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  • GALLERY: 2019 Mazda 3 – hatchback, sedan in Japan

    We got the opportunity to get up close with the all-new Mazda 3 in Japan as part of an ASEAN sneak preview, so here’s a few galleries of the C-segment model in both sedan and hatchback body styles. The latest Mazda 3 is the first in the Japanese carmaker’s next-generation product line-up, and utilises the SkyActiv-Architecture platform that promises to deliver better ride comfort and performance on the road.

    Dimension-wise, the hatchback now measures 4,459 mm long (-1 mm compared to its predecessor), 1,797 mm wide (+2 mm) and 1,440 mm tall (-10 mm). The sedan on the other hand, is 4,662 mm long (+82 mm), 1,797 mm wide (+2 mm) and 1,445 mm tall (+5 mm). Both also have a longer wheelbase at 2,725 mm (+25 mm).

    Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy is showcased with the new model, with particular emphasis on styling the hatchback to be the “bolder” choice compared to the sedan. From the front, the hatchback’s grille mesh features a diamond pattern as compared to flat pins found on the sedan. You’ll also notice the lower apron of the hatchback is devoid of the corner “inlets” that are seen on the sedan.

    In profile, the differences between both body styles are even more apparent, and they aren’t limited to just the roofline and added boot space on the sedan. As previewed by the Vision Coupe from the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda’s manipulation of light and shadow when shaping the sheet metal results in dramatic reflections when viewing the car from different angles.

    This approach eliminates the need for prominent creases, and is evident on the Mazda 3, albeit with differing results. Where the reflections formed on the sedan can be considered “soothing,” the hatchback has a swooping arch that forms on the rear doors.

    This curved back look is meant to accentuate the dramatic (and rather thick) C-pillar design, which should split opinions. Another minor point of distinction is the application of chrome on the window frame, whereby a long strip is placed above the window on the sedan, and below on the hatchback.

    Moving towards the rear, both body types adopt a dual-circle design for the taillights, along with twin exhaust pipes. Once again, the hatchback, with its strong haunches, commands a greater presence than the sedan, which appears “tamer” by comparison.

    A small note for those who are curious; the car on the far right (in the first photo) is finished in a new colour exclusive to the hatchback known as Polymetal Grey. It also comes fitted with a few optional extras available in Japan like a more aggressive front bumper, side skirts, a rear diffuser, a roof spoiler, black side mirror caps and 18-inch BBS forged aluminium wheels.

    Getting back on topic, Mazda chief designer Yasutake Tsuchida explained that the design idea for the new Mazda 3 is “beauty through subtraction,” which as you can see, is exemplified on the exterior. However, this extends into the car’s cabin that is identical on the sedan and hatchback.

    The new layout places greater focus on the driver, with two dedicated air vents and an infotainment display angled towards the person behind the wheel. The latter is now an 8.8-inch unit that is positioned further forward now, warranting the loss of touchscreen functionality. While some may lament this revision, the company says the latest Mazda Connect system (the new Mazda 3 is the first to get it) linked to the display has been completely revamped to deliver a more intuitive experience, negating the change.

    Another display is found in the instrument cluster, where a seven-inch TFT-LCD unit (with multiple display functions) sits between two circles with analogue gauges within them. A head-up display that now projects further forward on the windscreen is also another new addition here.

    In other areas, the passenger air vents are positioned on a horizontal plane that also features the climate controls and engine start button. Mazda has also overhauled the centre console for better ergonomics and practicality, starting with the centre console lid/arm rest whose “karakuri” mechanism involves sliding the lid back before it is lifted up so the elbow isn’t excessively raised.

    The space under the lid is now much larger too, and can accommodate an iPad, smartphone and sunglasses comfortably. Ahead of this area is where you’ll find the infotainment controls followed by the gear lever, covered cupholders and a small storage cubby.

    We’ll have a more detailed post highlighting all that’s new with the Mazda 3 later, including our first impressions of the model. For now, what do you think of the car’s design? If you’re curious when the rival to the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis will arrive in Malaysia, we have early details here.

    2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback

    2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback with optional accessories

    2019 Mazda 3 Sedan

  • 2019 Mazda 3 Malaysia launch in July – hatchback and sedan, 1.5L and 2.0L engines, est price from RM137k

    The fourth-generation Mazda 3 was officially revealed back in November 2018, and is set to make its local debut in Malaysia later in mid-July this year. This was revealed to us during the sneak preview of the model, which recently concluded in Japan.

