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  • 2020 Hyundai Kona compact SUV and Sonata D-segment sedan launching in Malaysia on October 30

    Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) will hold a virtual launch on October 30, 2020 to welcome two new models to its line-up, the Kona compact SUV and the eighth-generation Sonata sedan. Both models got their respective previews back in late September and early October, and are currently available for booking.

    Let’s start with the fully-imported (CBU) Kona, which will compete against established rivals like the locally-assembled (CKD) Honda HR-V, CBU Mazda CX-3, CBU Toyota C-HR and upcoming CKD Proton X50 at launch. The range will consist of three variants, starting with the base 2.0 Standard, followed by the 2.0 Mid and the range-topping 1.6 T-GDI High. Pricing will start from RM115,000.

    The models designated “2.0” will be powered by a 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder Nu MPI engine rated at 149 PS and 179 Nm of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the range-topper gets a 1.6 litre turbocharged direct-injected four-pot with 177 PS and 265 Nm, along with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

    The turbo unit puts the Kona ahead of its Japanese rivals in terms of output, and allows for a zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 7.7 seconds and top speed of 210 km/h. Both powertrains are front-wheel drive, with no option of all-wheel drive.

    As for equipment, the Kona in its highest specification – the 1.6 T-GDI High – comes as standard with projector LED headlamps, LED taillights, eight-way powered driver’s seat, automatic air-conditioning, a head-up display, a seven-inch touchscreen head unit, six airbags (all variants) and the Hyundai SmartSense active safety suite – AEB, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and high beam assist.

    Shifting our attention to the Sonata, which will be a CBU import, the eight-gen DN8 will be priced from RM20xk and is set to take on D-segment sedans like the CBU Toyota Camry, CKD Honda Accord and CBU Mazda 6. Under the bonnet, the Sonata features Hyundai’s Smartstream 2.5 litre NA four-cylinder with 180 PS and 232 Nm, mated to a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive.

    Standard equipment includes keyless entry and push start, powered seats with driver’s side memory, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, auto lights and wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a 12.3-inch instrument display, a 360-degree camera system, and a cooled Qi wireless charger.

    On the safety front, there’s six airbags, stability control and Blind-Spot View Monitor, which operates like a usual blind spot monitor, but will project a live video feed in the instrument cluster when the indicators are used.

    With both models set to be introduced by HSDM in just a few days’ time, which one are you more interested in? Their designs are certainly a standout when compared to the competition, and given the specifications, is it enough to win you over? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

    GALLERY: 2020 Hyundai Kona 2.0 MPI Mid

    GALLERY: 2020 Hyundai Sonata

  • Manhart F350 – souped up GP with 350 hp & 530 Nm!

    Manhart has done it again. Just three months since it first unveiled the GP3 F350, the tuning firm released yet another F350 for one lucky MINI John Cooper Works GP customer. Just one variant of this unique colour scheme will ever be made, it said.

    It is finished in British Racing Green to celebrate the motorsports tradition in Great Britain, replete with red racing and decorative stripes all around. There’s a new foil design courtesy of Dutch specialists JD Customs, plus 19-inch Manhart Concave One alloys shod with 235/30 tyres.

    For performance, it’s the same F350 as previously announced – the B48 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine has been tuned to produce 350 hp and a whopping 530 Nm of torque. This is achieved with a new Airtec intercooler, a remapped ECU (MHtronik Powerbox; provided by Dutch MINI specialists Beek Auto Racing), and a Remus cat-back exhaust sytem with four-stage flap control. That is an increase of 44 hp and 80 Nm from the stock tune, mind you.

    On the chassis side, F350 customers get to choose between two offerings. The first is the Manphart Performance pack which lowers the car by 20 mm at the front and 15 mm at the back (shown in the pics here), or opt for the fully adjustable coilovers in three versions – each from AST Suspension in the Netherlands.

    Future upgrades include a carbon-fibre intake from ARMAspeed, a stainless steel exhaust system with valve control, two downpipe options (with or without a catalytic converter) and tailpipes measuring 100 mm with carbon or ceramic coating.


  • Audi RS e-tron GT teased as 24 Hours of Spa pace car

    Having entered the electric SUV market with the e-tron, Audi is now mounting an offensive against cars like the Tesla Model S with the new e-tron GT. This zero-emission alternative to the A7 Sportback, due to enter production at the end of the year, has been teased a number of times, but this is the first time we’re seeing the high-performance RS e-tron GT.

