Latest Stories

  • Perodua Axia on RON 97 petrol – will it cause damage?

    A video from YouTube channel ML Studios has been making the rounds yesterday, and it was to do with the subject of a fuel’s RON rating what the effects of using the ‘wrong’ type of RON rating might be for any given type of petrol engine. It starts out promising.

    About a minute into this video, presenter Mas Faiz Hakim starts to discuss the correlation between a vehicle’s engine capacity and the RON rating of the petrol used. The presenter says that lower RON fuels are more suited to smaller displacement engines, while engines of larger capacities should be fed higher RON fuels.

    Faiz elaborated by saying that using higher RON petrol in a relatively small engine will require it to ‘work twice as hard’, causing it to be over-exerted and eventually require repairs of servicing ahead of schedule. Conversely he adds that a lower RON petrol used in a larger discplacement engine – such as 2.0 litres and above – will cause premature combustion, more commonly known as knocking.

    Is engine capacity the sole deciding factor for which RON grade to use?

    While it is correct that the lower the RON rating, the more easily the petrol will combust, it would be inaccurate to draw a correlation between a fuel’s RON rating and the capacity of engine it is used in. The Research Octane Number, which is what RON stands for, refers to the fuel’s ability to resist premature ignition, which is when the fuel-air mixture combusts upon compression before spark is initiated.

    When premature combustion, or knocking occurs, this is manifested as an unusual tapping sound from the engine, hence the term. This is due to a number of factors; once of which could be the presence of excess carbon deposits, which ignites in the combustion chamber and sets off the rest of the air-fuel mixture earlier than it should in the compression stroke.

    Another reason knocking can occur is when a lower RON petrol is used in an engine with a high compression ratio, and it is this factor rather than the engine’s displacement that is of greater consequence when observing the outcomes of using different RON ratings.

    Fear not, the ‘wrong’ RON rating won’t do your modern engine harm.

    A small displacement engine does not necessarily use a low compression ratio, and similarly a larger engine won’t always have a higher compression ratio than that of the smaller engine. So then, which kinds of engines tend to use higher compression ratios? These will typically be naturally aspirated engines – without forced induction such as exhaust-driven turbochargers or mechanical superchargers.

    For instance, the 107 hp/150 Nm 1.6 litre S4PH VVT engine in the 2019 Proton Persona uses a compression ratio of 10:1, while the 185 hp/163 Nm 1.6 litre B16B DOHC VTEC engine in the EK9 Honda Civic Type R has a compression ratio of 10.2:1. Generally speaking, a higher compression ratio enables more power to be extracted from a given capacity, though this also generates more heat.

    In the case of the EK9 Type R, the Honda also benefits from lighter – therefore also more expensive – engine internals for a higher RPM limit. These are often partnered with parts such as a more efficient cooling system and the use of more durable materials, which compounds the additional cost and inherently limits their application to more specialist, high-performance vehicles.

    An engine’s compression ratio, rather than its capacity, has more bearing on results from petrols of different RON ratings – this, however, is applicable to ICE-powered vehicles.

    On the other hand, forced induction engines such as the 227 hp/350 Nm 2.0 litre TSI turbocharged engine in the Volkswagen Golf GTI uses a compression ratio of just 9.6:1, as the positive pressure or boost has already compressed the intake air, and therefore the air-fuel mixture before the compression stroke.

    Back to NA engines – what happens when an engine with a relatively low compression ratio uses a higher RON petrol? Our colleagues Farid (who authored the BM story on this topic) and Durrani from carried out this exact test, with a pair of 1.3 litre Proton Sagas with CVT gearboxes. In short, the exercise found that the RON 97-fuelled car actually used slightly more fuel than the RON 95 car, though RON 97 isn’t actually detrimental to the engine’s health.

    On the flipside, what if lower RON petrol is used in a high-compression ratio engine, such as the 1.5 litre Skyactiv-G with a 14:1 ratio in the Mazda 2? This isn’t a worry in modern engines with electronic fuel and ignition management as well as knock sensors. If lower than ideal RON petrol is detected via the knock sensors, engine management will advance the ignition to counteract the premature combustion and prevent damage as a result.

