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  • 2019 WTCR Sepang: BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse on pole at 2:13.141, “nice feeling” says Michelisz

    Stamping his domination in the 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) round at Sepang Internation Circuit is Norbert Michelisz from BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse with top finishes in both qualifying rounds. Driving a Hyundai i30 N TCR Michelisz set a best time of 2:13.141, edging out Esteban Guerrieri of ALL-INKL Munninch Motorsport driving a Honda Civic Type R TCR who came in 0.786 seconds behind.

    Michelisz who comes from Hungary currently has a 15 point lead in the WTCR drivers standings with an overall 316 points after nine races. However, the WTCR is still up for grabs, with three other drivers having a chance of grabbing the title, depending on the outcome of the first and second races.

    While the mathematical possibilities for the championship win are almost endless, other contenders for the 2019 WTRC title include Guerrieri with 307 points as well as Yvan Muller of France driving for Cyan Racing Lynk & Co with 305 points and Thed Bjork with 288 points, also driving for Lynk & Co.

    The first running of WTCR in Sepang sees Malaysian Mitchell Cheah in the race as a wildcard, scoring 28th position driving for Hyundai Tema Engstler in Hyundai i30 N TCR. Cheah currently competes in the ADAC Touring Car Championship in Germany.

    Malaysian motorcycle racer Hafizh Syahrin who recently left the championship series after relinquishing his spot with Red Bull KTM MotoGP, is also entered as a wildcard, doing a double header in the 2019 Endurance World Championship (EWC) 8-Hour motorcycle race with Yamaha Sepang Racing. In his first time driving a full-on race car, Hafizh sits one position behind team mate Cheah, driving a Hyundai i30 N TCR while another Malaysian competing in the Sepang round of WTCR is Douglas Khoo of Viper Niza Racing in a Cupra TCR.

    In an interview with, Francois Ribiero, head of Eurosport Events, said the main philosophy behind both WTCR and EWC is approachability to the fans. “In no other FIA or FIM race series can fans get the opportunity to come this close to the racers and the cars and bikes.”

    “We are a big family here in WTCR and EWC and the fans are a part of the family,” said Ribiero. “Certainly, we hope to see some close racing this weekend at Sepang and with the (WTCR) drivers championship still open, anything can happen,” he said.

    Adding to this, SIC chief executive officer Datuk Razlan Razali said a three-year contract has been signed with WTCR and EWC to hold double-header races in Sepang. “The main advantage we have in Sepang is we have a track that is top-ranked with both FIA and FIM, the governing bodies for four-wheel and two-wheel racing, plus night racing. This allows us to hold events that cater to viewers in any time zone in the world plus accessibility to local race fans,” said Razlan.

  • 2020 Honda CBR1000RR-R unveiled in Malaysia

    After its worldwide reveal at the 2019 EICMA motorcycle show in Italy, the 2020 Honda CBR1000RR-R was unveiled at Sepang International Circuit during the 2019 Races of Malaysia. The CBR1000RR-R replaces the CBR1000RR and features design and styling taken from Honda’s MotoGP racing motorcycles.

    Intended for competition in the World Superbike Championship (WSBK) that is currently dominated by the Kawasaki ZX-10RR, the CBR1000RR-R uses a chassis and bodywork derived from the Honda RC213V-S race replica with 214 hp at 14,500 rpm and 113 Nm of torque at 12,500 rpm coming from the inline-four. Racing technology features in the CBR1000RR-RR with items such as titanium connecting rods, forged pistons and finger-follower rocker arms for valve actuation.

    The base model CBR1000RR-R displayed comes with Showa fully-adjustable front forks with Nissin brakes callipers while the SP version will come with Brembo Stylema callipers and Ohlins electronic suspension. Riding aids abound on the CBR1000RR-R with Honda Selectable Torque Control (HTSC), power, engine braking and wheelie control with the addition of launch control.

    The frame is all new and is designed to be stiffer in the vertical plane with increased torsional resistance but more compliant in the horizontal axis to boost grip and feel. Winglets now sprout from either side of the fairing as aerodynamic aids but we think its utility on the CBR1000RR-R for road use will be more cosmetic than functional.

    There is no pricing as yet for the 2020 Honda CBR1000RR-R in Malaysia and as to when it might be available for sale, Boon Siew Honda declined to commit to a date. However, a source inside Boon Siew said the CBR1000RR-R might make it to Malaysia “sooner rather than later.”

