Latest Stories

  • Hyundai Starex facelift price up by RM3k – RM151,888

    Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) today released a new price list for its models in Malaysia. Upon checking, there’s no difference in on-the-road without insurance pricing for the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (HEV RM99,888, HEV Plus RM115,888), Tucson facelift (Nu 2.0 MPI Elegance RM123,888, Gamma 1.6 T-GDI Turbo RM143,888) and Elantra facelift (Nu 2.0 MPI Executive for RM109,888).

    However, the Hyundai Grand Starex 2.5 CRDI VGT Executive sees a small RM3,000 price jump from RM148,888 to RM151,888. The facelifted Starex made its debut at the 2018 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show (KLIMS) late last year. The people mover’s face is now more contemporary, sporting bowl-shaped headlamp clusters and a big U-shaped grille. Like Thailand, our refreshed Starex carries over the familiar dashboard – we miss out on the Korean-spec van’s all-new cabin.

    The 11-seater four-row Starex is equipped with a touchscreen head unit with navigation, six roof-mounted blowers for the three rows behind the driver, front and rear parking sensors, reverse camera, eight-inch rear roof-mounted monitor with DVD player, cruise control, auto lights, 16-inch alloys, four airbags and ESC. Leather, as shown here, is an option.

    The big Hyundai is powered by a 2.5 litre turbodiesel with 170 PS and 441 Nm of torque. The VGT motor is mated to a five-speed conventional automatic transmission with manual mode, which sends drive to the rear wheels.

    GALLERY: Hyundai Grand Starex facelift

  • FIRST DRIVE: 2019 G20 BMW 330i M Sport – RM329k

    In the world of cars, the BMW 3 Series really needs no introduction. It’s a living legend in its own right, one that’s universally known and desired by many. Now in its seventh generation, the G20 3 Series aims to up the ante, and in just over seven months since its global reveal, the ravishing sedan is finally here in Malaysia in the sole 330i M Sport guise.

    Right off the bat, it’s got a love it or hate it appeal. The exterior design will polarise (especially with the ever-growing kidney grille), but things are a tad more palatable in M Sport trim. If you want a more aggressive look, feel free to browse the full M Performance catalogue.

    For now, the fully-imported 330i M Sport remains as the only offering for early adopters. The RM328,800 executive sedan is powered by the familiar B48 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, making 258 hp (up 6 hp) and 400 Nm of torque (up 50 Nm) from 1,550 to 4,400 rpm. The ubiquitous ZF eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, enabling a zero to 100 km/h sprint in 5.8 seconds, and a fuel consumption figure of 5.8 to 6.1 litres per 100 km.

    Standard kit includes the range-topping BMW Live Cockpit Professional infotainment system, featuring a 10.25-inch centre screen and a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation, the latest BMW Operating System 7.0, as well as a 10-speaker, 205-watt HiFi Loudspeaker sound system. BMW Digital Key is available too, allowing selected Samsung smartphones to be used as a key via Near Field Communication (NFC).

    Also on are M Sport suspension with lift-related dampers, as well as a range of active and passive safety systems. Unfortunately, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is still not offered, and that is a glaring omission, especially considering the price.

    If you’re having sleepless nights deciding wether or not to buy, feel free to indulge in our video review to see what our man Jonathan Lee has to say about the 330i M Sport. We also have an in-depth written review for those who want a complete dissection of the car.

    GALLERY: G20 BMW 330i M Sport

  • Jaguar Land Rover posts £3.6 billion loss for 2018

    Jaguar Land Rover has reported a £3.6 billion (RM19.2 billion) loss for 2018, the largest in its history. The losses were largely due to a one-off £3.1 billion (RM16.47 billion) write-down in the value of its investments in property and machinery, which were worth far less than previously thought, according to news reports.

    Excluding that, the company made a pre-tax loss of £358 million (RM1.9 billion), with revenue declining by £1.6 billion (RM8.5 billion) year-on-year to £24.2 billion (RM128.6 billion), largely due to slowing sales in China. Sales in that market dipped by 5.8% year-on-year to 578,915 units, offsetting gains made in the UK and US markets, where sales rose by 8.4% and 8.1% respectively. The automaker has also struggled to cope with falling demand for its diesel-based offerings.