    Both the sedan and hatchback versions of the all-new Mazda 3 will be offered (in fully-imported CBU form at this initial point) with estimated pricing said to start from RM137,000 – official distributor Bermaz is now accepting bookings for the model.

    In terms of engines, only two from the SkyActiv-G petrol range will be offered, with the first being a 2.0 litre unit that develops 162 hp and 210 Nm of torque. Meanwhile, the option for base variants will be a 1.5 litre powerplant with 114 hp and 150 Nm, and SkyActiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission will be standard for both.

    If you’re looking forward to the SkyActiv-X engine with Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) technology, sadly that’s being given a miss for our market. The mill features compression ignition typically found in diesel engines, with supplementary systems to provide a fuel efficiency equivalent or even exceeding the company’s SkyActiv-D 1.5 litre diesel engine.

    No exact details about the available equipment will be provided, but we were told that a total of five variants will be offered. We’ll only know precisely which variant gets what on launch day.

    The new Mazda 3 is the first in Mazda next-generation product line-up, and showcases a brand new SkyActiv-Architecture platform that sees changes to its dimensions.

    The hatchback now measures 4,459 mm long (-1 mm compared to its predecessor), 1,797 mm wide (+2 mm) and 1,440 mm tall (-10 mm). The sedan on the other hand, is 4,662 mm long (+82 mm), 1,797 mm wide (+2 mm) and 1,445 mm tall (+5 mm). Both also have a longer wheelbase at 2,725 mm (+25 mm).

    Design-wise, the second-generation Kodo design philosophy sees a “less is more” approach when it comes to styling, including both the exterior and interior. In the case of the former, the hatchback is made to look more dynamic compared to the sedan, although both share an identical interior that reduces “visual noise.”

    Are you excited about the arrival of the new Mazda 3? Will you prefer it to competitors in the form of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis? Let us know in the comments below. We’ll have a more detailed post on the Mazda 3 coming up soon. Stay tuned.

    GALLERY: 2019 Mazda 3

  • MotoGP: Jorge’s Honda RC213V in Spain, with wings

    After moving from Ducati to Repsol Honda, Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo has shown mixed fortunes in 2019, coming in below tenth place in the last six MotoGP races with a DNF in US. However, Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) seems to think that its latest mod to the RC213V might show some improvement in Lorenzo’s performance in the form of a pair of wings on the fuel tank.

    Seen during testing at the Catalunya circuit in Spain, Lorenzo’s HRC race machine is now sprouting a pair of wings, located just above his thighs. Whether designed to be an aerodynamic aid or to give him extra leverage during sharp cornering transitions, no one really knows and HRC is, naturally tight-lipped about the whole thing.

    What is certain is Lorenzo is not having a great 2019 race season, with Repsol Honda team mate and current MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez winning three races so far with two second place podiums and one retirement. While Marquez is at the top of the championship table, Lorenzo is currently languishing down in 14th place, a far cry from his three MotoGP world championships with Yamaha in 2010, 2012 and 2015.

  • Porsche 981 Bergspyder – the beast that never was

    Here’s a tale to welcome the weekend. In 2015, the Porsche board commissioned a project group from Weissach to build the prototype of a new-generation Bergspyder, perhaps to succeed the legendary 1968 Porsche 909 Bergspyder. It was to be called the 981 Bergspyder, had it gone to production.

    The goal was to build a stripped-down, lightweight and minimalist car that’s based on the 981 Boxster (hence the name and familiar looks), and it has to have an even more radical and uncompromising design than the brand new Boxster Spyder. Also, the car must achieve an exceptional power-to-weight ratio and boast superior driving dynamics.

    The 909 Bergspyder (pictured below on the right), with its ready-to-drive weight of 384 kg – the lightest racing car ever used by Porsche – was built with similar specifications almost 50 years before. After deciding on the name and white-green colour scheme, they built the single-seater sports car without a top, door handles and windscreen. Well, there is a small wind deflector that wraps around the driver, but that’s about it.

    For added protection, a plan to design and create a protective tarpaulin cover was laid out (a design cue that was lifted off the 1954 Porsche 356 Speedster). It was made initially of faux leather, with a carbon-fibre component planned for the subsequent developmental phase. The composite material was also used for the front and rear lids.

    For the cabin, the 981 Boxster’s dashboard gets a complete redesign, fitted with elements from the Porsche 918 Spyder, and likewise assembled. The seat was also taken from the 918 technology platform. The passenger door could be opened, with another luggage compartment concealed behind it to provide space for a helmet shelf, a removable cover for the driver’s seat and additional luggage.