  • NAP 2020 to be launched early next year – Leiking

    The launch of the revised National Automotive Policy (NAP) has been shifted again, with the policy now set to be announced early next year. This was revealed by international trade and industry minister Datuk Darell Leiking today at the Proton X70 CKD rollout event in Tanjung Malim.

    He said that there were still things to be incorporated into NAP 2020, which will cover the entire automotive eco-system. This includes new and emerging tech, reiterating what he said in October. “Works are in progress because we want to add a lot of things. As you can see in the coming days, if not weeks and months, something new will come of it and we have to be adaptive to it as well,” he had said back then.

    The announcement of the reworked NAP has been in review since last July, and was previously due to be announced in the second quarter of this year. At last juncture, the policy was reportedly set to be presented to Cabinet for approval in November.

    In September, Malaysia Automotive, Robotic and IoT Institute (MARii) CEO Datuk Madani Sahari revealed that the new NAP will be implemented in three phases until 2030, with the first phase ensuring the continuity of NAP 2014 and introducing necessary elements to prepare the country to become a producer of EEVs (energy efficient vehicles).

    The new policy is expected to see a shift in focus from energy-efficient vehicles (EEV) to the ‘next-generation vehicle’ (NxGV), with the first phase of this focusing on battery production, management systems and the establishment of EV charging stations, while the following stages will focus on other technological advancements such as 5G connectivity.

    The criteria for a national car will also be defined in the policy. As previously reported, six criteria make up the requirements: it has to be majority-owned by Malaysians, receive its funding from the public sector, be comprised of 75% local supply chain, have 98% local workers, have research and development conducted in Malaysia as well as to take steps to align with the definition of next-generation vehicles.

  • VIDEO: How to drive a BMW PHEV to its full potential

    Plug-in hybrid vehicles, or PHEVs are increasingly commonplace as more and more automakers embrace electrification gradually. The appeal of electrified vehicles lies mainly in their reduced emissions compared to conventional, pure internal combustion-engined vehicles, as well as their ability to operate in relative silence and better refinement.

    With conventional petrol- or diesel-engined vehicles, methods for maximising fuel economy are already somewhat widely known; smoothness is key, especially with acceleration and braking, and anticipating road conditions will certainly help.

    In the case of cars with electrified powertrains, the same guidelines also apply, though more complex systems are at work and therefore, there are more parameters to maximise efficiency with. BMW has released this video explaining what can be done operate its plug-in hybrid models to the full potential of efficiency.

    Firstly, ensuring that the vehicle is charged as much of the time as possible will maximise electric driving range and therefore reduce petrol consumption, and the vehicle can be programmed from the mobile app to pre-condition the cabin’s temperature before heading out on a journey. This way, the electric drive battery can be dedicated to propelling the vehicle instead of heating or cooling the cabin.

    The most efficient way of driving can be summoned in BMW PHEV models through Hybrid Eco Pro mode; the included route assistant indicates when the driver should release the accelerator via a graphic on the instrument cluster, for when the vehicle is approaching reduced speed limit zones, junctions or entrances into towns.

    The systems for powertrain will also elect to either coast or employ energy recuperation; the adaptive approach employed aims to enable deceleration in the most efficient way possible, depending on the driving situation. Fascinating? Watch the video below to see the systems in action.

    GALLERY: G20 BMW 330e plug-in hybrid

    GALLERY: G11/G12 BMW 745e LCI

  • 2020 Proton X70 CKD rolls out of Tanjung Malim plant – launch soon, right-hand drive exports planned

    One year and one day on from the launch of the Proton X70, the CKD version of the SUV has finally entered production at the Tanjung Malim factory. The first locally-assembled units are rolling out of an extension of the plant, which cost RM1.2 billion to develop.

    The car is largely identical to the one that was imported from China, with the exception of the new Proton roundel in front that replaces the previous shield-shaped badge. There will apparently be more changes to be found inside, which include a powered tailgate and possibly a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

    We expect the car to soldier on with the same 1.8 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as before, and in China this very configuration produces the same 181 hp, but an extra 15 Nm of torque at 300 Nm. The CKD X70 will be launched very soon, and we will of course be there to bring you full coverage.

    The national carmaker says that it has fulfilled its promise it made at the launch of the imported model, to commence production of CKD units by the end of 2019. And that’s just the beginning – Tanjung Malim will also be hub of joint venture partner Geely’s right-hand drive production, with global exports in the pipeline.