    The company however registered a return to profitability in the final quarter of the financial year, recording £120 million (RM637 million) in pre-tax profit. This was after it forked out £149 million (RM791.4 million) in redundancy costs when it laid off part of its workforce. It was previously reported that the company had plans to cut up to 5,000 jobs this year.

    In April, the automaker ran two scheduled production pauses at its car and engine plants in Liverpool, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, the first from April 8-12 and the other on April 15-23, as part of a contingency plan against a Brexit disruption.

    The company, which was acquired by Tata Motors in 2008, has also been the subject of widespread rumours that it would be sold. In this case, PSA Groupe was reported to be in advanced talks with Tata to acquire JLR, but both parties have refuted these claims, denying such a deal was on the table.

  • 2019 Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 now in India – RM10,248

    Riders in India have a new choice in the market with the introduction of the new generation 2019 Suzuki Gixxer SF 250. Priced at 170,655 rupees (RM10,248), there are two colour options for the Gixxer SF 250 – silver or black.

    The Gixxer SF 250 is powered by a four-stroke, oil-cooled, single-cylinder SOHC 249 cc mill, mated to a six-speed trnsmission and chain final drive. Power is claimed to be 26 hp at 9,000 rpm and torque is rated at 22.6 Nm at 7,500 rpm with fuelling by EFI.

    Rolling on 17-inch wheels, the Gixxer SF250 is fitted with 110/70 rubber in front with telescopic forks, while the rear uses a 150/60 tyre and monoshock suspension. Hydraulic single disc brakes with callipers by Bybre, Brembo’s house brand, are fitted front and rear, complete with two-channel ABS.

    Inside the cockpit, a digital display shows everything the rider needs to know, with LED lighting in the front and rear lights. Weighing in at 161 kg, fuel for the Gixxer SF250 is carried in a 12-litre tank and seat height is set at 800 mm.

    As a comparison to other models in the quarter-litre market segment, the 2019 Suzuki Gixxer SF 250 comes in lowest in power numbers against its main rivals – the Yamaha YZF-R25 (35.5 hp/22.6 Nm), Kawasaki Ninja 250 (38 hp/23.5 Nm) and Honda CBR250R (27 hp/23.3 Nm). In Malaysia, official distributor Suzuki Assemblers is concentrating on the big bike market, having given up its small bike assembly facility three years ago.

  • Kia Picanto KX, X-Line in Malaysia – RM45k & RM58k

    This just in. Naza Kia will be introducing two additional variants of the Kia Picanto, the pair being the entry-level Picanto KX and the long-awaited X-Line. It’s priced at RM44,888 and RM57,888 respectively – the latter, interestingly, is priced identically as the Picanto GT-Line. We’re told that both the KX and X-Line are available in limited numbers, and included in the price is a five-year unlimited mileage warranty package.

    Let’s start with the KX. On the outside, the entry-level model gets reflector headlights and fog lamps, a set of 14-inch steel wheels with five-spoke covers (shod with 175/65 rubbers), fender mounted turn indicators, bee-sting style antenna, halogen tail lights, as well as a KX badge on the tailgate. The reverse camera has also been omitted.

    Inside, drivers get the traditional turn-key ignition and a three-spoke urethane steering wheel with multifunction controls. The gear knob tip, dashboard and door card trims are unpainted (EX and above get gloss black trims), whereas the centre-mounted double-DIN head unit takes over multimedia duties. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, of course, but at least there’s still Bluetooth pairing.

    Elsewhere, the side mirrors are manually adjustable, the rear windows are labour-powered, the fabric seats feature a plainer-looking design, and the rear doors lose out on the gloss black trim. That about wraps up the kit list for the Picanto KX. Crucially, it still comes with ESP and six airbags, which makes it the cheapest car in Malaysia to be so equipped.

    Next, the X-Line. At RM57,888, this one gets all the bling. Exterior kit include a new front bumper with lime green highlights on the grille and the repositioned fog lamps. There are also larger corner “inlets” with a small intake just below the grille.

