Friday, February 21, 2014

Improvising Night Vision for my Renault Grand Espace Mk III 2001

Well, i did not write for quite sometimes due to travelling (business matters). Recently during my travelling at night in our Renault Grand Espace, I noticed that the light from the main headlamp is so not good compared to our other cars (a Saga FL, and Jaguar S type 2003).

The existing bulb is a Philips unit that has been loyally serving us for more than 3 years. But due to safety driving at night, I try to change to a better alternatives that is effective and efficient in terms of costs and practicality. Some friends have been using some Philips hi end models but friends whom used the Osram Night Breaker bulbs said that the difference is quite significant.

Therefore, I bought the bulb online ( and costs me RM131 with postage. Well, the result, very good. significantly better than the previous standard bulb. But, the life of this high performance bulb is not as good as the standard bulb. I think I am ok with that.. as long it is safer. and worth the money.

well, a little hard to see via camera, but visible difference
to naked eyes (right is the new Osram night breaker, left the
standard Philips bulb)

right the new Osram, left the standard bulb

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Is Megane RS250 better than a NISSAN GTR R35?

at our hotel parking in Shin Yokohama. My wife (with the thumbs up sign) is not that eager actually to
be a passenger in it.. he he he
During my business visit in early April 2013, I rented a nearly new 2013 NISSAN GTR R35 from Nissan for a whole day. This opportunity is used by driving from Tokyo to Shin Yokohama (our hotel) using some motorways and city traffic then from there to Mount Fuji which takes about 3 hours driving and back to Tokyo. ( a total driving time about 10 hours).

Well, during this experience, I can conclude that NISSAN GTR is a SUPER CAR. Really fast and very capable of eating and racing with other premium marques such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Bentley and so on, but at a fraction of the price of those brands.

However, I can also conclude that, personally I enjoyed much more driving a Megane RS250 or even the older Megane R26 most of the time practically on the motorway, city roads, backroads and all other undulating roads.
the inside cabin is quite special, but feels plasticky and "cheap" especially compared to
models from German and Italian supercars.

IMHO, maybe my expectations are a little high for the respected GTR. From reading the press and magazines, they said a practical supercar that you can drive everyday.. yeah.. but at my age of nearly 40s, maybe I prefer a more serene and comfortable drive.

As I compare to my driving experience with other marques (Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche), personally I still prefer the Porsche. It has that kind of compliance most of the time for most of the road but also give you the spectacular super car performance when you push it.
Mt Fuji in the background. The road to Mt Fuji is not that perfect and you can feel most of the
roads imperfections. 

The acceleration of course. Simply superb even when in full auto mode.
Then the appearance and presence. It is actually big & brutal but driving it just like driving a big Nissan sedan, very easy and practical.
When you are fast (and road is superb and dry), it is simply awesome.

Noisy (from tyres, gearbox mechanicals, wind noise) especially during low speed.
Firm suspension. Even in comfort mode, but it is still acceptable if compared to some supercars.
If the road is not good or not level, you dont have the confidence to push it. The car simply become unsettle but the electronics will helps, but it dont feel natural.

petrol costs will not be an issue if you can buy this car, but just for your info, a relaxing drive in this monster
for about 400km will use about 40 litres of high octane petrol ( you cannot put normal RON petrol, only 97 or higher)

GTR is a SuperCar that you will enjoy at high speed with superb roads. However, comparing to the modestly powered MEGANE RS, the GTR is a car that you can enjoy 15-20% of its potential most of the time in the real world but the MEGANE RS is a car that you can enjoy 75-90% of its potential most of the time. And I feel happier and more fun driving the MEGANE RS most of the time along the realistic non perfect roads..
my top favourite is still the old R26.. dunno why.. (picture from zero to hundred). Sorry but I dunno
where I put my own pictures of R26 and RS250.

Megane RS which you can enjoy more most of the time on the real road. (picture from The Star)

Monday, March 18, 2013

How to improve quietness level of a Renault

Well, the subject is to improve the level of quietness of Renault. In my personal opinion, Renault have good level of insulation and quietness but if compared to the latest models from its German rivals, such as AUdi A4, Mercedes E class, BMW 5 series and others, it is not that good.

