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  • New Toyota Vios teased, hinting at Malaysian introduction soon – bookings open on November 22

    UMW Toyota has begun teasing the new Toyota Vios, and all that has been offered is a Facebook posting stating that the order books for the car will open on November 22. Given that this is a day before the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show (KLIMS) kicks off, it’s looking quite likely that the car will break cover at the show.

    The new Vios is essentially the Yaris Ativ, the sedan version of the Yaris hatchback that’s sold in Thailand, but equipped with a larger displacement engine. In its Vios guise, the car has already made its market debut in Singapore and Indonesia, so its arrival here is well due.

    While the Yaris Ativ has a 1.2 litre engine to comply with Thailand’s Eco Car rules, the Malaysian Vios will – like the Singapore and Indonesian versions – feature the familar 2NR-FE 1.5 litre Dual VVT-i mill that was introduced on the Vios in 2016, with the mill paired with a CVT with seven virtual ratios. There should likely be no revision to the output, which is 105 hp (or 107 PS) at 6,000 rpm and 140 Nm at 4,200 rpm.

    Singapore-spec new Toyota Vios

    No surprise as to the variants – ads on have popped up and reveal regular E and higher-spec G trims, with a suggestion of pricing being in the RM85k and RM91k region respectively. Official specifications haven’t been revealed, but the car seems quite well kitted out, based on that listed in the ads.

    Supposedly, equipment on the E – which rides on 15-inch wheels – will include LED daytime running lights, auto air-conditioning, parking sensors and a 6.8-inch DVD-AVX infotainment system. There’s also mention of a blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert. Safety-wise, the Vios will come with seven airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and hill-start assist fitted as standard.

    The Vios G adds LED tail lights, 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels, paddle shifters and an electrochromatic rear-view mirror, among other things. Also expected is a 4.2-inch multi-info display and an Optitron instrument cluster as well as a six-speaker audio system. We’ll have more info on the car when the time comes, and that should be pretty soon.

    GALLERY: Singapore-spec new Toyota Vios

    GALLERY: Toyota Yaris Ativ, Thailand market

  • Lapping up the Porsche experience at Sepang International Circuit – track fun under expert tutelage

    First, a diversion, if we may. A motorcycling coach once said, practice is like toilet paper; the more you have, the more you’ll waste. So, then – how best shall one approach practice? Expert instruction is the answer, and coming back to the world of four-wheelers, the Porsche Media Driving Academy is a conduit for said instruction in the four-wheeled realm, aimed at media practitioners.

    Though tailored to the journalist, the Porsche Media Driving Academy also represents to an extent what the paying customer will get to experience and learn from in the more conventional capacity of a Porsche owner or enthusiast. This would be the Porsche Experience or the Porsche Sport Driving School (PSDS), which boasts a wide range of classes that is available for the taking.

    The range of programmes available for Porsche Experience in the Asia-Pacific market takes place at the Sepang International Circuit, and ranges from Warm-Up, Precision, Performance, Master to GT4 Clubsport MR, in ascending order of advancement. For those who want to just dip their toes into the track experience as a passenger, there is also the Co-Pilot programme.

    The Media Driving Academy is divided into Individual, Professional and Elite levels, which represent approximations of the above classes available to the general customer. Our time covered the Elite level, along with the Professional level of training previously.

    Our first on-track exercise of the day was an emergency lane change. This was conducted in a 911 Turbo and a 718 Cayman GTS. Key to mastering the lane change exercise is vision, as cones were laid out to allow minimal variation in lines if one were to successfully navigate the sequence at the prescribed speed. Look where you want to go, so the saying goes.

    Following a demonstration run by our instructors, we then took to the wheel for several runs in both the 911 Turbo and the 718 Cayman GTS. These were conducted with varying levels of stability control assistance – PSM firstly switched on, followed by PSM Sport, which allows great slip angles before intervening, and then finally with the systems fully switched off, where the driver is completely on his own.

    The exercise was first sampled by yours truly in the flat-four, mid-engined example, the 718 Cayman GTS. Accelerating to approximately 60 km/h towards the coned course, the mid-engined four-cylinder sports car held a tidy line through the right-left-right sequence, with the PSM stability control keeping the car on course and surprisingly, without feeling like the hand of a warden holding the driver back.

    The section was repeated with PSM in Sport, which felt almost similar to having the systems fully switched on. Perhaps the task wasn’t asking much of the Cayman’s chassis. The sequence was taken without brake or throttle input, purely steering. With no untoward incidents save for a few battered cones, we took things up a notch, this time accelerating up to 65 km/h.

