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  • Lexus IS facelift – minor change goes on sale in Japan


    The Lexus IS facelift has gone on sale in Japan, half a year after the minor change made its debut at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show. The FR sports sedan is available in IS 350, IS 300h hybrid and IS 200t turbo forms.

    The third-gen IS, which already has a bolder face than most, gets a more aggressive front end thanks to large air intakes on the new bumper. There’s also an evolution of the Lexus spindle grille and new headlamps. The latter is more pronounced than before and extend inward, resulting in a shape that accentuates the distinctive ‘tick’ DRLs.

    The new grille folds back at a higher point, changing its top and bottom proportions. The engine hood has been reshaped to match. The F Sport grille gets a unique ‘3D’ F-mesh pattern, with black metallic coating that incorporates functional brake ducts. These brake ducts provide a sense of continuity with the side garnishes that enhance the vehicle’s aerodynamics.


    At the back, there are more pronounced L-shaped LED lights that are now triple layered (previously double), and new rectangular chrome exhaust tips (was round). Ten-spoke 17-inch wheels with new designs and bright machine finishes are standard, while two new colours – Deep Blue Mica and Graphite Black Glass Flake – have been added to the catalogue.

    A range of cabin improvements can be found. The multimedia display screen has grown from seven inches to 10.3 inches, and an ‘Enter’ button has been added to the side of the Remote Touch Interface (RTI) on the centre console, making the system easier to use. The audio and AC-control panel has been refined to fit within the knee bolsters (old ‘winged’ design susceptible to poor fit), with a new hairline-finish surface to boot.

    Other changes are stitching on the meter binnacle, revised dials, new cupholders, a new and larger leather-wrapped palm rest with stitching for the RTI and new markings for the dash analogue clock. There are also additions and changes to the interior colour options. The base Lexus Premium Audio sound system now gets 10 speakers (up from eight), while the Mark Levinson option has been retuned for a more accurate and 3D sound.


    Also retuned is the suspension system. Improved shock absorbers are in place, and the front suspension’s lower arm is now in aluminium, which benefits both rigidity and weight. The bushes have been revised, all for better ride comfort and handling stability. There’s also a new “Customize” mode in the driving mode selection, which as its name suggests, allows the driver to customise a powertrain/chassis setting to his liking.

    On the safety front, the IS now includes “Lexus Safety System +”, which integrates pedestrian detection function with collision avoidance, Lane Departure Alert (with steering controls), Automatic High Beam and radar cruise control.

    No change under the hood for the 3.5 V6, 2.5 hybrid and 2.0 turbo variants. The IS 300h is the only one with an AWD option in Japan, while the others are rear-wheel drive only. Read our review of the IS 200t.

    GALLERY: Pre-facelift Lexus IS 200t F Sport

  • AD: Haval M4 – free 5-year service, 1-year insurance and 3-month instalment, or upgrade to Premium model


    Looking for an affordable compact SUV? Now’s a good time to take a look at the Haval M4. The very first EEV-certified SUV in Malaysia is now offered with three promo options, making it more attractive to prospective customers.

    From now until November 30, 2016, new Haval M4 buyers can choose between having five years worth of free service (inclusive of parts and labour), one-year free insurance plus three months free instalment, or a free upgrade to the Premium variant (with the purchase of the Comfort model).


    The choice is all yours, so you can pick the offer that would best fit your needs. Offer is subject to terms and conditions, and while stocks last.

    Available in both six-speed AMT and five-speed manual transmission options, the 105 hp 1.5 litre Haval M4 comes with a seven-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer warranty. For more information, head to Haval Malaysia’s website, or its official Facebook page.

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  • VIDEO: The danger of tyres that have low tread depth

    We’re often reminded to check the condition of our tyres on a regular basis, and this video from TyreSafe is a good reason as any to heed the advice. The 360-degree-experience video shows us the shocking difference in braking distance between tyres which have a full tread, compared to those just below the legal limit (1.6 mm applicable here in Malaysia as well) in wet conditions.