    Of course, overall engine output will also be reduced, which leads to the misconception that higher RON petrols ‘give more power’ – what higher RON petrols do is enable high compression ratio engines to perform closer to its potential than a lower RON petrol can, all other factors constant. Gains are there for the taking, though this is from reduced losses.

    Perhaps closer attention is also in order; Faiz points out an excerpt in the Perodua Axia manual which states “use only unleaded fuel with it’s Research Octane Number 95 or higher”, which is immediately followed by ‘guna (RON) 95 sahaja, kerana itu yang direka khas untuk kereta jenis Axia’ (“use RON 95 only as that is what the Axia is designed for.”)

    Again and as mentioned earlier, higher RON petrol isn’t actually bad for your car, it just may not make financial sense for everyday applications. The presenter is however, correct in advising users to consult the owner’s manual for correct operation.

    Now, what if you’re willing to pay the premium for even higher-rated petrol, namely, RON 100? We’ve put Petron’s Blaze100 to the test against its Blaze95 rangemate, sampled with cars and bikes collectively spanning several segments and employing rolling roads for good, objective measure. Watch the video below to find out more.

  • Proton 1-Tank Adventure drivers complete 650 km route – best Iriz and Saga breached 20 km/l mark

    The Proton 1-Tank Adventure 2019 kicked off with the opening preliminary round over the recent Malaysia Day weekend. A total of 60 participants in 30 cars comprising of the 2019 Proton Iriz, Persona and Saga set off on a route that covered 650 km from Proton’s Centre Of Excellence HQ in Shah Alam to Johor Bahru and back.

    The difficult conditions on the first day of the event were beyond the expectations of the organiser and participants. With a combination of the long holiday weekend, haze and wet weather, it was as “real world” as it got for the 30 cars as they battled to get to the checkpoints within the stipulated time.

    Participants were treated to a feast of local fruits in Melaka, before heading south to Perigi Batu Pahat and Tanjung Piai National Park, the southernmost point of mainland Asia. After a well-deserved overnight stop in JB, the convoy made their journey back to Shah Alam via the North South Highway.

    All cars managed to complete the 650 km fuel economy challenge portion of the event. The best theoretical maximum range achieved, based on the 40 litre fuel tank size of the Protons, was 809 km.

    The top FC figures, verified by scrutineers from the Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF), were 4.98 litres per 100 km (20.1 km/l) for the Saga, 5.43 litres per 100 km (18.4 km/l) for the Persona and an event best 4.94 litres per 100 km (20.2 km/l) for the Iriz. The organisers said that participants had to keep to a high minimum average speed for safety reasons.

    If you were wondering, no, Hafriz Shah didn’t win, but he managed a decent set of figures with the Saga 1.3 Premium – how about 36.7 litres of fuel to cover 651.8 km? That’s 5.6 litres per 100 km (17.76 km/l) or 11.7 sen per km.

    Our man said that around 70% of the route was off the highway, and packed with traffic typical of a long weekend. With videographer Kamal in the passenger seat (you would have seen our resident funnyman in Driven’s #KemonCrew videos), he followed the traffic flow (as opposed to crawling along) and had the air con on the entire time. Highway cruising was done at 80-90 km/h.

    “Proton has carried this kuat makan minyak reputation for ages now. Having actual Proton owners driving their own cars through the long journey, with all of them not only reaching the destination but also averaging impressive fuel economy figures, goes a long way to set the record straight,” Hafriz said.

    “Personally, I’ve already done the 1-Tank Adventure last year, so the fuel consumption part is not new to me. What is a genuine surprise however, is the 2019 Saga’s improved comfort and refinement qualities. It far exceeded my own expectations of what an affordable entry-level car can be,” he added. Hafriz’s full account will be coming at a later date.

    “The opening round of this year’s 1-Tank Adventure was very challenging but everyone completed the course safely. More importantly, we gave the participants an opportunity to test their cars in driving conditions that would allow them to experience the safety equipment and dynamic abilities of their cars, proving that our cars offer the best value and driving experience among all vehicles in their class,” said Proton CEO Li Chunrong.


