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  • J.D. Power 2018 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index – Nissan takes top spot ahead of Isuzu, Honda, Toyota

    J.D. Power has announced its 2018 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, which is a comprehensive analysis of the new-vehicle purchase and delivery experience based on responses from 2,477 car buyers who bought their cars between September 2017 and May 2018.

    For the 16th year of the study, J.D. Power redesigned the six weighted factors that affected overall customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience. These include dealer sales consultant (26%); dealership facility (25%); delivery process (19%); working out the deal (14%); paperwork completion (14%); and dealership website (2%).

    Based on the results, Nissan managed to leap last year’s leaders, Isuzu and Toyota, to take its place at the very top with a score of 812 points (following a 1,000-point scale). Coming in second place is Isuzu with 797 points, while third place Honda (795 points) improved upon its position from last year to overtake Toyota, which is now in fourth place with 791 points.

    Another gainer here is Mitsubishi with 787 points, which places the brand just above the mass market average of 784 points. Beyond that, Proton improved from last year with a higher position and a score of 782 points, while Volkswagen appears on the list with 779 points. Mazda found itself placed further down the rankings with 781 points, and Perodua is at the bottom with 774 points.

    According to J.D. Power, car buyers were more satisfied when engaging with experienced sales consultants that used digital devices. Unsurprisingly, many also expected a thorough explanation of available features when the vehicle is delivered, and welcomed follow-up clarification efforts. Customers also prefer when sales consultants have the autonomy to quickly secure a deal rather than having to wait for the thumbs up from their supervisor.

    Aside from these key findings, the study also revealed that a growing number of buyers (59%) researched online for information such as the price, features and specifications of a vehicle. Those who do access information online were also more inclined to contact the dealership prior to a physical visit to cross-check details as well as compare pricing across different dealerships.

    It is also discovered that financial considerations are the most influential reason for purchasing a vehicle (46% of respondents), primarily affecting those aged 29 years and younger. Curiously, younger buyers are also found to be less style-driven than older buyers when purchasing their vehicle.

    “Car buyers in Malaysia, especially younger buyers, are increasingly concerned about the cost of owning a vehicle and are turning to online channels to aid in their research on the best available deals,” said Muhammad Asyraf Bin Mustafar, country head of Malaysia at J.D. Power.

    “Brands that can offer a competitive pricing model through flexible financing options, better fuel economy, customized maintenance packages and higher residual values are likely to attract more customers. Similarly, it is important that brands can match their product offerings with their customers’ purchase reasons,” he added.

  • MITI received 14 proposals for new national car project

    Here’s an update on the new national car project (NNCP). The government’s invitation for NNCP proposals from the private sector has closed, and the ministry of international trade and industry (MITI) has in hand 14 proposals. This was revealed by MITI deputy minister Dr Ong Kian Ming in parliament today, reported by The Star.

    Ong reiterated that the NNCP would be fully driven by the private sector and the government would only give select assistance based on the capabilities of the company involved.

    “I believe the suggestion to conduct an economic impact study for the project is acceptable and fair, but we need to get a clear direction first as we have yet to study the proposals given by the private companies and individuals on the project. In order to carry out the economic impact report, we have to get clarity first on the National Automotive Policy,” he said in a reply to Subang MP Wong Chen, who asked the government when it would be able to produce an economic impact report on the NNCP.

    The NAP review will cover a much wider scope than just the NNCP. “The last time the policy was reviewed was in 2014, and after four years we are reviewing it again. The review will be a holistic process, not only involving the third national car project but the industry as a whole,” Ong said.

    The Bangi MP added that the NNCP will spur the country’s capabilities in R&D as well as new technologies in the automotive sector, besides creating a cluster of new tech and expertise in automotive engineering.

    Last week, Datuk Madani Sahari – CEO of the Malaysia Automotive Institute, which is under MITI – said that the government had received two proposals to date (October 9), so plenty must have rushed in over the past week. The deadline for submissions was October 15.

