Sunday, August 27, 2017

How did Borneo killed the Harrier?


Toyota Harrier has always been has always been hailed as a premium Toyota and closet in terms of build quality, to its Lexus RX cousin.

So what is so great about the new Harrier Turbo compared to its NA brothers that have long been a common sight on our roads?

I have 7 reasons to mark my disappointment for this highly anticipated model.

  1. Harrier Turbo paired with its 6 speed AT just didnt pack any omph and feels a drag to reach the speed that most Turbo easily shoots to. From the lights, I was like anticipating a sudden pull and shoot off at 1650rpm but I was waiting... waiting... waiting...*yawn* and wait I'm already at 80km/h! It puts the Lexus NX200t to shame when quoting the same engine.
  2. In a bid to maximise margins, both Elegance and Premium grade are decked in PVC door trims and seats are wrapped in PVC and ultrasuede. Only the 170K Luxury, comes with Nappa leather seat that honestly do not feel premium. Any PI version wins hands down! Who uses PVC these days and moreover in a $150K car!? Any local fitted leather wins hands down too!
  3. The local fitted Toyota HU is disconnected from the car. For any car in that price range, at least one should have certain connectivity with the on-board computer.
  4. My impression of Harrier has always been needing to climb up. Harrier Turbo somehow feels lowered compared to the usual PI versions. Lowered may be a good thing for corners but not when the drive packs no punch.
  5. While most cars of this price comes with nifty gimmicks such as park assist (which it has but meant parking sensors/beepers), blind spot monitoring, brake assist etc. You get nothing on the Lexus Turbo.
  6. Steering wheel feels cheaper compared to its PI brethren. Although I don't fancy polished wood on steering wheels, but at least it makes the Harrier feels premium.
  7. The reverse camera paired with the local fitted HU is a big fat joke. The resolution is so bad that you cannot enough make out what you are reversing into. The biggest joke is that it lags and skips frames! That is a serious hazard issue!
Saving grace for the Harrier Turbo is that the cabin is equally well insulated as its non-Turbo brethren.

If buying from authorized agent gives you a peace of mind, think not twice but so many times that you will lose count because Harrier from the PI is so much more premium for a tad lower price tag, and being a long running model, it is easy getting parts and service in Singapore.

With that budget, why not check out:
1. Subaru Forester XT
2. Mazda CX5 2017*
3. VOLKSWAGEN Tiguan
*NA car

Or if you really want a Harrier, ditch the Turbo and go with a PI version which is a good grab now as agents clear their non-Euro 6 compliant NA models.


Monday, August 07, 2017

Retrofit BMW F46 Gran Tourer LED Projector Lights

LED Projector Door Lights Installation

For BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer (F46)

Here is a step by step guide to installation of BMW LED projector door lights purchased from Ebay/Taobao.

I used the above tools to faciltate the removal of the stock BMW LED door light. I used plastic to prevent damage to the housing of the stock door lights.

Locate the goove on the edge of the stock door light (the side nearer to the B-pillar). Use a plastic pry tool to pry it out. Don't worry to use some force to push the pry tool, since the door panel is a slightly soft PP material.

Next, you need to prep the LED projector door light. The corners of the plastic need to be "shaved off" to have a easier fit in the opening.
I used a pen knife to slowly shave and trim the plastic edges.

Attach the connector cable to the molex hanging from the door.
Attach the connector cable to the LED prpjector door light.
Slot the LED projector door light in reverse order from removal. Prior to pushing the LED projector door light completely in, rotate the projector dial to align the projected image.
Push in completely when done.

Here is the original stock BMW LED door light and the LED projector door light from Taobao.

Have fun and enjoy the projection of your favourite logo or image.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

BMW X3 (G01)


BMW has just announced the 3rd generation X3 (G01).
Here are the official pictures of the all new X3. 







Is the X losing its identity?
The X series has always been easily identified with its trademark "6 eyes". Now that the "2 eyes" (fog-lights) had been replaced by linear LED lights, will the X lose its identity? It bears an uncanny resembrance to the 1 and 2 series.
Left: The new X3
Right: Current 1 Series M140i

Pictures source:

Creating music playlists for BMW iDrive




If you have been using a USB flash drive to playback music files on your BMW iDrive, but is frustrated over the Search function of iDrive, which allows you to filter by Artist, Album, Genre which are rather broad searches, or which needs you to go through multiple selections, in order to select the music folder to play. Why not use Playlists to create your quick lists of music files? 
Good idea, but yet you cannot get playlists to show up in iDrive?
Here is the instructions to get your music playlists working in iDrive.