    With a pair of identical Toyotas, the tyres on each were pumped to the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure, before they set off. Accelerating up to identical speeds, the drivers in both cars then applied the brakes, and viewers can see for themselves just how much further the car with the worn tyres travelled – a full 14 meters – smashing into an obstacle along the way due to aquaplaning.

    While this may be only a demonstration in a controlled environment, out there in the real world, the obstacle could be another car, a truck, a bus, a pedestrian, or even a cyclist. So, don’t take a chance with your life and the lives of others, check your tyres often (most come with an easily-located tread depth indicator).

  • SPYSHOTS: Alpina B5 sedan, wagon seen testing


    This is the upcoming Alpina B5 based on the latest BMW G30 5 Series, seen here testing at the Nurburgring for the first time. Alpina’s tuning efforts have historically been considered to be a more relaxed, less frantic approach to high performance compared to BMW’s own direction with M GmbH – in this case, the M5 – and as such, will differ from the M car in key areas.

    One such area has traditionally been the transmission, and the Alpina B5 can be expected to stay the course with an eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox for a more refined experience, compared with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic employed in the M5.

    Power is expected to come from an Alpina in-house development of BMW’s 4.4 litre, turbocharged V8 engine, which is expected to come close to the M5’s output figures upwards of 600 hp; the previous F10-based B5 produced 600 hp and 800 Nm of torque. With Alpina’s greater emphasis on refinement and ease of use, peak torque output could be greater than that of the upcoming M5.


    The exterior has typically been an embellishment of a luxury trim level rather than an adaptation of the M Sport exterior; the front bumper follows Alpina tradition with a full-width horizontal intake instead of the three distinct sections typical of an M Sport front bumper. It’s too early to judge the wheels, however the multi-spoke items on the rear axle is most representative of Alpina’s look.

    There aren’t images of the Alpina’s interior just yet, however it can also be expected to follow past form: Alpina has traditionally forgone BMW’s M Sport offerings for a more Luxury line-esque feel, just as the case has been for the exterior.

    Where the Buchloe, Germany-based outfit gets one atop M GmbH is its high-performance interpretation of the 5 Series Touring, missing from the M line-up since the E61 M5 departed. The Alpina duo is expected to debut shortly after the G30 5 Series, which will make its market debut on February 11 next year.

    GALLERY: Alpina B5 Touring spyshots

  • September 2016 Malaysian car sales down 7.9% from August, 6% lower than Sept 2015; YTD down 14%


    The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) has revealed production and sales figures for the month of September 2016, with the industry experiencing a decline compared to the upward surge from last month.

    In terms of sales, 42,644 passenger vehicles and 5,547 commercial vehicles were sold last month, amounting to 48,191 units – which is 2,908 units, or 6% down from the same month in 2015. Both passenger and commercial vehicle registrations saw declines of up to 6%, with the former down by 2,594 units compared to July 2015.

    As for month-on-month sales, September’s volume was 4,121 units, or 7.9% lower compared to August 2016. According to the association, the decline is due to more stringent hire purchase loan approvals, and customers being more cautious, preferring a “wait and see” attitude for new model launches.

    The data also revealed that total year-to-date sales as of September 2016 stood at 418,433 units – which is 67,056 units, or 13.8% lower than the similar corresponding period in 2015. The association expects sales volume next month to be slightly higher on the count of new models destined for the market.

    Production-wise, 41,453 units – 38,831 passenger vehicles and 2,622 commercial vehicles – were made last month, representing a drop of 4,281 units or 9% from the same month last year. Compared to August, September saw 1,999 less units made, or 4.6%. Year-to-date production meanwhile, amounted to 386,965 units, a drop of 76,423 units, or 16% compared to the same period in 2015.

  • Why is JPJ targeting the “Hellaflush” trend here?

