TOVA Introduces

Genting Highlands is a very popular mountain-top resort here in Malaysia ( website), particularly for their casino. They also have a theme park as well as their 'Arena of Stars' which is a performance stage where performers from overseas, especially singers from Hong Kong and Taiwan, regularly come over to hold live concerts to generally sell-out crowds.

Genting Highlands is located at the top of a mountain approximately 1.76km (~2.4miles) above sea level. Access to Genting Highlands is via our East-West Highway, also known as the 'Karak' Highway. The early part of this highway, leading to Genting Highlands and Bukit Tinggi (another hilltop resort a short distance further up from Genting Highlands) is continous gentle uphill highway roads. The exits to Genting Highlands and Bukit Tinggi then leads to their access roads proper. The access roads up to GH is well paved and wide but quite steep and can be pretty treacherous to the inexperienced and careless, and especially the arrogant or over-confident driver.

Bukit Tinggi is another hill-top resort not far away from Genting Highlands and which have also become quite popular with enthusiasts for its nearly as twisty access roads. We will drive up to the Colmar Tropicale French themed holiday resort just for the experience and fun of it. It was here that some pretty spectecular incidents happened in the past including one case where a Honda went off the road and down the hillslope.

Back on the Karak Highway, when nearing the exit turnoff for Genting Highlands there are some wide corners which can be enjoyed at high speeds. The twisty steep roads continues until eventually it levels off and we can then get onto the East-West highway proper which leads us to the east coast of peninsula Malaysia. Incidentally the roads of the East-West highway are very smooth and straight and it is often possible to really speed here, except that speed-traps are also quite common here as well.

Due to the very steep mountain side, the roads up and down Genting Highlands are convulated and in fact the final one-third of the access roads are almost purely a series of continous uphill and downhill hairpins. We have straights runnings more or less parallel along the mountain slope, and these are joined by very tight hairpin turns. Many of the roads exceeds 10% in gradient. And the hairpin turns can be particularly punishing as they are not only very tight but is also a steep uphill climb. The top photo below was taken from the flicker photo sharing site and shows a typical hairpin and showing very well the challenging nature of the hairpin. The photo below it was taken by me, very carefully, using my handphone while driving downhill and negotiating one of the hairpins in a Honda Insight.

Consequently driving up GH for most Malaysians is by necessity a slow and steady drive. While the typical car is able to manage up to the top, when fully loaded, it is a lot of strain on the car and on the steeper parts, many 'normal' cars labours slowly up the slope, especially the hairpin turns on the final part of the journey.

Driving uphill is demanding on the car's power. Its cornering ability mated to a competent driver will help considerably as the driver can take the hair-pin turns fast and thus avoid slowing down too much. Otherwise, in the hairpins, the necessity to slow down to very slow speeds and the steep uphill gradient puts a huge demand on the car's low-rpm torque.

Malaysian cars are RHD so this part is downhill

Taken from the Insight while negotiating a hairpin
Driving downhill is demanding on the car's brakes. The roads are usually close to 10% gradient downhill and with lots of hairpin turns downhill as well. Inexperienced or careless drivers are known to burn their brake pads, and many accidents have occurred due to brake fade when the driver over-uses the brakes to control the descent speed down a straight and then had to brake hard for the hairpin turn. Lately the Genting Highland management have put up lots of speed breakers in an attempt to prevent inexperienced drivers from picking up too much speed downhill. There are also some run-off ramps, to save those who experienced brake-fade.

The downhill journey can be particularly merciless to the inexperienced but over-confident driver. Once I saw an 8Gen Honda Civic 2.0 i-VTEC (the one with the 155ps K20A engine) at the bodyshop next door to my regular service mechanic, which has its entire left side totally crushed. The kids who did this over-sped into one of the hair-pins downhill and violently understeered into the retaining walls.

But with the right car and some competent driving skills, many driving enthusiasts from Malaysia as well as Singapore regularly makes their 'Genting Run', just for the fun and challenge of it. There are videos in youtube of the more daring ones, including one of a Civic hatchback drifting through the hairpins Initial-D style. I have even been told of how one of the Honda City R&D engineers drifted a previous generation City down the roads. Consequently whenever possible, I will make a 'Genting Run' with the car on review from Honda Malaysia, to get a guage of its absolute level of performance. Though I will admit I am usually not gung-ho enough to do it Initial-D style.

Wong KN
August 2011
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