  • August 2019 Malaysian vehicle sales go up by 0.58%

    The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) has released vehicle sales data for the month of August 2019, which saw 51,148 units delivered in the month, representing a gain of 295 units – or 0.58% – from the 50,853 units recorded in July.

    However the August 2019 figures are 22% lower compared to the same month last year, in which 65,550 units were delivered to customers, a difference of 14,402 units.

    This is also reflected in the year-to-date total industry volume (TIV), where 398,335 units were delivered in the first eight months of 2019 compared to 423,615 units in the same period last year – a 6% variance.

    For the month of September 2019, the association expects sales volume to be at the same level as it was in August due to the number of public holidays shortening the number of working days.

  • Mitsubishi teases new PHEV SUV concept for TMS

    For this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Mitsubishi will present a small plug-in hybrid SUV concept, which it says “pulls together the company’s electrification and all-wheel drive control expertise and technologies.”

    Unsurprisingly, there’s isn’t a lot to go on here, with Mitsubishi adding that the show car will have a downsized PHEV drivetrain, as well as an electric 4WD system that allows it to deliver “unparalleled driving pleasure and confidence over all terrain in light and wind.”

    To go along with the announcement, there’s also a teaser image of the concept’s rear quarter design, revealing a boxy shape with a split roof styling. We also get to see carbon-fibre trim on each of the “humps,” along with four circular elements that could be associated with the car’s cooling system.

    Nestled between these items is a window that provides a glimpse of what is likely an aspect of the concept’s powertrain. We’ll only know more about the unnamed vehicle when it is presented in Tokyo later in October.

  • 2019 Isuzu D-Max facelift launched – new 150 PS/350 Nm 1.9L Ddi, six airbags for 3.0L, RM80k to RM121k

    After four long years of waiting, the Isuzu D-Max finally receives the latest-generation 1.9 litre Ddi BluePower turbodiesel engine in Malaysia. The introduction of the new oil burner coincides with a second facelift for the long-serving second-generation pick-up truck, which was first seen in Thailand in 2017.

    The revised lineup consists of two single cab variants and a whopping nine double cab models, including a new high-spec double cab 4×2 automatic for urbanites who don’t need all four driven wheels. The 4×4 single cab models consists of the RM85,799 1.9 litre manual and the RM92,838 3.0 litre manual, while the 1.9 litre double cab range starts at RM80,149 for the new 4×2 Low Ride manual, aimed at commercial buyers.

    Meanwhile, the 4×2 High Ride manual is priced at RM86,699, while the aforementioned high-spec 4×2 auto model, the 4×2 High Ride auto, costs RM100,049. As for the 4×4 models, the 4×4 Type B retails at RM96,699 for the manual version and RM104,599 for the auto, and the 1.9 litre range tops out with the 4×4 Premium, priced at RM105,999 for the manual and RM115,799 for the auto.

    The other two variants are 3.0 litre double cab models, with the 4×4 Type B manual priced at RM106,738 and the range-topping 4×4 Premium auto at RM120,838. All prices are on-the-road without insurance, inclusive of a five-year/150,000 km warranty. Orders made before October 31 will add a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty and an eight-year/80,000 km (six-year/60,000 km for single cab) free maintenance package.

    The star of the show is the new RZ4E-TC 1.9 litre common-rail four-cylinder diesel engine with variable geometry turbocharging, replacing the old 4JK1-TCX 2.5 litre unit. Isuzu promises lower fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, along with improved performance and refinement and even greater durability.

    Outputs are rated at 150 PS at 3,600 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 2,600 rpm, increases of 10% and 9% respectively over the 136 PS and 320 Nm of the old engine. Despite this, Isuzu claims a 19% improvement in fuel efficiency, with a combined consumption figure of eight litres per 100 km.

    The company says it has spent a total of 3,500 hours bench-testing the oil burner to cope with both our lower-quality Euro 2M diesel as well as B20 biodiesel, the latter as part of an incoming government mandate. The addition of a pre-fuel filter – included as part of the maintenance schedule – will allow the use of Euro 2M fuel, while a simple hardware fix is promised when B20 biodiesel rolls around, currently set for 2020.