    To recap, earlier this month, entrepreneur development minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof announced the timelines for the NNCP – the new national car’s name will be announced by the end of this year, while the prototype for the NNCP model is expected to be ready by early next year, ahead of a 2020 roll out. The car is expected to feature semi-autonomous capabilities and advanced safety features, while remaining affordable.

  • 2019 Mazda 3 gets teased ahead of November debut

    Mazda has released a new teaser video of what is likely the all-new Mazda 3, which is slated to be unveiled in November this year. During the company’s recent Technology Briefing, it was already made known that a “leadoff batter” of its next-generation line-up will be making its public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which coincidentally also takes place in November.

    As is the case with most teasers, you get to see very little and are left with plenty of questions after you’re done. The vehicle shown appears to be in the form of a hatchback and very closely resembles the Kai Concept that was revealed at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Given Mazda’s track record of converting its concepts into production ready models, this isn’t much of a surprise to us.

    Anyway, what are the notable cues? For starters, the C-pillar is noticeably large here and there is also a chrome surround in the lower half of the side window. These features are exactly like what you’ll find on the Kai Concept, although the taillights have been tweaked to no longer include the light strip in the middle.

    A shot of the vehicle’s side also shows conventional door handles that appear to match those seen in illustrations that found their way online recently. Based on those diagrams, the front of the new Mazda 3 will resemble that of the latest Mazda 6, with the bonnet shutline now separated from the grille and headlamps.

    2019 Mazda 3 illustrations

    There’s no glimpse of the interior in the brief video, but expect a diluted version of the concept’s design. The main dash is largely uninterrupted, with an infotainment screen placed above it, while slim air-con vents and various switchgear are located beneath.

    Things start to get busy in the driver’s seat, with vents located on the sides of the instrument binnacle that could features a digital display within. The centre console is reminiscent of the concept’s, although the armrest is no longer skewed to the driver’s side.

    We’ll get more details about the new Mazda 3 as we edge closer to November, so stay tuned.

    GALLERY: Mazda Kai Concept

  • 2019 Acura NSX GT3 Evo – track-only racer updated

    It’s been several months since the Acura NSX GT3 started began its competition life, and Acura Motorsports has now revealed an enhanced version of the race car. This is the NSX GT3 Evo, which will begin its assault on various race tracks around the world from 2019.

    Still based on the road-going NSX (also branded as a Honda in other markets), the updated race car now comes with revised bodywork, including a new front splitter, diffuser and rear bumper. These elements are said to help improve cooling, provide better balance, as well as reduce drag for higher top speeds.

    The powertrain also sees some improvements with new turbochargers for the 3.5 litre DOHC V6 engine, which Honda says provides better throttle response, boost control and fuel economy. Elsewhere, there’s improved hardware and calibrations for the car’s anti-lock braking system along with an upgraded Bosch display and data-logging unit.

    Customer racing teams will enjoy a 25% increase in engine life and greater component durability thanks to these changes, translating to reduced running costs. As before, the NSX GT3 Evo’s chassis will come from the Performance Manufacturing Centre in Marysville, Ohio, United States, while final assembly takes place at JAS Motorsport in Milan, Italy.

    If you happen to have the previous NSX GT3 and the thought of paying for a new race car seems daunting, fret not. The new components on the NSX GT3 Evo can be retrofitted as Variant Supply, so you’re covered in that regard.

    “We are extremely pleased to present the specification of the 2019 NSX GT3 Evo today. While the car has already won in some of the world’s most prestigious GT3 series, we believe in constantly improving our products and providing the best possible equipment and support for our customers,” said Masashi Yamamoto, general manager of Honda Motorsports.

    “Through the NSX GT3 Customer Racing Programme, an international collaboration between a number of Honda’s technical partners, we have been able to combine expertise on a global level to define a set of upgrades for the latest version of the NSX GT3 that will benefit every one of our customer teams worldwide,” he added.

  • G07 BMW X7 makes its official debut – three-row SUV

    This imposing vehicle you see here is the all-new G07 BMW X7, which has been revealed as the flagship of the German automaker’s SUV (or SAV if you’re into BMW lingo) range. First previewed by the similarly named Concept X7 iPerformance just over a year ago, the three-row X7 serves as the counter to Mercedes-Benz’s own big SUV, the GLS.

