Latest Stories

  • 2020 ARRC AP250 class see entry of new Malaysian Team Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda Racing

    Ahead of the 2020 Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) season for the Asia Production 250 class (AP250), new entry to the grid Team Idemitsu Boon Siew Honda Racing (IBSH) will be ‘testing the waters’ with a wildcard entry this weekend’s round in Sepang International Circuit (SIC). As the sixth leg of the ARRC AP250 season, this round at SIC was deemed to be an ideal time for IBSH to use homeground to its advantage and scope out the competition.

    Young Malaysian riders Muhammad Syarifuddin Azman (18) from Selangor and Muhammad Idlan Haqimi Raduan (15) from Negeri Sembilan will be competing as wildcards on the Honda CBR250RR and managed by . The AP250 class, which made its debut in ARRC in 2015, is currently dominated by Thai and Indonesian riders.

    Aware that the level of competition will be stiff, neither rider is underestimating the challenge they face. “I am both excited and nervous about this wildcard. The AP250 class is not an easy class to debut in. There are a lot of strong and aggressive riders on the grid,” said Syarifuddin.

    Other rider on the Malaysian IBSH team, Idlan is also looking forward to the AP250 race with both riders having moved up the ranks in Honda’s racer development programme. In Syarifuddin’s case, he was twice crowned champion in the Malaysian Cup Prix in 2016 and 2018 while Idlan was 2018 champion in the Honda One Make Challenge race series.

    Speaking during the launch, Keiichi Yasuda, managing director and CEO of Boon Siew Honda, said competing in AP250 with a new team fills a vacuum in Boon Siew Honda’s talent development programme in Malaysia. The new IBSH team slots into a talent development path for young Malaysian riders that includes the Petronas Malaysian Cub Prix, Thailand Talent Cup, European Talent Cup, Asian Talent Cup and FIM Asia Road Racing Championship.

  • Mercedes-AMG A45 engine to be used in larger models

    With up to 421 hp and 500 Nm of torque from just 2.0 litres of displacement, the new M139 turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the latest Mercedes-AMG A 45 and CLA 45 is an impressive piece of engineering. But having spent so much time and effort to extract these headline figures, surely it would be a waste to confine it to Stuttgart’s smallest models, wouldn’t it?

    Apparently Affalterbach feels the same way. Speaking to us at the Frankfurt Motor Show, AMG boss Tobias Moers confirmed that the engine won’t be limited to transverse applications. “The reason [why it makes so much power] is that we’re going to use that engine for further applications which are not necessarily east-west applications,” he said with a knowing smile.

    This means that the engine has been developed for longitudinal use as well, opening the door for its implementation in larger rear-wheel drive models. The possibilities are endless, though don’t expect a C 45 to appear anytime soon.

    The company makes no secret about the fact that it is heading down the path of electrification, with next-generation models set to feature hybrid powertrains. The M139, then, could play a big part of this push – augmented with a powerful electric motor, it may well make its way into AMG’s mid-tier 43 and 53 models, replacing their six-cylinder engines.

    Moers added that the power outputs of future 63 models like the E 63 will likely continue to hover around the 600 hp mark even with the use of more powerful hybrid systems. As such, these cars will probably feature smaller, less potent engines compared to the thundering 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 currently being utilised.

    Whatever it is, we won’t have to wait long before we’ll see the direction AMG will take for its future. Daimler chairman Ola Källenius told us the company will show “some ideas” for the brand later this year.

    GALLERY: Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4Matic+ and CLA 45 S 4Matic+


  • A90 Toyota GR Supra launching in Malaysia tomorrow!

    The wait is almost over, as UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) has confirmed that the all-new A90 Toyota GR Supra will be launched in Malaysia on September 20, 2019, which is tomorrow!

    First revealed earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, the fifth-generation of an iconic nameplate was developed in collaboration with BMW – the German camp has the G29 Z4 – and was previewed by the FT-1 Concept as far back as 2014.

    The teaser posted on Toyota Malaysia’s Facebook page doesn’t provide much in the way of details like the powertrain that our Supra will receive, and more importantly the price, so we’ll have to wait for the launch to find out more.

    In other markets, Supra is available with two engines, starting with a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 197 PS and 320 Nm of torque, or 258 PS and 400 Nm in its most powerful state of tune. The 0-100 km/h sprint time is done in 6.5 seconds and 5.2 seconds respectively.

