Latest Stories

  • DRIVEN: 2019 Mazda 3 prototype with SkyActiv-X engine – is a high-tech petrol mill still relevant?

    This review has been translated from the Bahasa Malaysia version, written by our colleague Izwaashura Sadali and published on paultan.org/bm.

    Since Mazda announced details of its next-generation SkyActiv petrol engine, SkyActiv-X, many enthusiasts – especially Mazda loyalists – have been eager to find out just how effective Hiroshima’s radical new technologies would be.

    Expected to make its production debut next year, the company’s new engine was initially supposed to use a technology called Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), which does away with the spark plug completely – only using compression pressure itself to ignite the fuel/air mixture, like a diesel. However, the finalised version will instead retain the use of a spark plug to control ignition timing at specific periods.

    Called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI), the technology is still in prototype stages, but Mazda has confidence in its SkyActiv-X engine. At a time when other carmakers are moving to plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, it insists on soldiering on with internal combustion engines – not just because it wants to go against the grain. Instead, the company believes the ICE can still be relevant on the market.

    Mazda is so excited of its technology that it recently invited motoring journalists from the Asia Pacific region – including from Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam – to Fukuoka, Japan for its Mazda ASEAN Tech Forum 2018, with a test drive of a next-generation Mazda 3 prototype fitted with the SkyActiv-X engine billed as the highlight of the event. Read on to find out how it drives.

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  • SPYSHOTS: Audi RS Q8 spotted road-testing again

    The Audi RS Q8 has been spotted running road trials again, and this time our spy photographers have found it wearing less camouflage. A milder performance version, the SQ8, has already been spied running cold-weather tests, and the range-topping RS model could well be the German marque’s non-identical twin to the Lamborghini Urus.

    Visual cues typical of an Audi RS model appear here; larger air intakes, wider wheel arches and the Audi RS signature oval exhaust outlets feature here on the development vehicle photographed here. Larger wheels are home to what appear to be composite ceramic brakes, fitted with six-piston calipers on the front axle, along with an RS-specific chassis tune.

    Under the hood, the Lamborghini’s 4.0 litre biturbo V8 petrol powerplant produces 650 PS and 850 Nm of torque, and the Italian manufacturer has stated before that the engine in the Urus is unique to Lamborghini, despite similarities in displacement and configuration to other engines in the Volkswagen Group, which both it and parent Audi are a part of.

    That said, Audi’s own installation of the 4.0 litre biturbo V8s already produce close to 600 hp, so a tweak to close the gap with the Urus’ output figures isn’t too far fetched. Elsewhere in the RS Q8, technologies set to feature could include four-wheel steering, electromechanical active roll stabilisation, variable drive modes and more. A date for its debut has yet to be confirmed, though when it does the Urus will be rather closely positioned to the RS Q8. Room for an Urus Performante of sorts, perhaps?

     
  • Honda HR-V facelift launched in Thailand – new RS spec with AEB, LaneWatch, glass roof, pearl red

    The Honda HR-V facelift has been revealed in Thailand, where it will be in showrooms from July 8. The refreshed B-segment SUV made its home market debut in February this year. Already spotted testing here, it should be on Honda Malaysia’s cards.

    No big changes to a popular product, and the facelifted car is immediately familiar. The biggest changes are in front, where the Honda logo now sits on a thick bar. Top spec cars get new LED headlamps in the same “scaled” style as the Civic, while the U-shaped “mouth” is now wider. The bumper has been reprofiled and the foglamps are now LED strips.

    Elsewhere, there’s a slim chrome bar linking the tail lamps, which have two horizontal LED tubes in Thailand’s case. Our neighbouring market gets a new RS trim level, and the top sporty spec adds on unique two-tone five-spoke 17-inch wheels. The rims on E and EL grades are the 17-inch rims we’re familiar with.

    Compared with the mid EL with full body coloured trim, the RS gets contrasting gloss black on the entire lower portion and mirror caps. The Passion Red Pearl colour you see here is new and exclusive to the RS, and so are new-to-model items such as a panoramic sunroof and City Brake Active System (CTBA), which is autonomous emergency braking that works between 5 and 30 km/h.