Therefore, after my 1st attempt to imrove it, which goes not that well and have to fork about RM1000, the next thing is change to a new tyre. There are so many tires but experts and experience told that Michelin PRIMACY LC and Bridgestone Turanza GR90 is one of the latest to provide the most silenced and comfortable tyres that available in Malaysia.

But be warned, it is not cheap (about 40% more expensive than another all rounder Michelin model XM2) and it normally only lasts about 20,000km due to the soft compound, but the level of quietness and improvement that it gives really worth it.

Yeps, there are other models that also promised to improve quietness and improve comfort such as Yokohama Aspec dB (and other models that I cant remember). Maybe readers can also share their experience and views here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

12 countries in 1 month

Driving in cities in Europe (this in France) better use small car like this.
Because its road is small and tiny & tight. 
Yeps.. from May to June 2012, I & several of friends embarked on a journey to 12 countries.. let me count. (France > United Kingdom > Belgium > Nederland > Luxembourg > Germany > Swiss > France).. for 2 weeks. Then rest for 4 days.
everyone's favourite destinasions.. I dunno why

The 2nd round we continue from France > Lisbon, Portugal > Spain Andalusia (Malaga , Cordoba, Granada) > Barcelona Spain > Nice (South France) > Monte Carlo > Italy (Pisa, Florence, Venice, Verona) > back to Swiss > return to France.
The Ford Focus Wagon. The handling, comfort and its diesel engine
with manual gearbox simply superb. No wonder the Europeans
love this and its bigger brother (The Mondeo)

This time sorry no RENAULT car.. he he. Coz I rent vehicles from Avis, Europcar and SIXT (a German Car Rental Company). Well, I drove the Ford Focus Wagon, Merc Vito 9 seater, Renault Trafic 9 seater, Ford Mondeo Wagon, Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107 (which the same as C1).
REPSOL, the national petrol company of Spain.
but normally most expensive compare to other brands here

The 1st round totalled 3700+ km while the 2nd round  is 7700+km...

In terms of driving

  • Spain, Italy, Swiss, South of France has beautiful roads (motorways and non motorways) with beautiful sceneries
  • Germans and UK has polite and discipline drivers
  • Drivers in Italy do drive quite fast and aggressive by the European standard (quite like Malaysians)
  • Friendship and chemistry between travel buddies is important

entering Portugal from Bilbao (Spain). Hmm..
Nothing much actually in Portugal (Lisbon)

a typical European cities and its tiny roads

Traffic jams in summer. Everyone on holidays maybe

our friends driving the Renault Trafic. We stop every 2-3
hours to rest and change drivers. Important and a safety
aspect especially when travelling far away

the superb smooth, beautiful and scenic roads in Spain


  • Costs of toll is simply expensive in Italy, Spain & Portugal. (German has NO Tolls, Swiss only pay about RM140 per year, France has tolls on motorways but quite ok the price)
  • Have to concentrate and get used a lot driving in European towns as it is old, has small roads, tight bends and sometimes simply not big car friendly
  • Drivers in Paris, Barcelona, most Italian towns and some part of Spain do drive aggressively.
  • Italy has superb winding roads. and with 130kmh speed limit, they are really driving near that limit even on corners (even the big lorries drive fast). So, take your time and increase speed gradually. 
  • Learn and speak some basic local language as it really helps a lot. Most of them do not speak English or do not want to speak English. They proud of their local language.

in Gibraltar (Jabal Tariq). 

near Costa Del Sol between Gibraltar and Malaga
in Spain Andalus. Simply beautiful MasyaAllah

a sample of quite deserted, beautiful roads in south of
Spain. This is using a non motorway road from
Cordoba to Granada 

on top of Monaco.. you can see the town where they
do the FORMULA 1 MONTE CARLO there! Well it is
quite a nice place but very hectic and many2 superb cars

one example of "normal" cars in Monte Carlo. Maybe
next year drive this.. he he

The 2nd route is simply one of the best. We do cover 2-3 top best driving roads in Europe. But some route is simple too far (France > Lisbon is 2000km+). So maybe I only go to Swiss, Italy, Spain... Next year plan to add 2 top driving road which is STELVIO PASS to DAVOS (Italy & Swiss) and South of Germany (bordering Austria) road. All those roads have been voted some of the best & most beautiful driving roads in Europe.