    A map flashed up on the screen during the event showed various planned export markets, which not only included regional countries such as Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia, but also those further abroad like Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, South America and even the United Kingdom.

    “By producing the Proton X70 in Tanjung Malim, we have taken a quantum leap in our abilities and this is by far our most ambitious undertaking to date,” said chairman Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar. “This new plant will not only produce future products jointly developed with Geely but it will also be a centre for right-hand drive production as we begin exports to countries all over the world.”

    Geely president and CEO An Conghui said, “Proton has undergone a tremendous transformation over the past two years. This experience has worked out very well for us at Geely Auto as we are happy to help Proton realise its global aspirations. We will continue to support Proton as it grows in the Malaysian market and in the wider ASEAN region and beyond.”

  • December 2019 week 2 fuel price – RON 97 unchanged

    It’s Friday, which means time for the usual weekly price announcement for RON 97 petrol. The price of the fuel is set to be unchanged from last week, remaining at RM2.64 per litre for the period December 14 to 20.

    No change of course to RON 95 petrol, which continues to stay at its fixed price ceiling of RM2.08 per litre. It’s the same for diesel – the price of Euro 2M diesel remains at RM2.18 per litre, and Euro 5 diesel, which costs 10 sen more, stays fixed at RM2.28 per litre.

    According to the finance ministry, Automatic Price Mechanism (APM) calculations show that RON 95 and diesel fuels would be priced at RM2.34 and RM2.32 per litre respectively if there were no price cap in place. It added that for the period of December 14 to 20, the government will absorb a total of RM111.44 million to subsidise these fuels.

    These prices will remain effective until the next fuel price adjustment is announced on December 20. This is the 49th edition of the weekly fuel pricing format which is announced every Friday and runs from Saturday until the following Friday. This pricing mechanism and existing subsidy system will come to an end when the government begins its targeted petrol subsidy programme (PSP) for RON 95 petrol early next year.

  • Proton Saga, X70 make up nearly 90% of total sales – automaker looking to increase exports to 5,000 units

    While official figures for the year have yet to be revealed for it, the Proton X70‘s performance in 2019 has been deemed a success by the automaker. The first year of sales for the SUV has seen a total of 26,000 units being shifted, and while the car has missed the target set for it, Proton CEO Li Chunrong says that he’s happy with the results.

    “We sold 26,000 of the X70 in the last one year and although that did not meet my target of 30,000, it was considered successful,” he told Channel News Asia in an interview earlier this week.

    He said the facelifted Saga has also been a stellar performer for the brand this year, contributing 70% to the company’s overall sales. Since its launch in August, the car has recorded more than 35,000 bookings, and sales of the car have breached the 4,000 unit mark for three consecutive months. With the X70 contributing 19%, the numbers generated by the two models represent nearly 90% of the automaker’s total sales.

    Li, who says that the national carmaker is now aiming to go head-to-head with the likes of Toyota and Honda in terms of quality and branding, said that the company will seek to become an “international brand” by 2027. Exports will play an important part in achieving this.

    He said that Thailand, which produces two million cars annually, exports a million units. “That is half to export, while Indonesia’s export is at 30%. With Malaysia however, exports are only 3%,” he said.

    He added that for Proton, the best export performance was last managed in 2005, when the company exported 20,000 cars annually. “But in 2017, the numbers reduced to 200 cars per year. Why? Because of the product,” he said.

    In the last two years, Proton has been able to increase its exports to 1,000 units, but Li says this is not enough. “Once we launch our upgraded models next year, our exports will increase and our aim is 5,000 cars a year,” he said.

    The automaker’s largest export market currently is Egypt, where it sells left-hand drive Saga and Exora models. Proton is also looking to ramping up exports to Pakistan, where it is collaborating with Alhaj Automotive to establish an assembly plant in the country.

  • C118 Mercedes-Benz CLA vs C117 – what’s changed?

    In January, Mercedes-Benz revealed the second-generation C118 CLA, which rides on the carmaker’s Modular Front Architecture (MFA2) platform that also underpins the W177 A-Class, V177 A-Class Sedan and X247 GLB.

    Design-wise, the style-focused four-door coupe appears to be a scaled-down version of the larger C257 CLS, but if you are still having a hard time spotting what’s new from the first-generation C117 CLA, Mercedes-Benz has prepared a handy video to assist you in that regard.

    The video, which is just over two minutes long, highlights both the exterior and interior differences between the two generations, while listing some of the advanced safety systems from Mercedes-Benz’s higher vehicle classes that have made their way to the new car.