    This prototype is making its debut at this weekend’s 24 Hours of Spa, where it will act as a pace car for tomorrow’s race. From the outside, it appears to be identical to the standard e-tron GT, which is to say that it is near note-for-note recreation of the beautifully low-slung 2018 concept.

    However, there is expected to be plenty of changes under the skin. Though it is based on the same J1 performance platform as the Porsche Taycan, it will get more power than even the most potent Taycan Turbo S, thanks to a new triple-motor set up that sees two motors being placed at the rear and one up front. Together, they will reportedly produce around 710 PS.

    While that’s still a bit lower than the Turbo S’ 761 PS, the latter figure is with the overboost function engaged; in everyday use, the Porsche makes “only” 625 PS (the same as the lesser Turbo model, incidentally). The Audi, then, should make even more power on overboost.

    Other nuggets of potential information include a slightly larger 95 kWh lithium-ion battery, a range of around 400 km and “controlled drifting” ability. Expect some handling-oriented chassis tweaks and a zero-to-100 km/h sprint time of around or below three seconds. Just like the regular e-tron GT, the RS model will be built at the same Neckarsulm plant as the R8 supercar, which has been expanded and upgraded.

    GALLERY: Audi e-tron GT prototype

  • VIDEO: Mitsubishi Xpander finally in Malaysia – what took MMM so long, only 2 airbags? Bosses explain

    The Mitsubishi Xpander has been finally revealed in Malaysia, with a media preview coinciding with the revelation of specs and opening of order books. Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) will be officially launching the seven-seater next month.

    A single Pekan-assembled CKD variant will be offered here, to be priced below RM100k and competitively against the Honda BR-V and Toyota Rush, which are also people carriers with SUV-inspired styling. Behind the bold Dynamic Shield face is a 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated engine with 105 PS and 141 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. The 4A91 MIVEC unit sends drive to the front axle via a four-speed automatic gearbox.

    As for equipment, the facelifted Xpander comes with bi-LED reflector headlamps and LED daytime running lights. The LED eyes mark this out as the facelift (the original car had halogen lamps), along with U-shaped louvres that replace the triple slats on the grille. Also fitted are LED tail lights and 16-inch two-tone alloys.

    Inside, a black interior with quilted leather seats, a 9.0-inch touchscreen head unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 360-degree camera system and dashcam are unique-to-Malaysia features. Elsewhere, the Xpander also comes with keyless entry with push start, a 4.2-inch colour multi-info display, six speakers and four roof-mounted rear air vents. Safety-wise, there’s two airbags, ABS/EBD, stability control, hill start assist and Isofix child seat anchors. Read more in our media preview report.

    We caught up with MMM CEO Tomoyuki Shinnishi and senior VP Hoffen Teh at the media preview and posed some burning questions to the bosses. On why it took them so long to introduce the Xpander in Malaysia (the model made its debut in August 2017 in Indonesia, and word then was that it would reach Malaysia the following year), Shinnishi said that the Malaysian market is such that if a car is to be competitive in price, it has to be CKD, and the delay was due to preparations for local assembly.

    He added that the decision to put the Xpander together at Pekan was a business one. DRB-Hicom, which owns the automotive complex in Pekan, is also a shareholder of MMM, and “we highly utilised DRB facilities to make the product more competitive,” Shinnishi said, hinting at cost savings and a win-win for all parties. The Mitsubishi Outlander and ASX SUVs are contract assembled at Tan Chong Motor Assemblies’ Segambut plant in KL.

    MMM has planned initial sales of 500 units per month, but with over 7,400 names in the registration of interest exercise, Shinnishi said that MMM might have to revise its sales planning and production capacity to meet demand.

    Moving to the product, Hoffen explained that there are slight changes to the Xpander for Malaysia. Our country has unique regulations compared to other ASEAN countries, and one example is the rear fog lamp requirement. He said that the lifestyle and expectations of Malaysian customers also differ from their regional counterparts, and changes to the interior colour scheme reflect this – our Xpander gets a black theme with silver trim, while Indonesia prefers a more “luxury” beige and wood combo.

    On top of that, MMM has included quilted leather seats, a 9.0-inch touchscreen head unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an around-view monitor and a dashcam. “We’re aware of market demand and requirements, the preference of Malaysians,” Hoffen said, while conceding that they couldn’t do much about the Xpander’s airbag count, which is two.

    “We have to admit that this vehicle was originally designed mainly for the Indonesian market, and then it expanded to Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. As far as vehicle engineering is concerned, as of now, they (the other ASEAN countries) represent the major markets and there’s no real market demand for more than two airbags,” he said.

