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  • FIRST LOOK: 2019 Nissan X-Trail – Nissan Connect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto explored

    We’ve taken a pretty deep dive into the 2019 Nissan X-Trail facelift so far, with a spec-by-spec comparison, walk-around of the top three variants, a drag race as well as a look into the Nissan Intelligent Mobility suite of safety systems. Here, we explore the capabilities of the Nissan Connect system which features Apple CarPlay and Google Android to support iOS and Android mobile devices.

    Here, watch as our man Jonathan Lee takes us through the functions of the infotainment unit across both mobile operating systems. Of note is CarPlay’s ability to summon Siri for making phone calls or to compose messages on a variety of apps, which is a boon for safety on the road.

    The drawback of using Apple CarPlay is that it currently disallows the simultaneous use of navigation and music playback, as selecting one after another will bring the infotainment unit back to its home screen. This however should be rectified with the advent of the iOS 13 mobile operating system, which is set to enter play later this year.

    There’s a little more complication with Android Auto, as the operating system’s intended in-car usage isn’t supported in Malaysia just yet; this will required Android users to sideload the app from external sources. Here, there are shortcut commands on-screen for music, navigation and phone functions, and as with its Apple counterpart, Android Auto is set to be updated soon for better usability.

    With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support across all variants of the latest Nissan X-Trail, this makes for improved accessibility to mobile services in the Japanese SUV. Do you already own the 2019 X-Trail and have been putting the systems to good use? Let us know in the comments section below with your experiences so far.

  • 2020 Lexus GX 460 – new face; safety, off-road packs

    The Lexus GX 460, as the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado is badged and known in North America, has received a revamp starring a bigger and bolder grille, as well as new equipment. The big news is the inclusion of Lexus Safety System+ as standard across the range (like our just-launched 2019 Lexus NX 300) and an available Off-Road Package featuring Multi-Terrain Select.

    The Lexus GX first received a spindle grille in the previous facelift in 2013, but this 2020 GX 460’s updated nose keeps the ageing SUV in line with the rest of the Lexus range, from the front at least. Also helping the cause are those triple-beam LED headlamps with “tick” LED daytime running lights.

    The three-row seven-seater SUV can be had with a Sport Design Package that adds on an unique lower grille surround, rear valence, side mirrors, matte black exhaust tip, scarlet taillamps and 19-inch alloys with a Gunmetal Metallic finish.

    Inside, heated and ventilated front seats are available as a standalone option for the base model, and standard on Premium and Luxury specs. In the Sport Design Package for Premium and Luxury trims, two captain chairs comprise the second-row seating. Lexus says that the GX’s available semi-aniline leather is dyed completely through, unlike most leathers with conventional surface dyes. New for 2020, Premium and Luxury grades come with Gray Sapele wood with aluminium trim.

    The big Prado is a legit off-roader, and it comes with a full-time automatic four-wheel drive system. A Torsen torque-sensing limited slip centre differential distributes power 40:60 under most driving conditions, and changes the ratio as needed based on wheel slip. The 4WD system offers a low range for off-road driving, and the centre diff can be electronically locked.

    The two-speed transfer case with low range is supported by a range of chassis control technology. Downhill Assist Control (DAC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and available Crawl Control assist the SUV off the beaten path. In the city, the available Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) active dampers adjust to road conditions.

    The new Off-Road Package is available on the Luxury grade. It includes Lexus’ Multi-Terrain Monitor and Panoramic View Monitors with driver and passenger cameras; transmission cooler; fuel tank protector; Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select.

    The latter allows you to choose from multiple surfaces such as loose rocks, mud and sand and more to optimise drivability. With the Multi-Terrain Monitor and Panoramic View Monitors, front passengers can view front, rear, side, and now under (displaying terrain and tire location under the car) camera views on the navigation screen.

    Activated with the press of a button, Crawl Control is designed to maintain a slow and steady pace over demanding terrain. It automatically modulates the throttle and brakes on five driver-selectable low-speed settings, so drivers can focus on steering. Engaged when the SUV is in low range, CC also engages the front and rear “virtual” locking differentials to help reduce tyre slippage and optimise chassis behaviour.

