The Truth About Cars » Niky Tamayo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 22:57:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Niky Tamayo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2012 Suzuki Jimny, Philippine Spec, Tested In The Philippines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2012-suzuki-jimny-philippine-spec-tested-in-the-philippines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2012-suzuki-jimny-philippine-spec-tested-in-the-philippines/#comments Wed, 12 Sep 2012 12:02:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=459977

The absolute nadir (Nader?) of Suzuki in America was when Consumer Reports announced to the world that OMG, tall and narrow off-roaders do roll over. The fallout of this scandal would taint the image of the Suzuki Samurai forever in the American market, and ensured that the later, ironically more stable, Suzuki Jimny, never made it across the pond.

It’s a crying shame, because the Jimny is the Mazda Miata of the off-road world.

Launched in 1998, the Jimny is a more modern version of the old Samurai, with coil-sprung live-axles, a stronger ladder frame and a more powerful 1.3 liter engine. This 2012 variant differs very little from the original “wide-body “ Jimny, the main difference being push-button transfer case controls on the dashboard and a slightly less  rural selection of interior plastics.

The looks are timeless. The distinctive grille is two bars short of a Jeep copyright lawsuit, and the only nod to modernity up front is the black eyeliner around the reflector headlamps. The recent facelift also features a front bumper cribbed from the Cayenne Turbo. Otherwise, the Jimny’s square-jawed but cutesy looks give it the kind of charm that makes college girls go ahh.


As such, it’s not a car that would appeal to the typical SUV buyer. While there’s enough space inside for Shaquille O’Neal, he’d have to stick an arm out one window and a leg out the other and make everyone else take the bus. The rear seats are about as comfortable as a Geo Metro’s, and to fold them flat, you have to remove the rear squab entirely. ISOFIX LATCH? Keep dreaming. Trunk space is about deep enough for a large suitcase, stood on end, or a really big one with the seats down.

The Jimny I’m driving right now is a basic widebody model. As such, it lacks airbags, power-windows, painted body-cladding and alloy wheels. I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a generic Japanese 1DIN stereo last seen on a 1995 Civic. There are no front cup holders. They’re behind the hand brake. I suppose this is to keep flailing arms from spilling hot coffee all over the cabin when you’re rolling over. Important if you’re driving for Consumer Reports.

So it’s not traditional SUV fodder, but for those who actually need one that goes anywhere, few come close to the Jimny. The omnipresent whine from the chain-driven transfer case is a reminder that this car is built for one purpose. To go where man only has walked before. Vacuum-locking hubs and competent low-range gearing allow you to climb steep inclines with ease. The Jimny’s light 2,250 pound curb weight lets it glide over ground that bigger off-roaders sink into. There are no paths too narrow for the Jimny, and obstacles that would rip out a Hummer’s fancy front wishbones are easily skirted.

On off-road trails around Asia and Europe, the Samurai and Jimny are as ubiquitous as ratty Civics at an autocross. Sure, there are more powerful, more capable and more desirable rigs, but none as cheap and cheerful. The Jimny is so popular that there are even aftermarket kits to turn it into a tube-frame rig.

Of course, the Jimny does have its downsides. The steering and gearbox are rubbery, but so’s your mom, so quit complaining. More seriously, losses through the transfer case and the heavy drivetrain limit fuel economy to around 30 mpg on the highway. The disc-and-drum brakes are nothing to write home about and the skinny 205/70R15 tires are vulnerable to de-beading when deflated for hardcore rock-crawling. The jiggly ride is particularly disconcerting. Twin live-axles give the Jimny better articulation than a professional pole-dancer but make the ride lumpier than her motel room mattress. There’s a front anti-roll bar to steady the handling and prevent tip-over, but I’d sacrifice it for even more articulation, safety be damned.

None of this really matters, though. On-road or off, the Jimny is down and dirty fun. I’ve driven cars with five times the power and perhaps ten times the comfort, but very few with half-as-much personality. Compared to the sterile and antiseptic calm of a Land Rover Discovery, the Jimny is a breath of fresh air. While Suzuki is planning to launch a new small crossover with a more modern unibody chassis and transverse engine for the global market, there are still no plans of retiring the Jimny.

Like the Jeep Wrangler or the Land Rover Defender, it’s just one of those cars that’s just too right to kill off.

The test unit used for this evaluation was provided on loan by Rolf of 4x4ph.com, who also provided off-road support on the test drive. This is the writer’s last drive for independent web publications, as he has moved on to one of Top Gear’s Asian web portals.

