Latest Stories

  • Volvo Cars Safety Centre multifunction facility turns 20

    Having opened in 2000, the Volvo Cars Safety Centre crash test laboratory turns 20 this year, and remains one of the most advanced crash test centres in the world today, says Volvo. The Safety Centre is a multi-function facility that enables the Swedish carmaker’s safety engineers to recreate an endless combination of traffic situations and incidents, and perform tests that go beyond regulatory requirements, it said.

    “Being committed to safety is not about passing a test or getting a safety rating. Our commitment to safety is about finding out how and why accidents and injuries occur, and then developing the technology to help prevent them. We hope our pioneering work will inspire others to follow our ambition to reduce road traffic casualties worldwide,” said Volvo senior technical advisor for safety, Thomas Broberg.

    Volvo’s crash test laboratory is home to two test tracks, measuring 108 m and 154 m long, respectively. The 108 m-long track is moveable and can be positioned at an angle of up to 90 degrees to enable testing of crashes at different speeds and angles, or to simulate a crash between two moving cars, says Volvo. Cars being tested here can be crashed at up to 120 km/h.

    Outside the Safety Centre, tests for roll-over crashes and run-off road scenarios are performed, where cars are launched into a ditch at high speeds. The outdoor facility is also where Volvo demonstrated a 30-metre drop to simulate crash damage that is sustained in extreme situations, involving the latest cars built with high-strength metals.

    There also approximately two dozen fixed and moveable barriers that can be used in crash testing, including one that somewhat resembles a moose to simulate crashes involving similarly sized animals. Before a physical crash test is conducted, the car model in question will have already undergone thousands of computer-simulated crash tests, says Volvo, and the collected data goes towards developing safer cars.

    As with other vehicle safety assessment programmes, sensors are fitted to crash test dummies and barriers to collect all possible data for the entire chain of events, along with ultra-high-definition cameras which record the test events in as much detail as possible. The Safety Centre has recently been outfitted and prepared specifically for safely crash-testing electric cars as well.

    “No matter what the scenario, we can recreate it here at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre and analyse it in detail. For me it is very inspiring to realise that for every hour of testing and analysis we put in, we get closer and closer to our ambition that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo,” said Broberg.

  • 2021 Volkswagen Golf R, GTI Clubsport Mk8 officially launched in the UK – hot hatches priced from RM203k

    The newly unveiled Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport and Golf R Mk8 have officially been introduced in the UK market. The pair of hot hatches join the existing range of GTI, GTD and GTE models, some of which are even available in an estate bodystyle.

    Let’s start with the GTI Clubsport. This front-wheel drive hatch is powered by the ubiquitous EA888 evo4 2.0 litre TSI engine that’s tuned to develop 300 PS and 400 Nm of torque. Together with a fast-shifting seven-speed DSG (dual-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox), it accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, making it the fastest-accelerating Golf GTI, ever.

    Unique to it are components such as the large two-part rear spoiler to reduce lift over the rear axle, a model-specific front bumper with integrated splitter for better downforce, oval tailpipes (as opposed to the GTI’s regular rounded ones), and an enhanced diffuser. There’s also Clubsport-specific ArtVelours seats, Digital Cockpit Pro, and Discover Media navigation system.

    Other niceties include the revered Vehicle Dynamics Manager, electromechanical front-axle locking differential, XDS electronic differential lock, and optional Dynamic Chassis Control. The Golf GTI Clubsport Mk8 starts at £37,215 (RM203k).

    Next up, the Golf R Mk8. It is unequivocally the most powerful Golf ever made. Powering it is the same EA888 2.0 litre four-banger that makes 320 PS and 420 Nm. A seven-speed DSG sends drive to all four wheels (4Motion), enabling a blistering sprint time of 4.7 seconds. Top speed is rated at 250 km/h, but this can be raised to 270 km/h with the optional R-Performance pack (£2,000 or RM11k).

    The R-Performance package adds 19-inch Estoril alloy wheels, a performance rear spoiler, as well as two new drive modes – Drift and Special. The latter is an extension of Race mode, which primes the driveline for maximum performance and amplifies the engine sound. Dynamic Chassis Control is also an option.