  1. Make sure your USB flash drive is formatted in FAT32.
  2. Get onto a computer and create a playlist, using whatever software that allows you to do so.
    I used the free VLC media player, which allows me to drag-and-drop music files into a working list.
  3. Export the working list into a .m3u playlist file.
  4. Save the playlist file into the root folder of the USB flash drive.
    Do not put them into any folders.
    You can still keep your music files in their respective folders.
    Example:
    E:\playlist Jazz.m3u
  5. Open your playlist file with a text application (Notepad on Windows).
    This step is crucial to point the correct location of the music files in your flash drive.
    You will see the content of the .m3u file like this example.
    Example: 
    #EXTM3U
    #EXTINF:105, Example Artist A - Example title
    E:\My Music\Artist A\Song 2.mp3
    #EXTINF:321, Example Artist B - Example title 
    E:\My Music\Favorites\Artist B\Song 4.mp3
  6. Remove all the drive markers.
    If you are using notepad on Windows, use "Ctrl+H" key.
    Example:
    Find "E:\", replace with " " (leave blank)
    Your result should be as below example:
    Example:
    #EXTM3U
    #EXTINF:105, Example Artist A - Example title
    My Music\Artist A\Song 2.mp3
    #EXTINF:321, Example Artist B - Example title 
    My Music\Favorites\Artist B\Song 4.mp3
  7. Save the .m3u playlist file.
  8. Check again that all your playlist files are in the root folder of the USB flash drive.
    Example:
    E:\playlist Jazz.m3u
    E:\playlist Rock.m3u
    E:\playlist Pop Mix.m3u
  9. Plug the USB flash drive with your newly created playlists into the USB port on your BMW.
  10. Go to Playlists on iDrive and you will know see the lists appear.
    Click on the playlist, then click on the first song title, to start playing the list.
    If you need to shuffle the songs, click the options key on iDrive control panel, and check "Random".
Hope this works for you and end your music playlist frustrations.
It worked for my F46 - BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer ///M Sport.
Have fun and enjoy your BMW!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Diesel or Petrol? Analysis based on BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer (Singapore Market)

Diesel or Petrol?

If you are in Singapore and caught in a dilemma of the alluring new cars powered by diesel, or the safe haven of a petrol engine, I hope this analysis helps you make the call.
As everyone know that the usual concerns with diesel-powered cars, is that the pre-conceived myths that diesel-powered cars have lower resale value, sound like a taxi or truck, high maintenance, and heavy road tax. To further deter you to even give a glance at a diesel-powered car, the Singapore government has slapped a heavier penalty onto the rebate/surcharge scheme during the point of purchase (VEHS), formerly known as CEVS.
I am writing this based on the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, in the context of Singapore market, to help you better understand the pros and cons of diesel-powered cars.

To start off with the analysis, we must first debunk the pre-conceived myths.

Myth #1
Diesel-powered cars have lower resale value
This is true to a certain extent, however, by the economics of the automotive resale market, resale cars in Singapore are largely valued based on the current list price, age of the vehicle and depreciation. 

Example: If the BMW Gran Tourer 216d is sold at $150,000 today, the annual depreciation (excluding interest on loans and PARF rebate) is $15,000. For a 2 year old version of the same car, the resale car should value should be around $110,000 today. 

What about the condition of car, engine type, open-market value or COE pegged to the car?
The condition of the car should serve as negotiation factor to save a few hundred. 
The engine type is never a negotiation factor. 
The open-market value should be an important consideration, should you decide to scrap the car after 10 years, as diesel-powered cars enjoy good rebates under the current CEVS, which will be offset from the ARF, giving you lesser back as PARF value.

Example: BMW Gran Tourer 216d has an OMV of $31,305, with the current CEVS, this car enjoys a $10,000 rebate on purchase, however, upon scrapping the car, you need to "return" this rebate back to the government, in terms of offset from the PARF value, $25,827 for the 216d, which you get back $12,914 when you scrap the car.

The PARF value does not affect the resale value of the car, but it should be considered by potential buyers, to avoid the unexpected upset at the end of 10 years.
COE pegged to the car does not affect the resale value of the car, as the resale value is based on current COE.