    If you’re wondering why there are “skid plates” at the front and rear, as well as black plastic cladding on the sides, that’s because the X-Line’s design is inspired by Kia’s range of SUVs. A nice set of 16-inch alloy wheels (same size as GT-Line, but different design) with 195/45 profile tyres and a powered sunroof complete the X-Line’s exterior kit.

    Inside, it gets a new flat-bottom steering wheel (also found on the GT-Line), a single-zone automatic air-conditioning system, and leather seats. Naza Kia has yet to release detailed specifications of the X-Line, but in terms of safety, expect it to be identically specced as the GT-Line. That means six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control, hill start assist, ISOFIX rear child seat anchors, and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

    Mechanically, both the KX and X-Line share the same 1.2 litre Kappa II naturally-aspirated four-cylinder unit. The petrol engine makes 84 PS at 6,000 rpm and 122 Nm at 4,000 rpm, and is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. No five-speed manual this time, folks.

    With this, the Picanto line-up in Malaysia expands to four variants. The other two are the EX (RM49,888) and GT-Line (RM57,888). What do you think of this? Comment, below.

    GALLERY: Kia Picanto KX

    GALLERY: Kia Picanto X-Line

  • VIDEO: HKS tests exhaust, suspension for A90 Supra

    Why is it that the most desirable imagery of the new Toyota GR Supra that’s out so far isn’t by Toyota itself? Until now, I’ve been on the fence with the A90 – not because of the hotly debated BMW hardware, but because I’m not sure if I like how it looks – but this video and pics of the Supra being tested by HKS might have done it for me.

    Japan’s car scene is all about the Supra now, especially in the aftermath of the “Supra is back to Japan Fes” celebration over the weekend. At the same time, legendary tuner HKS released images of it testing parts for the A90, with input from famous racer/drifter Manabu Orido a.k.a. Max Orido, who’s known as a Supra man.

    In the video above, you can see HKS and Orido testing and comparing notes on the Supra parts they’re working on, namely the muffler prototype with the trademark HKS tip, and the Hipermax adjustable springs, which will work together with the A90’s stock active dampers. The latter will provide some height adjustability, and extra stiffness if needed.

    Yokohama played a part in the test session at the Gunsai cycle track too, and they brought some good stuff. A Japanese sports car should sit on proper Japanese rims and rubber, so out goes the Michelins and two-tone alloys (let’s leave those things for the Contis) for Advan Neova AD08Rs and Advan GT rims.

    This Advan wheel-tyre combo needs no introduction, and the white 19-inch items look perfect on this Matte Storm Grey Metallic Supra – it’s amazing how a set of rims can totally transform a car’s appearance. Not sure about you, but this is the first time the new Supra is “talking to me.” Also, don’t forget to turn on the volume to hear the car growl.

    To recap, the Supra will be offered in Japan in in three grades – SZ, SZ-R and RZ – priced at 4.9 million (RM186,420), 5.9 million (RM224,465) and 6.9 million (RM262,498) yen respectively. The SZ kicks things off with a 197 PS/320 Nm 2.0L turbo-four, the SZ-R ups figures to 258 PS/400 Nm, and the RZ is powered by a 3.0L inline-six turbo with 340 PS and 500 Nm.

    Of course, all are BMW engines paired to a ZF eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox sending drive to the rear wheels. For the full list of Japanese-market A90 specs, pics and TRD parts for the sportscar – click here.

    Anyway, it’s great to see tuners and racers working on the A90 so early in the day, even before the car goes on sale. They’re only able to do so because Toyota provided them pre-production cars in an effort to embrace the aftermarket, which is a wise move – the legend of the Supra is where it is today because of the aftermarket, anyway.

    Things can only get better from here, right? What do you think?

    GALLERY: A90 Toyota GR Supra, Japan-spec

  • Ford Mach-E electric SUV to take on the Tesla Model Y

    Ford is set to unveil its most important model yet – an all-electric, Mustang-inspired crossover, Autocar reports. The new EV model is tipped to go on sale in 2020, and a concept will be shown later this year.

