Latest Stories

  • Maruti Suzuki Swift was India’s best-selling car in 2020

    The Suzuki Swift has emerged as the best-selling car in India in 2020, with Maruti Suzuki reporting around 160,700 units were sold to customers. The company also had another reason to celebrate last year, as the model crossed the cumulative sales milestone of 2.3 million units across all generations.

    The Swift was first introduced in India in 2005, and by 2010, 500,000 units were sold. Later in 2013, that figure would climb to one million units and to 1.5 million units in 2016. The current, third-generation Swift was launched in the country in Februrary 2018, initially available with petrol and diesel engines.

    However, the latter has since been discontinued, so the only option available currently is a BS6-compliant 1.2 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol mill with 83 PS (82 hp) and 113 Nm of torque. Depending on variant, a five-speed manual or automated manual transmission is available.

    “Maruti Suzuki Swift has been the best-selling premium hatchback in the country for the past 15 years with over 2.3 million delighted customers. Despite the adverse impact of Covid-19, the Swift sold over 160,700 units in CY (calender year) 2020, emerging as the top brand in the pecking order,” said Shashank Srivastava, executive director (marketing & sales) of Maruti Suzuki India.

    “We take this opportunity to thank our loyal customers for their constant support and trust in brand Swift. I am confident that with continuous customer support Swift will successfully achieve many more milestones in future,” he added. According to the company, 53% of Swift customers being the age of 35 years, the model has been deemed as the “coming of age” car for India.

    Maruti Suzuki has a strong grip on the Indian market, as the company delivered a total of 1,183,777 cars last year, referring to a report by RushLane. The next closest brand is Hyundai with 407,800 cars, while Tata occupied the final podium spot with 145,394 cars.

    In fact, the top five best-selling cars in India last year were all from Maruti Suzuki, with second place taken by the Alto (154,076 units), followed by the Baleno (153,986 units), Wagon R (148,298 units) and Dzire (124,969 units). The Dzire is the sedan sibling to the Swift, while the Alto was the leader in 2019.

  • SPYSHOTS: 2021 BMW 2 Series Coupe on winter test

    The next-generation BMW 2 Series Coupe has been sighted running tests again, this time for cold-weather testing. Driveline traditionalists will be glad to know that there will be a model below the 3 Series – this one – that will continue to be built on a rear-wheel-drive platform.

    This compact two-door will be brought up to date with its more recent stablemates with the adoption of the Cluster Architecture (CLAR) base that forms the foundation for the likes of the G20 3 Series, all the way up to the G11/12 7 Series.

    This means the overall proportions of the current car will be carried over, as opposed to the shorter-nosed shape from the transverse engine layout of the FAAR (front-wheel-drive) platform that is the base for models like the F44 2 Series Gran Coupe, F45 2 Series Active Tourer and F46 Gran Tourer.

    As a result, the next 2 Series will likely continue to feature BMW’s range of inline four- and six-cylinder engines, and this example photographed here wears the telltale Cerium Grey trim items of an M Performance model, indicating that this is the M240i, or new-generation turbocharged 3.0 litre equivalent.

    This could be the B58 that produces 374 hp and 500 Nm of torque in the G20/21 M340i xDrive sedan and wagon, which could mean the possibility of all-wheel-drive; an eight-speed automatic gearbox is expected to stay the course here. The B58 also powers the 2021 Toyota GR Supra, where it makes 388 PS; F22-generation M240i has also been offered with a six-speed manual.

    The next-generation 2 Series Coupe will be crowned by the M2 that was confirmed last March, and which will bear the model code G42. Full-blown M cars will remain RWD-based, as front-wheel-drive is not suitable for the high-performance sub-brand, said BMW M president Markus Flasch. This will get the even more potent S58 3.0L twin-turbo straight-six engine, which powers the G80 M3 and G82 M4.


