Google Zeitgeist 2008It’s official, Malaysians are seriously car-crazed. The Google Zeitgeist is a report of trends in its user’s searching behaviour. Other than an overall report, they also have per-country results and each year Google picks relevant popular “topics” so that they can also show sub-lists other than an overall most popular list.

Google’s 2008 Zeitgeist is out and for Malaysia this year we have a new list which shows the fastest rising car searches in Malaysia. Most other countries do not have this list. Why else would Google pick to showcase a list of cars other than if Malaysians are searching for cars all the time? It just shows that Malaysians are increasingly turning to the internet for their automobile purchase research.

The following are the fastest rising car searches in Malaysia for the year 2008. Fastest rising means these search terms saw the largest increase in search volume in 2008 compared to 2007, it does not mean these terms are the largest searched cars by Malaysians on Google.

#1 Perodua Nautica

Perodua Nautica

Top on the list is the Perodua Nautica, which is no surprise as it is the only new local brand car to be launched this year, so there would naturally be a huge gap in search volume between 2007 and 2008. Not many people knew the Nautica project existed in 2007. The Perodua Nautica is a rebadged short wheelbase Toyota Rush and you could say it’s Perodua’s first “CBU car” from Japan, though I’m not sure how it can be called a CBU when the grille and front bumper are made locally in Malaysia. There is only one variant with a 1.5 litre engine and full-time 4WD priced at RM89,900 OTR with insurance.

#2 Toyota Rush

Toyota Rush

It looks like the same car occupies the two top spots on the Zeitgeist fastest rising car search list! The Toyota Rush sold in Malaysia is the long wheelbase version, and unlike the short wheelbase Perodua Nautica, it seats 7 instead of 5 as the additional length goes to a third row of seats. 3 variants are available, wiht the most expensive being the 1.5S automatic going for RM94,888. The 1.5G manual goes for RM85,888 while the 1.5G automatic goes for RM88,888.

#3 Proton MPV

Proton MPV Spyshot

This is easily the most eagerly awaited vehicle of all by Malaysians, the Proton MPV. If priced correctly, never again will mid-sized families on a budget need to bring two cars out if everyone wants to go have dinner together. The Proton MPV will be launched in the first quarter of 2009, will feature 7 seats with air conditioning for all three rows, and a 1.6 litre Campro CPS engine.

#4 Proton BLM

Proton Saga

For some reason many people are still referring to the Proton Saga as the Proton BLM, as the BLM still has a larger search volume increase than the Proton Saga on Google. The Proton Saga appears on the same list at the #6 spot. Regularly touted as the new “rakyat’s car”, the Proton Saga is the cheapest way to get a 5-seater sedan with a boot on the market.

#5 Honda City

2009 Honda City

Malaysia has seen two generations of the Honda City in recent times and this will be the third generation. The new Honda City will be launched this week, so stay tuned for a detailed launch report on this blog! Features that made the 2nd gen Honda City unique will be gone with the new City – I’m talking about the weird design, the i-DSI engine and the CVT transmission. The new City while also based on a Honda Jazz platform will have a much sleeker roofline and will come with only one engine choice, the 1.5 litre SOHC i-VTEC mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Expect the high-end variant to have paddle shifts.

#6 Proton Saga

As mentioned above, the Proton Saga and the Proton BLM are one and the same.

#7 Grand Livina

Nissan Grand Livina

The Nissan Grand Livina has been a runaway success for Edaran Tan Chong Motor, helping push its financial records to new heights this year. It just shows how long Malaysians have been eager for a proper driveable 7-seater MPV. I guess we were starting to get bored of the truck-based offerings in Malaysia, and the Grand Livina was a car-based monocoque chassis MPV that drove like a car instead of like a van.

#8 Honda Accord

2008 Honda Accord

This is said to be the car that is purchased by someone that aspires to own a BMW 5-series, so Honda infused some BMW design cues into this latest generation Accord. It’s also the only Japanese D-segment sedan in Malaysia to come with a large engine option, the 3.5 litre V6 that also happens to feature an advanced cylinder deactivation feature so it can behave and sip petrol like a smaller displacement engine when you don’t need its grunt.

#9 Myvi

Perodua Myvi

The Perodua Myvi is still selling like hotcakes and has become the default car to buy for fresh graduates, especially those with parents who can help out with some of the downpayment. The appeal of the Myvi has been renewed with the launch of the facelift version this year, which also included a new Myvi SE.

#10 Honda Civic

Honda Civic Facelift

The Honda Civic is still the Malaysian automotive publication’s defacto recommendation thanks to its formula of an exciting interior and exterior design, a large interior space, a sweet revving engine, and a 5-speed auto with dual overdrives for a more relaxed highway cruise. The Honda Civic is due to be facelifted very soon, with the facelift already launched in Japan, Singapore and Thailand. The facelift only has minor exterior changes, namely in the areas of the front bumper and grille and the rear taillamp design.