    Art of Speed 2016-149

    The car modifying scene includes a variety of trends, and one in particular has caught the attention of the Road Transport Department (JPJ). In Malaysia, the “stance and fitment” or “hellaflush” trend has quite a number of steady followers among locals, but are such modifications allowed?

    For the uninitiated, hellaflush involves installing oversized and offset rims (greater than that of the stock rims) and installing tyres that are too narrow for the rim, with the latter resulting in the tyre having to be stretched in order to fit the rims.

    From there, the car’s suspension and ride height are significantly lowered to create a “snug” look with the tyre wells. This look is further accentuated by changing the car’s camber angle to a more negative one, giving it a “squatted” look, and further lowering the car’s ride height.

    The issue, which JPJ views seriously, stems from a few vehicles owners who excessively modify their cars according to the trend, like using rims that are too wide until they extend beyond the wheel wells, as well as extremely negative camber, making it “squat” a little too much.

    Art of Speed 2016-36

    Around three years ago, a viral Facebook posting stated that JPJ officials were actively “hunting” individuals who modified their cars that adopted the hellaflush trend. The post revealed that the department will apprehend any vehicle that used ROTA rims (referring to replicas made with large measurements, popular among modders) with a width beyond 8jj.

    This posed a problem for those whose vehicles that are factory-fitted with rims of that size, like sports cars and other luxury cars. Many accused the department of making vague rules that resulted in more questions than answers.

    To clear the air, we posed the issue to the director of the JPJ’s automotive engineering department, Datuk Mohamad Dalib, to find out the department’s standpoint on those involved in the modifying trend.

    According to Mohamad Dalib, all cars sold in Malaysia must first obtain the department’s approval under the United Nation Regulation 0 (UN R0), equivalent to the Road Transport Act 66(1)(PP) Vehicle Type Approval (VTA). Once a vehicle is approved under the law, it can then be marketed and purchased by consumers. However, if any vehicle is modified after it is purchased, indirectly it is already counted as an “unauthorised modification,” and therefore, illegal.

    Art of Speed 2016-154

    “If any vehicle owner is apprehended for offences such an unauthorised modification, a PG 1 notice will be issued, whereby the vehicle in question is banned from the road for a period of ten days, in which time the owner must return their car back to stock condition before sending it to JPJ for inspection.

    “Once the department is satisfied that the illegal modifications have been removed, the ban is lifted. If the owner fails to revert their vehicle back to its stock configuration within the allocated time, then the department will issue a RM300 summon,” said Mohamad Dalib.

    However, if the owner fails to do the necessary within the allotted time, with good reason, the department is willing to provide an additional ten days. Should removing the modifications require an additional ten days, it will provide a further ten days, but by the fourth appeal for an extension, it will request that the owner hand over the vehicle’s road tax, and will only return it once the unauthorised modifications have been removed.

    Art of Speed 19

    Mohamad Dalib adds that the department will not issue summons hastily in such situations because JPJ’s director-general Datuk Nadzri Siron prefers the act of educating the public, rather than punishing them, which helps to “humanise” the department’s service.

    When asked why JPJ bans the hellaflush modifying trend, Mohamad Dalib explained that the look upsets the car’s centre of gravity, wheel track and wheel circumference. This not only results in extra fuel being used, it can also cause a loss of traction when driving on wet surfaces, increasing the risk of an accident.

    “It’s not a problem if vehicle owners want to change their original rims, but the modification should not conflict with the car’s original engineering specifications, and not affect its centre of gravity, wheel track and wheel circumference. Changing rims should not only provide a car with a better look, but should not deter its handling as well,” he said.


    He added that lowered cars may be more advantageous on the track, but it is not comfortable for use on regular roads. They also cause an inconvenience to other drivers when dealing with speed bumps, with some even getting their cars stuck if the bumps are too high.

