of Toshi-San's time and not wanting to use up even more of it, we declined his offer of a ride to the train station. The weather was still good, so we decided to make our way back by foot. But of course, before we parted and said our goodbyes, i had to have a shot with the cars. Purple 930, you will be mine one day... Oh yes... You will be mine... As we made our way back to the station, i made a hasty u-turn to pick up a RWB sticker! Big thanks to RWB Kansai and especially to Ichiraku Toshi-San for being so kind to let us poke around. One day perhaps...

For higher res. images, click the thumbnails below.