    As for why now, and why this product, Shinnishi pointed to Mitsubishi Motors’ mid term business plan, which was announced in July. As it’s no longer the wide-ranging carmaker it once was, MMC declared that its the company will focus on the ASEAN market, where it is relatively strong, while concentrating on pick-up trucks, SUVs and MPVs. Passenger cars from the three diamond brand are history. The Xpander Cross? Under consideration.

    The MMM chief summarised by highlighting the Xpander’s three major points – good design (the Dynamic Shield look is powerful, macho and robust), a spacious body (full size, seven adults can sit in comfort), and features customised for Malaysian customers (large head unit, around view monitor, dashcam). He also pointed to the brand’s good after sales record in Malaysia – top in the JD Power Customer Service Index (CSI) study for two consecutive years, and second in the Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) last year.

    Check out the video above for the full interview, and the video below for a walk-around tour of the Xpander.

    GALLERY: Mitsubishi Xpander colour options

  • AD: Sime Darby Swedish Auto Ara Damansara offering free car checks for new, old Volvos – all are welcome!

    Sime Darby Swedish Auto Ara Damansara is the largest and most advanced Volvo 3S centre in Malaysia, and the new outlet is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to offering top notch customer service. Its latest initiative is a free vehicle check worth RM500 for new and old Volvos – yes, all Volvo owners are welcome.

    Visit Sime Darby Swedish Auto Ara Damansara for the free vehicle check and you’ll also receive a RM100 service voucher and 15% discount on parts. This happens every Saturday, by appointment basis.

    The new 51,000 sq.ft. four-storey Volvo 3S centre also has an express service programme tailored for busy professionals – you can send your car in by 5pm in the evening and get it back by 7.30pm on weekdays. Just give Sime Darby Swedish Auto one day’s notice, so the team can expect your arrival.

    It’s just a short wait, so you can kick back and relax in the Scandi-cool and stylish lounge, check out the first Volvo Virtual Reality Studio in Southeast Asia, or even sample the marque’s latest range of models.

    Have a lingering issue you need checked? If you’re in the vicinity, bring your Volvo over to have the potential problem diagnosed. Sime Darby Swedish Auto Ara Damansara has a dedicated inspection bay for express diagnosis, and the after-sales team comprises of trained technicians and two hybrid specialist that are certified by Volvo Cars.

    Curious? Don’t just stop there; pay Sime Darby Swedish Auto Ara Damansara at the new Sime Darby Motor City a visit to see it all for yourself. Click here for more details, or contact 03-76233200 to speak to a customer service officer. Alternatively, you can also text them via WhatsApp at 019-2471003.

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  • October 2020 week four fuel price – petrol goes down

    With Friday comes the usual weekly fuel price update. Good news for petrol users, as you will be paying less for the fuel in the coming October 24 to 30 week. Meanwhile, diesel users will continue to pay what they have been paying for it this past week.

    According to the ministry of finance, Euro 4M RON 95 petrol will be priced at RM1.64 per litre, down four sen from the RM1.68 per litre it was last week. Meanwhile, RON 97 petrol is also set drop by four sen per litre to RM1.94 per litre from the RM1.98 it was at last week.

    As for Euro 2M diesel, the fuel will continue to be priced at RM1.74 per litre in the coming week. This means that Euro 5 diesel, which is 10 sen more expensive per litre than Euro 2M diesel, will remain priced at RM1.84 per litre.

    These prices will remain in effect until October 30, when the next round of fuel prices will be announced. This is the 42nd edition of the weekly fuel pricing format for this year and the 94th in total for the format, which runs from midnight on Saturday until the following Friday.

  • Sime Darby Auto Selection launches online used car store – up to 300 vehicles available for viewing

    Multi-brand used vehicle dealer Sime Darby Auto Selection has launched its online used car store today, where customers can choose from a range of up to 300 used vehicles from multiple brands, including those which are not within the Sime Darby Motors brand portfolio.

    The used cars offered will undergo a thorough inspection process to ensure that they are put on the market in the best possible condition, says Sime Darby. Features on the new Auto Selection website include scheduling of vehicle inspections and appraisal appointments, bookings for servicing and test drives, in addition to the latest promotions and events.

    The website will have a ‘Spin Car’ feature that shows a 360-degree view of the vehicles’ exterior and interior, enabling customers to have a closer, more detailed look at the vehicles they are interested in. The online store will in the future also include more features such as loan calculators to help customers place orders at any time and any day of the week, without having to visit a physical dealership.