    Local high-altitude testing was also conducted in Genting and Cameron Highlands, Kundasang and Tambunan, in order to ensure the engine can cope with our hillier terrain, as opposed to the relatively flatter Thailand where it was developed.

    To go with the new engine, there are new six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, with a wider ratio spread and a tweaked final ratio for improved drivability, particularly when towing. The returning 4JJ1-TCX 3.0 litre turbodiesel makes the same 177 PS at 3,600 rpm and 380 Nm at 1,800 to 2,800 rpm, still paired to five-speed manual and automatic gearboxes.

    The exterior tweaks are minor here compared to the first facelift in 2016, all of them clustered at the front of the car. There’s a new design for the grille that now stretches into the headlights, which are available with bi-LED technology for the first time. On these units, the LED daytime running lights are also now L-shaped, while the fog light surrounds feature thicker chrome trim.

    You’ll also find a new 12-spoke design for the largest 18-inch alloy wheels and huge “1.9 BluePower” and “3.0 BluePower” decals along the sides and rear. New exterior colour options include Red Spinel Mica and Sapphire Blue Mica. Inside, higher-end models get soft-touch materials on the instrument cluster hood, upper glovebox cover and door armrests, along with semi-gloss black trim and a rear USB port.

    Standard equipment on the single cab models include an unpainted black front bumpers, halogen headlights, black power-adjustable door mirrors, 16-inch steel wheels, power windows, central locking and a single-DIN radio/CD player with USB connectivity and two speakers. The double cab 4×2 Low Ride adds a body-coloured front bumper and door mirrors and 15-inch alloys.

    Moving onwards, the 4×2 High Ride manual and the 4×4 Type B models (1.9 litre MT/AT and 3.0 litre AT) gain a black rear bumper, 16-inch alloys, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an alarm and immobiliser and a double-din head unit with Bluetooth and four speakers.

    Stepping up to the 4×2 High Ride auto nets you the bi-LED headlights, fog lights, LED tail lights, 18-inch alloys, chrome door mirrors and rear bumper, keyless entry, push-button start, a multifunction steering wheel, a multi-info display, soft-touch interior panels and single-zone auto climate control.

    Also fitted are front and rear USB charging ports and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with eight speakers and a reverse camera. Not much separates this variant from the Premium models, with the latter only adding an Android-based navigation system with smartphone screen mirroring and new part-leather upholstery.

    Safety-wise, the D-Max now gets hill descent control, joining the standard kit list that includes dual airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control, hill start assist and ISOFIX rear child seat anchors. The 3.0 litre 4×4 Premium auto adds six airbags, meaning that for the first time, all of the mainstream one-tonne pick-ups in Malaysia can now be had with six airbags or more.

    Isuzu is also offering a range of optional accessories, including a RM700 cargo tray, a RM1,320 sports bar, RM1,000 side steps (already found on the Premium models), a RM5,500 “D-Box”, a RM1,390 front bumper guard, RM1,090 matte black wheel arch extensions and RM2,280 premium security tint. The company has also developed a tailgate damper to make it easier to open and close the tailgate, priced at RM650.

    Read our review of the 2019 Isuzu D-Max with the 1.9 Ddi engine here.

    GALLERY: 2019 Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Ddi 4×4 Premium AT facelift

    GALLERY: 2019 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 Ddi 4×4 Premium AT facelift

  • BMW i3 will likely not be renewed for a next generation

    The BMW i3 will likely not be renewed for another generation, at least according to Pieter Nota, who is a member of the board of management of BMW Group, Customer, Brands and Sales.

    In an interview with the Financial Times, Nota said the German carmaker will instead focus on implementing battery and plug-in hybrid powertrains in its other models, while also developing all-electric models. “There’s no specific plan for an i3 successor. We are now bringing electrification more to the mainstream,” he said.