    Measuring 5,151 mm long, 2,000 mm wide and 1,805 mm tall, the X7 dwarfs the latest G05 X5 by being 229 mm longer and 60 mm taller. The significant length advantage that the X7 has also results in a more substantial wheelbase of 3,105 mm compared to the X5’s 2,975 mm.

    When parked next to its closest rival, the GLS, the X7 is the larger of the two by 21 mm in length, 66 mm in width and 30 mm wheelbase-wise; the GLS wins by being 45 mm taller. Of course, a new GLS is currently under development so we’ll check back with this comparison when the X166’s successor arrives.

    In terms of styling, the X7 remains rather true to the concept that previewed it in 2017. Up front, BMW is proud to admit the X7 has the “largest kidney grille ever designed for one of the brand’s models,” and we aren’t inclined to argue with that.

    A pair of slim headlamps flank said grille and they are of the LED variety, with the option of upgrading them to an adaptive Laserlight system – identified by the blue X-shaped elements within. In standard specification, a horizontal chrome bar highlights the wide lower air intake.

    Along the sides, prominent creases help to accentuate the Air Breather outlets that lead to the sill trim. You’ll also spot a line that runs from just below the top of the front wheel arch to the taillights, beneath the door handles.

    At the rear, the X7’s taillights and chrome bar setup is almost identical to what was found on the concept (and G11/G12 7 Series). However, the large L-shaped outlets at the corners are omitted from the final product, with a pair of exhausts tucked away instead.

    That shutline you see on the tailgate is for the two-section split tailgate (a la Range Rover), which can be electronically opened or closed. Add on the Comfort Access option and you can do the same hands-free as well.

    Of course, BMW offers a selection of trim package, and with the Design Pure Excellence package, that chrome bar near the Air Curtains turns upwards at its outer edges as a nod to the concept.

    Other aspects of the package include off-coloured front and rear skid plates, satin finish for the roof rails and side window frames, gloss black mirror triangles and wheels ranging from 21 to 22 inches in size.

    Meanwhile, the M Sport package substitutes the bumpers for an M Aerodynamics set, with matching side skirts. A gloss black finish is also applied for the side window trim and triangles, while the M light-alloy wheels come in 20 to 22 inch sets. You’ll also get M Sport suspension, brakes, as well as a dedicated exhaust system. If money is no object, there’s always BMW Individual on hand for further personalisation.

    Moving inside, the dashboard appears to be carried over wholesale from the concept, although the switchgear isn’t as sharply angled towards the driver. If you’ll notice, the flicked chrome bar on the exterior is replicated by the shape of the of corner air-con vents, while the centre pair isn’t unlike that on recent BMW models.

    BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional is present here, with a medley of two 12.3-inch displays – one acting as the digital instrument cluster and the other for the car’s iDrive infotainment system.

    Just above the latter is part of the optional Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System with 20 speakers in total and a 1,500-watt amplifier. The standard setup consists of 10 speakers, and there is a mid-range, 16-speaker Harman Karman system as well.

    Much further downwards, the centre console accommodates switchgear that is already a staple in models like the G20 3 Series and G05 X5, with ‘Crafted Clarity’ glass being used for the gear selector, start/stop button, iDrive controller and the audio system’s volume control.

    Cars with the M Sport package gain an M Sport leather steering wheel, leather upholstery, floor mats, pedals, illuminated door sills and a specific key design.

    Standard equipment on the X7 includes four-zone automatic climate control, Vernasca leather upholstery, ambient lighting, three-section panoramic glass roof, BMW Operating System 7.0 with Intelligent Personal Assistant and a full-colour head-up display.

    Spend a little more and you can upgrade to a five-zone climate control system with a control panel and additional vents for the third row; add on the Ambient Air package; have heated/cooled cup holders; wirelessly charge your phone; gain the Sky Lounge with more than 15,000 graphics patterns; and entertain second row passengers with a pair of 10.2-inch touchscreens.