    With the systems switched on, their intervention at this higher speed was slightly more readily felt, which also made for a more noticeable difference when moving on to the more relaxed nannying of PSM Sport; more speed carries more inertia, in turn placing greater scrutiny upon the tidiness – or lack thereof – in one’s steering input.

    Moving on to a very potent version of the Neunelfer, the Turbo for the same exercise, its badging is just a hint of the sheer physical ferocity that was about to be dished out in acceleration. Certainly, with 540 hp compared to the 365 hp of the Cayman GTS sampled just moments before, the PDK transmission delivers upshifts in such quick succession that the prescribed target speed was very easily overshot. The more pronounced rearward weight bias in the 911 could prove interesting, one imagines.

    As it turns out, this lane change exercise revealed a less-than-obvious stability from the 911 Turbo. Perhaps it is the wider rear rubber, or even the more rearward weight distribution, that made for what felt like a more settled rear end, particularly in the initial turn-in stage. Whereas the Cayman felt more eager to rotate around a pivot seemingly in line with the seat backs of the mid-engined car.

    Where the Cayman felt more lively through this sequence, the 911 was more planted, so long as one catches the slide – should it happen – quickly enough in the latter, lest the pendulum of a 3.8 litre biturbo flat-six carries the oversteer beyond saving.

    From behind the wheel, in both the 718 Cayman GTS and the 911 Turbo, PSM Sport felt just about identical to having the system fully switched off, which makes sense – the second, more relaxed programming to the stability control systems essentially means the driver is left to their own devices, to a point.

    If the driver manages the weight transfer-induced oversteer quickly enough with corrective steering input, one gets to enjoy being in charge of the mild slip angles, whilst still having the safety net of stability control in place should one go too far beyond the limit of grip.

    With the swerving done, it was then onwards to turns Five and Six on the front half of the circuit for another exercise. Parked and awaiting our group was a Panamera Turbo and a 718 Boxster S, and next on the agenda was throttle steering. Before one gets too excited, no, it wasn’t to be about pulling long, smoky drifts.

    Turn five at the Sepang International Circuit is a long sweeping left-hander immediately followed by a slightly tighter right-hand turn that is turn six, and for those new to the circuit, the apex to the former is later than first meets the eye. The exercise entails accelerating to speed on the approach into T5, turn in and hold a steady steering angle, and tighten the line as required by easing off the throttle in order to hit both T5 and T6 apices.

    As ever, smooth is best with these exercises, and here we had Porsche Carrera Cup Asia driver Will Bamber on site to coach us through the sequence. Bamber’s first demonstration run was conducted how it was supposed to be done – smoothly – and contrasted with the second, deliberately more ragged one.

    Patience is key with this section of track, where the trailed throttle into T5 felt like a considerable passage of time, even in something as potent as the 4.0 litre biturbo V8 Panamera Turbo. Of course in the accompanying Boxster S, the same sequence would feel even slower, though the mid-engined two-seater is several hundred kg’s lighter than the Panamera Turbo, and the former’s agility shows, through both the long sweeping T5 and the transition into T6.

    Next on the agenda was trail braking, and for this the section, a portion of the South Circuit was used. Starting at the exit of turn 11 in order to build speed towards turn 12, the focus of the session was turn 13 into turn 14, where the trail braking exercise was concentrated. The cars used for this exercise were the Boxster GTS and the 911 Targa 4 GTS.

    Charging along the slight descent on the approach into T12, a moderate bit of braking before corner entry is in order. What appears to be a left-right high-speed complex similar to T5 and T6 is actually approached differently – where T5 is taken with a relatively late apex, T12 requires an earlier turn-in and the following T13 is a fairly open kink compared to T6.

    Here, though, is where the programme participants’ work is cut out. T13 is a continuous arc where the driver will need to get most of their braking done before turning into the circuit’s penultimate T14, which takes a late apex. The tricky bit for this T13-T14 section is waiting long enough before getting on the throttle through T14 for the run down the back straight.

    After the lunch break, came the driver fitness part of the programme. Here, our sampling of driver conditioning covered the basics of warming up, stretching, core strength and balance. Should track driving enthusiasts venture further into the hobby, racing is the next logical step, and in that case drivers will have to endure cornering forces for prolonged durations.