    Honda LaneWatch, a camera that comes on when the passenger side signal is flicked on, is available on the EL and RS, along with side curtain airbags to make it six in total (four airbags for E). The two top trims also get a seven-inch touchscreen head unit and the Walk Away Auto Lock function first seen on the Civic. No full Honda Sensing suite or a hybrid variant as available in Japan, leaving the Toyota C-HR as the sole hybrid option in the class.

    No change to the powertrain, which combines a 1.8 litre SOHC i-VTEC unit with 141 hp/172 Nm to a CVT automatic gearbox with paddle shifters as standard. Thai prices start from 949,000 baht (RM116,052) for the E, rising to 1.059 million baht (RM129,504) for the EL. The top RS spec HR-V goes for 1.119 million baht (RM136,859).


    GALLERY: Pre-facelift Honda HR-V Mugen in Malaysia

     
  • Nissan GT-R is the keisatsu’s latest patrol car in Japan

    The iconic black and white livery found on Japanese police cars has now been applied on a brand-new Nissan GT-R, which will operate in the Tochigi Prefecture in Japan. However, this unique police car wasn’t purchased by the local police force but was instead donated by a resident living in the prefecture.

    According to Nissan, the gift marked 50 years of operations of Nissan’s factory in Kaminokawa, Tochigi, where the GT-R is built. Following a special delivery ceremony, the car will be entered into service as a patrol car, joining a long list of JDM classics that have also served in the past.

    If you thought our Helang was pretty amazing, the Japanese police fleet in the past featured the Honda NSX, Nissan 350Z, Nissan Skyline GT-R (R33 and R34), Mazda RX-7 and RX-8, Mitsubishi GTO and many more.

    Aside from the “panda” paintjob, the GT-R comes with an array of police gear, including a large light bar, siren and speaker, emergency lights and police badging. Nissan didn’t say much about the car’s performance but the 3.8 litre twin-turbo V6 should continue to provide 565 hp and 632 Nm of torque.

    That makes it one of the most powerful and fastest cars used by the keisatsu, and it should be up to the task to nullify Han’s claims in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift; here’s a reminder.

     
  • SPYSHOTS: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

    Following a teaser in April for a new “flagship super GT”, the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera has recently been spotted at the Nurburgring in soft-top guise. The car, likely to adopt the Volante name as tradition of convertible Astons past, has been reported to be the successor to the Vanquish, previously the marque’s range-topping grand tourer.

    The DBS Superleggera is tipped to employ a reworked version of the twin-turbocharged, 5.2 litre V12 engine which powers the DB11 AMR. While it produces 639 PS and 700 Nm of torque in that car, the forthcoming flagship is likely to bring outputs closer to the 700 PS mark.

    Details are still thin on the ground, however the DBS Superleggera can also be expected to sport uprated chassis componentry including suspension and brakes, to cope with the heightened performance. The fixed-roof version of the DBS Superleggera is expected to make its debut next month, with the Volante (seen here) tipped to follow suit six to eight months after that.

     
  • SPYSHOTS: 2019 Audi S8 spotted at the Nurburgring

    Fine weather at the the Nurburgring this time of the year brings out the high-speed hardware, and the forthcoming Audi S8 has been spotted again at the Nurburgring Nordschleife – our spy photographer has caught its driver apparently having some oversteer fun, just like the G80 BMW M3 spotted before it.

    Seen here without camouflage, the 2091 Audi S8 is expected to use a development of the 4.0 litre biturbo V8 engine used in the outgoing model, which produced 605 hp and 750 Nm in range-topping S8 Plus form; though figures haven’t been released, the next-generation car should produce slightly more than the standard S8‘s 520 hp. Quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic makes up the driveline.

    Here, the S8 retains traditional S-model visual identifiers such as slightly deeper front and rear bumpers, larger wheels with uprated ceramic brakes featuring six-piston calipers in front, and quad circular exhaust pipes at the back.