    By default, the X7 offers seating for up to seven people, with the middle row being a bench. BMW says third row seating isn’t an afterthought either, as passengers there will enjoy full-size seats that are complemented by armrests, cupholders, USB ports, and even heating.

    For those that can do without the seventh member on board, the automaker can replace the second row bench for two individual seats that can slide longitudinally through 14.5 cm. All seats are can be electronically adjusted, including the backrests for the second and third row, which you can control via buttons on the driver’s side and in the boot.

    When fully occupied, the X7 can swallow up to 326 litres of cargo in its boot, 750 litres with the second row folded down, and 2,120 litres with all seats folded down. The standard two-axle air suspension allows the load floor to be lowered by 40 mm, making loading cargo an easier exercise.

    On the safety and driver assist front, BMW’s plethora of systems are available with the X7. These include Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, Driving Assistant Professional with Steering and lane control assistant, Lane Change Warning and Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assistant and side collision protection, evasion aid, Crossing traffic warning, Priority warning and Wrong-way warning.

    Finally, engines. At launch, the X7 will be offered with two petrol and diesel variants each. Focusing on the former, the first is the X7 xDrive40i which packs a 3.0 litre turbocharged in-line six cylinder engine with 340 PS (335 hp) from 5,500 to 6,500 rpm and 420 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 5,200 rpm. In this configuration, the 0-100 km/h time is 6.1 seconds and top speed is 245 km/h.

    Moving on, there’s the X7 xDrive50i (not available in Europe) that comes with a 4.4 litre turbocharged V8 making 462 PS (456 hp) from 5,250 to 6,000 rpm and 650 Nm from 1,500 to 4,750 rpm. The century sprint here takes 5.4 seconds and a 250 km/h top speed is touted.

    In diesel land, the starting point is the X7 xDrive30d with a 3.0 litre turbodiesel in-line six (265 PS or 261 hp at 4,000 rpm and 620 Nm from 2,000 to 2,500 rpm) that’ll do 0-100 km/h in seven seconds and hit 227 km/h flat out.

    The other diesel option is an M Performance model called the X7 M50d, which also gets a 3.0 litre in-line six but serves up 400 PS (394 hp) at 4,400 rpm and 760 Nm from 2,000 to 3,000 rpm – it shares identical performance figures to the X7 xDrive50i.

    All variants get an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission as standard along with BMW’s rear-biased xDrive all-wheel drive system. The X7 M50d is fitted with an M Sport differential for better traction and power transfer, which is also available for the X7 xDrive50i via the xOffroad package.

    Said package is also available for other variants, and adds on underguards, bespoke tuning for the powertrain and response, an off-road specific differential lock, and an extra button to cycle through specific xOffroad modes – xSnow, xSand, xGravel and xRocks.

    Aside from the aforementioned air suspension, the SUV sports front double wishbones and a five-link rear suspension setup, with the option of Integral Active Steering (rear wheel steering) and Executive Drive Pro with active roll stabilisation.

    The new X7 will be built at BMW Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina in the United States, with a worldwide market launch slated to begin in March 2019.

  • Proton X70 online booking now open – pay just RM99

    As promised, online booking for the Proton X70 started today, with the X70 microsite going live at 10am. Proton’s first SUV is also the first Proton that can be booked online.

    Here’s how it works. Customers are are required to provide their personal details, preferred X70 variant and colour, as well as the city and state where they wish to collect the car. Following payment of the booking fee, which is also done online, a system generated receipt will be sent to the customer’s email.

    A Proton sales advisor will then contact the customer within seven days to process the booking. Booking fees are fully refundable should one change his mind.

    How much? Proton is holding a “flash sale” from now till October 19 to promote the online booking platform. In this three-day period, one can book the Proton X70 with a fee of just RM99. Do this and you’ll get an ice cooler box worth RM200. Pay the remaining RM901 of the booking fee at a sales outlet and you’ll get a “branded dashboard camera” valued at RM300.

    If you choose to pay RM1,000 online for the “privilege booking” (now until the launch date), Proton will give you two X70s – one being a 1:18 scale die-cast model of your actual SUV. All gifts will be handed over together with the X70 during delivery. The early bird gifts are also applicable to those who book the X70 via the traditional walk-in way.