    Stretching was done mildly to limber up one’s joints, as usually would also be prescribed before the start of any vigorous physical activity. Of particular note was the thumb stretching exercise; in the event of a crash, this aims to give drivers’ thumbs sufficient flexibility to avoid dislocations should they be caught behind the spokes of the steering wheel when the wheel is jolted violently upon impact.

    Core strength exercises came courtesy of the Swiss ball, which would work the core in a couple of different ways. The first was the classic crunch exercise, here conducted with the participant sitting upon the Swiss ball and working the abdominal muscle group.

    Why the gym work? Core strength is important for drivers as it will help him or her support one’s own body within the seat without bracing against controls such as the steering wheel, which may compromise the consistency of the driver’s inputs.

    The second was a trickier one, as it involved kneeling on said Swiss ball with no support other than from one’s legs; the core muscles would be constantly engaged in an effort to merely stay balanced atop the ball. Most, if not all of us, in that session worked up a sweat.

    Following a short break for a quick breather, we took to the tarmac for the last session of the day – full-circuit lapping. Though still an exercise in guided driving, we nonetheless by now have had the day’s exercises committed to memory, leaving more mental capacity with which to savour the cars on offer.

    First up in this final session of the day for yours truly was the 911 GT3, boasting 500 hp from its naturally-aspirated 4.0 litre flat-six engine in this facelifted, 991-generation guise. The GT3 was the most fitting of the lot for the racetrack environment, with its deep-set bucket seats and free-breathing engine with a 9,000 rpm limiter.

    Its steering immediately felt meatier – albeit not with excessive weight – than those of the Cayman, Boxster and 911 Targa examples, bringing with it a welcome added helping of feel, making itself apparent as soon as we tip into the off-cambered Turn 15.

    Exiting this corner is the first time we got to really extend the GT3’s legs, and wow – what a powertrain. Making peak power at 8,250 rpm, the GT3’s powerplant gives another 750 rpm before the limiter calls time, and so an approximate eight-and-a-half on the dial seemed like a good place to click in the upshifts.

    Perfect for experiencing the range of aural delights the flat-six has to offer, as it turns out – doing so lands the next gear ratio around the 7,000 rpm mark, where the car sings a sort of multi-layered resonance, almost like a chord on an instrument, as it continues to chase the upper registers into a hard-edged unison at the top. Click the next instantaneous upshift courtesy of the excellent seven-speed PDK, and the chorus repeats.

    A note on the PDK Sport button beside the gearlever: having this mode switched on didn’t seem to make gearshifts appreciably quicker in either direction, though it did offer a tangible shove-in-the-back upon upshifts. Perhaps like burbly, crackly exhaust overrun sounds from modern direct-injection engines, the dialed-in shove is superfluous and maybe without performance benefit, but enjoyable to have nonetheless.

    Along with a second GT3 in our little chase pack, we were also accompanied by a 911 Targa 4 GTS, and so our instructor in the lead 911 Turbo kept some acceleration in reserve so as to not leave the Targa behind on the straights. Short of lifting off the throttle, which would have upset the rhythm of the pack, we elected for earlier upshifts instead, which also gave us the chance to savour even more of the 4.0 litre flat-six’s tonal varieties. Car as musical instrument – who knew?

    At least as impressive as the powertrain was the chassis, which the GT3 demonstrated to delicious effect. Deceleration is exemplary not just in strength, but also in feel afforded through the brake pedal. This was particularly handy when attempting to meter out just the right amount of deceleration as we trailed the brakes into Turn 1, with the instructor voicing ‘keep the nose down, keep the nose down’ over the radio, letting us know to maintain purchase over the cars’ front axles.

    Rear-engined traction which has been a Neunelfer hallmark demonstrated itself through the Turn 2 hairpin which immediately follows, and together with the very precise throttle, enabled very early application of near-full throttle as we got cosy with the exit kerbing on the approach to Turn 3.

    It’s a refrain which carries on throughout the lap of the circuit, where the engine’s thrust is very closely rivalled by the quality of its supporting acts – chassis, ergonomics and feel – with which the driver is inspired to summon a considerable portion, if not all of the GT3’s abilities in sheer confidence.

    The endearing qualities of a 911 at its core remains with its effortlessly comforting driver visibility, thanks to a relatively upright windscreen, brought up to date in recent generations with the relative positioning of seat, pedals and steering wheel beyond reproach, to yours truly. For track day fun, the optional bucket seats are brilliant.