    A more likely engine for us is a 3.0 litre turbocharged inline-six, which serves up 340 PS and 500 Nm of torque for a century sprint time of 4.3 seconds. All engines are mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission as standard, with drive sent to the rear wheels.

    Sales of the Supra will be conducted through the GR Garage, which will sell all GR-branded performance cars at outlets located within existing dealerships across the country. As the caption reads: are you ready for the return of the legend in its full glory?

    GALLERY: A90 Toyota GR Supra at GIIAS 2019

  • FIRST DRIVE: 2019 Mazda 3 Hatchback and Sedan – good car, but are those premium aspirations justified?

    There’s just so much to talk about the new Mazda 3. About the car itself, there’s the usual specifications and features, but the main talking points are the fourth-generation car’s looks and price. It’s a CBU import from Japan, and the five variants over two bodystyles (sedan and hatchback) and three trim levels are priced from RM139,620 to RM160,059.

    That’s a lot of money – D-segment sedan money for a much smaller 1.5L NA-powered car, in fact. It stands no chance against traditional C-segment rivals and even SUVs when it comes to value for money. But that’s not Mazda’s point. The Hiroshima-based carmaker has always been a little left field, and so is this Mazda 3, which the company wants us to consider as a “premium” product.

    Premium. Does this mean that we should evaluate the 3 with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 1 Series in mind? But the 1.5L models start the race with a huge output deficit (over 50 hp, over 60 Nm) against the Honda Civic, which doesn’t have any premium aspirations – does premium not include performance? The Mazda’s interior is very nice, even the 1.5L’s, and I love the minimalist Audi-style feel, but there are parts that feel low rent, parts that VW won’t sanction for a Golf, for instance.

    See what we said about there being lots to talk about? There’s more, and you’ll see Jonathan Lee raise these points of contention in our video review of the Mazda 3, sampled here in 1.5L Hatchback and 2.0L High Plus Sedan forms.

    Not everything about the Mazda 3 divides opinion, though. All of us agree that it’s a stirring drive, especially the 1.5L hatchback, which surprisingly has a rather different character than the 2.0L sedan. Also strikingly obvious is the improvement in refinement and isolation, a weak point in the previous gen. And of course, it looks great – most would be drawn to the bold hatch, but the sedan benefits from better proportions and looks less stubby now.

    For most car buyers, the Mazda 3 will be a non-starter due to its price tag – it just doesn’t make sense next to the many options around the RM150k mark. But we reckon that there will be enough buyers convinced by the Mazda’s unique blend of driver and design appeal to shell out the considerable sum. Irrational, but that’s what people do for premium brands. Perhaps Mazda isn’t too crazy after all, eh?

    GALLERY: 2019 Mazda 3 2.0 High Plus Sedan

    GALLERY: 2019 Mazda 3 1.5L Hatchback

  • Mitsubishi Triton vs Toyota Hilux – which truck wins?

    Dual-cab pick-up trucks form a popular vehicle segment, even amongst the urban set, thanks to their utility and road presence. Here, we’ve found a video that has been making the rounds on Facebook, comparing the Mitsubishi Triton Adventure X with its 181 PS/430 Nm 2.4L MIVEC Turbo engine, with the Toyota Hilux 2.8 L-Edition powered by a 177 PS/450 Nm engine.

    The comparison is set on a runway, so naturally, performance comparisons are in order. The Triton and the Hilux are subject to three exercises: acceleration from 0-100 km/h, overtaking from 80-120 km/h, and braking distance. The 0-100 km/h test runs both trucks simultaneously, and for the overtaking exercise, both pick-up trucks run in tandem; the Triton does its run first, and is then followed by the Hilux.

    The trio of tests is rounded up with the braking exercise, once again run with both trucks at the same time. The current Mitsubishi Triton arrived at the beginning of this year, with the latest iteration of the eighth-generation Toyota Hilux having arrived in August. Which pick-up truck does better at each exercise? Watch the video to find out.

    GALLERY: 2019 Mitsubishi Triton VGT Adventure X

    GALLERY: 2019 Toyota Hilux 2.8 Black Edition

  • SPYSHOTS: Mercedes-Benz EQB SUV spotted testing

    It’s no secret that Mercedes-Benz has several models planned for its electric vehicle EQ sub-brand that currently includes the EQC and EQV. One such model is the EQB, which has been recently spotted in prototype guise by our spy photographers.

    Of the two test vehicles caught on camera, the lead car is the most interesting as it is wearing considerably less camouflage compared to its partner. This gives us a better look at the design of the EV, which has a body that is nearly identical to the latest X247 GLB.