    For now, production and sales of the i3, which was first introduced in 2013, will continue on, with Nota noting that over 150,000 units of the electric vehicle has been sold so far. With stricter emission regulations being implemented over the years, the demand for EVs has increased, resulting in encouraging sales of the i3 in the process.

    Sales of the i3 in the first half of 2019 amounted to 19,073 units, which is a 21.2% increase from the 15,736 units sold in the same period last year. “The i3 is actually doing extremely well in its sixth year of production already,” said Nota.

    During its initial release, the i3 was BMW’s first mass-produced zero emissions vehicle that was part of the BMW i electric vehicle sub-brand. While the design attracted mix opinions, the EV served as a good technical showcase of BMW’s knowhow on renewable energy and the use of recycled materials, particularly with regards to its cabin.

    In the years since its introduction, the i3 has been updated with more capable batteries, a range extender option, and even a high-performance version in the form of the i3s.

  • BMW engine development expert Duesmann to assume Audi CEO role from April 2020 – report

    Board member as well as engine development and purchasing expert at BMW, Markus Duesmann will be leaving the Munich-based brand for fellow German automaker, Audi where he is set to assume the CEO role, Reuters quoted German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as saying. Duesmann commenced his present role at BMW in October 2016.

    A ‘person with knowledge of the appointment’ was cited by the German newspaper as saying that Duesmann will start his tenure as head of Audi on April 1 next year, the report said, adding that the BMW management board will discuss Duesmann’s departure in the near future.

    Parent company of Audi, the Volkswagen Group is looking to gain clean-engine expertise in the aftermath of the long-running Dieselgate scandal which originated in Audi’s engine development department, said the Reuters report. Duesmann’s appointment comes after Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was forced to step down temporarily after his arrest as part of an ongoing investigation, while Abraham Schot served in the interim.

    Duesmann will take up his new position at Audi as soon as he can do so, Volkswagen said. His appointment will be the next high-profile move from BMW to the Volkswagen Group following the appointment of Herbert Diess as Volkswagen Group CEO and chairman in 2015.

    In the meantime, Duesmann’s BMW contract runs until September 30, and is likely to have a non-competition clause that BMW board members are required to sign, according to Reuters, while BMW said that Duesmann had informed its chairman that he will not be available for an extension of his contract for personal reasons, it added.

  • Two new KL Monorail four-car train sets enter service

    Two four-car train sets have been added to the KL Monorail service after getting the green light from the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD). The new trains were completed two months ahead of the deadline set by transport minister Anthony Loke.

    With the addition of the two train sets, the KL Monorail service now has five four-car train sets and four two-car train sets. This will reduce waiting times during peak hours from 10 minutes to 5.5 minutes, according to operator Prasarana.

    “For me, this is clear proof of the success of the collaboration and strong commitment between the government, Prasarana and STP (Scomi Transit Project). KL city needs a monorail service that’s efficient and safe, which made this project one of the priorities of the ministry. Now, five of the four-car train sets that have been suspended since January 2018 have returned to service after going through necessary safety upgrades, and have passed endurance tests set by APAD,” Loke said.

    According to the new contract signed between Prasarana and train manufacturer STP last April, both parties will monitor the performance of the five four-car train sets for six months before moving on to the second phase, which is the purchase of seven sets of four-car trains. Should there be no hiccups in the six months, the seven new train sets will have to be delivered to Prasarana in 18 months. Once completed, the KL Monorail will operate with 12 four-car train sets, with all two-car train sets phased out.

    After the suspension of the five four-car train sets in January last year, daily ridership of the monorail has been around 32,000. With this latest addition, Prasarana is targeting up to 70,000 passengers a day.

  • DRIVEN: 2019 Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Ddi – back to present

    What’s in a new engine? Well, for Isuzu, quite a lot. The Japanese commercial vehicle specialist introduced its latest 1.9 litre Ddi BluePower engine for its D-Max pick-up truck in Thailand way back in 2015, but even though we’ve seen a facelift and a smattering of special editions since, the new mill has always eluded us.