    There perhaps could not be a greater contrast within Porsche’s current road-going line-up with the juxtaposition of 911 GT3 or GT3 RS than with the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. With 680 hp and 850 Nm of torque at its disposal courtesy of 550 hp/770 Nm biturbo petrol V8 assisted by a 136 hp electric motor, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid wins the output figures contest easily.

    However, the sensations imparted to the driver which characterises each of these cars brings to light the contrast – one is a road car that provides the base for many a circuit racer, and the other is a businessperson’s express for the modern day.

    Placed in an environment which so clearly favours the previous car sampled, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid struggled on initial, fleeting impressions, though considered in isolation the big four-door PHEV is a very, very capable handler for its size.

    Rolling out from the South Paddock, it is a short run to Turn 15, where the driver is swiftly reminded that the Panamera is no two-seater racetrack refugee, and demands more circumspection where weight transfer – including that which is incurred during braking – is concerned.

    Best enjoyed with consideration for the fact that the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid weighs more than two tonnes, the 680 hp/850 Nm plug-in hybrid asserts itself very well, though it must be reiterated that the racetrack is hardly the most flattering of stages for it.

    Compared to the GT3’s racecar-derived powerplant, the electrified biturbo V8 comes across as a massive, unseen muscle in comparison, propelling the big luxury car to great speeds effortlessly with a relative lack of theatre. Strange to say a 680 hp bent-eight lacks theatre, but such is the company it keeps.

    The electrified Panamera appears to follow the same brief in terms of chassis feel; it hangs on tenaciously in corners fast and slow without engaging in the delicate sensations of the smaller Porsches. This would be the ideal cross-continent grand tourer, one imagines.

    Following the sledgehammer thrust of the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid and the racecar theatrics of the 911 GT3, there was a fear that the 911 Targa 4 GTS would feel like a bit of a downer. As it turns out, the sort-of open top 911 was more subdued in terms of an on-circuit experience, but no less satisfying.

    Once again as we rolled out towards pit exit, the 911 cockpit by now felt familiar and thoroughly confidence-inspiring, the 918 Spyder-style till and pedals falling to hands and feet effortlessly. A more modest redline courtesy of this car’s 3.0 litre turbocharged heart is the first clue to how the Targa 4 GTS will feel like.

    No surprise, perhaps, that the first major squeeze of the GTS’ throttle along the North straight at Sepang brings a concerted shove earlier in the rev range compared to the GT3, though even with the GT3s in our chase pack evidently faster at the top end, the Targa 4 GTS never felt under-endowed for this 5.5 km-long circuit, even with its two long straights.

    Compared to the stints in the GT3, we could hear the instructors’ radioed directions more clearly, full-throttle at 7,000 rpm, now that we were in the turbocharged GTS! Through the upper half of its rev range, the GTS mill is very, very responsive, and in our session, the Targa 4 GTS could somewhat keep pace with the GT3s through the turns thanks to turbo grunt delivered earlier in the rev range relative to the GT3’s.

    The Targa’s delivery of its 450 hp and 550 Nm of torque are likely better showcased on the road, and the turbocharged engine’s less vocal soundtrack may prove less tiresome on long journeys as well, though its chassis proved to be no slouch on track. While in possession of a less talkative helm, the Targa 4 GTS was no less capable at being hustled around the circuit at speed.

    It hasn’t escaped the attention of yours truly that time – if not necessarily money, given the marque’s target market – is truly a precious resource, and that this limitation applies to everyone should drive home the point that practice towards the improvement of car control, or indeed, anything, yields the best results when appropriately focused.

    What we’ve experienced in a day at the Sepang International Circuit is but a taste of what’s on offer for Porsche customers and enthusiasts, catering for anyone from the complete newbie looking to upskill and gain confidence, to the seasoned expert who wants to go even further and perhaps begin a chapter in racing, with numerous stages in between.

    Where driver conditioning for vehicle control is concerned, even at an elementary level, programmes such as these are highly recommended.

  • Works ministry given six months to settle toll issue

    This one just won’t go to rest. The works ministry says it will submit proposals to the cabinet about the possibility of reducing toll rates – or abolishing collection – once discussions with highway concessionaires are completed, Bernama reports.

    According to works minister Baru Bian, the ministry has been given six months to hold discussions and settle the issue. “We are discussing to see if there are provisions allowing for a review of the concession agreement,” he told the Dewan Rakyat.