Example: If the COE of the car is $100,000, but the current COE is $50,000 for the same tier. You will be losing $50,000 upfront in your selling price already. As mentioned earlier, the resale price is based on current list price. The logic is who will pay you more for the higher COE pegged to the car, when you can pay lower COE and get a brand new car.

Myth #2
Diesel engine sounds like a taxi or truck
Yes, diesel-powered cars does have the "clatter" like a taxi or truck. Fortunately, sound insulation of most diesel-powered cars have been done up to eliminate the "clatter" from within the cabin. Nevertheless, the "clatter" is extremely prominent when you are outside the car. However, in Singapore, where it is either crazy heat or rain, every car on the road has their windows closed. So no one can hear your "clatter" as well. The only time when people will "stare" at your "clatter", is when you are stationary at the carpark or waiting for someone. If you are worried that you sound like a taxi, then fret not, since most taxi in Singapore has moved to petrol and petrol-electric hybrids. Even private hire cars are mainly petrol-powered cars. Hence, only the older generation can relate "clatter" to the Toyota Crown.

Myth #3
High maintenance
Diesel engines are so common globally, even being majority in some countries, that prices of maintenance has come down for the diesel engines. Technology of diesel engines are so advanced that they are built to last. Although not a fair comparison, when was the last time you encounter a more that 10-years old commercial truck, bus, trailer or diesel-powered taxi fail on the road due to engine fault? You probably see more petrol-powered cars fail in Singapore, due to engine fault. Then again, with only a lifespan of 10 years for most cars in Singapore, you will never really have to worry about the engine.

Myth #4
Heavy road tax
In Singapore, diesel-powered cars are taxed heavier than petrol variants. Generally, the difference is 2 times for the diesel. You can utilize the road tax calculator to assist you.

Example: BMW Gran Tourer 216d will be subjected to $1182 per annum, in terms of road tax. The petrol variant BMW Gran Tourer 216i will only be subjected to $684. The difference is $498 per annum, or $4980 over 10 years.

So why a diesel over petrol?

Benefit #1
Better fuel consumption
Diesel engines are typically more frugal, in terms of fuel consumption.

Example: BMW Gran Tourer 216d consumes 4.1L/100km, while the petrol variant consume 5.5L/100km.

Benefit #2
Fuel savings
Diesel price in Singapore are cheaper than petrol. Hence, the same volume costs lesser with diesel.

Example: Diesel at SPC costs $1.39 per litre, while RON95 petrol costs $2.07 per litre (as of 9th July, 2017).

Benefit #3
Torque, more torque
Torque is the pulling force of the car. Diesel engines provide more torque, hence giving trucks and heavy vehicles more "pull" power.

Example: BMW Gran Tourer 216d churns out 270Nm@1750rpm, while the 216i petrol variant does 180Nm@1200rpm. Even the 218i petrol variant does only 220Nm@1250rpm. All three engines being 3 cylinders, 1.5 turbocharged.

Diesel-powered cars are hence more eager at the lights or low-speed overtaking, however, they loose out to petrol variants once it reaches highway speed.

So when should you consider a diesel-powered car?
  • You should seriously consider a diesel-powered car before the new VEHS kick-in in January 2018. With the new scheme, cars with diesel engines are slapped with a surcharge.

Example: BMW Gran Tourer 216d enjoys a rebate of $10,000 until end of 2017, while next year the same car is subjected to a surcharge of $20,000. This difference of $30,000 is bound to affect the sticker price significantly.
  • If your mileage is high. your fuel savings will surpass the additional road tax of a diesel engine. The higher the mileage, the more the savings. Idling also increases fuel consumption as well. Unfortunately, in Singapore, many drivers like to keep their engines running under the hot sun. Hence, the more fuel consumed translates to eventual fuel costs as well.
Example: For a BMW Gran Tourer 216d driver clocking 1500 Km a month, the driver will be paying $85 for diesel. However, if it is a 216i petrol variant, the driver will be paying $127 for petrol. The difference of $42 per month already outweighs the additional road tax of $41.50.