    To differentiate both models, the EQB sports a distinctive pair of headlamps, which feature integrated LED daytime running lights that appear to curve outwards rather than inwards like on the GLB.

    Additionally, the lack of an internal combustion engine also sees the upper grille being completely closed off on the EQB, and the electric SUV should also receive its own unique bumper design, as the covered lower apron suggests.

    On the other end, the number plate holder has been pushed further down, likely to make room for a light bar that stretches the width of the tailgate, just like on the EQC. Based on these photos, the taillights don’t appear significantly different from those on the GLB, but these could be revised later on.

    Exact details about the model’s electric powertrain are not out yet, but we do know that a lithium-ion battery packaged within the floor of the vehicle will power the car’s electric motor(s), with reports claiming a range of up to 500 km. The test vehicle appears to be a five-seater, but it’s unknown if a seven-seat version (available for the GLB) will be offered for the EQB given the presence of those batteries.

    The German carmaker has already filed trademarks for the EQB 200, EQB 250, EQB 260, EQB 300, EQB 320, EQB 350 and EQB 360, but it isn’t confirmed if any of these will be used, or if these trademarks are reserved for another model.

    We say another model because Mercedes-Benz also appears to be developing an electric version of the W247 B-Class compact MPV, which is just as entitled to use the “EQB” name. Of course, it’s very unlikely that both models share a same name, and the B-Class-looking prototype spotted previously could just be a test mule for the SUV-type EQB’s powertrain, given the shared MFA2 platform.

  • 2019 Toyota Calya, Daihatsu Sigra facelifts launched in Indonesia – updated styling, revised equipment list

    First introduced in August 2016, the Toyota Calya has now been given a facelift in Indonesia, where it is being offered in two variants – E and G. As a quick refresher, the seven-seat MPV is an Indonesian Low Cost Green Car (LCGC) and shares its platform (Daihatsu Global A-Segment Platform) with the Toyota Agya/Daihatsu Ayla/Perodua Axia.

    In its latest form, the Calya wears a more aggressive front end that appears to be influenced by the HY Fun Concept that debuted at this year’s Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS).

    The new bumper now features angular sides that point towards the lower intake, accompanied by large black trim elements surrounding the fog lamps. Meanwhile, the grille, which is wider and more prominent this time around, is now linked to new LED headlamps that are standard across the range. The chrome bar below the bonnet is finished in chrome on the E, and dark chrome on the G.

    Around back, the Innova-esque taillight clusters receive a new lighting signature, and meets with a much wider dark chrome bar that bears the Toyota logo in the middle. Beyond these changes, the Calya remains as before, with no changes to its profile aside from a new design for the standard 14-inch two-tone wheels (with 175/65 series tyres).

    The dimensions remain the same as before too, with a length of 4,070 mm, width of 1,655 mm, height of 1,600 mm, and a 2,525 mm wheelbase. For perspective, the current Avanza on sale in Malaysia measures 4,200 mm long, 1,660 mm wide, 1,695 mm tall and has a 2,655 mm wheelbase.

    It’s the same story with the interior, as the Calya’s looks almost identical to before, albeit in a darker shade. The biggest revisions here are the addition of a touchscreen head unit and steering wheel audio controls on the G variant – other variants get a 2-DIN head unit with USB instead.

    You still get 60:40 middle row seats that tumble fold with one motion, while the third row bench folds as a single piece. A minor update here is the adoption of a darker fabric material for the seat upholstery.

    In terms of equipment, both E and G variants come with reverse sensors, manual air-conditioning with rear air vents, four power windows, a multi-info display, two airbags and ABS with EBD (previously only for the G variant). The G variant gets more items like electric-folding side mirrors with indicators, an underseat storage tray and front seatback storage pockets.

    All variants are powered by a 3NR-VE 1.2 litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 88 PS at 6,000 rpm and 108 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm. A five-speed manual is the only transmission pairing for the E, while the G can also be had with a four-speed automatic.

    As before, the Calya features electric power steering, while the suspension setup consists of MacPherson struts ventilated disc brakes at the front, with a torsion beam (the G variants have an added stabiliser bar) and drum brakes at the back.

    Pricing for the new Calya starts from 137,463,000 rupiah (RM40,981) for the E M/T, followed by the G M/T at 146,400,000 rupiah (RM43,645). Lastly, the range-topping G A/T goes for 158,400,000 rupiah (RM47,223).