  • Triumph Speed Triple, a legacy of triple-cylinder speed

    It is hard to pinpoint with any accuracy when the first streetfighter motorcycles appeared. As a motorcycle style, streetfighters were born of sportsbike riders, having crashed their full-fairing racing steeds, putting them back on the road sans bodywork and with taller handlebars, either through necessity or lack of finances for a proper repair.

    Streetfighters started appearing on the city streets of London and France just after the mid-80s, and were much favoured of riders who loved indulging in wheelies, stoppies and stunts, all while tearing along the roads at breakneck speeds. The design style of the streetfighter was especially beloved of a particular tribe of hooligans, the “Bloodrunners”, riders responsible for delivering blood bags where required to hospitals.

    Recognising this, Triumph, in their infinite wisdom, birthed the idea of the factory streetfighter, calling it the Speed Triple back in 1994. Not simply a superbike with the fairings removed and taller handlebars, the Triumph Speed Triple was designed for road right out of the box.

    That stupidly illegal speeds and more time spent with the front wheel up in the air was its raison d’être meant that the Speed Triple rapidly became a serious contender in the naked sportsbike stakes. This put it toe-to-toe with the other naked sports of the time, the Ducati Monster.

    Ahead of the launch of the 2021 Triumph Street Triple 1200 RS, scheduled for January 26, the boys from Hinckley took a little trip down memory lane. Posing in a rogues’ gallery of three-cylinder mayhem across the decades, here’s a look at how the Speed Triple has evolved since its introduction in 1994.

    The first of the Speed Triples as we know it was the T509, which came with a 885 cc inline triple, producing 108 hp. The T509 was given a major update in 1999, when it received the 955 cc triple, with power now 110 hp and retaining the dual headlamps.

    Moving away from the T509, the Speed Triple received a redesign by Gareth Davies in 2002, with the bodywork extensively revised. A change in engine casting saw a reduction in weight of 7.7 kg to 196 kg and the Speed Triple now carrying the designation ‘955i’.

    The last of the 955i Speed Triples went to market in 2004, its place being taken by the Speed Triple 1050 in 2005. Designed by Frascoli Rodolfo, also responsible for designs such as the Triumph Tiger Tramontana, Moto Guzzi Griso and Norge as well as the Bordone Ferrari Dakar and modern day Suzuki Katana, the 1050 Speed Triple was now progenitor to the 675 Street Triple, the two naked sportsbikes sharing styling and design cues.

    An update came in 2011, with the 1050 triple leaned on to produce 133 hp and 111 NM of torque. The design departure from twin round headlights to the “bug eye” units was a polarising feature of the updated 1050 Speed Triple, with opinions divided almost equally between like and loathe.

    In 2016, the 1050 engine got its last major update, with ride-by-wire, five ride modes and switchable traction control and ABS for those riders with holing tendencies. Weight was now 212 kg and power claimed by Triumph to be 140 hp at 9,500 rpm and 112 Nm at 7,850 rpm.

    With the bowing out of the 1050 Speed Triple, the 2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS now takes centre stage. What is new is of course the displacement, though we can tell you improvements have been made in the area of power and weight.

    Check in tomorrow for the official launch of the 2021 Speed Triple 1200 RS for all the details on England’s new streetfighter.

  • Cupra Formentor by ABT Sportsline – 370 PS, 450 Nm!

    ABT Sportsline was quick with this one, getting to work with the all-new Cupra Formentor which made its debut in March 2020. This particular variant was based on the range-topping VZ 2.0 TSI variant, but has been tuned to deliver more visual appeal and, of course, performance.

    For starters, the engine in its factory state produces 310 PS and 400 Nm of torque. If you want more power, then the ABT Power option will raise that to 370 PS and 450 Nm of torque. This is achieved with an ABT Engine Control unit, allowing the crossover to sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds. That’s 0.3 seconds quicker than stock, and it’s one-tenth of a second quicker than the Porsche Macan GTS.

    The tuning firm is also offering the ABT exhaust system. Available at the end of March 2021, the kit enhances sonic characteristics, and comes complete with 102-mm matte black stainless steel endpipes.