    As standard, the Golf R Mk8 wears a set of 18-inch Jerez alloy wheels, blue brake calipers, full R body kit, subtle roof spoiler with quad exhaust exits, hallmark matte chrome wing mirror caps, heated R steering wheel with R button (quick access to drive modes), sports seats with integrated head restraints. Available accessories include an Akrapovi? titanium exhaust, panoramic sunroof, Harmon Kardon sound system and a head up display. Prices start from £39,270 (RM214k).

    Volkswagen UK marketing head Sarah Cox said: “Christmas has come early for fast Volkswagen fans, with not just one performance hero opening to UK customers today, but two. The Golf GTI Clubsport takes the iconic GTI with its winning formula and turns the dial up for even more driver involvement and focus, while the Golf R maintains its all-round appeal, with a fantastic new version of our 4Motion system providing even more fun behind the wheel.”

    “UK buyers love hot hatchbacks like the Golf R and GTI, and these cars will represent a considerable share of all new Golf sales. I can’t wait to order one myself,” she added.

    GALLERY: 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Mk8

    GALLERY: 2021 Volkswagen Golf R Mk8


  • Mazda Anshin pre-owned programme goes online with new one-stop website to buy or sell Mazda vehicles

    Bermaz Motor has officially launched its Mazda Anshin website, which is a new one-stop platform for customers to buy or sell pre-owned Mazda vehicles. These include ex-company demo vehicles as well as those traded in by current owners that have gone through a thorough inspection and certification process.

    According to the company, every Mazda pre-owned vehicle listed on Anshin’s website must first undergo a comprehensive 111-point check by certified technicians to ensure compliance with quality standards. This includes ensuring the vehicle has not been through a flood or suffered any major damages due to an accident – the chassis is also checked during the inspection.

    If you’re selling your Mazda through the Anshin programme, you’ll need to send your car to a selected authorised service centre (currently in Glenmarie and Petaling Jaya) to be inspected; this will take approximately an hour and cost you a nominal fee of RM 200. If everything checks out, you will be provided a valuation and a recommended selling price.

    For those looking to buy, you can browse through the website and see what’s available, with the assurance that all the vehicles listed have Anshin certification. The pre-owned vehicles will come with the remaining manufacturer’s warranty and free service from their first registered date. Should you find a Mazda to your liking and want to “try before you buy,” this can be arranged at Anshin brick-and-motor dealerships in Glenmarie and Kajang.

  • China’s Alibaba-backed AutoX starts driverless testing

    AutoX, a Chinese autonomous vehicle startup backed by Alibaba and carmakers Dongfeng and SAIC, said that it has started fully driverless vehicle testing in China. The fleet, which consists of 25 Chrysler Pacifica MPVs, will prove the company’s tech on the roads of Shenzhen and five other cities.

    According to Reuters, carmakers and tech companies are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, jostling to take an early lead in what’s supposed to be the future of mobility. To attract well-funded backers, startups are testing their tech with different production vehicles in a variety of cities.

    AutoX, which is based in Shenzhen across the border from Hong Kong, has incorporated its autonomous tech on a number of vehicles from various makes, and has tested them in its home city, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Wuhu. In July, the firm became the second company after Alphabet Inc’s Waymo to test a passenger vehicle on California’s public roads without a safety driver in the front.

    One thing that sets AutoX apart from Chinese rivals WeRide and Baidu is that AutoX does not use a remote centre to take control of its self-driving cars if needed. Both those companies have a command centre. “We think with current communications infrastructure, remote control brings safety issues as 5G signals are not stable yet and hackers might attack the vehicles,” AutoX CEO Xiao Jianxiong told Reuters.

    Also testing autonomous cars in China are Toyota-backed and ride hailing company Didi Chuxing, but their test mules have one or two safety staff onboard to take control when needed.

  • Japan considering new petrol vehicle ban in mid-2030s

    The government of Japan is considering the abolishment of new petrol-powered vehicles by the mid-2030s, Japan public broadcaster NHK was reported as saying, according to Reuters.