    Apparently, Blue Oval claims that the Mach-E crossover will embody the spirit of the iconic Mustang, making it a truly “21st century Tesla Model Y rival.” It will be the first pure electric Ford model designed from the ground up, complete with a new bespoke platform that enable both rear- and all-wheel drive.

    The “Mach-E” is also said to crown the brand’s grand electrification plan, under which European customers will be offered a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric version of every new model launched.

    2020 Tesla Model Y

    For now, the only technical detail Ford has revealed is the crossover’s driving range. On a full charge, it boasts a range of 595 km based on the strict WLTP test protocols, beating the Tesla Model X‘s 564-km range and Jaguar I-Pace‘s 470-km limit. A cheaper version of the Ford EV with a smaller battery can also expected.

    Ford claims charging will be “effortless” and it is redesigning the ownership experience to help boost the adoption rate of electric cars. Performance-wise, nothing has been revealed, but company chairman Bill Ford previously said it will “go like hell.”

    At the Bank of America summit last month, Ford revealed that it would offer a higher-performance variant of the electric crossover, which means there could be at least three variants on offer. While not confirmed, reports suggest that Ford will announce the crossover’s official name by the end of this year, together with the concept.

    Like most new Ford models, the “Mach-E” crossover will be a globally-engineered car with minimal changes between regions. It won’t be Ford’s sole EV in the short term, though, because the automaker is also working on a more affordable electric SUV, codenamed CX430. It will be based on the latest Focus platform and be similar to the Kuga. The CX430 has been in Ford’s product plan for several years.

    Ford’s decision to produce hybrid and electric cars comes after news that it will stop selling sedans in North America. The move signals two things: the end of Ford’s 110-year presence in the US passenger sedan market, and the company’s new focus on profitability, not diversity. It will also introduce as many as 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020.

  • Honda clocks 300th MotoGP race win in France

    With Marc Marquez of Repsol Honda winning the MotoGP 2019 Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France at Le Mans, Honda now has 300 victories at the top level of two-wheeled motorsport under its belt. With this weekend’s win, beating off a strong challenge by the Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci, Marquez now has 47 MotoGP wins with 3 first places this season after five races.

    Honda won its first World Motorcycle Championship race back in 1966 at Hockenheim, Germany, with Jim Redman riding the RC181. This was followed by racing legend Mike Hailwood a few races later with a win in Brno in the then Czechoslovakia, today known as the Czech Republic.

    After decade languishing in the doldrums, Honda, through racing arm Honda Racing Corporation or HRC, mounted the podium with “Fast” Freddie Spencer riding the NS500 with a win at Spa-Francorchamps in 1982. That year also saw the first win by a Japanese rider in the 500 cc world championship, Takazumi Katayama winning the Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstop.

    In 1985, Spencer performed his feat of winning the 250 and 500 classes in one year, using the NSR500 for the premier championship. The NSR500 would go on to collect a total of 132 race wins with riders Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Alex Criville and Eddie Lawson.

    In the Honda stable, Mick Doohan found the most success with Honda race motorcycles with 54 top podium places, followed by Marquez with 47. Valentino Rossi won 33 races with HRC, while Dani Pedrosa, who retired from the Honda team last year, won 31 and Spencer, 20.

  • Ford to cut 7,000 jobs as part of restructuring exercise

    Ford will be cutting some 7,000 employees – or 10% of its worldwide salaried workforce – by the end of August as part of its restructuring plan, which has been underway since last year. The automaker says the cuts, made up of both voluntary buyouts and lay-offs, will save it around US$600 million (RM2.5 billion) annually.

    The cuts were revealed in an e-mail sent out by Ford CEO Jim Hackett to employees. The reduction in the workforce is spread across many areas, including engineering, product development, marketing, finance, logistics and IT. Around 2,300 employees in the United States will be laid off, according to Reuters.

    “To succeed in our competitive industry, and position Ford to win in a fast-changing future, we must reduce bureaucracy, empower managers, speed decision making, focus on the most valuable work and cut costs,” Hackett wrote in the e-mail.