    Furthermore, heavily “squatted” cars cause unnecessary burden on the shock absorbers, as well as changing the car’s steering angle and wheel track. These negative points are not only costly (uneven and quicker tyre wear), but also cause certain suspension components to break while driving, posing a danger to other motorists.

    When asked to comment on those who accuse the department as restrictive of people’s creativity, Mohamad Dalib answered: “JPJ is involved in organising several car shows around the country. Creativity should be displayed at these shows or on track, not on public roads, which can be troublesome to other road users.”

  • Goodyear Wrangler TripleMax tyre in M’sia, fr RM444


    Owners of mid-size SUVs now have a new option when the time comes to replace tyres – Goodyear has launched the Wrangler TripleMax tyre in Malaysia for the growing SUV segment. Available in 12 sizes ranging from 16 to 18 inches in diameter, pricing for the Wrangler TripleMax starts from RM443.72 to RM675.22, depending on size.

    The Wrangler TripleMax aims to deliver in three key areas: braking performance, wet weather performance and road hazard resistance. In the first area, Goodyear’s Hydrogrip technology employs a new tread compound on the Wrangler TripleMax, which combines large tread block elements with a high number of biting edges.

    Designed with a wide tread face and an optimised cavity with five-rib tread matching, pressure distribution can be concentrated on key block elements during braking. An optimised polymer blend also gives the tyres better grip and a shorter braking distance on wet roads.


    The Wrangler TripleMax should prove particularly suited to Malaysian roads, as it incorporates a host of durability features. A two-ply construction wall offers more material in the sidewall area for greater resistance to penetration, while the tyre carcass is overall more robust with improved resistance against road hazards such as foreign objects.

    Strengthened carcass cords contribute towards the improved carcass strength, for a high level of resistance against impacts with bumps and potholes. The Wrangler TripleMax also features a rim flange protector, which aims to help reduce damage to the rim flange and tyre sidewall through impacts. The tyre’s crown area has also been reinforced, where two layers of ultra high tensile strength steel belts and fabric protection layers give increased protection at the sides.

    What about SUVs which use tyre sizes measuring 19 inches in diameter, or larger? Goodyear says that although the current range for the Wrangler TripleMax tops out at 18 inches, there is a possibility of introducing larger sizes later on as demand for more sizes grows. This would appear likely to happen, as the mid-size SUV segment is one that has been steadily growing in popularity, according to Goodyear Malaysia.

  • Chevrolet Colorado – second-gen facelift officially launched in Malaysia, priced from RM100k to RM133k


    Naza Quest has officially launched the facelifted second-gen Chevrolet Colorado in Malaysia. The refreshed pick-up arrives with three engines in the model line-up, with five variants (2.5 LT manual, 2.5 LT auto, 2.5 LTZ auto, 2.8 LTZ auto and 2.8 High Country auto) making up the range.

    As highlighted in earlier posts, the last of which also revealed the complete specifications of all the Malaysian-market versions, the new Colorado – which measures in at 5,361 mm long, 1,872 mm wide and 1,831 mm tall – has received a number of updates.

    External changes are made up of a new front fascia design with a redesigned dual-port grille (in different finishes, depending on variant) and a new front bumper, as well as new headlights, complete with tube-type LED daytime running lights.

    Inside, the cabin gets a new dashboard and door trim which derive inspiration from the US-market Colorado, with a more horizontal arrangement, and there are more soft-touch surfaces to be found as well. The instrument cluster has been redesigned, now offering a new multi-info display offering digital speedometer, maintenance intervals and oil life cycle readouts.


    Elsewhere, the Colorado features new door seals for improved NVH as well as a new comfort closing feature for the front doors; the function drops the front windows slightly when the doors are opened to facilitate easier and quieter door closing by reducing resistance and noise.

    The engine range starts with a 2.5L Duramax fixed geometry turbocharger (FGT) unit, seen previously on the pre-facelift. Output figures remain at 161 hp (163 PS) at 3,600 rpm and and 380 Nm at 2,000 rpm. The unit is only available on the base model, the 2.5L LT manual, paired with a six-speed manual transmission.