    “As of now, the concessionaires understand Pakatan Harapan’s direction and they are very open (to discussions). We will study if there is a space in the agreements that will allow us to review them, and we will act accordingly,” he explained.

    He said toll collection on all tolled highways in the country has more than doubled the cost it took to build them, as The Sun reports. He said there were currently 29 tolled expressways still operating nationwide, and these cost RM35.14 billion to construct, with a further RM2.5 billion spent on operational and maintenance cost on them each year. However, the concessionaires have collected RM74.65 billion since toll collection began, up to 2017.

    “The government has also paid compensation worth RM5.11 billion between 1990 and 2017,” he said. Baru stated that of the 29 concession agreements, two were scheduled to end in the next 10 years, 16 were set to end between 11 and 20 years, and the remaining 11 scheduled to end over 20 years.

    Last month, Baru reiterated that there would be no abolishment of tolled roads until the country’s finances have recovered, but said that the government was looking at ways to ease the burden on motorists’ wallets. Proposed measures include lowering the toll rates, granting percentage discounts during off-peak hours and not raising toll rates in the next two to three years.

  • AD: Toyota Harrier now with immediate availability – book now to win holiday package and Toyota Sienta!

    It’s safe to say that the Toyota Harrier has been a rousing success, with over 500 units delivered to customers since its launch in January. However, such has been the overwhelming demand that the number of outstanding orders has been higher still, resulting in waiting periods of up to 12 months.

    Now, UMW Toyota Motor has secured an increased supply of the popular SUV from Japan, and with more stock at hand, you can expect a shorter waiting line – so now’s your time to book! The Harrier continues to be available in Premium and Luxury variants, priced from RM243,000 on-the-road without insurance.

    No matter which version you go for, you’ll get the latest-generation 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with D-4S direct injection and Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Wide (VVT-iW), blending high output with low fuel consumption.

    What’s more, all models get the full Toyota Safety Sense package, incorporating various active safety systems such as Pre-collision System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Lane Departure Alert. Other safety features include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Emergency Stop Signal, Electric Parking Brake with Auto Brake Hold and a reverse camera.

    Style is important, so the Harrier comes with LED headlights, daytime running lights, cornering lights, fog lights and rear combination lights. The headlights feature Adaptive High Beam technology to ensure optimum visibility of the road ahead without dazzling and inconveniencing other drivers. Also fitted are sequential turn signals that displays the driver’s intention to turn left or right.

    The Harrier is available in four colours – Dark Blue Mica Metallic, White Pearl, Sparkling Black Pearl and Silver Metallic. Buyers can expect total peace of mind with five years of unlimited mileage warranty as well as the added assurance of genuine spare parts used at all Toyota dealerships across Malaysia. You’ll also enjoy a five-year free maintenance package while stocks last.

    Last but not least, customers who book their Toyota Harrier from now until the end of the year have one more treat in store in the form of Toyota’s Year End Bonanza, where they’ll stand a chance to win a holiday package as well as a brand new Toyota Sienta compact MPV! Visit the official Toyota Malaysia website for more details on the Toyota Harrier and click here to book a test drive.

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  • 2019 Toyota Corolla sedan – US vs China spec design

    What do you think of the new Toyota Corolla sedan? Striking isn’t it? Today’s simultaneous launch in the US and China revealed different masks for each major market. In China’s case, there are two looks – one for the Toyota Corolla and another for the Toyota Levin. Let’s compare the different looks.

    Like other major foreign brands in China, Toyota has two local joint ventures – GAC Toyota and FAW Toyota – and each has their own version of the Corolla. GAC Toyota’s is called Levin, and as with the outgoing car, the new Levin is sportier in appearance compared to FAW Toyota’s version, which is simply called Corolla. The former’s looks goes well with its more evocative name.

    The Levin’s face is similar in style, but not identical to the aggressive mug of the Corolla Hatchback and Touring Sports wagon that were revealed earlier this year. It’s made up of slim headlamps with long vertical “fangs” at the sides, and a huge lower grille with honeycomb mesh and fog lamps at the lower ends.

    L-R: China-market Levin, global Corolla Hatchback; click to enlarge

    Now that your eyes are there, note that the lower ends of the mouth don’t fold back in sharply on the Levin, and it doesn’t get the hatchback’s “floating” body-coloured chin either.

    Upon closer inspection, the Levin’s grille also loses out on the V-shape trim surrounding the Toyota logo – it’s just mesh here. The area to the side of the hatchback’s “mouth” is empty, but there’s a small notch mimicking an intake on the Levin – seen head-on, the latter further emphasises width versus the hatch.