    As for the Lexus Safety System+ suite of active safety kit, there’s Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, Intelligent High Beams and High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

    No change to the powertrain, so the proven 4.6 litre V8 with 301 hp and 446 Nm continues on with a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission. With nearly three tonnes of towing capacity aided by Trailer Sway Control, the GX is an ideal boat hauler, Lexus says. It has always been good in the rough, but the new face helps the GX do Rodeo Drive better.

    GALLERY: 2020 Lexus GX 460

    GALLERY: Toyota Land Cruiser Prado

  • Singapore switching to distance-travelled ERP in 2020

    Singapore is set to introduce a new pay-as-you-drive system for its electronic road pricing (ERP), in which motorists will be charged based on distance covered instead of the fixed fee in place now. The navigation-based system will be introduced next year.

    Motorists will have to switch from their existing ERP in-vehicle units to new on-board units (OBU), and the country’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said that the replacement exercise will be carried out progressively, as The Straits Times reports.

    The first replacement will be done free of charge, with the installation likely to be carried out at vehicle inspection centres and appointed workshops. During the transition period, which has been reported as being around 18 months, both old and ERP systems will be operational.

    Images of the supposed new OBU surfaced on online forums, but the LTA said that the photos were of photo illustrations from a 2016 study conducted on the project. The authority said that the new OBU was still being evaluated and not finalised. According to the report, the new OBU is expected to be larger than the current unit and will display information such as charges incurred for a journey.

  • Aston Martin Valhalla – official name for Project 003!

    It’s official. The Aston Martin AM-RB 003 project will formally be known as the Aston Martin Valhalla. Just as a refresher, the Valhalla is an upcoming mid-engined hypercar that is developed in collaboration with Red Bull Advanced Technologies.

    The name Valhalla literally means ‘the hall of the fallen’, which is an enormous and majestic hall in Asgard, one of the Nine Realms. In ancient Norse mythology, Valhalla is described as a warrior’s paradise, where souls of those who are slain in battle go to rest. These souls are chosen and guided by the Valkyries, a group of warrior maidens who gather the fallen at the behest of Odin, All-Father of Nordic Gods.

    Myths aside, the Valhalla sits below the Valkyrie (the production of which is limited to 175 units) in Aston Martin’s range of ultra high performance cars. Just 500 units of the Valhalla will be made, and most of the car will be made out of carbon-fibre. It will be powered by a hybrid V6 powertrain that makes up to 900 hp, offering performance levels close to the Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder.

    Aston Martin Lagonda president and group CEO, Andy Palmer said: “Aston Martin model names always attract a lot of attention. They do so because they invariably capture an emotion or tell a story. In following the Valkyrie we knew the Aston Martin Valhalla needed to make a strong statement of its own, yet also offer continuity and a clear connection.”

    “Norse mythology contains such powerful language and rich storytelling it felt only right that the AM-RB 003 should follow the Valkyrie’s theme. For those fortunate enough to own one I’m sure they will recognise and appreciate the name’s connotations of glory and happiness, for there can be few more hallowed places than the driver’s seat of an Aston Martin Valhalla,” he added.

  • Proton Insurance Programme provides extra benefits

    Proton is introducing a new insurance product that provides additional benefits to its consumers. Called the Proton Insurance Programme (PIP), the service is applicable for new car buyers as well as existing owners that insure their cars through the national carmaker’s panel of insurers.

    Owners who renew their insurance with PIP are eligible for a free key replacement up to RM1,000 in the case of theft, plus a RM1,000 flood relief allowance, coverage for all drivers (unless the driver is under 21 or holds a provisional or learner’s driving licence) and personal coverage of up to RM15,000 for private car owners.