    The C118 is also available with a choice of six petrol engines with the CLA 180, CLA 200, CLA 220 and CLA 220 4Matic, CLA 250 and CLA 250 4Matic, CLA 35 4Matic and CLA 45 4Matic+ and CLA 45 S 4Matic+, – the CLA 35 being something that wasn’t offered for the C117. There’s also a choice of three diesel engines in the CLA 180 d, CLA 200 d and CLA 220 d.

    What isn’t mentioned in the video are the revised dimensions, as the new CLA is much larger than its predecessor, measuring 4,688 mm long (+48 mm), 1,830 mm wide (+53 mm), 1,439 mm tall (-2 mm) and with a wheelbase spanning 2,729 mm (+30 mm). The C118 has yet to make its launch debut in Malaysia, but are you looking forward to its arrival and do you like the look of it compared to its predecessor? Let us know in the comments below.

    GALLERY: C118 Mercedes-Benz CLA

    GALLERY: C117 Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 (Malaysia-spec)

  • SPIED: Volvo S90, V90 and V90 Cross Country facelifts

    It appears the Volvo S90, V90 and V90 Cross Country are set to be updated soon, as prototypes of all three models have been sighted by our spy photographers undergoing testing in sub-zero temperatures near the Arctic Circle.

    Based on these photos, it appears there won’t be any major styling updates, despite the generous amount of black tape used to mask the cars. Instead, we see lightly revised bumpers, along with light signatures for the headlamps and taillights. Viewed from the front, the LEDs within the clusters appear to be more prominent than before, while the reverse lights in the rear appear to have been repositioned.

    On the inside, expect the familiar layouts of the three to remain largely the same, with expected changes being the adoption of a new infotainment system that runs on Android Automotive OS in place of the Sensus system, which appeared in the XC40 Recharge.

    Other changes include a revised range of safety and driver assistance systems, as well as a speed limiter set at 180 km/h – a move that is part of the company’s Vision 2020 aspirations for road safety that aims to have no one killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.

    More significant updates involve the list of available powertrains, as the “B-badged” mild hybrid powertrains found on the XC90 SUV are likely to join the regular “T- and D-badged” petrol and diesel engines, along with the carmaker’s Twin Engine plug-in hybrid options.

    Volvo S90 facelift spyshots

    Volvo V90 facelift spyshots

    Volvo V90 Cross Country facelift spyshots

  • SPYSHOTS: Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo seen again

    It’s no secret that Porsche is readying an estate version of its all-electric Taycan, having first given the confirmation in October 2018. We’ve seen test mules making the rounds on the internet for a while now, and it’s clear that the automaker is employing the Panamera‘s two-bodied strategy.

    Right off the bat, powertrain options will pretty much be identical to that of the regular Taycan. Currently, there’s the entry-level Taycan 4S, Taycan Turbo, and the Taycan Turbo S. The 4S gets 530 PS and 407 km of range, but the performance battery option brings that up to 571 PS and 463 km of range. Regardless of battery choice, the 0-100 km/h sprint is achieved in four seconds, while top speed is 250 km/h.

    In the case of the Taycan Turbo, it gets 625 PS output (680 PS in Launch Control overboost) and 850 Nm of torque. The century sprint is much quicker at 3.2 seconds, 0-160 km/h in 6.9 seconds and 0-200 km/h in 10.6 seconds. Its claimed driving range is between 381 km to 450 km (WLTP standards).

    The twin-motor powertrain in the range-topping Turbo S also makes 625 PS, but rises up to 761 PS and 1,050 Nm on overboost. That rockets the Taycan from standstill to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, 0-160 km/h in 6.3 seconds and 0-200 km/h in 9.8 seconds. Top speed for both the Turbo and Turbo S are capped at 260 km/h, though the driving range isn’t quite as impressive here, from 388 km to 412 km.

    Those figures aside, expect the Taycan Sport Turismo (the name is still unofficial) to feature pretty much the same cabin as the Taycan. That includes the swanky new 16.8-inch curved instrument display, a 10.9-inch centre infotainment screen, as well as the optional, separate display for the front passenger.

    The planned introduction of the Taycan wagon is on the back of Porsche’s six billion euro (RM28 billion) investment in electric mobility by 2022. The new model will create 300 new jobs at its headquarters in Zuffenhausen, and sources say it will be introduced as early as next year. What do you think of this?

    GALLERY: Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo


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Last Updated 14 Dec 2019


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