    Other upgrades include ABT suspension springs for the active suspension (lowers ride height by up to 35 mm), as well as 19- or 20-inch wheels. The version seen in these pictures is of the ABT Sport GR variant, featuring multiple thin concave spokes and is available in several finishes.

    To recap, the Formentor measures 4,450 mm long, 1,839 mm wide, 1,511 mm tall, and has a wheelbase of 2,680 mm. It’s based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform and is fitted with 18-inch Brembo brakes as standard. The C-segment SUV also offers 450 litres of boot space – not bad at all.

    Inside the cabin is a 12-inch touchscreen display with voice and gesture control, as well as the Full Link system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The stylish crossover also gets Level 2 autonomous driving, with features such as predictive adaptive cruise control, Emergency Assist, Travel Assist as well as side and exit assist.

  • Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF) – 2021 events, updates

    The year 2020 was one of previously unknown hardship and ordeals, with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic felt not just in Malaysia but around the globe. It was a year in which Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF) confronted the challenges head-on.

    Unfortunately, the much-awaited brand new MSF Touge Hillclimb event series was unable to get off the ground, initially due to local council permit issues for Round 1 at Janda Baik, and when the pandemic hit, there was a long wait-and-see period for which we were unable to mobilise.

    Elsewhere, MSF SuperBikes, which was entering its third successful year and saw Ducati Owners Club Malaysia (DOCM) taking a slot with a full quota of Ducati owner-racers, was left stuck at the start line grid with the “one-minute to go” board showing.

    However, with creative innovation, we managed to keep the racing fever burning when everyone was stuck at home during the darkest of times that was the movement control order (MCO). This was accomplished via our new e-racing series, MSF CyberTurismo, which ran over eight months and across 82 episodes, with over 240 virtual race starts on Gran Turismo Sport.

    The virtual series, which was aired on Astro Arena HD, ably showcased the fun, fever, and family of what is ‘The MSF Way’, and saw many making new friends through the online racing arena.

    We cooperated and successfully fired up the nation’s interest in national-level saloon car racing when MSF partnered with Sepang Circuit’s (SIC) own Malaysia Championship Series (MCS) event, packing in a weekend that was one of the biggest in the Malaysian annual motorsports calendar. There were over 337,000 online broadcast views in total, and over 50,000 viewers on the Merdeka Race highlights programmes aired on Astro Arena the following week.

    The success of last year’s Merdeka Race tie-up has benefitted national saloon car motor racing, opening the doors to cooperation between MSF and SIC to collaborate on a long-term goal of creating a structured Driver Development ladder for the growth of the national saloon car motorsports industry.

    This will be a year of change, adaptation and expansion, where we will continue to build MSF into a renowned motorsports festival series. Our flagship MSF Racing will evolve into two-day weekend events, and we will be working closely with SIC and combining with MCS on a number of races to create bigger, more exciting, and more engaging national-level motor racing festivals.

    Each race weekend will be feature a different race format creating a different challenge each round. The Merdeka Race will grow into a big carnival, and the Sepang 1000 km weekend will be linked to become the season-ending climax Finale event for the year.

    As for MSF SuperTurismo, it will be cohesively restructured with MCS to bring more value and establish the national saloon car racing driver development structure. It will be the same, but enhanced for all.

    Street categories will remain as they are, providing the link to street-level racing teams, but the Ultimate categories will amalgamate with the MCS categories, which as a whole will evolve and link with regulations of similar and relevant racing series around the region. The Ultimate Open will continue to be the ultimate tuner-level race, featuring the most monstrous of tuned and modified race cars in the country.

    Meanwhile, MSF SuperBikes will feature during the Merdeka Race and Finale, and we’re looking forward to two-wheeled racers going elbow-to-elbow as they get back on to the circuit after not being able to battle it out in 2020. MSF hopes that DOCM will continue to have faith in our activities, and we’re looking forward to these powerful, exclusive red beauties fire it up and fight it out to be the MSF DesmoCup Champion.