Try your own calculations:


What about the environment?
Yes, diesel engines have recently been deemed as emitting more nitrogen oxide and PM2.5 particulates which are harmful to human health, compared to the high carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide of a petrol engine. The nitrogen oxide levels can be significantly reduced with technology that incorporates AdBlue or urea (not applicable on the Singapore version of BMW Gran Tourer 216d). The main pollutants from diesel globally are contributed by heavy commercial vehicles which are non Euro-5 or Euro-6 standards. For the BMW Gran Tourer 216d, it is running on Euro-5 standard, hence contribute significantly lower pollution. However, that does not negate the particulate emission. So is a petrol engine better for the environment? No. Since the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide accelerate the greenhouse-effect, thus snowballing a slew of natural disasters.
So there is no better solution to safe the environment, than to go on hybrids or electric cars powered by alternative green energy.

Disclaimer:
Note that I am not an advocate for BMW, diesel or petrol-powered vehicles. I am also not an economist or automotive professional who scrutinizes every single parameter to make a professional judgement. My analysis is purely based on an end-user car buyer perspective. I love my environment and so does my wallet. I hope that this shed some light into what makes more dollar sense when deciding between a diesel or petrol-powered car. 
Last but not least, for the sake of our future world, go green and get a solar-powered vehicle, or ditch the car and go for pedals, whenever possible.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

BMW ///M Sport 2 Series Gran Tourer

BMW
2 Series Gran Tourer
///M Sports


After five months of anticipation, the arrival of the special indent vehicle, 2-series Gran Tourer MPV in ///M Sports version and an exclusive  ///M Sports Estoril Blue paintwork. To make this M 2GT in exclusive Estoril Blue direct from Germany more exclusive, this is the 4th of only 4 units in Singapore. The reason is because this ///M Sport version is never a stock model in Performance Motors Limited (Singapore authorized BMW agent), and require a long process of indent, which is a very tricky situation for Singapore's unpredictable COE system.
Powered by a Euro-5 Diesel plant paired with a 6-speed Steptronic transmission, with optional 10mm lower ///M Sport suspension. This front-wheel drive Bimmer delivers superior low-end torque with plenty of "pull", shooting the 2GT around with ease and pride, delivering almost Bimmer's sheer driving pleasure. With the Singapore Government's initiative to cut diesel-powered vehicles, this ///M 2GT is the 4th and last diesel version in Singapore, that makes it even more exclusive. As of today (date of posting), the Performance Motors Limited had stopped taking orders for ///M Sport version, until further plans to bring in 216i which is an underpowered petrol variant. This special indent vehicle comes with additional hardware, namely the largest 8.8-inch ConnectedDrive Control Display, Heads-Up Display, Touch-iDrive controller with finger-recognition and Advanced Car Eyes in 2CH. To further add to the value for this ride, this special indent also comes with additional warranty and upgrade to the rare BMW Service Inclusive Plus, for worry-free and all consumables inclusive servicing for the next 5 years.

Good-bye Mazda 3, Welcome 2GT ///M Sport
After two and half years with the 2014 Skyactiv Mazda 3, it is time to let him go and embrace the 2GT. From Japan made to German made. From 5-seats to 5+2. From sedan to MPV.
The Mazda 3 had served me well ferrying my family and zipping me across the island. 
For a short period of time, I was spoilt for choice whether to bring the Mazda 3 or the 2GT out. Now, it is time to retire from service and continue your service with a former first-generation Mazda 3 owner officially w.e.f. 30th June 2017.


The Main Gallery
///M Sport 2 Series Gran Tourer

With every Bimmer, one should appreciate the iconic kidney grille. This ///M Sport version sports a ten-slate black grille instead of the usual 13-slate. The ///M Sport kit also accentuates the aggressive stance of any Bimmer, it is no less for the 2GT, which is touted as BMW's first MPV.





















The 5th door can be opened/closed with a swipe of the feet, attributed to the Comfort Access feature.




The 2GT ///M Sport comes with a 17-inch 483M star-spoke alloy rims. The tyres are run-flat and comes with built-in TPMS.


Another iconic feature of any Bimmer has to be the L-shaped taillight with built-in rear fog light.


Put the headlights on!
With every Bimmer, another main highlight apart from the kidney grille, will have to be the iconic "Angel Eyes". On the 2GT, you have it in LED.





Interior trim with ///M exclusive sports seats in Cloth Hexagon/Alcantara material.

Door trim decorated with ///M door sills.

The new design "blade"type BMW remote key fob is a pleasure to grasp in the hand. It isn't just the usual three buttons but with capability to wind/unwind windows as well.


Photography by William Tan
©William Tan 2017