    Also provided is a waiver of betterment costs for up to 10 years (provided the car is repaired at authorised Proton body and paint centres) and an agreed value coverage that guarantees a full reimbursement of the sum amount insured for the first 12 years, in the event of a total loss or theft. These benefits were already included with the facelifted Iriz and Persona, which were launched in April.

    The six panel insurers are Allianz General Insurance Company, Liberty Insurance, AmGeneral Insurance, Zurich General Insurance, Etiqa General Takaful and Zurich General Takaful. The PIP scheme is available at all authorised Proton outlets nationwide.

    “Proton is constantly looking for ways to deliver more value and with the Proton Insurance Programme, we are able to ensure that old, current and new customers alike are eligible to receive the same benefits just by renewing their insurance policy with us. The programme is backed by six of the strongest names in the insurance industry, so our customers can have peace of mind that Proton’s partners in this venture are able to deliver on their promises,” said CEO Li Chunrong.

  • SPYSHOTS: Ford Puma ST testing at the Nurburgring

    Though the forthcoming Ford Puma follows current trends in new crossovers adopting past sporty car nameplates, the Blue Oval aims to re-inject some sportiness back into proceedings with the development of an ST model for the SUV, which has been spotted testing on the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

    The compact crossover is likely to share its powerplant with the current Fiesta ST, which means the use of a 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol with 200 PS and 290 Nm of torque. Transmission choice is perhaps less clear, as the Fiesta ST engine is mated solely to a six-speed manual transmission; crossovers and SUVs in recent years typically use automatic transmissions exclusively, so it remains to be seen if it will be a wholesale carry-over of the hatchback’s driveline.

    The adoption of the Fiesta ST’s powertrain opens up the likelihood of carrying over features such as driver-selectable drive modes, featuring Normal, Sport and Track modes in the Fiesta ST. On the hatchback, drive modes control parameters such as traction control, stability control, electronic sound enhancement and power steering assistance.

    What’s certain is that the Puma will receive a suitably upgraded chassis to better harness the added performance from the stronger engine in ST guise – the suspension can be expected to be lower and stiffer, while wheels and tyres should be ST-specific items to maximise purchase on the road.

  • SPYSHOTS: Alpine A110 GT4 – more power, grip?

    Following on from the Alpine A110 – which made its debut in 2017 – is a hotter version of the mid-engined two-seater, seen here pounding the laps around the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife. In standard guise the A110 puts out 252 hp and 320 Nm of torque from its turbocharged 1.8 litre inline-four petrol mill, the same as that which resides in the latest Renault Megane RS Trophy-R.

    The hotter A110 is likely to adopt the 299 PS/420 Nm engine tune from that car, itself representing a 20 PS over the ‘standard’ Megane. The uprated outputs will aid in improving upon the standard A110’s 0-100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds, though top speed may continue to be limited to 250 km/h.

    The GT4 moniker will most likely also bring chassis upgrades to the A110, where the eventual ‘GT4’ road car could wear rolling stock larger than the 205/40R18 fronts and 235/40R18 rears that serve on the base road car. The double-wishbone suspension setup is likely to gain uprated springs and dampers, as well as larger brakes to better harness the model’s stronger engine output.

    The increase in engine output to the 300 hp region will also see the Alpine A110 step up to competition such as the Porsche Cayman, Toyota Supra and, for a limited time frame, the Audi TT.

  • Tesla Model 3 Long Range rear-wheel drive axed

    Tesla has apparently discontinued production of the original Model 3 long Range RWD, a version of the electric sedan that was first introduced in mid-2017. According to InsideEVs, the Model 3 LR RWD and Standard Range RWD were taken down from the online design studio, but customers can still order the cars through direct call or in-store visitations.

    The actual news came from customer Jeremy Judkins’ video, who received info about the production stoppage. It seems that the move may be temporary, perhaps to simplify the production process.

    To recap, the full-electric Tesla Model 3 is priced from US$35,000 (RM145k) and comes with a range of 354 km. It has a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 209 km/h. An extra US$9,000 (RM37k) buys a long-range model which can stretch to 499 km, do 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds and top out at 225 km/h.