    The new X Street Mania, featuring MSF SuperMoto and Drifting as well as MSF Touge will run in 2021. These are eagerly awaited series which will expand the MSF ethos to new geographical locations and venues around the country. MSF will be brought closer to the fans, and will venture to venues north, south, and east of the country, hitting the twisty, winding roads of the best Malaysian hills. This is the extreme-side of motorsports, and we are looking forward to get these events up and roaring.

    Click to enlarge.

    Lastly, it is about adapting. The “new normal” means that people will be less mobile and travel less – MSF is looking to bring the festival to their homes through live broadcasting of all events on social media, with event highlights being shown on Astro Arena HD.

    Planning for 2021 has been difficult given the circumstances, but MSF is looking forward to a better second half of the year, where we expect that motorsports should be able to get going from late Q2 onward.

    As shown in the photos in this story, we have a full calendar of dates planned, but with the recent rise in daily infection rates and MCO 2.0, we are now looking to commence competition racing activities after Hari Raya Puasa. We’re counting down the days to when we’ll be revving it up and going wheel-to-wheel again. In the meantime, stay safe.

  • VIDEO: Mercedes-Benz EQS teased yet again – new Eco-Assist, torque shifting functions demonstrated

    Mercedes-Benz is continuing the slow tease of the new EQS ahead of its world premiere this year. In the first instalment of what appears to be a multi-part video series, Stuttgart is giving viewers a peek (in vertical form, annoyingly) of what its new electric executive sedan is like to drive.

    In this seven-minute film, Danish television host Felix Smith meets up with powertrain chief engineer Eva Greiner to sample a development prototype at the Immendingen test track. Awkward jokes and interactions aside, the two also demonstrates some key features of the EQS, the first being the Eco-Assist function.

    When activated, the system essentially takes control of acceleration and braking – likely with the help of navigation and sensor data – to drive the car in the most efficient manner possible. Taking into account the geometry of the road (and probably traffic conditions as well), the car slows down and picks up speed on its own; it’s almost certainly part of the car’s wider semi-autonomous driving capabilities.

    Smith also experiences the car’s torque shifting, which shuffles the power delivery of the front and rear motors to deliver maximum traction. Putting the EQS through its paces back-to-back with a C217 S-Class Coupé, the former feels more surefooted on the twisting wet tarmac, Smith says.

    Beyond that, not much is known about the car, but we do know that it will come with a range of up to 700 km on the WLTP cycle. It will also feature a new MBUX Hyperscreen interface that consists of three screens – one for the instrument cluster, one for the infotainment system and a separate display for the front passenger, the last two of which utilise OLED technology.

    The 56-inch panel looks slick, equipped with two 12.3-inch screens and a centre 17.7-inch display, all covered by a single piece of Gorilla Glass. A new “zero-layer” interface puts the navigation screen at the front and centre, with panels for media, telephony and other AI-curated functions being clustered above the digital climate controls. One new feature of the voice control system is the ability to enquire about points of interest that the user is driving past – a feature that will be extended to the regular S-Class.

  • 2021 DS7 Crossback Louvre in the UK – from RM258k

    DS Automobiles has introduced the limited edition DS 7 Crossback Louvre in the UK, one conceived in collaboration with Le Louvre museum in Paris. Priced from £46,530 (RM258k), the stylish crossover will be available in three colours – Ink Blue, Perla Nera Black and Platinum Grey.

    Unique to it are exclusive Louvre badging on the bonnet, front wings and tailgate. These are designed in such a way that reflects the design of the Louvre Pyramid. The kit also includes laser-etched louvre motif on the wing mirrors, gloss black grille surrounds, window surrounds and roof rails, LED tail lights casing, and 20-inch Alexandria design diamond-cut alloys.

    Step inside and you’ll find a few bespoke design changes, such as the 3D-printed pyramid-shaped stainless steel air vent controllers and embossed pyramid graphics on the dashboard and Nappa leather-wrapped centre console lid. Nice. The range-topping 14-speaker Focal Electra HiFi sound system is standard here.