    That’s the problem with having lower-quality fuel than the rest of our peers, and if you recall, there was also a two-year delay for the introduction of Mitsubishi’s new-generation MIVEC engine for the Triton. But the fact of the matter is that this segment waits for no one, and plenty of new and impressive rivals have surfaced in the ensuing years.

    While all this was happening, the D-Max was saddled with its outdated and underpowered 2.5 litre engine, which felt increasingly out of place next to the powerful, refined diesel mills of its competitors. That left Isuzu fighting for scraps on the table with one arm tied behind its back.

    But now, after four long years, Isuzu Malaysia has finally introduced the newfangled mill, which is claimed to be more powerful, efficient and refined than before. It finally gives the truck a shot in the arm, but is it too little, too late? Don’t be fooled by the Malaysian number plates of the car you see here – we actually travelled all the way to Phuket to see what’s what.

    Read the review of the 2019 Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Ddi here.

  • Ferrari SUV – preliminary technical details revealed

    Like it or not, Ferrari will be making a SUV (currently codenamed Purosangue and internally known as the 175), and we’re now getting more information about the upcoming model, which is said to debut in 2022.

    According to an Autocar UK report, the SUV is one of 15 new Ferrari models planned, and will be built on a front-mid-engined architecture, which is one of two bespoke platforms in the carmaker’s arsenal – the other being dedicated to mid-engined cars like the F8 Tributo.

    Both architectures are capable of accommodating a wide range of setups, be it V6, V8 and V12 engines with or without hybrid systems, a transaxle dual-clutch gearbox, and rear- or all-wheel drive. This flexibility also extends to body styles, wheelbases and seating arrangements (two-, two plus two- and four-seat cabins).

    In the case of the Purosangue, Ferrari’s chief technical officer, Michael Leiters, said the SUV will take the shape of a four-seater measuring about five metres long. Other features include a high ground clearance thanks to height-adjustable suspension and an anti-roll system for on-road dynamics.

    As for engines, the 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 hybrid from the SF90 Stradale could be adapted for use in the SUV, although there is also the option of a new turbocharged V6 that Ferrari is currently developing. Given the company’s commitment to the V12, a range-topping option with such an engine is also likely.

    “I’m convinced on this car and the technical concept. I think we’ve found a concept and a package which is on one side a real SUV and will convince SUV customers to buy it, but on the other side there’s a huge differentiation of concept to existing SUVs,” said Leiters.

    There are other challenges beyond just the technical aspects of what will be a controversial model for Ferrari, with Leiters saying, “with space, how can we ensure that there is the right easy, ergonomic comfort on board? How to combine the sporty layout with a more comfort-orientated design? What to do with HMI? Our HMI is driver-orientated, but how can it be more democratic? What are the comfort features? What is a Ferrari’s pure DNA on a car for comfort?”

    “It’s a challenge, an opportunity and fun. I like it very much. Some concepts are close together, but with cars like 175, one thing we want to do is structure the product range and have something different,” he added.

    Ferrari’s chief design officer, Flavio Manzoni, also commented that the company’s designers have been working with engineers from the start of the project to ensure minimal compromises are made.

    “You start defining the design of the car in the first steps. In that defining phase we work with the engineers. We can determine the proportions and the dimensions to have a very good base to work from,” said Manzoni.

    “That’s the case for the SUV as well. Many SUVs are derivatives of other cars. Designers have many constraints due to the technical base. In our case, it’s no compromise. If we don’t start together with engineers, defining together with the package, it’s a problem. I praise a lot of the collaborations when we start a new project,” he added.

    It’ll be interesting when Ferrari releases its first SUV, which will have no shortage of competition with the likes of the Aston Martin DBX, Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne and Rolls-Royce Cullinan.


Browse Stories by Car Maker

  Alfa Romeo
  Aston Martin

  Great Wall

  Land Rover



Latest Fuel Prices

RON 95 RM2.08 (0.00)
RON 97 RM2.50 (-0.01)
RON 100 RM3.02
VPR RM3.18
EURO 2M RM2.18 (0.00)
EURO 5 RM2.28 (0.00)
Last Updated 31 Aug 2019


Useful Tools


Car Reviews