    Our sources suggest that there is a chance for an Audi S8 ‘E-tron’ plug-in hybrid variant, likely featuring the same driveline as that in the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, though one that is likely detuned from the Porsche’s 680 hp and 850 Nm of torque. Of course, with the A8 as a base there will be no shortage of technology – it may adopt some of that car’s self-driving ability, and most if not all of the base car’s active safety and driver assists.

     
  • 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor now with uprated Fox dampers

    The Ford F-150 Raptor pick-up truck has been updated for the 2019 model year, and while its appearance ostensibly remains much the same as before, it now comes with active dampers for improved terrain handling.

    Built at Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant, the latest iteration of the F-150 Raptor employs electronically controlled Fox internal-bypass dampers with Live Valve technology which enables continuous adjustment of damping, on-the-go. The revised suspension setup is a class-first according to Ford, and employs sensors in both the suspension and in the truck body to improve comfort, handling and resistance to bottoming out.

    “Not many trucks need sensors to detect when you are midair. The Raptor sets the dampers to full stiffness to help smooth shock performance as the truck lands,” said global director of Ford Performance vehicle programs Hermann Salenbauch, adding that the Raptor can automatically vary its dampers’ compression rates for the best use of its 13-inch (330 mm) and 13.9-inch (353 mm) suspension travel front and rear.

    The Raptor mates the revised suspension with the Terrain Management System for optimal integration of systems, while a new Trail Control system enables improved low-speed control when off-roading. Trail Control works like a kind of low-speed cruise control, which automatically modulates power and braking for each wheel, enabling the driver to focus on steering inputs. This can be activated between 1 mph (1.6 km/h) and 20 mph (32 km/h), depending on driveline position.

    No changes of note to the powertrain, which means the retaining of the 3.5 litre turbocharged EcoBoost V6 petrol mill producing 450 hp and 691 Nm of torque, paired to a 10-speed automatic gearbox which sends drive to all four wheels.

    Inside, the F-150 Raptor gains new Recaro sport seats for improved support with greater bolstering in the seat back and cushion, and features blue Alcantara inserts and accent stitching; this is inspired by the interior trim of the Ford GT supercar, the company says.

    Changes for the F-150 Raptor’s 2019 model year are rounded out with new exterior colours including Ford Performance Blue, Velocity Blue and Agate Black, along with a revised rear appliqué. Beadlock-capable wheels of a new design are also available; the 2019 F-150 Raptor is set to go on sale in late 2018, according to Ford.

     
  • Proton believes car prices will go up with SST’s return

    Car buyers are currently enjoying a “tax holiday” with the goods and services tax (GST) rate currently set at 0%, which has resulted in prices being lower than before. However, many are wondering what will happen to car prices when the sales and services tax (SST) makes its return on September 1, and if they should make their purchase now.

    According to Proton, now is the best time for consumers to purchase a new car, before the implementation of the SST. Citing Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad (and other sources), Proton believes car prices could go up with the return of the SST.

    In May this year, finance minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the SST rate would be set at 10%, the same rate it was when it was replaced by the goods and services tax (GST) in April 2015. Later on, the MAA said it expected the government to set the SST to be lower than GST (6%) in order to lower vehicles prices further to promote buying. The MAA president also noted that the introduction of the GST a few years ago did have an impact at reducing car prices.

    On the topic of the used car market, Proton stated that sellers generally absorbed the GST amount, and that prices won’t be affected by zero-rated GST. While consumers might view the used car market as more appealing, the processes of buying a used car could be more cumbersome due to the potential difficulty in getting loan approvals and high interest rates.

    What do you think will happen to car prices following the implementation of the SST? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

     
  • BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe rendered – yay or nay?

    The all-new BMW 8 Series is perhaps one of the best-looking models to roll out of Munich in recent years, sporting a sleek exterior design that’s rightfully complemented by a classy, polished cabin. While we know a cabriolet is on the cards, prototypes of the 8 Series Gran Coupe have been elusive thus far.

    The closest thing to the actual 8GC we’ve seen is the official concept previewed earlier in March, but this set of rendering, courtesy of Theophilus Chin, shows us what the flagship four-door sports coupe potentially look like. Before you start squinting, the only thing different here is the additional rear doors and the less steeply raked rear glasshouse.