    Existing customers will also be able to log in and book service appointments with the Auto Selection after sales team. “By leveraging the power of the Internet and mobile technology, we are able to provide a seamless online used car trading experience for our customers, and we hope to leverage this capability to grow our business even further,” said Sime Darby Auto Selection managing director Vi Thim Juan.

    To find out more, customers can check out the Sime Darby Auto Selection website for more information.

  • Brabus Rocket 900 “One of Ten” – tuned Mercedes-AMG GT63S 4Matic+ with 900 PS and 1,250 Nm

    Brabus are at it again, this time turning their attention to the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4Matic+ to create the Brabus Rocket 900 “One of Ten.” As the name suggests, it is a limited-edition model, with just 10 planned for production, with the grey one pictured here said to be priced around 435,800 euros (RM2.14 million).

    Meanwhile, the “900” refers to the Rocket’s power output, which is 900 PS (888 hp or 662 kW). That’s quite a jump, considering a normal 63 S 4Matic+ serves up just 639 PS (630 hp or 470 kW). So, what did Brabus do to achieve this?

    Well, the company says “there is nothing to replace displacement other than more displacement.” As such, the 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 gets a special precision-balanced billet crankshaft with a stroke increased to 100 mm, along with billet piston rods, larger forged pistons boring out each of the eight cylinders to 84 mm.

    With these changes, the displacement climbs to 4,407 cc from 3,982 cc, with the company optimistically rounding things up to 4.5 litres. The forced-induction system also gets Brabus’ own high-performance turbochargers with a larger compressor unit and a special core assembly with reinforced axial bearing, allowing the maximum boost pressure to be set at 1.4 bar.

    That’s not all, as a carbon-fibre ram-air intake system, new high-pressure pumps, a stainless-steel exhaust system (with silent “coming home” and “wake the neighbours loud” modes) and a remapped engine control unit become part of the revamped powertrain. Aside from the increased horsepower count, peak torque shoots up to 1,250 Nm, which is 350 Nm more than stock.

    All that grunt is sent to all four wheels via a 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system and a nine-speed AMG Speedshift MCT 9G automatic transmission. Performance-wise, the zero to 100 km/h time is 2.8 seconds (0.4 seconds quicker than stock), while the sprint to 200 km/h takes just 9.7 seconds. For the full gallop up to 300 km/h, 23.9 seconds are required, but the top speed is capped at 330 km/h (15 km/h more than stock) due to the sheer weight of the thing at 2,120 kg.

    Large is also apt to describe the forged aero-style wheels, which measure 21 inches at the front and 22 inches at the rear, both sets curiously fitted with Pirelli P Zero tyres instead of something grippier. There’s also the Brabus Airmatic Sport air suspension system to slash 25 mm off the ride height, with two modes – Comfort and Sport – available.

    To make sure the Rocket looks as menacing as on paper, Brabus developed a custom widebody kit made from carbon-fibre that adds new wider fenders with integrated sweeping flares. At the rear, these flares add 78 mm to the width to the GT 4-Door Coupe, while the fender liners are made from Kevlar.

    The kit also sees larger air intakes at the front to better feed the engine and ram-air intake system, while ensuring aerodynamic efficiency by way of a splitter on the bumper. As for the rear, it gets a multi-piece carbon-fibre wing and a new diffuser element.

    Finishing touches to the exterior include bare carbon-fibre panels on various areas, including the side mirrors, while the first example of the car is finished in a Stealth Grey paintjob, with all previous chrome parts painted to match.

    Inside, “Brabus Masterpiece” emblems are found on the seats, along with grey seams and piping to contrast the quilted black leather and Alcantara upholstery. The company also ensured 215 parts inside the cabin, from switches to bezels are coated to match the exterior, while various carbon elements, illuminated stainless-steel scuff plates and a “1 of 10” plaque completes the look.

  • Vehicle sales performance in Malaysia, Q3 2020 versus Q3 2019 – market slows, but SST exemption kicks in

    In August, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) announced that it was changing the format in which vehicle sales data is reported to subscribers, switching the frequency from a monthly basis to quarterly, effective from mid-year.

    The association released its Q3 2020 data earlier this week, and we’ve reported on the sales breakdown by brand for the months of July, August and September. Now, we take a look at how brands have fared in the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period in 2019.

    It’s no surprise to find that things haven’t been all that rosy in 2020, as reflected by the sea of red arrows and digits in the accompanying chart. The ravages caused by Covid-19 have been far reaching, both psychologically and economically.