    Meanwhile, the China-market Corolla is less overtly sporty than the Levin, and it takes more of a mini-Camry look – however, that’s not to say that it’s “uncle”, because the latest “Beautiful Monster” looks very aggressive. The headlamps are completely different from the Levin’s – they’re shorter but cut sharper, and there’s interplay with the chrome “wings” of the Toyota logo, which travels deep into the clusters.

    L-R: China-market Corolla and Levin; click to enlarge

    While the mouth is also huge, the extra room between the upper and lower grilles is apparent. Unique to the Corolla are vertical vent-like strips at the extreme ends of the face, which also double up as “holders” for the fog lamps. There’s chrome trim here to match the above-mentioned wings, and the lower grille is filled with horizontal slats in dark chrome.

    A defining cue at the rear end is the bridge between the tail lamp clusters. On the Levin, the gloss black trim connects the top of the lights, while on the Corolla, it’s a chrome garnish that “supports” the bottom. The sportier sister gets a big gloss black area on the lower bumper, punctuated by a body-coloured strip.

    The US-market Corolla is something else altogether. We’re used to seeing North American Toyotas looking sportier than what the rest of the world gets, but this is unprecedented aggression for a 2.0 litre C-segment family sedan. Never mind that there’s just 169 hp under the hood, it looks like an absolute beast.

    US-market Toyota Corolla XSE

    While the headlamps with those distinctive triple curve LED daytime running lights are as per the hatchback, the slim grille that bridges the eyes does not house the Toyota logo here. Instead, the emblem sits above the grille on a body-coloured island. Without the T-badge, the slim grille becomes visually separated from the lower grille.

    The bumper is also unique to the sportiest US-market sedan. While the hatchback and Levin have fog lamps within the “mouth”, the US sedan sports side air-intake style extensions to the mouth (all fake, of course), and they house horizontal LED fog lamp strips. There’s a full-length body-coloured chin spoiler as well.

    At the back, the most extrovert 12th-gen Corolla features a slim bootlid spoiler and a large black honeycomb section on the bumper. Within the latter, there’s a body-coloured “diffuser” with four fins to match those on the front chin. It’s also the only sedan variation with exposed exhaust tips – there are two on one side.

    There you have it, the one car, three looks of the all-new 12th generation Toyota Corolla sedan. Which will we be getting as the Toyota Corolla Altis for ASEAN?

    Car guys might like the hyper-aggressive USDM look, but a Corolla needs to appeal to a wide segment of buyers, and that mask is too anti-social. Our money is on something similar to the Chinese market Corolla, which balances “high-end” with “aggressive” pretty well, despite officially bearing the “Prestige model” name. The “Sporty model” look of the Levin would be a good option to have, but options are for big markets.

    For figures and full details, check out our earlier report. What do you think of the new Corolla? Based on looks and that nice minimalist interior alone, this or the Honda Civic?

    GALLERY: 2019 Toyota Corolla/Levin, China-spec

    GALLERY: 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan, US version

  • Proton X70 gets 5 star ASEAN NCAP crash safety rating; new SUV to make public debut at KLIMS 2018

    The Proton X70 has been awarded the full five star rating by ASEAN NCAP in the latest crash safety test. What’s more impressive is that the C-segment SUV – a MY2018 Executive example – sits near the top of its segment for occupant safety.

    Proton credits this achievement to its Hot Press Forming (HPF) technology for body structures, which provides a high level of protection for passengers. The combination of six airbags (standard for all variants), Isofix child mounts and seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters help the X70 achieve a perfect score for the side impact and head protection tests.

    Also, the X70 was tested based on the latest 2017-2020 testing protocol, which takes into account the vehicle’s safety assist technology and carries a scoring weightage of 25%. As you would know by now, the Geely Boyue-based SUV is the first Proton model to be offered with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning, lane departure warning and blind spot information system. Click here for the full list of specs of the X70.

    To compare, the X70 scored a total of 35.27 points in the adult occupant protection, ahead of the 2017 Honda CR-V 2.4 (34.02) and 2018 Toyota Rush (31.14). Both the X70 and CR-V scored the full 16 points for side impact protection, but the Proton fared better than the Honda in the frontal impact (15.27 points vs 14.76) and head protection (4.00 vs 3.26) tests. You may find the full crash test report of the X70 below.