    The lay-offs is aimed at improving efficiency. Hackett said the exercise will eliminate close to 20% of upper-level managers, a move that will reduce bureaucracy and speed up decision-making.

    Ford has been restructuring its operations worldwide in a bid to improve profitability and speed product development – the company has announced cuts in Europe, South America and Russia. Hackett said the restructuring work continues in global markets, with the process expected to be completed by the end of August.

    In March, the automaker had announced that it planned to cut over 5,000 jobs in Germany, and was also aiming to reduce its workforce in the UK, offering voluntary redundancy programmes for employees in both countries.

  • Mercedes-Benz Experimental Safety Vehicle revealed

    Mercedes-Benz has introduced its latest Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF), which is another addition to a long line of concepts showcasing safety ideas that could potentially make its way to future production vehicles.

    Based on the current GLE, the ESF features a plug-in hybrid powertrain and is capable of automated driving in many situations. The vehicle will be presented at the 26th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) in Eindhoven, Netherlands in June, followed by a debut at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show later in September.

    Among the technologies showcased on the ESF is a new steering wheel and pedal cluster concept that automatically retracts when the car is driving in automated mode. This is to reduce the risk of injury in the event of a crash, while also clearly indicating the car is running in automated mode.

    The safety belt system has also been integrated into the front seats, paired with high-performance belt tensioners that work during Pre-Safe situations. The German carmaker also relocated the driver airbag to the dashboard rather than the steering wheel, which is supplemented by integral side airbags that deploy from the side bolsters to wrap around the passenger.

    Mercedes-Benz also identified that only around 5 to 20% of daylight reaches the eyes of the occupants, hence it fitted vitalising interior lights in the sun visors to keep the body in its natural biological rhythm. Studies performed by the company revealed test subjects tended to react more quickly thanks to the lighting, and are more alert.

    As an autonomous vehicle, the ESF also features panels at the front and rear, LEDs in strategic places, as well as the Digital Light system to communicate with pedestrians and other motorists. These systems allow the vehicle to convey a variety of warnings, alerts or messages to others, such as displaying/projecting hazard symbols, or even what the front cameras are picking up.

    Children aren’t left out either, as Pre-Safe Child sees the child seat being networked with the vehicle by radio. During scenarios where the Pre-Safe system is triggered, protective functions like the pre-tensioning of the belts of the child seat are performed.

    As most child seats are incorrectly installed, the networked child seat, which follow the more comprehensive i-Size standard – ECE R129, has eight symbols as a sort of “checklist” that parents must follow to ensure proper installation. Sensors and a camera also allow parents to check on their baby’s condition, be it temperature, pulse and state of wakefulness.

    While on the topic of the rear, the ESF also comes with a rear airbags located on the backrests of the front seats. These deploy via cylindrical tubes into a wing-shaped framework, reducing the loads acting on the head and neck vertebrae by up to 30% in a severe frontal impact.

    Active safety systems also see improvements, with the Active Brake Assist now capable of detecting pedestrians and cyclists moving in parallel to the original direction of travel, which also applies if there are any cyclists in the blind spot when turning.

    Lastly, Mercedes-Benz considered situations where vehicles were forced to remain stationary (breakdowns, accidents, etc.), whereby correct positioning of the warning triangle is important to warn other drivers. But how is a warning to be given in the future, when there are also driverless and automated vehicles on the roads? Who will put out the warning triangle in this case?

    To answer these questions, the company provided the ESF with a deployable robot that emerges from the rear of the vehicle. The robot, along with the vehicle’s roof, is fitted with a warning triangle, with additional words of caution being displayed on the rear window.

    “Safety continues to be our core brand value,” says Dr.-Ing. Rodolfo Schöneburg, head of the Vehicle Safety, Durability and Corrosion Protection Centre at Mercedes-Benz Cars.

    “The great advantage of automating driving functions is that in the future, fewer accidents will be caused by driver error. However, automated and driverless vehicles also come up against physical limits, and there will undoubtedly be mixed traffic consisting of automated and non-automated vehicles for many years,” he added.


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Last Updated 11 May 2019


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