2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Suzuki Jimny - Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Review: 2012 Hyundai Eon, Southeast Asia Spec http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-2012-hyundai-eon-southeast-asia-spec/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/review-2012-hyundai-eon-southeast-asia-spec/#comments Wed, 09 May 2012 11:42:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443595 Jack Baruth’s proposal to grade cars by their ability to hit 80 miles an hour may have some merit in the land of Cheeseburgers and V8s, but it represents a conundrum for those of us who can hardly get to 80 mph. Case for the defense: the new Hyundai Eon, sold (so far) only in India and the poorer parts of Southeast Asia. Like my part: The Philippines.  The Eon is a fantastic car for us poor people who enjoy getting 60 miles per gallon of dubious gasoline on our regular commute with the air conditioning going full-blast. But hitting the big 8-0 is not in the cards. Not unless you have half-a-minute to kill and some Excedrin.

But then, that’s not the point. 60 mpg is the point. To this effect, Hyundai pulls out all the stops to hit that magic number. The Eon’s puny 814 cc motor is a four-cylinder Hyundai “Epsilon” with one cylinder lopped off. Three cylinders, a single overhead camshaft, a nine-valve head and a lowly 6000 rpm redline may not sound sexy, but it puts out a class-leading 55 horsepower. Only blown SMARTs and sportsbikes make more out of so little.  And they all cost more.

Think the Chevy Spark is light? The Eon tips the scales at well under 1,600 pounds. The chassis is a cut-down i10/Santro unibody, with two inches lopped off the roof, hips and tips. The crash structure is shrink-wrapped around the engine, and even the front engine mount goes MIA in the interest of clearing space for the lower crash bar. The suspension is likewise pared down to a bare minimum, built out of plumbing supplies and angle-bar. I do like the beefy front anti-roll bar, which dispenses with needless end-links and does double duty as a secondary control arm. Like your motors quiet? Tough luck. Between the single catalytic converter and the muffler, there’s nothing but straight pipe and snorting three-pot noise.

But let’s not forget, this is a Hyundai. That means that no matter how cheap the car is, at least it looks good. Boy does it ever look good. Forget the fact that it’s rolling on shopping cart casters, (for the morbidly curious, 155/70R13 is par for the class) just look at those curves. Years after Chris Bangle’s retirement, someone finally gets flame-surfacing right. And for a car that costs half-as-much as a Honda Fit, the fit and finish is astonishing. The interior is likewise a fascinating study in dressing up the dour, with curvaceous design cues putting other entry-level cars to shame.

Well, if your other choices were twenty year old Daewoos and Suzukis, you’d certainly feel the same way like we do.

Against expectations, the Eon drives rather nicely. Not big car nice, but well enough. Engine and road noise aren’t intrusive, and there’s no whistling over the A-Pillars at speed. Despite the puny tires, it tracks straight and true at 90 mph, as long as there are no crosswinds. That large anti-roll bar keeps body roll to a minimum, and the steering is pleasant. The small size and nimble handling allow the Eon to hold its own when dicing with the swarms of thumper motorbikes infesting our roads in dry weather.

Hit a deep pothole hard enough and you’ll remember you’re in a tin box, but over waves and crests, it’s as well-controlled as a Spark and possibly better than the boingo-boingo Accent. It also brakes better than the Spark and has a gear shift that doesn’t feel like stirring a pot of rubber bands, despite the missing engine mount.

Unfortunately, the pedal box is too cramped for heel-and-toe and dropping clutch without bogging is tricky. With the first two gears topping out at 22 and 40 mph, you’ll be doing a lot of clutchwork to get moving, especially uphill.

Compared to the Eon, the Spark is a top-fuel dragster, but the Eon’s lightness pays dividends in handling and economy. Better yet, it shades the Chevy in terms of legroom and trumps it in terms of cargo space. You’re still not fitting that keg of beer back there, but it gets close.

Maybe America isn’t ready for a car that takes nearly twenty seconds to hit sixty and is narrow enough to park on a bicycle rack. Maybe America would feel short-changed by a car that tops out at a mere ninety miles an hour. Maybe America wouldn’t buy a car available exclusively with a stick (or maybe they would).  ABS? EBD? DSC? STFU. The only safety feature you get is a driver’s airbag

But compared to the likes of the Maruti Alto or Tata Nano, the Eon is posh, spacious and wonderfully refined. Better yet, it costs less than a Chevrolet Spark and delivers real world economy between 50-60 mpg. But not at 80 mph, where you’ll be lucky to hit 40 mpg. Speed kills – pesos in your wallet.

That doesn’t matter. What matters is that third-world drivers have a way to get from Manila to Angeles City comfortably without breaking the bank. Out here, the big 8-0 is measured in metric units, specifically kilo-.

Saves a lot of gas, that way.

Niky Tamayo is Test Drive Editor at kotse.com, one of the leading car sites in the Philippines

2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo 2012 Hyundai Eon. Picture courtesy Niky Tamayo Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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