    After several weight reduction stages (the car had minimal insulation material), the ready-to-drive Boxster Bergspyder weighed in at 1,099 kg. It’s powered by the 3.8 litre flat-six Boxer engine from the Cayman GT4 (the car weighed 1,340 kg), which outputs 393 PS and 420 Nm of torque. This gave the Bergspyder a monumental power-to-weight ratio of nearly 2.8 kg per PS. Porsche claims the 0-100 km/h sprint requires a little over four seconds, and could possibly lap the Nürburgring around 7 minutes 30 seconds.

    Unfortunately, the prototype never made it past the feasibility test. A major question mark remained as to whether the car would be eligible for registration in some countries, which would have an impact on potential sales. Since then, the project was shelved, and the prototype you see here will remain a one-off. The 981 Bergspyder will be shown to the public for the first time during the 2019 edition of the Gaisberg hillclimb race.

  • JPJeBid online number plate bidding system to start in Federal Territory from June 21, with VDN plate series

    The transport ministry has announced that the operational scope of the JPJeBid online vehicle number plate bidding system will be expanded from next week, when the road transport department (JPJ) will begin utilising the format for the Federal Territory, starting with the VDN plate series on June 21.

    Transport minister Anthony Loke said today at a press conference that the bidding process for the series will begin from 12 am on June 21 and will run until 11.59 pm on June 25. The tender results will be announced on June 26 at noon.

    He added that all subsequent FT number plate series will also use the online bidding system, with a each plate series going through a similar five-day period for the bidding process.

    Loke said that the rapid vehicle registration rate in the FT made it the perfect choice as a starting location for the system, which kicked off as a pilot project in April with the FC plate series. He said that JPJeBid will eventually be rolled out in other states, with adoption to be made in stages.

    He said that there were 2,481 bids received for the FC series, which netted the government RM3,113,364 in collection. Loke said the highest bid was RM231,000 for the FC1 plate.

    No change in the registration and bidding procedure from that detailed in the pilot project. The system is open to individuals and companies who are looking to tender for specific number plates. All bidders must sign up for an ID on the MySIKAP portal. Individuals must furnish details and provide a copy of their identity card for registration purposes, while companies and businesses will have to provide copies of the business registration certificate and licence, among other things.

    Once registration has been approved, users will be able to utilise the e-bidding system through a computer or via a mobile device, searching for a plate series and specific number. Payment is made once a bid is finalised for a particular number, for both the sum of the bid and a RM10 service fee.

    Payment can only be made with locally-issued credit cards, with the use of more than one card permissible for the bid. If a bid is successful, the amount will be deducted immediately from the credit card. Unsuccessful bids will see the cancellation of the transaction and the amount credited back to the credit card, with no charges applied.

    Four general categories for numbers are listed, with each category having a minimum payment criteria. That for regular (or running) numbers start from RM300, while that for popular (double-digit, certain triple-digit numbers) start from RM800. Numbers with matching digits start from RM3,000m and the minimum bid price for a primary value (single-digit) number is RM20,000.

    No deposit is required, but each bidder’s first bid amount must equal or exceed the minimum price set in each category. The minimum bid increase is 5% of the minimum price amount by category, with no limit for maximum increase.

    In this case, the minimum bid increase for a primary value number is RM1,000, and RM150, RM40 and RM15 for matching digit, popular and regular numbers respectively, and these sums remain constant as a minimum bid increase each time a bid is revised upwards. There is no limit to a bid, but bidders will not be allowed to withdraw their bids during the bidding period.

    Each individual is eligible to successfully bid for a maximum of three vehicle numbers, while businesses and companies will be limited to five vehicle numbers per series. All bid winners have a period of 12 months to carry out the vehicle registration from the date of the letter of offer given by the department, following which the offer letter will expire and be considered invalid. No extensions – or refunds – will be provided. Those not wanting to take up the number will also not get refunds.

    Individuals will be allowed to transfer the successfully bid number, but only to a member of the immediate family, and this will entail providing relevant supporting documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate etc). Companies will not be able to transfer a number before it is registered to a vehicle.

  • VW, Ford close to EV and self-driving cars partnership

    Volkswagen and Ford are already partners in developing commercial vehicles, and it looks like the relationship between the two is set to deepen. VW and Ford are close to reaching a deal on a partnership for developing self-driving and electric cars, the European giant’s CEO said on Thursday, reported by Reuters.