    It should also be mentioned that the Calya has a twin sister in the form of the Daihatsu Sigra, which gets its own unique styling. Like the Calya, the Sigra was also given a facelift recently, and now features a new, angular bumper that splits the upper and lower intakes, with the fog lamps now positioned higher up – both MPVs have an identical rear end.

    2019 Daihatsu Sigra facelift

    The Sigra is also offered with the 3NR-VE engine but there’s the additional option of a 1KR-VE 1.0 litre three-cylinder with 67 PS and 89 Nm. A five-speed manual is standard with the smaller mill, but the larger option can be had with a five-speed manual or four-speed auto, just like the Calya.

    Selected variants of the Sigra also come with a reverse camera and front parking sensors, which aren’t available for the Calya. The rest of the kit list is largely similar, although lower-spec variants are fitted with 13- (with 155/80 series tyres) and 14-inch (with 175/65 series tyres) steel wheels (with and without plastic covers), while 14-inch two-tone alloys (with 175/65 series tyres) are found on the rest.

    In total, there are six variants of the Sigra – 1.0 D, 1.0 M, 1.2 X, 1.2 X Deluxe, 1.2 R and 1.2 R Deluxe; the 1.0 options are manual only, all others are available with a manual or automatic. Prices start from 114 million rupiah (RM33,979) and peak at 156.75 million rupiah (RM46,721).

    2019 Toyota Calya facelift

    2019 Daihatsu Sigra facelift

  • Volkswagen Mk8 Golf – permanent connectivity, predictive powertrain, two GTE variants: report

    The next-generation Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid will offer two levels of output when it makes its debut, Volkswagen research and development board member Frank Welsch has told Autocar.

    “Today’s GTI is 241bhp, so the GTE should also have 241bhp; (this way) the GTE is really a GTE,” Welsch said. There are customers who are content with the current car’s 201 bhp output, so that will be offered alongside the performance-oriented PHEV Golf, and which will appear to be a normal Golf without the GTE trim, he said.

    This is as electrified as the Golf range will get; the full battery-electric role goes to the ID.3. This is similar to the product direction taken by Mercedes-Benz with the forthcoming S-Class and EQS, the former continuing to use both internal combustion and electrification, while the latter will be fully electric and based on a dedicated EV architecture.

    Visually, the Mk8 Golf sports Volkswagen’s new logo, with the PHEV development car spotted here essentially undisguised. Inside, Autocar says that the next-generation hatchback is expected follow the emerging trend of doing without conventional switches, at least on higher-end versions, and quotes design chief Klaus Bischoff as saying that the Mk8 Golf’s interior will be a ‘total’ digital environment.

    Here, touchscreens will replace the conventional instrument cluster and climate controls, and even the headlight switch is likely to be replaced by a touchpad. “The new Golf will be everything people loved for years, but now made digital,” said Volkswagen marketing chief Jürgen Stackmann.

    The Golf line-up is also set to be simplified, the report adds, with the model’s three-door and estate bodystyles most likely to be dropped, partly due to increasing demand for SUVs and crossovers. Volkswagen insiders told the magazine that the Golf Mk8 is aimed at luring customers who plan to downsize from larger premium models such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series.

    The MK8 Golf will be an evolution of the current Mk7, and will continue to use the firm’s transverse layout MQB platform in updated guise. The current 1.5 litre TSI turbo petrol unit will be joined by a 1.0 litre three-cylinder and an all-new 1.5 litre diesel, the latter likely to be a 12V mild hybrid. This starter-generator setup is meant to reduce load on the engine and reduce NOx emissions, Autocar says.

    A curious rumour, the magazine reported, is that the 1.0 litre units might not be turbocharged, and instead rely on direct assistance from a belt driven starter-generator motor (SGM). The idea is that the SGM will provide enough assistance for the entry-level engines, allowing the dismissal of the turbocharger and its associated plumbing, cooling and control systems.

    Volkswagen will also reportedly invest in both 12V and 48V mild-hybrid systems, as the latter allows for more energy to be recuperated than 12V systems. Key to a 48V architecture in a more mainstream VW Group model like the Golf is a more compact, less expensive setup comprising a smaller DC/DC converter and a smaller lithium-ion battery, Autocar says. 48V mild-hybrid setups in the VW group have so far been used in premium models such as the Audi SQ5, S6 and S7.