    The nation is the latest to consider outlawing internal combustion-engined vehicles, following the United Kingdom’s confirmation that it will be banning the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered cars and vans in 2030, which is a full 10 years earlier than its original deadline.

    The industry ministry of Japan will outline a plan by the end of the year, chief government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference earlier today. Part of the minstry’s considerations are to require all new vehicles to be electrified, which includes hybrids, NHK reported, and a formal target will be finalised after expert-level debates have concluded at the end of this year at the soonest.

    Electric vehicles are expected to take up 55% market share in Japan by 2030, the Boston Consulting Group said in a report on electric vehicles. “The speed of expansion of the share of electric vehicles will accelerate due to the fact that battery prices are falling more rapidly than previously expected,” it said. Toyota, Honda and Nissan have declined to comment, according to Reuters.

    In Europe, France is firm on its stand on banning internal combustion-engined vehicles by 2040, with Paris itself to ban internal combustion vehicles by 2030. The city has already restricted city centre access to vehicles made before 1997, along with introducing car-free days.

    The wider European Union is expected to decide on future restrictions upon internal combustion vehicles as early as this month, Reuters reported.

  • Land Rover Defender Racing Green Edition by Carlex Design – brown and green-themed SUV; RM420k

    Polish tuning company Carlex Design has released another modified version of the Land Rover Defender called the Racing Green Edition, which joins the Yachting Edition that was released previously.

    Priced at 85,000 euros (RM419,583), the Racing Green Edition sees the contemporary off-road SUV receive a number of styling enhancements for a more luxurious look, with a tinge of sportiness added on for good measure.

    First off, the Defender is treated to a deep green paint finish inspired by the iconic British racing green, paired with hand painted porcelain white stripes that run nearly the entire length of the vehicle. Elsewhere, there are carbon-fibre wheel arch extensions to showcase the bespoke black wheels, and the material is also applied to the bonnet, side mirror caps as well as the spare wheel cover that sports an embossed “Carlex” script.

    Finishing touches on the exterior include a sticker pack for the lower section of the doors, with “Racing Green Edition” on them, while the Land Rover emblems and Defender script at the front have been replaced with Carlex items.

    The company also made it a point to park a regular Defender next to the Racing Green Edition, so you can see the severity of the transformation. Sadly, there’s no such comparison for the interior, which is just as striking based on the photos posted.

    Inside, there are reshaped seats trimmed in brown plain and perforated leather, complete with green inserts and the model script on them. The brown and green theme carries on throughout the cabin, as seen with leather upholstery applied on the steering wheel, dashboard, door panels and centre armrest. Other details include new floor mats, a dedicated model plaque, brushed green-painted elements and carbon-fibre décor pieces to match those on the exterior.

    Visual changes aside, Carlex Design left the Defender’s mechanicals alone, which in Poland, can either be a 2.0 litre Ingenium turbodiesel in D200 or D240 guises. As for petrol engines, there’s the P300 that is also from the Ingenium family with a capacity of 2.0 litres, along with a larger 3.0 litre straight-six with the P400.

  • 2021 Hyundai Elantra now in Malaysia – full specs and gallery of the 7th-gen 1.6L IVT sedan, launch next week

    The seventh-generation Hyundai Elantra looks properly crazy in pics (we meant that in a good way, good crazy), but nothing quite prepares you for seeing the CN7 in the metal. The riot of lines, and on a C-segment family sedan at that – Hyundai has gone its own way before, but this has to be the Korean carmaker’s most deliberate attempt ever.

    The new Elantra follows the Sensuous Sportiness design identity as per the new Sonata, but if the D-segment model is all about curves, the Elantra is full of sharp lines and triangles. Hyundai says that triangular shapes is a “taboo” in car design, and this is a bold attempt that achieves “geometrical beauty”. Definitely a love or hate design, but it’s certainly bold, and no one can accuse Hyundai of playing it safe and boring. Also see the just-revealed fourth-gen Tucson.