    Of course, designing this four-door variant poses some challenges, especially if it were to retain the coupe’s dramatic low-slung appeal. Like the 6 Series Gran Coupe, the front doors will have to be shortened, as seen in the pictures here. Other than cramming the small rear doors in this digital rendering, everything else is as per the coupe, including the substantially emotive haunch that puts emphasis on masculinity.

    To recap, the new 8 Series is based on BMW’s modular Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform which features a mix of steel, aluminium, magnesium and carbon-fibre construction. It’s currently available with the M850i xDrive (all-wheel drive) that’s powered by an upgraded version of the M550i‘s 4.4 litre biturbo petrol V8, pushing out 530 hp and a whopping 750 Nm. Paired with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic, the century sprint is done in just 3.7 seconds.

    The other offering is the 840d xDrive diesel, which gets a 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged straight-six making 320 hp and 680 Nm. It shares the same eight-speed auto and sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds. The range-topping M8 will be available at a later date.

    Inside is an all-new cabin that befits this flagship sports coupe, featuring a full leather dashboard and sports seats as standard (multifunction seats with increased adjustment and support optional). Other new features include the latest BMW Operating System 7.0 for the iDrive system, the redesigned BMW Live Cockpit Professional instrument display, a larger head-up display, a smartphone-enabled Digital Key and the over-the-air Remote Software Upgrade function.

    If the 8 Series Gran Coupe does make it to production, expect it to come with the same suite of driver assistance and connectivity features as the two-door. For now, what do you think of the four-door variant? Do you like it more than its coupe brethren? Leave your comments below!



    GALLERY: BMW 8 Series Coupe

    GALLERY: BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe

     
  • BMW Malaysia’s #SafetyStartsWithYou videos gets kids to remind adults to practice safe driving habits

    BMW Group Malaysia has introduced #SafetyStartsWithYou, a series of public service announcement (PSA) videos directed by BMW Shorties Finalist Mallory Lee, as part of the its annual BMW Safety 360º Program.

    Featuring children between the ages of four to nine years old, the series serves as a reminder to adults to be safe on the roads, highlighting some of the most basic road rules, etiquette and practices that are often overlooked or ignored. The series includes five 30-second videos promoting the use of seat belts and child seats, indicators, as well as adhering to traffic lights, the speed limit and not using phones while driving.

    “Road safety and responsibility on the road should be approached from the complete view of technology, behaviour and action. While we as a premium automaker continuously design and introduce new safety technology to significantly enhance road safety for all road users, it is also important for us to be reminded that safety starts with you. Your behaviour and action on the road can significantly reduce you and your children’s risks for road accidents,” said Harald Hoelzl, MD and CEO of BMW Group Malaysia.

    “With this video series, we hope parents and adults in general will see that if our children understand basic road rules and sign, as well as safe driving behaviour, we as adults should reflect on our own actions which impact road safety,” he added.

    According to statistics, in 2016, 7,152 people died in road accidents in Malaysia, 80.6% of which were caused by human error. According to transport minister Anthony Loke, a total of 6,740 road fatalities were registered in 2017. While this shows that road fatalities have gone down slightly, the number of road accidents registered last year increased by 2.4% to 533,875.

    Harald added that a 2013 World Health Organization report put Malaysia third highest globally for road-related deaths. “These staggering facts should not be viewed as just figures. We should reflect on these findings and ask ourselves whether we contribute to these statistics, consider what we’re doing wrong on the road, and consciously remind ourselves every day to be better drivers, passengers and pedestrians,” he said.

    The #SafetyStartsWithYou series was directed by Mallory Lee, who directed the winning short film for BMW Shorties 2017 People’s Choice Award, “Gold! There’s Gold in the River”. Mallory was also a BMW Shorties Finalist in 2014 with “A Gift” and a nominee for several BMW Shorties 2014 supporting awards with the short film “Hello Angel”.


     
 

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Last Updated 07 Jun 2018



 

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