    The report adds that the MK8 Golf will pack permanent Internet connectivity with its new interior, which will allow 3D satellite mapping, hybrid radio reception (the audio system searches for the strongest signal, both analogue and digital) as well as the option of live information such as fuel pricing at nearby fuel stations.

    This will also enable future implementation of predictive powertrain settings, such as switching to coasting when 3D topography info sees that the car is on a descent or approaching a junction. Further development of self-driving technologies is also expected, which will develop further from the current Traffic Jam Assist function in the Mk7 Golf.

  • Toyota invests RM1.6 billion in its Texas truck factory

    Toyota hasn’t had the smoothest of relationships with the Trump government, but this might help things moving forward. The Japanese carmaker has announced that it will be investing US$391 million (RM1.6 billion) at its San Antonio truck assembly plant in Texas. Once complete, the plant’s total investment will exceed US$3 billion (RM12.6 billion).

    This week’s announcement comes as part of a broader commitment from Toyota to invest US$13 billion (RM54.6 billion) in its US operations over five years through 2021. This new investment also comes with a commitment by Toyota Texas to continue funding local workforce development, a community need the company has long championed.

    As part of Toyota’s commitment to help San Antonio’s workforce and education, Alamo Promise will receive a $500,000 donation from Toyota Texas over a five-year period. Alamo Promise’s mission is to end poverty, enhance economic and social mobility and meet workforce demands throughout the city.

    Separately, Aisin, a supplier to Toyota Texas and other automakers, announced that it will invest US$400 million (RM1.7 billion) and bring 900 new jobs to a future facility in nearby Cibolo.

    “We’ve been in the US for more than 60 years, creating a tremendous value chain in this country and creating an extensive footprint in the Alamo City since 2003. With 10 US plants, 1,500-strong dealer network, an extensive supply chain and other operations, we directly and indirectly employ over 475,000 Americans and are committed to investing here,” said Chris Reynolds, Toyota Motor North America chief administrative officer of manufacturing and corporate resources.

    Toyota says that this new investment is in response to strong customer demand and will make the plant even more competitive in the long-term and more efficient, while remaining flexible with multi-vehicle production capabilities by introducing various advanced manufacturing technologies.

    This is Toyota’s third investment at its San Antonio truck plant, which assembles the full-size Tundra and mid-size Tacoma pick-up trucks, and directly employs more than 3,200 people. Including its 23 on-site suppliers, total employment at the plant’s site tops 7,200.

    GALLERY: Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

  • Ford Performance Parts now offering aftermarket off-road lift kits, Fox shocks for F-150 and Ranger

    Ford Performance Parts is for the first time ever offering official aftermarket lift kits for the Ford Ranger and Ford F-150 pick-up trucks. The off-road leveling kits with tuned suspension will be available in the US later this year.

    “Ford Performance Parts developed these kits to make the off-road experience even better for our Ranger and F-150 customers. Truck customers are asking for options for increased capability and customisation, and the new leveling suspension kits for Ranger and F-150 deliver on that need,” said Eric Cin, global director of Ford Vehicle Personalization and Accessories.

    The majority of Ranger and F-150 trucks are purchased with four-wheel drive, and the new leveling kits will enable off-road enthusiasts to venture further. Beyond adding additional ground clearance, off-road performance is improved with Ford truck-optimized Fox shocks. Familiar fox? You’d have heard of the shocks from the Ranger Raptor.

    The dealer-installed lift kits for both trucks include new aluminium Fox shock bodies designed to provide ample cooling capacity over rough terrain, new front coilover springs, vehicle-specific upper front mounts with polyurethane bushings (helps isolate noise and vibration) and a two-inch front lift. Ford Performance said that its engineers worked with Fox to develop unique internal valving for the shocks to deliver “confident performance and predictable handling” both off-road and on asphalt.

    With the lift kit, both Ford trucks see improvements to front ground clearance, approach and breakover angles, based on internal Ford computer generated engineering simulations. For the 2019 Ranger, it’s around 21% increase in approach angle and a 10% increase in breakover angle. For the 2015-2019 F-150, we’re looking at a 22% increase in approach angle and 7% increase in breakover angle.

    Development and testing for the kits included high-speed off-roading in Borrego, California, and low-speed rock-crawling in Arizona. In the US, the kit is priced at $1,495 (RM6,275) before installation and comes with a Ford Performance Parts limited warranty.

    GALLERY: Ford Ranger 2.0L Wildtrak 4×4


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Last Updated 14 Sep 2019


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