    Conversely, among the three, the X70 scored the lowest in the overall child occupant protection, with a score of 40.78. The 2018 Toyota Rush scored 41.81, and the CR-V was awarded a score of 44.76.

    Proton Edar’s CEO, Abdul Rashid Musa said: “Thanks to the diligent effort of Proton’s designers and engineers, the company has managed to extend its reputation for building cars capable of protecting their occupants in the event of an accident.” Other Proton models to be awarded five stars by ASEAN NCAP are the Iriz, Persona, Preve and Suprima S.

    “Aside from the advanced driver assistance system that is making its debut on a Proton model, the Proton X70 is also fitted with various convenience features such as voice command, adaptive cruise control, intelligent high beam control and a 360 camera for safe manoeuvring in tight spaces,” he added.

    Moving on, the X70 will be making its first ever public debut at the upcoming Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show (KLIMS 2018), which is set to kick off next week from November 23 to December 2. Five units of the SUV will be displayed at Proton’s booth (Level 1, Hall 1), so be sure to go up close and personal with Proton’s latest and greatest.

    “Proton is now ready for our SUV to meet the Malaysian public, Visitors to KLIMS will be given full access to our show cars and we encourage everyone to explore the various design, technology, safety and performance aspects of the Proton X70 by spending some time at our interactive areas to get to know it better,” Abdul Rashid said.

    “There are a lot of technological and specification firsts for Proton with this model, so we want to make sure all our customers are able to fully appreciate what we hope will be a game changer for the company.”

  • Honda reveals CB125X and CB125M concept bikes

    CB125M and CB125X Concepts

    Flying somewhat under the radar at the recent EICMA show in Milan, Italy was the public showing of the Honda CB125X and CB125M concept bikes. This pair of sub-250 cc motorcycles are the product of Honda’s research and development centre in Rome, using the 2018 Honda CB125R as the base.

    With the European 125 cc motorcycle market seeing a 25% increase in sales this year, it makes sense that Honda will want to cover every customer need when it comes to model variants. This means we can expect to see a more production oriented CB125X adventure bike and CB125M motard style bikes soon, possibly next year in 2019.

    Honda makes no bones about targeting the youth market with this duo, notably in the area of styling. The motard styled CB125M comes in brilliant red with a slit of an LED headlight giving the bike a minimalist look.

    The CB125X is much taller, being an adventure bike styled after the CRF1000L Africa Twin and comes with a three LED light setup in front – a headlight flanked by two riding lights inside the fairing. Clad in white, Honda says the CB125X is meant to evoke a science-fiction feel.

    Both the Honda CB125X and Honda CB125M were shown in the Design Studio area of its stand in EICMA and feature custom-built SC Project exhausts. The CB125X and CB125M are the brain child of project leader Valerio Aiello and his team, who penned the bikes’ avant-garde looks.

  • Subaru XV to get plug-in hybrid tech – 41 km e-range?

    Subaru has revealed that it will adopt plug-in hybrid technology next year, and first in line to receive it will be the XV Hybrid. Apparently, new government documents from the USA indicates that the XV PHEV should offer over 40 km of pure electric range, reports CarAdvice.

    The filing, which was sourced from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), rates the Subaru XV Hybrid’s (or Crosstrek Hybrid, as it’s known in the US) all-electric range at 25.65 miles (41.28 km).

    As for the electrification tech, Autoblog states that the XV Hybrid will share the same system as the Toyota Prius Prime PHEV. However, instead of using the Prius’ 1.8 litre Atkinson-cycle VVT-i engine, the XV Hybrid will still use the 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated boxer engine and AWD. Unfortunately, not much of the plug-in system is known for now.

    Comparatively, the Prius Prime boasts an EPA-estimated electric range of 40 km thanks to an 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It’s unclear if the XV Hybrid will share the same battery pack, but no reports seem to suggest otherwise. The new Subaru XV Hybrid is expected to be revealed in Crosstrek form by the end of the year, so be sure to stay tuned for more updates.

    Meanwhile, Subaru recently announced the XV e-Boxer for the Japanese market. It features the FB20 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated, direct-injected flat-four petrol engine that makes 145 PS at 6,000 rpm and 188 Nm of torque. The engine is paired with a Lineartronic CVT that features an integrated 13.6 PS/65 Nm electric motor, with power channeled to all four wheels through the brand’s renowned Symmetrical AWD system.