    But what’s most unique about the DS 7 Crossback Louvre is the fact that owners get exclusive access to 182 famous art pieces through the 12-inch high-definition display (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). These include paintings (including Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa), portraits and sculptures from Le Louvre museum, and each artwork is accompanied by a four-minute podcast of its history and significance.

    The special edition model is available in the sole PureTech 225 trim only, which means it’s powered by a 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that delivers 225 PS at 5,500 rpm and 300 Nm of torque at 1,900 rpm. Power goes to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, sending the SUV from 0-100 km/h in 8.3 seconds. The top speed is 227 km/h.

    For safety, it comes with DS Connected Pilot, which offers Level 2 autonomous driving. Features include adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, lane centring assist, driver attention warning, speed limit recognition warning, active blind spot detection, and extended traffic sign recognition.

    DS Active Scan Suspension is also standard here. This system constantly analyses the road ahead and automatically makes adjustments to the suspension, creating a smoother driving experience. It works via a camera mounted behind the windscreen, and this is connected electronically to both the front and rear axles. It also works in tandem with four height sensors and three accelerometers to gauge the car’s speed, steering wheel angle and braking.

    Every customer of the DS 7 Crossback Louvre will receive a “Friends of the Louvre” card that guarantees unlimited admission for one year to Le Louvre museum’s permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, alongside the musée national Eugène-Delacroix.

  • S.Korea giving up to RM70k subsidy for EV purchase

    It really pays to go green in South Korea. The home country of Hyundai and Kia will offer up to 19 million won in subsidies to those who buy an electric car this year, Pulse reported. That’s the equivalent of RM69,818. If you’re brave enough to go hydrogen and buy a fuel cell vehicle, up to 37.5 million won (RM137,691) in subsidies can be had.

    The move is part of the country’s drive to have more eco-friendly cars on the road, which in turn is part of the government’s Green New Deal initiative. Launched in July, the aim is to nurture renewable energy, green infrastructure, and green industrial sectors as the country’s new growth engines, as well as to address air and water pollution.

    The republic’s government said it aims to add 136,000 electric and hydrogen vehicles this year by increasing its subsidy pool to to 1.02 trillion won (RM3.74 billion) for 121,000 EVs, and to 365.5 billion won (RM1.34 billion) for 15,000 FCEVs. Those targets are up by 21.4% and 49.2% from a year ago, respectively.

    This year’s revised subsidy programme favours longer driving range per charge – higher range, higher subsidy amount. It also takes into account the price of the EV/FCEV – those priced between 60 million won and 90 million won (RM220,312 to RM330,468) will receive only 50% of the subsidy, while models priced over 90 million won such as the Tesla Model S will receive no subsidy. Total subsidy is a combination of central and local government funds.

    Top examples after factoring in the range/price T&Cs are the Hyundai Kona Electric (up to 484 km with the latest facelift) and Kia Niro, followed by the Tesla Model 3 in the EV segment. Buyers of the Hyundai Nexo SUV will get the full 37.5 million won FCEV subsidy.

    Besides private vehicles, South Korean subsidies for electric taxis, buses and trucks will also be upped to benefit small business owners. On the infrastructure front, the government will install 31,500 electric chargers and build 54 hydrogen stations across the country this year.

    Would you go electric if such an incentive is offered in Malaysia? The latest Nissan Leaf is priced at a relatively attractive RM189k, but there have been few takers. Hyundai and Kia are big EV players at home and in Europe, but with such low demand for EVs here – and no special government scheme – there’s really not much incentive for them to bring the battery-powered cars in.

  • 2021 Yamaha R25 – new colour for Malaysia, RM19,998

    Ever popular with the young quarter-litre sports bike crowd, the 2021 Yamaha YZF-R25 now comes in a new colour scheme for Malaysia with pricing unchanged from last year at RM19,998. The new colour is Metallic Cyan, which replaces the 2020 model Matte Silver variant, while the Matte Blue colour choice remains.