    After you finish playing “find the lines” with the Elantra’s Parametric Jewel body, take a step back and you’ll notice that this sedan is larger than the sixth-gen AD. According to the spec sheet, this car is 4,675 mm long, 1,825 mm wide and 1,430 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,720 mm. This makes the CN7 55 mm longer and 25 mm wider than its predecessor, but 20 mm lower.

    The wheelbase is 20 mm longer than the AD and MD’s 2.7 metres, a spec sheet hint at the new third-generation modular global platform underneath, as used in the DN8 Sonata. The new architecture – which is said to improve safety, efficiency and driving performance – replaces the second-generation global platform family introduced in 2013.

    The AD Elantra is not a very common sight, so for a better mental comparo, the new Elantra is 27 mm longer, 26 mm wider and 14 mm taller than the current Honda Civic, and its wheelbase is 20 mm longer. Boot space is 474 litres (no spare tyre but a repair kit) versus the Honda’s 519L.

    Behind that low snout is a Smartstream G1.6 engine. This latest 1.6 litre unit is naturally aspirated and has dual port injection (MPI, as opposed to direct injection), pushing out 121 hp at 6,300 rpm and 154 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm.

    Also known as the “Gamma II” engine, the DOHC and Dual VVT unit is paired to Hyundai’s Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) with eight virtual speeds. IVT is the carmaker’s in-house developed and produced CVT, with a chain-belt, promising better response and the shift pattern of a manual transmission. This would be the first Hyundai sold here with a stepless automatic – we’ve had torque converter and dual-clutch autos before.

    The Smartstream engine and gearbox combo powers the 1,245 kg Elantra from 0-100 km/h in 10.4 seconds, while top speed is 196 km/h. The in-house claimed combined fuel consumption figure is 5.6 litres per 100 km, or 17.85 km/l. In terms of performance, it’s not quite at the level of the previous-gen AD Turbo, or even the Civic FC’s 1.5T engine (173 PS/220 Nm), but Hyundai does produce the Elantra N Line with a 1.6L turbo engine, 201 hp and 264 Nm. Someday perhaps?

    In the chassis department, it’s the standard front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam suspension. Brakes are ventilated discs in front and solid discs at the back. Electric power steering (EPS, or MDPS in Hyundai-speak) and an electronic parking brake with auto hold are also in the mix.

    This contender is more about design and features than outright performance, and the single CBU Korea variant that Malaysia gets is very well equipped. On the outside, you’ll find bi-LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, full-width LED tail lamps (H-shaped) and 17-inch two-tone alloys (225/45 Kumho Ecsta PS71 tyres) that match the car’s parametric design. Note that these are factory wheels and not locally-sourced items – speaking of that, the only local addition to the CN7 are “Smartstream” badges on the front wings.

    The new Elantra’s interior matches the wow factor of the exterior, even if it’s not as sharply cut. There’s a very prominent boundary between the driver’s cockpit area and the front passenger, brought about by a physical barrier that slopes down from the dashboard to the centre armrest, and trim colour.

    The horizontal vents made popular by Audi is employed in this driver-centric cabin, and above that strip are screens for the instrument panel and infotainment system.

    The meter panel is a 10.25-inch Supervision LCD colour display (dials will change colour according to drive mode), while the head unit is an 8.0-inch unit touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There’s also a Bluetooth multi-connection function that will take music from different sources. Wireless smartphone charger too, of course.

    Other useful comfort and convenience features include ventilated/heated front seats, heated steering wheel (we don’t need this but kit comes in a package), dual-zone auto air con with three step auto blower control, rear AC vents, smart temperature control for the driver’s seat (seat ventilation can be synced with climate control), electronic parking brake with auto hold, tyre pressure monitoring and a hands-free smart trunk.

    Also included are an eight-way powered driver’s seat with lumbar, keyless entry and push start, auto headlamps and wipers and multi-angle reverse camera. The front cupholders are variable and can fit different sizes of beverage.