So, next year plan to drive again this route, but using a cabriolet.. InsyaAllah..

I also wash the car. You can wash the whole car yourself
with just 2 euro.. if you know the technique. I love car wash

during a stop on Italy Autostrada. 

a place where we cannot drive.. Venice!

also here, some parts of Swiss only accessible by train
or cable cars! but MasyaAllah very beautiful

our favourite accomodation in Swiss. Came here several
times already.

from Italy (verona) to Swiss alps using one of the
beautiful roads in Europe. Alhamdulillah

Monday, March 19, 2012

Octane Booster as alternative from RON 95 to RON 97 fuel?

STP Octane Booster (new bottle). 
Filling up the tank of my Grand Espace with RON 97 (RM2.80/litre) will easily costs RM180. With RON 95, about RM 120. With the difference of RM60 per full tank, that is a big cost issue.

The problem with the RON 95 fuel is that the Espace feels slow, no power and engine sounds rougher. Combined with the small 2.0lt 16v engine natural aspirated, not a good start. Hmmm... so I started to try using OCTANE BOOSTER as a practical alternative to the RON 97 fuel. Everytime I fill up the tank with RON95, I put a bottle of an Octane Booster. And , it works... really. The brand that I think really works is STP. Tried some other brands, not that good. 

A bottle of this STP Octane Booster costs about RM17-19. So, a saving about RM40 per full tank. If a month, can save about RM200 la (for about 5 full tanks).

Previously, read some reports and tests that this fluid did not work. I dont know but after trying, it works for me and my car, and that's good enough for me. So, now I got some bottles in my car of this stuff. The other advantage of STP bottle is that it can fit the narrow flap of the petrol insert of Renault vehicles.. I dunno what they call this thing. Other brands had a bigger bottle, so very hard to pour it easily. 

So, maybe you can try. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Old meet New. Right is the Koleos. Left is the old Scenic RX4

Renault Koleos is another SUV attempt from Renault after the unsuccessful Scenic RX4. In general, it uses the Nissan X-Trail II platform (chassis, engine, gearbox) but with different body, interior and suspension settings. The models that were tested I think came from Korea (maybe assembled there by RSM – Renault Samsung Motors; which also part of Renault Alliance)
Looks like an average SUV.. why cant they make it much prettier?

Night shot. Good inside but nothing special. Simple & practical

The unit loaned to me was owned by TC Euro (franchise holder for Renault in Malaysia), which have clocked about > 40,000km. Well, the design is not that beautiful, just ok. The interior quality surprisingly only average and not that good even compared to new Renault models such as Laguna or Megane. The overall impression is average or actually below average. Hmmm… not a good start.
Engine & gearbox by Nissan X-Trail II with different settings.
Should be much more durable, reliable & cheaper to
maintain than Renault units.

Simple & practical meter clusters.
Very easy.

Hankook? Korean made.

Also Korean.

a practical features especially for family person like me

Well, don’t judge a book by its cover. Once the Koleos start to move, the sound insulation is quite amazing for an SUV and feels expensive. It is quiet inside, maybe not S-Class quietness, but feels very good. Suspension settings also impressive, giving a very good balance between handling and comfort. Visibility also good and a nice vehicle to sit inside.

However, the gearchange is a little confusing, tends to select one gear higher. Maybe it tends to give a smooth and comfortable ride but it hampers the performance and several times I have to intervene to drop a gear for smoother acceleration.
Moreover, the build quality and materials seems not that lasting especially near the gear lever. The shining top part for dashboard (and also the gear lever) is not helping especially when the sun rays on top of it, make it shining for the driver’s eye.

Driving at > 140kmh is very possible as the 2.5litre engine is very capable but the confidence level significantly drop after that speed. Some floating feel was felt and I am don’t have enough confidence to push it.

The engine is smooth and quiet. However, don’t expect performance such as the RS250 Megane as it is programmed for comfort rather than speed. Overtaking is very capable but in a more relax manner.
this shiny top part dashboard really give glaring problem
especially during shiny days

an SUV with Hill Descend Control, Locking Features and
Cruise / Speed Limiter functions.

got ESP also? like hot hatch.. he he

Not only glaring when sun shines, but easy to scratch.