    On the automotive front, the numbers would likely be far less than that seen below had the government not announced a SST exemption on the sales of new CKD and CBU cars – until December 31 – to aid the segment.

    As things stand, total year-to-date sales for 2020 is at 341,489 units in the first nine months, which is 101,502 units or 22.91% less than the 442,991 units accomplished in the corresponding period last year.

    Nonetheless, the third quarter performance has been strong, and has regained a fair bit of ground for this year’s total industry volume (TIV), if you consider that at 1H the TIV stood at just 174,675 units, which was 121,642 units or 41.1% less than the 296,317 units achieved in 1H 2019.

    If vehicle sales continue at the pace as seen in the past three months and production/supply can keep up, there should no issue meeting the 300,000 sales target set by the MAA for the second-half of the year. As it stands, total registrations in Q3 amounted to 166,796 units (57,552 units in July, 52,800 units in August and 56,444 units in September).

    The Q3 numbers also suggest that the the industry will easily meet the current 2020 TIV target of 470,000 units that was announced in July, up from the previously-revised 400,000 units MAA had set in May following the coronavirus outbreak and resulting movement control order (MCO). Just over 128,000 units have to be sold in the last three months of the year to reach that goal.

    On to the specifics. Market leader Perodua saw its sales contract by 18.88% to 145,012 units from the 178,754 units it managed up to September 2019. Its market share however grew by 2.1% to 42.5% from the 40.4% slice of the pie it had last year. Its revised sales target of 210,000 units for the year should be easily met, if its performance in September – where it recorded its best-ever monthly sales in its history – is any indication.

    Only five companies saw a better first nine months this year than in 2019, and two of these were commercial players. In the category which we’re all intent on, Proton was the only major brand to show growth. It managed 73,547 units into September, 5.19% higher than the 69,920 units it achieved in the same period last year.

    Its market share has also increased from 15.8% in Q3 2019 to 21.5% this year, and notably, national brands now have 64% of the market share. With its new X50 SUV set to hit the showrooms at the end of the month, the last two months looks full of promise for the brand.

    In Q1, Honda was ahead of Toyota, but the latter has now overtaken it into third in the overall standings. While Toyota’s sales are 22.63% lower than last year, its 36,384 units managed so far this year puts it ahead of Honda’s 34,655 units, which is 46.79% less than the 47,608 units it did up to Q3 last year.

    Nonetheless, the fight for third isn’t done and dusted, because Honda outperformed Toyota last month, and the race to the tape still has three months to be counted. However, we really won’t know until early next year how both have finished, because the actual sales breakdown will only be known when the next data set for Q4 (October to December) is circulated in January 2021.

    Elsewhere, others showing significant year-on-year contractions included Nissan (-41.52%), Peugeot (-43.91%), Kia (-78.03%) and Subaru (-76.43%). As for gainers, the two other brands in the passenger car segment that showed growth in a soft year have been Porsche, which has sold 261 cars so far in 2019, up by 1.56% from the 257 units it did in 2019, and Jaguar, which now has 25 registrations this year, a 56.25% increase from the 16 cars it sold up to Q3 2019.

    Finally, mention has to be made about Mercedes, BMW and MINI numbers and the high percentage drop for them in the chart. Mercedes-Benz has stopped reporting its numbers since the earlier part of the year, and BMW – together with MINI – had said it was switching to reporting on a quarterly basis. However, it looks like it too has stopped reporting numbers, because Q3 has come and there is no update in sight.

    Click to enlarge.

  • Continental plans on selling its turbocharger business

    In a bid to cut losses, German supplier Continental is looking to sell its turbocharger business after deeming it “not so strategically important and lacks the scale required to compete globally,” insiders told Automotive News. The move is part of the company’s major restructuring programme.

    Continental, Europe’s second largest car-parts supplier, is working with Citigroup Inc on the sale. It’s understood that the company is having talks with several potential buyers, but a sale is not yet The Volkswagen Group and Ford are among the few companies which use Continental’s turbochargers.

    It isn’t the only one, though. Just last month, supplier Garrett Motion also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with the United States Bankruptcy Court. It cites its struggles with debt amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as a dispute former parent company Honeywell over asbestos liabilities.

    Continental added that it will post yet another quarterly loss due to impairments and restructuring measures. Its supervisory board had approved a major overhaul last month, affecting up to 30,000 jobs, some of which will either be displaced or eliminated.


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Latest Fuel Prices

RON 95 RM1.64 (-0.04)
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Last Updated 24 Oct 2020


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