    In addition, Hyundai’s full and latest SmartSense suite of driver assist features are present. In the pack are Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA), Forward Collision Assist Junction, Blind Spot Collision with Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Collision (RCCA) with Avoidance Assist, Safe Exit Warning, Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (LVDA) and Rear Occupant Alert.

    The basic SmartSense tech are familiar, but there are new functions such as LFA (keeps one in the centre of the lane), cyclist detection for the FCA, junction FCA, Stop & Go for the SCC, and Avoidance Assist for the blind spot monitor and RCTA, among other things. LVDA is like Perodua ASA’s front departure alert. All that is in addition to six airbags and two rear Isofix child seat mounts. Comprehensive safety.

    While we only get one single variant, there are two interior colour schemes, which is all black and light grey. Black is self-explanatory, but the grey scheme is nice as it highlights the cockpit zone with an all-round grey border. It also comes with a nice grey melange (my description, not Hyundai’s) fabric on the door cards that looks and feels nicer than the black leather. The fabric is also found on the back of the front seats.

    Both come with leather seats – choose the black theme and you’ll get black seats, vice versa. We laud Hyundai-Sime Darby for giving a non-black cabin option – Malaysian car buyers are a conservative lot, we’re told by all carmakers, so no one would bat an eyelid if black was the only choice.

    As for exterior colours, the Elantra will be shipped here in Polar White, Amazon Grey, Electric Shadow and Intense Blue. The striking blue wasn’t at the media preview, but Electric Shadow is Hyundai’s take on the currently trendy “Nardo Grey” hue.

    Lastly, if you’re wondering what’s that circular thing on the right of the meter panel, it’s a blank button of sorts – in the Elantra N Line, that’s where the Drive Mode button is. If it annoys you, just stick a phone holder there for an easy fix!

    There you go, full specs and details on the new Hyundai Elantra, which will debut here in a single 1.6L IVT variant. The only thing we don’t know is the price of the car, which will be revealed when the C-segment contender is officially launched next week.

    Being a CBU Korea entry with such high specs, we’re guessing that it won’t be priced at the level of the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. Perhaps, the CBU Japan Mazda 3, which tops out at RM154,679 after SST exemption, is a better indication.

    It won’t be the cheapest C-segment sedan around, but the CN7 Hyundai Elantra will be trading on “feel” and design, much like the Mazda, although one is curvy and the other is sharp. Variety is the spice of life, right? What do you think of the new Elantra?

    GALLERY: 2021 Hyundai Elantra, Malaysia-spec

  • Vespa GTS 300 HPE Super Tech in Malaysia, RM33,000

    Now in Malaysia is the 2021 Vespa GTS 300 HPE Super Tech, priced at RM33,000, excluding road tax, insurance and registration. New for the Super Tech model variant of the GTS 300 HPE scooter is a full colour TFT-LCD display and features smartphone connectivity.

    The Euro 5 compliant 300 HPE mill – HPE standing for High Performance Engine – is a 278 cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled with four-valves, producing 23.8 hp at 8,250 rpm and 26 Nm of torque at 5,250 rpm. Fed by Magneti Marelli MIUG4 EFI, the HPE engine’s increased torque – 18% more over previous – comes from high-pressure injectors and larger intake as well as a reworked combustion chamber.

    Transmission on the Super Tech has also been improved with a stronger belt drive and component materials that reduce friction and noise. Noise dampening material has been added to the inside of the drive cover and increased rigidity of the clutch drum serve to further reduce unwanted vibration and noise.

    The TFT-LCD display measures 4.3-inches, mounted inside a binnacle that mimics the instrument panel of Vespas of yore. The Vespa MIA app, compatible with Android and iOS, allows for the rider – via a joystick on the left-hand control pod – to manage calls, music and message with navigation data displayed on the screen.

    Rolling on 12-inch wheels, the GTS 300 HPE Super Tech uses single hydraulic discs front and rear for stopping, with switchable ABS as standard, complemented by Vespa’s ASR traction control. Suspension is with single-arm suspension in the front and twin four-position preload-adjustable shock absorbers at the back.

