Citroen revitalised in Malaysia

Posted on December 16, 2011 at 12:00 am
The new Brooklands Motors Citroen Centre

Brooklands Motors became the sole importer and distributor for Citroen in Malaysia in November 2007, a year after the Malaysian company began its association with the French carmaker as its Citroen Authorised Repairer following the end of Directional Malaysia’s contract. Though the years that followed saw the company selling a limited number of cars due to challenging circumstances, it never diminished its commitment to represent the French brand. It ensured that after-sales services were fully maintained so that owners stayed loyal, and it did what it could with the models available to the Malaysian market.

The ‘low profile’ of Brooklands should change in 2012 as the company now has a fresh new range of models priced competitively and more importantly, a stronger commitment and more attention to this region by Citroen.

This was apparent tonight with the launch of two new models – the C4 and the DS4 – at the new 3S centre in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. The new facility, which is at the former Cergazam Chevrolet building alongside the Federal Highway, has been refurbished with the latest Citroen Corporate Identity (CI) scheme. It replaces the one in the Sg Besi area of Kuala Lumpur.

“In earlier years, the Brooklands Centre in Jalan Chan Sow Lin, Kuala Lumpur, was okay but over time, we realized it was a bit away from the public eye and exposure was not really good,” admitted Brooklands CEO Muhammad Fadhil Ahmad. “So in the past year, we began to look for a new site with more prominence and this ready-made facility [in Petaling Jaya] was available so we took it over.”

The new facility is a full-fledged sales and after-sales facility and will be the base for Citroen services, complemented by service centres in Juru (Penang) for the northern region and Plentong (Johor) for the southern region. Brooklands also maintains a small service centre to look after customers in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, and will appoint a few dealers for some other towns.

Having spent the last 4 years looking after Citroens, the company has plenty of experience with all the different models and has real-time links to Citroen’s technical division in France, should a problem be unusually difficult to diagnose. However, according to Pierre Sainton, Brooklands’ Technical Operations Manager, Citroens have become more reliable in recent years and are of much higher quality nowadays so many of the issues that were associated with the French cars are virtually non-existent.

As for the model line, the C6, C5 and Grand C4 Picasso are the older models but brand new are the C4 and DS4 which are essentially a new generation of Citroens. They feature updated engines and transmissions and a host of electronic systems to enhance driving as well as safety.

New C4

Priced at RM125,000 (with a 3-year/100,000 kms warranty), the C4 is a 5-door model with a typical hatchback form but being a Citroen, it does also have a certain flair to its lines. Under the bonnet is the ‘Prince’ engine which was jointly developed by PSA Peugeot Citroen (Peugeot acquired a controlling share of Citroen in 1974) and BMW. Yes, it’s the same 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine that you find in the Peugeot 308 Turbo and it also develops 156 bhp/240 Nm but it uses a different type of transmission.

The engine is mated to a 6-speed EGS gearbox (produced by the PSA Group) which is a semi-automatic transmission. It is essentially a manual gearbox with robotic mechanism to change gears automatically or if the driver prefers, manually using paddles behind the steering wheel. If that description sounds familiar, it is similar to the Selespeed in Alfa Romeos and Fiats, and also the AMT in some Renault models… and also the Proton Savvy.

According to Mr. Sainton, there are pros and cons to the EGS gearbox; from the technical point of view, he regards the EGS gearbox as being more reliable as it is basically a manual transmission. It is simpler to maintain and is fairly efficient. He does admit that because it is semi-automatic, it will require a period of familiarization by the new driver to shift smoothly. But as we have found with other cars using such a transmission, it’s something you can get used to and in some ways, the transmission does add a bit of fun to driving too.

The C4 has a range of smart technologies ranging from a  blind spot monitoring system that alerts the driver of cars or motorcycles in the blind spot along the sides, intelligent traction control, ‘smart’ cornering lights and even a sensor that determines the length of a parking bay so you know if the C4 can fit in.
 

As for the DS4, this is described as ‘Act 2 in the DS line’, demonstrating bold decisions in terms of style, feel, design and refinement and offering even greater dynamism and seduction (the French love such terms). Styled like a coupe with 4-door practicality, the DS4 has a sleek look that will turn heads. The rear doors are cleverly designed with concealed door handles so it looks more like a sportscar with two side doors.

DS4
Coupe-styled shape shows French flair Rear door handle is in the triangular area
DS4 has a choice of two 1.6-litre engines with different outputs, one mated to a semi-automatic
transmission and the other to a 6-speed manual transmission
Lots of buttons on steering wheel, paddle shifters
on the back for the semi-automatic gearbox
Interior of DS4 has a premium feel with a sporty
theme and high quality materials are used throughout

There’s a choice of two Euro 5 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engines (also jointly developed with BMW) – the THP155 which is the same as the engine in the C4 and the THP 200 which has 202 bhp and 275 Nm of torque from 1700 rpm. The THP155 engine comes with the EGS 6-speed gearbox while the THP200 is fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission.

The cabin is appointed in a premium manner with high-quality materials and a lot of distinctive features – but no longer are the interior themes so ‘French’ that they are bizarre as the older Citroens used to be. Even the steering wheel is no longer a single spoke affair and more ‘conventional’, though it is filled with buttons.

Like the C4, the DS4 also comes with an impressive list of standard equipment to enhance active and passive safety, and also to make driving more pleasurable and comfortable. Some items worth mentioning: the advanced audio system with processing software for effective soundscaping, delivering high quality, authentic sound evenly throughout the cabin; front seats with massage function and four ranges of polyphonic sounds (Classic, Crystal Symphony, Jungle Fantasy & Urban Rythmik) – for alerts and reminders. The instrument panel lighting can also be switched to three different colours though as one carmaker which offered a similar feature found, it’s not something people really care about.

The DS4 is expected to be priced from RM150,000.00 and will be available from February 2012. It also comes with a 3-year/100,000 km warranty which is fully backed by Citroen, not a third party in Malaysia.
 

So there’s a lot of optimism at Brooklands going into 2012 and at Citroen, it is also clear that Asian markets deserve more attention where product configurations are concerned. Eric Dumondelle, Citroen’s Area Manager for Asia, told Motor Trader that there will be increased focus on what customers in this region need, which is very different from 10 years ago when the focus was on European markets. As an example, he said that it is understood how automatic transmissions are preferred whereas European motorists still like manuals. Citroen is also looking at establishing a regional parts facility to make it easier and faster for customers to get parts, so everything indicates that you’ll be hearing more about the French carmaker with the two chevrons.

To know more about the C4 and DS4, visit www.citroen.com.my or call 03 7960 3633

For the locations of other Brooklands Motors Citroen Centres, click here

Looking for secondhand Citroens? Check the MTM Used Car Listings for advertisements, 
updated DAILY so that you don’t call advertisers who have sold off their cars months ago
 
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By Motor Trader Editorial Team

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