Dashboard gap not good. 

Simple and practical. Nothing much special. Seats are comfortable as usual, even for long journey. Space is adequate especially rear passengers. Boot space is ok but not big. Dashboard quality and design is average.
split tailgate & flat floor is really practical

Audio also very good. Easy control also from
behind steering, Renault standard from 1994.

Looks like an SUV, drives like an expensive car.

For nearly RM220,000 per unit with 3 years warranty and 3 years free service (or 60,000km), this unit is not cheap. A compact SUV with a proven Nissan underpinnings and combined with Renault superb suspension & safety image, it is quite a hard and tough effort to sell here. However, the surprise is in the driving, where it excels. It feels expensive and quiet. It is not perfect, but to people who like an SUV that is reliable and a little unique compared to other Japanese SUVs, this models may suits you.

UPDATE ! TC Euro is offering the Koleos for an attractive monthly payments, RM1888 per month.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Improvised Noise Insulation on my Grand Espace III

Our Grand Espace III (year 2001) have an average NVH (Noise Vibration & Harshness) level. Means that it is not QUIET enough in my personal opinion, especially compared to the new models and most new cars. Therefore, in my quest to improve this issue, after some search around, find a company that is expert in this issue. KL AUTO owned by Desmond near Jalan Raja Laut KL has done many cars, but seems this is his 1st time doing an Espace.
KL AUTO near Jalan Raja Laut.  More info,
please visit their web 


  • For 1st phase, budget about RM800-850 per vehicle (Espace).
  • Do not expect much (according to Desmond) because Espace quietness is quite good already
  • Grand Espace is less quiet than standard Espace due to bigger size and bigger glass area. 


  • Engine bonnet insulator.
  • Front Tyre wheel arch insulation.
  • Rear bonnet insulation.
  • Under dash insulator. (TEST)

The front engine bonnet noise insulator 

the front tyre insulator

material for rear bonnet insulator. quite heavy and thick.

the rear bonnet before insulator installed.
The rear panel has been removed.

The insulator after installed. 

The under dash insulator material. Sticked below the
aircond hose.

GOOD : Reduce engine noise (about 15-20%) & quieter ambience at stationary & low speed (<20kmh)
NOT GOOD : Tyre noise amplified (hear more tyre noise). Engine noise also feels more noisier especially >65kmh.

Quite tricky actually. Desmond suggest to remove the under dash insulator. My additional opinion is to upgrade to quieter tyre (now using Michelin XM1)...

Noise is quite a complex matter to handle and manage. A near S-Class or Lexus quietness is not easy to achieve in a standard car. Moreover, if our expectation is quite high, a small improvement in that level is simply not enough.


A complex & tricky matter actually. There are 2 main factors of noise; which is actually EXTERNAL and INTERNAL noises. Another matter is our ear will search for noises and sounds, as it is not natural in a no-noise environment.

So, 1st challenge is to block most EXTERNAL noise from entering inside.
The 2nd step is to manage the noises/sounds inside the vehicle. It is quite impossible to eliminate 100% external noises from entering the vehicle. Furthermore, it is not natural for us to stay in a no-noise environment (like in a quiet chamber for torturing people); and for safety purposes.

Basic/fundamental specific car design (such as the top range cars) have better design & insulators to have a quieter vehicle (such as double layer glass, thick insulator, better insulation designs, etc.)

The more amplified tyre noise has cause more discomfort than before. With less engine noise,  the affect is our ears hear more of "other" noises. Therefore, some of the action can be improvised is to actually increase a little engine noise ; which managing the noise, therefore our EAR will feel more comfortable.

an example of a noisy market

Example : like when we go to noisy market (such as pasar malam), we will hear the noises. However, after a while, the noises become comfortable. When we go back to our home, even the small noise of the white lamp or other small noise can be easily heared, because we come from a noisy environment.

The standard insulation of Espace is actually quite good already. However, the 1st phase of this improvement may not yet improvised as expected. I will try to update after the removal of the under dash insulator. Desmond also suggest to go 2nd phase of autofoam (put foam inside the hollow chassis) but for me, I have no issue with the soft handling of the Grand Espace.

So, I will keep you all updated.