    Wolfsburg and the Detroit carmaker signed a deal in March to develop a pick-up truck, and have been in talks about extending the current co-operation to include autonomous driving and mobility services, as well as Ford’s use of the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric vehicle platform.

    The discussions are “going well and are nearly complete,” VW CEO Herbert Diess told around 500 of the company’s top managers from around the world at its headquarters. On Ford’s end, it said talks were continuing and that it would share updates when details became firm. “Discussions have been productive across a number of areas,” a spokeswoman said via email.

    It is noted that carmakers are increasingly looking to partnerships and alliances to help share the cost of moving to new and cleaner tech, potentially saving billions of dollars. A case in point is the recent failed merger negotiations between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and France’s Renault.

    The newswire’s report also notes that Volkswagen views its relationship with Ford as strategically important to help balance its regional interests. “Today we are de facto a very Chinese-oriented company. For this, we need a counterweight in the US,” Diess said.

    Electric vehicles aside, autonomous tech is firmly in the auto industry’s attention. Earlier this week, VW said it had ended its partnership with self-driving car software company Aurora. This came after the latter said it would build autonomous platforms for commercial vehicles with FCA. Ford may have something to offer – its majority-owned subsidiary Argo AI is building an automated “driver” that could compete with Aurora’s tech.

    So, it looks like in this deepening relationship, VW gains Ford’s autonomous inroads while Ford benefits from VW’s EV architecture. There have also been talks about factory sharing.

  • June 2019 week three fuel price – RON 97 down 22 sen

    It’s Friday again, which means the weekly fuel price update resumes its normal run after the Raya festive period, and there’s more good news for RON 97 users, with the price of the fuel continuing to drop.

    From tomorrow, June 15, 2019, RON 97 will retail at RM2.41 per litre (down 22 sen from the RM2.63 announced two weeks ago). There is of course no change to the price of RON 95 petrol, which stands at RM2.08 per litre, the maximum price consumers pay no matter how high market prices push pump prices.

    It’s the same for Euro 2M diesel as well, which continues to be sold at RM2.18 per litre, and Euro 5 diesel – always 10 sen more than Euro 2M diesel – remains priced at RM2.28 per litre. Based on Automatic Price Mechanism (APM) calculations, RON 95 petrol would cost RM2.11 per litre while diesel would be priced at RM2.19 per litre without the price cap in place.

    These prices will remain in effect until June 21, when the next set of fuel pricing adjustments will be announced. This is the 23rd edition of the weekly fuel pricing format, which is announced every Friday. The weekly prices are in effect from Saturday until the following Friday.

  • FIRST DRIVE: 2019 Proton Iriz, Persona facelift review

    You’ve seen it, read all about it, but it’s now time to find out how the improvements made to the 2019 Proton Iriz and Persona facelifts fare out in the real world. We drove the car extensively to Tanjong Jara, Terengganu, to put them through their paces.

    To recap, both models get subtle aesthetic revisions, now featuring the new signature grille with “Infinite Weave” motif. The rear end gets a Proton script instead of the badge, and completing the exterior pack is a new range of colours that have been lifted off the X70 SUV.

    Inside, the cabin gets the usual nip and tuck, with range-topping models benefiting from the sleek new frameless rear-view mirror and seven-inch infotainment system with eSIM. Premium variants of the Iriz and Persona are the only ones to get the “Hi Proton” voice control functions, online music streaming and online navigation. Of course, this comes with a five-year data package (1GB monthly), as per the X70.

    Mechanically, the engines and transmissions are carried over from before. In the Iriz, 1.3 litre four-cylinder engine makes 95 PS at 5,750 rpm and 120 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, while the 1.6 litre unit bumps those figures to 109 PS and 150 Nm.

    The Persona, on the other hand, is only available with the 1.6 litre four-cylinder unit. There, it makes 107 hp at 5,750 rpm and 150 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Both engines are paired to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT – the latter, Proton says, has been recalibrated to reduce fuel consumption by three to four percent. Other improvements include better braking performance and cabin refinement. As usual, enjoy the video, and let us know what you think!