    All other items on the 2021 R25 remain unchanged, including the two-cylinder 249 cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled mill mated to a six-speed gearbox producing 35.5 hp at 12,000 rpm and 22.6 Nm of torque at 10,000 rpm. Bodywork is similar in styling to the larger YZF-R1 and YZF-R6 sports bikes, and Yamaha claims the redesigned R25 is 8 km/h faster at the top.

    At the front, a pair of upside-down forks with gold anodised fork legs does the duty, while the rear end is held up by preload-adjustable monoshock. Seat height is set at 758 mm and fuel for the R25 is carried in a 14-litre tank.

    Inside the cockpit, an LCD instrument panel shows all the necessary information, including a shift light for redline gear changes and LED lighting is used both front and back of the R25. Braking is done with single hydraulic discs front and rear, with the front disc grabbed by a dual-piston calliper and the back using a single-piston unit.

    Pricing for the 2021 Yamaha YZF-R25 is recommended retail and does not include road tax, insurance and registration, with stock immediately available at Hong Leong Yamaha dealers. Every purchase of an R25 includes a brake disc lock worth RM100 and the bike comes with a two-year or 20,000 km warranty.

  • 2021 Abarth 595 revealed with subtle styling tweaks

    Abarth has given the Fiat 500-based 595 an update for the 2021 model year, with four trim levels of the hot hatch being offered to customers. These include a base option that starts from 17,760 euros (RM87,471), while others include the Turismo, Competizione and range-topping Esseesse.

    All variants are available in hatchback and convertible versions, and feature a 1.4 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine from Fiat’s FIRE (Fully Integrated Robotised Engine) family. A six-speed manual transmission is standard for all variants, but everything above the base trim can also be had with a six-speed semi-automatic transmission.

    In terms of revisions, the 595’s previous “Sport” mode has been renamed “Scorpion” made across the entire range to better match the company’s logo. Activating it alters peak torque delivery, power steering calibration and engine response to the accelerator pedal, “making them sharper and increasing driver engagement.” Other changes include an updated instrument panel and the boost pressure gauge is now lit in white for better legibility.

    On the base variant, the T-Jet engine makes 145 PS (143 hp) at 5,500 rpm and 206 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm, while standard equipment includes a flat-bottomed steering wheel, polyelliptical headlights (xenons are optional), LED daytime running lights and a seven-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system. As an option, a seven-speaker BeatsAudio sound system can be specified with a total output of 480 watts and an eight-channel digital amplifier.

    With the 595 Turismo that starts from 20,960 euros (RM103,226), outputs are bumped to 165 PS (163 hp) and 230 Nm, but the brake discs remain the same as the base trim, measuring in at 284 mm at the front and 240 mm at the rear. Buyers opting for this will get have access to diamond-embossed leather seats in a number of colour options, including a new heritage brown.

    The next step up is the 595 Competizione, which comes with more power at 180 PS (178 hp) and 250 Nm, along with Brembo brakes that feature larger 305-mm discs at the front. It also gets some unique styling cues that look towards Abarth’s racing heritage. These include a new rally blue hue inspired by the Fiat 131 Abarth Rally as well as 17-inch alloy wheels that are a nod to those on the Lancia Delta Rally Integrale.

    This particular trim also gets a body colour body kit that adds flared fenders and quad exhaust tips, which complement its sporty interior that features an Alcantara dashboard, along with leather seats and gear lever in carbon-fibre. The 595 Competizione is priced from 23,060 euros (RM113,581).

    At the very top of the range is the 595 Esseesse, which starts from 26,560 euros (RM130,811), and gains a mechanical self-locking differential (optional with the 595 Competizione), Koni FSD shock absorbers, the aforementioned Brembo brakes and new titanium tailpipes for the Akrapovic exhaust system.

    It should be noted that the Abarth 595 is still based on the second-generation Fiat 500, which is being offered alongside the newer, third-gen model (known as the Fiat New 500) that is available only with a fully electric powertrain.


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Last Updated 23 Jan 2021


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