    The second mill is an upgraded 2.5 litre Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with a variable geometry turbo (VGT). The Euro 4-compliant unit, new to our market, has 177 hp at 3,600 rpm and 440 Nm at 2,000 rpm for output numbers and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift function. It equips both the 2.5 LT auto and 2.5 LTZ variants.

    The third unit is the familiar 2.8 litre Duramax VGT lump, which continues to offer 193 hp at 3,600 rpm and 500 Nm at 2,000 rpm. The engine is carried over from the the outgoing pre-facelift 2.8 LTZ model (which already received the new Duramax engine in 2014), but has been given a minor set of tweaks to enhance NVH aspects. Like the 2.5 litre automatics, the 2.8 is mated to a six-speed auto gearbox.

    Helping to improve in-cabin NVH levels on the facelift are revised body mounts and new engine mounts, with the interior now between two to four decibels quieter. In addition, new cabin mounts providing better isolation between the cabin and chassis have been used to reduce vibration being transferred into the cabin. Additionally, the suspension has been retuned with the use of digressive shocks to offer better ride comfort.

    Standard kit as found on the LT versions include reflector halogen headlights with the aforementioned LED DRLs, front and rear fog lights, a silver front grille, body-coloured door handles, a black rear bumper, side steps, 16-inch alloy wheels (215/70 profile tyres on the LT manual, and 245/70 for the auto) and rear parking sensors. Inside, there’s an auto up/down function on all four windows, fabric upholstery and tilt-adjustment for the steering.

    Both 2.5 LT variants are equipped with a revised MyLink infotainment system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, plus four speakers and a reverse camera. The 2.5 LT auto adds electric power steering (hydraulic on the manual) and A-pillar assist grips.

    The 2.5 LTZ and 2.8 LTZ add on kit, in identical fashion. On go LED tail lights and chrome accents on the grille, door handles, rear bumper, tailgate handle and side mirrors, the last of which are power-folding units. Wheel size is also up, moving on to 18-inch alloys with 265/60 profile tyres.

    Also on, remote engine start, automatic lights and wipers, front parking sensors, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, automatic air-conditioning, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and grey leather upholstery. The MyLink system, meanwhile, ups the display acreage to an 8.0-inch touchscreen panel, and the audio system also gets a boost, increasing to a seven-speaker Premium Sound System.

    As for the High Country, it adds on a host of purely cosmetic bits such as a front bumper nudge bar, a gloss black grille with chrome trim, a sports bar, chrome side mouldings, gloss black B-pillar trim, roof rails and High Country badging on black leather seats.

    Standard safety equipment across the Colorado range includes three airbags (including one for the driver’s knee), ABS with EBD and brake assist, front and rear seatbelt warnings and ISOFIX child seat anchors.

    From the 2.5 LTZ on, the safety list increases its item count, tacking on Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-Rolling Protection (ARP), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC), Trailer Sway Control (TSC) and a tyre pressure monitoring system, plus new bits such as Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning.

    Five colours are available for the refreshed Colorado, and these are Summit White, Black Meet Kettle, Switchblade Silver and two new shades, in this case a very interestingly named Pull Me Over Red and a more subtle hue called Blue Mountain.

    Finally, pricing, and the Colorado variants go as follows (all on-the-road, with GST and insurance):

    • 2.5L LT manual – RM99,911
    • 2.5L LT auto – RM107,948
    • 2.5L LTZ auto – RM115,031
    • 2.8L LTZ auto – RM123,916
    • 2.8L High Country auto – RM132,874

    Naza Quest says that the first 100 early bird customers for the facelifted Colorado will be entitled to three years’ free service. The Colorado now comes with a five-year/200,000 km manufacturer warranty as standard.