    GALLERY: 2019 Proton Persona 1.6 Premium

    GALLERY: 2019 Proton Iriz 1.6 Premium CVT

  • Koenigsegg Jesko Red Cherry one-off edition revealed

    The Koenigsegg Jesko is the Swedish supercar maker’s latest and greatest, with up to 1,600 hp and 1,500 Nm of torque at its most potent when running on E85 fuel, paired with a nine-speed, seven-clutch Light Speed Transmission (LST). It’s a naturally rare item, with just 125 units slated for production, which will commence in 2020. All 125 have been spoken for, however; what’s a billionaire to do?

    Enter the Red Cherry edition, which will be made available courtesy of aptly-named luxury network, as a one-off available through the website, replete in the deep red paintwork adorned with visible carbon-fibre components including the front splitter, side skirts, rear wing and rear diffuser. Rolling stock is a set of 20-inch and 21-inch carbon-fibre wheels front and rear, respectively.

    Full details of the Red Cherry Jesko’s interior remain to be seen, though the website indicated that the customer will have the choice of specifying either leather or even racier Alcantara for its two-seater cabin, while the five-inch SmartCluster digital display instrument cluster and SmartWheel steering wheel offer Koenigsegg’s brand of instrumentation.

    The price for this one-off rendition of what sure is a spectacular car at its base? 2,350,000 euros (RM11,054,268) before local taxes, for which the owner gets a 1,420 kg with bodywork that generates 1,000 kg of downforce at 275 km/h, and the Jesko’s 5.0 litre twin-turbo flat-plane crank V8 engine will propel it to a claimed top speed of 480 km/h.

    Koenigsegg hasn’t released performance numbers for the Jesko, though with raw figures which indicated a power-to-weight ratio of greater than one-to-one, suffice to say it’ll be really potent. Founder Christian von Koenigsegg mentioned at the Jesko’s debut in Geneva earlier this year that there will be an even faster version coming, one focused on top speed and therefore, less on downforce. Watch this space.

    GALLERY: Koenigsegg Jesko

  • Mazda MX-5 gets BBR upgrade kits – up to 224 hp!

    Mazda performance specialist BBR has announced two new engine tuning packages for the 2019 MX-5, and those are the Super 200 and Super 220 upgrade packs. Both builds are said to deliver maximum excitement for spirited driving, all without sacrificing driving manners and more importantly, reliability.

    The Super 200 conversion kit includes a four-to-one high-flow stainless steel exhaust manifold, cold air intake system with K&N high-flow air filter, as well as BBR custom StarChip ECU remap. Once installed, these parts help coax an additional 18 hp and 14 Nm from the 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G, which brings the new output to 205 hp at 7,300 rpm and 224 Nm of torque at 3,950 rpm. The latter peaks about 900 rpm lower than the stock motor, making the 1,100-kg roadster feel more peppy down low.

    Next, the Super 220 ups the ante with bespoke high-performance camshafts, valve springs and retainers. This bumps output to 224 hp (+36 hp from stock), although at 217 Nm, torque is slightly lower than the Super 200. However, the upside is that the latter becomes available from 3,500 rpm to 7,500 rpm, which is even lower than what the Super 200 kit offers.

    For pricing, the Super 200 costs £1,445 (RM7.6k) and is currently available as a drive-in, drive out conversion (including dyno test) at BBR’s HQ in Brackley. A self-install package for overseas customers is available as well, costing £1,245 (RM6.6k) excluding value added tax. The Super 220 goes for £2,895 (RM15k), but the self-install kit costs £2,235 (RM12k).

    Those wanting more will not be disappointed either. BBR is also offering a range of upgrades that comprise of beefier brakes and chassis enhancements. A 2.5-inch centre exhaust section with a selection of silencers can be had, as well as a performance catalytic converter, all of which BBR claims to provide further power gains. For complete peace of mind, BBR offers up to three-years extendable warranty packages for both kits.

    BBR managing director Neil Mckay said: “This is the first time that over 100 hp per litre has been achievable from a normally-aspirated Mazda MX-5 motor without internal modifications. It’s an amazing accomplishment for a predominately standard engine.

    “Additional development has seen BBR achieve more than 110 hp per litre with the inclusion of our bespoke performance camshafts, which is astonishing for a road-friendly engine that now also produces over 203 Nm from just 3000 rpm. As Mazda improves the stock Skyactiv-G 2.0 litre petrol engine, extracting useful power gains from normally aspirated tuning becomes more of a challenge, but that makes the end results even more rewarding,” he added.


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Latest Fuel Prices

RON 95 RM2.08 (0.00)
RON 97 RM2.63 (-0.13)
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Last Updated 01 Jun 2019


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