    The electric motor draws power from a 4.8 Ah lithium-ion battery located under the boot floor, which warrants a smaller fuel tank that holds 48 litres rather than 63 litres in non-hybrid variants of the XV. It is also the heaviest XV in the line-up (for the Japan market) at 1,825 kg (gross weight).

    GALLERY: Subaru XV e-Boxer

  • DAMD offers G-Class, Defender kits for Suzuki Jimny

    If you’re among the few to think that the new Suzuki Jimny looks like a shrunken Mercedes-Benz G-Class, then things are about to get more interesting. Japanese aftermarket tuning company DAMD Inc has released two conversion kits called “Little G” and “Little D,” which turn the funky Jimny into either a G-Wagen or a Land Rover Defender.

    Both body kits are quite elaborate – the Little G kit completely transforms the Jimny into a rugged-looking thing, complete with a new headlights housing, vertical LED turn signals, AMG-style twin-louvre grille with the company logo, new bumpers all around and a black strip that runs along the character line.

    Of course, there are also new side steps, remoulded wheel arches (squared off to look like the G-Class), side-exit exhausts and new twin-eight spoke dark alloy wheels. The rear end is largely untouched, although the spare wheel cover gets a new design, complete with DAMD Inc’s company logo. The Suzuki Jimny badges however, have been removed.

    If you’re not a fan of Little G, perhaps Little D will tickle your fancy. It’s very much the same recipe and looks – depending on your preference – more subdued than the Little G. Up front, the bonnet edge features the LITTLE:D lettering (as opposed to Defender on the real thing), new radiator grille and positioning lights, a rugged bumper guard with integrated fog lamps, as well as skid plates.

    The fender mouldings are left as is, but the rump gets a more extensive redesign. The original tail lights have been swapped out for individual bulb units (for brake, turn signal and reverse). Of course, the front and rear apron come with rivets, which is a clear nod to the Defender.

    Lastly, the Little D package comes with model-specific dark alloy wheels with off-road tyres, dark grey paintwork and mud flaps. What do you think, folks? Impressive, isn’t it?

  • G20 BMW 330e plug-in hybrid detailed – 252 hp, 41 hp XtraBoost feature, 1.7 l/100 km, 60 km electric range

    Just over a month after the unveiling of the new G20 BMW 3 Series, Munich has released details on the plug-in hybrid version, the 330e. The new petrol-electric variant gets various improvements to performance and efficiency, on top of all the new features of the standard model.

    Continuing to provide motivation is a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, again producing 184 hp – the same as a 320i. The electric motor, integrated into the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, produces a constant 50 kW (68 hp) but, more importantly, generates peak output of 80 kW (109 hp).

    All in all, the powertrain develops a total system output of 252 hp and 420 Nm of torque. That’s the same as the outgoing model, but for the first time there’s now an XtraBoost feature that delivers an extra 30 kW (41 hp) of accelerative boost. This brings the total amount of available power up to 292 hp, accessible via the Sport driving mode, under kickdown and in the gearbox’s sport and manual modes.

    Click to enlarge

    Performance figures include a zero-to-100 km/h sprint time of 6.0 seconds (0.1 seconds faster than before) and a top speed of 230 km/h (up 5 km/h). Meanwhile, the car delivers a fuel consumption figure of 1.7 litres per 100 km and carbon dioxide emissions amounting to just 39 grams per kilometre – numbers that are down by more than 10% over the outgoing model.

    Juicing the electric motor is a 12.0 kWh lithium-ion battery that allows for nearly double the pure electric range, at 60 km. It will also travel in this mode at speeds of up to 140 km/h – 20 km/h up on before. The battery sits under the rear seats, reducing boot space from 480 litres to 375 litres, though you can increase the amount of cargo you can carry by folding the 40:20:40-split rear seats.

    As usual, the 330e comes with virtually all the options of the standard 3 Series. Available in standard, Advantage, Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport trim levels, it is offered with features such as adaptive M suspension, Variable Sports Steering, an M sports braking system, Driving Assistant Professional with steering and lane guidance, and Parking Assistant with the new Reversing Assistant feature.

    Features unique to the 330e are the standard interior pre-heating and air-con pre-conditioning as well as new digital services to be prepared in time for the car’s market launch in the summer. These include the suggestion of nearby hotels, restaurants, cafes and other attractions when selecting a charging stations, information on station availability and station occupancy forecasting, and the reservation of selected stations.


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Last Updated 01 Nov 2018


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