    The GTS 300 HPE Super Tech weighs a somewhat hefty, for a scooter, 165 kg, due to the steel unibody construction while fuel capacity is listed as 8.5-litres. A storage compartment is found under the seat and unlocking the glovebox in the front cowl reveals a USB charging port with place for the rider’s smartphone and small miscellaneous items.

  • Next-generation Volkswagen Amarok won’t simply be a rebadged Ford Ranger – Australian launch due in 2023

    Preliminary details of the second-generation Volkswagen Amarok have been revealed following a press briefing held by the carmaker’s Australian division, as reported by CarsGuide. The all-new pick-up truck was first teased in sketch form earlier this year and will be the result of a collaboration between Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Ford, an alliance formed back in 2019.

    According to Volkswagen, Ford is the “lead partner” in the project, but despite the next Amarok and Ranger set to share the same platform and place of assembly, the German carmaker insists its pick-up will be unique and not simply be a rebadged model. An example of such an approach already exists in the form of the latest Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50, where both share similar mechanicals but sport different designs.

    Despite this, Volkswagen has not confirmed if the 3.0 litre turbodiesel V6 used in the current Amarok will be carried over or be replaced with Ford’s range of turbodiesel engines. “We’re not at that level of detail yet, the Amarok is still very much a work in progress,” said Michael Bartsch, managing director of Volkswagen Group Australia.

    “But let me put it this way, we will not make the same mistake Mercedes made with the X-Class and [Nissan] Navara. We made it very clear [to Ford] what the consumer expectation would be. Australia is the largest or second-largest Amarok market in the world. We move forward with full confidence that there will be a Ford product and a Volkswagen product,” he added.

    “To avoid misconceptions, we have sent a dedicated design team from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles to Australia to understand your environment better. For the last one-and-a-half years, they have been developing with our cooperation partner Ford, this beautiful car,” said Albert-Johann Kirzinger, head of design at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

    “We know what our Amarok means to our customers and fans in Australia and that’s why we are working to have a 100% Volkswagen, a true Volkswagen, and not only a rebadged Ford,” he continued.

    During the virtual briefing, Kirzinger is shown standing next to a full-size styling model of the new Volkswagen pick-up, albeit hidden under wraps. It isn’t much to go on, but the creases on the cloth suggest that the production version will be very similar to what was shown in the earlier sketch, which featured a bold face, pronounced bulges and squared-off wheel arches.

    As for a launch date, the Amarok is said to only arrive in Australia in early 2023, about 18 months after its close sibling, the Ranger goes on sale in the second half of 2021. The Ranger is currently in its third-generation (T6) and has been around since 2011, while the Amarok is even older, first introduced in 2010.

  • BMW to pull out of Formula E at the end of the season

    BMW has announced that it will be ending its involvement in the Formula E World Championship at the end of the coming season. The company is the second to do so this week – earlier, Audi had revealed that it was pulling out of the single-seater electric racing series, also at the end of this season.

    The automaker said that the decision to leave Formula E is because of the shift in focus it is undergoing in the field of electric mobility. Essentially, resources are being redeployed as the company puts more emphasis on increasing the scale of offerings in the segment as well as the ramping up of global production.

    It added that the seven seasons of participation in the series – with the last couple of seasons as a works team – had offered plenty of learning in the development of e-drivetrains, with the same engineers who develop the drivetrains for electric production vehicles also being responsible for those in the race cars, but added that leaving the series was a natural conclusion, as it has “essentially exhausted the opportunities for this form of technology transfer in the competitive environment of Formula E.”

    It has been a week of consolidation for German automakers. While Audi is moving out of Formula E, it is making a return to racing in Le Mans, and the brand will is set to compete in the Dakar Rally for the first time in 2022.

    Meanwhile, Volkswagen has announced that it will be ending all its programmes and involvement in motorsports, including calling time on its ID.R project, as it too seeks to realign its focus on electric mobility. The automaker said that all 169 staff from its Volkswagen Motorsport division will be absorbed into the Volkswagen network over the coming months.


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Last Updated 28 Nov 2020


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