    GALLERY: 2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2.8L High Country

    GALLERY: 2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2.5L LTZ

    GALLERY: 2016 Chevrolet Colorado with accessories

  • Is Project 1408 the 2017 Ducati 1299 Superleggera?


    A website dubbed “Project 1408” has recently gone live, showing renderings of a carbon-fibre frame, swingarm and BST wheels – all purportedly for a new superleggera – superlight – version of the Ducati 1299. The website is accessible by invitation only to VIP Ducati customers.

    Details are scarce, with many sections of the website still inaccessible. It is assumed that full details will be revealed at the EICMA show in November. What can be seen is the swingarm is a carbon-fibre resin-impregnated affair covering aluminium inserts that is 900 grammes lighter than the aluminium on the current 1299 Panigale.

    Additionally, it is claimed that the most powerful iteration of the Ducati V-twin will be installed in the Superleggera, some 220 hp worth. The exhaust, apparently, will follow Ducati’s WSBK race machine configuration, with tailpipes below the seat instead of under the belly, like current 1299 Panigale practice.

    GALLERY: 2016 Ducati Panigale S

  • Lynk & Co 01 SUV from Geely’s new ‘hipster’ brand


    This is the Lynk & Co 01, the first product of a new brand set up by Geely, the Chinese carmaker and owner of Volvo. Sounding more like a hipster cafe or fashion brand, Lynk & Co and the 01 SUV was unveiled by Geely boss Li Shufu in Berlin yesterday.

    Designed and engineered in Sweden, the Lynk & Co 01 is claimed by its makers to be “the most connected car to date” made to “address the needs and preferences of the new global and connected generation.” Those behind the brand says that it’ll be the first Chinese-made car to be sold in volume in Europe. Ready to hit the market next year.

    According to Autocar, the new brand’s design philosophy was developed at Geely Design in Sweden, headed by group executive VP and former Volvo design chief Peter Horbury. Designers say their aim was to create a strong personality that captures both European and Chinese genes.


    “The design brief was simple. Our car needed to stand out from the crowd and appeal to a global audience. Our users will be extremely tech-savvy. Our interior design reflects this and feels familiar in the context of new technology,” explained head of design Andreas Nilsson.

    Lynk & Co’s 4.6m-long SUV will be based on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform shared with Volvo’s upcoming XC40 SUV. Not much about the oily bits have been revealed, but the UK mag says that the 01 is likely to have a range of turbo engines from Volvo’s family of 2.0 litre four-cylinder and new 1.5 litre three-cylinder units.

    Geely/Volvo director Carl-Peter Forster said that a plug-in hybrid version will follow, with electric drive for both axles. A six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch auto will be the transmissions offered.

    “We have developed state-of-the-art cars that are strong, lightweight, efficient, fun to drive,” said Mats Fagerhag, R&D boss of a shared Geely-Volvo R&D centre called China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT).


    The 01 will always be connected to the Internet and to its own cloud, with a ‘share’ button allowing owners to control, monitor and share their cars via smartphone. The SUV will have an open API (application programming interface) that will essentially allow independent developers to “enrich the automotive experience” of the 01 with ideas of their own. Sounds like an app store.

    “Our industry has been refining design and engineering successfully for decades, but not so much the distribution and ownership model. Our customers’ values and preferences have evolved dramatically. It is time for us to step into the future,” senior VP Alain Visser told the car magazine.

    With the planned 02 and 03 models, Lynk & Co will have “a premium, state-of-the-art range of cars at the most accessible price points,” said Visser, formerly from GM Europe and Ford. “Our aim is to enrich and simplify ownership by redefining how cars are bought, owned, connected, serviced and used,” he explained, adding that the new brand’s challenge is to offer customers a new route to market that features direct contact with the manufacturer, along with personalised services and hassle-free-ownership.

    Google ‘Lynk & Co’ to check out the brand’s website. Cool, and not a car in it. What do you think of the 01?


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