    A higher performance AWD model with the dual motor all-wheel drive is also available, which accelerates from 0 to 98 km/h in 3.5 seconds. It has a sportier look, wearing huge 20-inch wheels with bigger brakes and lowered suspension. There’s also a carbon-fibre spoiler that helps improve stability at higher speeds.

  • Bentley’s full range of cars will be electrified by 2023

    Bentley has announced that it will electrify all of its models by 2023, according to a report by Roadshow. This bit of news came from company board member Chris Craft, who spoke to the publication at a media event in California recently.

    However, it’s unclear whether the new electrified models will use a version of the Bentayga’s plug-in hybrid powertrain. The SUV is equipped with a new 3.0 litre V6 petrol that’s paired with a high-efficiency electric motor that also doubles as a generator to recharge the 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. In total, the system produces 449 PS and 700 Nm of torque, enough to send the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds.

    Plug-in hybrid is not the endgame for Bentley, though. Chris said “the next big focal point is to launch our first full electric car, which we will do by 2025.” He believes the hybrid/electric vehicles will fit nicely in the automaker’s portfolio, and sees a huge opportunity in this space.

    “Over 30% of luxury buyers are interested in electric cars,” he said. “That will be a big part of our future.” For now, Bentley’s plug-in hybrid system enables a full electric range of 50 km, as per the Bentayga’s case. Like the idea of a plug-in hybrid Flying Spur, or a full-electric Continental GT?

    GALLERY: Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

  • Borgward BX5 SUV starts CKD assembly, Q4 deliveries

    The Borgward BX5 first made its appearance in Malaysia in left-hand-drive form last April, and was initially set for a launch that following September. The firm announced the BX5 was in the process of obtaining final approval from the government, and its most recent Facebook post says that the Malaysian market will see locally-assembled units of the SUV in the fourth quarter of this year.

    Borgward’s engineers, technical support and production workers have commenced semi-automated test runs for the assembly of the BX5, the social media post said. The BX5 is a five-seater SUV which measures 4,490 mm long, 1,877 mm wide and 1,675 mm tall with a 2,685 mm wheelbase.

    The Malaysian Borgward website shows three trim levels for the right-hand-drive BX5, namely Fashion, Luxury and Special Edition. The former lists a 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol engine with 150 PS at 5,500 rpm and 250 Nm from 1,750 – 4,000 rpm with a six-speed automatic gearbox in a 2WD driveline, with the latter two trim levels featuring a 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol unit with 224 PS at 5,500 rpm and 300 Nm of torque from 1,500 – 4,500 rpm; this is mated to a six-speed auto and all-wheel-drive.

    Kit list includes automatic halogen headlights for the Fashion and auto xenons for the Luxury and SE, and all three include LED daytime running lights, turn signals and tail lights. Side mirror adjustment is automatic across the board, with the Luxury and SE gaining power folding mirrors and a powered tailgate.

    Left-hand-drive preview version shown.

    Inside, seat upholstery is pleather on the Fashion and genuine leather on the Luxury and SE, and all three get powered, six-way adjustable driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support. All also get a panoramic sunroof as well as an automatic anti-glare rear-view mirror.

    Also standard across the board is a leather, height-adjustable multifunction steering wheel, while an eight-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is listed as present on all variants. Voice recognition and local GPS in English is also listed. There is also Bluetooth, two USB ports (one for charging only) and auxiliary audio. Speaker count is six on the Fashion, and eight on the Luxury and SE.

    All power windows get one-touch raise and lowering, with the Luxury and SE gaining anti-pinch on all windows; the Fashion is anti-pinch on the driver’s door only. The Luxury and SE also gain dual-zone air-conditioning and second-row air vents. For parking convenience, the base Fashion trim gets a reversing camera, while the Luxury and SE trims add front park assist and 360-degree park assist.

    GALLERY: Borgward BX5 (LHD) in Malaysia


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Last Updated 15 Jun 2019


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