    Meanwhile, X70 customer previews are ongoing and the most recent one was held in Kuching from October 15-16. The next stops are in Kuantan and Ipoh, and the final session will be held in Kota Kinabalu next month.

    Click to enlarge

    We’ve covered the X70 to the best of our knowledge (of official information) so far, with separate articles on the Geely Boyue-based SUV’s four variants and specs, powertrain, safety and driver assist systems, connectivity and GKUI infotainment system. We’ve also discussed the C-segment SUV in the most recent episode of PT Talks. Once again, you can check out all the variants and specifications here.

    The Proton X70 online booking page has some fresh images of the SUV, and we’ve captured them for you below. Check out the X70 microsite here.

  • Audi accepts 800m euro fine for V6/V8 diesel offences

    Munich prosecutors have issued an administrative order against Audi for deviations from regulatory requirements in certain V6 and V8 diesel engines. The division of Volkswagen has accepted the 800 million euros fine, and the case is now closed, in Germany at least.

    “Following thorough examination, Audi accepted the fine and it will not lodge an appeal against it. By doing so, Audi admits its responsibility for the deviations from regulatory requirements,” the company said in a statement.

    According to the findings of the investigation carried out by the German public prosecutor, monitoring duties had been breached in the “emissions service and power engine approval” organizational unit in the company, which monitors vehicle regulatory conformity. These breaches were causes of certain V6 and V8 diesel developed by Audi not meeting regulatory requirements.

    It was noted that Ingolstadt also failed to discover that EA288 (Gen3) engines in the USA and Canada and EA189 engines worldwide produced by Volkswagen were advertised, sold to customers, and placed on the market with an impermissible software function from 2004.

    It’s a substantial fine, but Audi and VW would surely be glad that another dieselgate legal book has closed. The one time “special items” hit will see the company significantly undercut major financial key performance indicators forecasted for the fiscal year 2018.

    In June, parent company Volkswagen was fined one billion euros in Germany for “impermissible software functions” in its TDI engines. Daimler, which makes Mercedes-Benz cars, is also in the same pot of hot diesel soup.

  • AD: MINI October Fair happens this weekend – food, fun and games, plus final chance for best deals

    MINI equals to fun, so if you’re looking for a great deal on a MINI while enjoying a fun weekend day for the whole family, head down to the MINI October Fair, happening this weekend (October 20-21) from 10am to 6pm.

    The MINI October Fair will be held at Ingress Auto Damansara (BMW Premium Selection showroom) – that’s the large BMW dealership along the LDP highway, opposite Damansara Perdana. The MINI-style carnival will feature carnival food (think popcorn carts, ice cream and waffles), fun and games, a Halloween art workshop and a kids craft area for the little ones.

    The cars are the main event though, and you’ll be tempted by low interest rates from just 0.88%, complimentary MINI customisation to make your MINI truly yours, and the final chance to purchase selected models at the best possible deals.

    Find out more by calling 03-2287 9988 or RSVP here for the MINI October Fair.

    *Terms and conditions apply

  • September 2018 Malaysian vehicle sales down 52%

    The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) has announced sales and production figures for the month of September 2018, which are lower compared to what was seen in August.

    A total of 31,241 vehicles were delivered in September, which is 52% lower than 65,551 units recorded in August. Sales volume in September this year was also 23% or 9,715 units lower than the corresponding month in 2017.

    The association attributed this significant decline to car companies depleting their stocks due to overwhelming demand during the zero-rated goods and services tax (GST) period.

    Meanwhile, total industry volume (TIV) as of September 2018 stood at 454,971 units, representing a 7% increase from the 425,678 units accounted for during the same period last year.

    Moving forward, the MAA expects sales results for October to not deviate too far from September’s figures because of customers’ adjustment to the reimplementation of the sales and services tax (SST) and order fulfillment following the tax holiday.

  • Skoda Scala is the name of new Golf-sized hatchback

    Click to enlarge

    Skoda has revealed the name of its upcoming entry into the European compact hatch segment. The Skoda Scala will be a replacement for the Rapid Spaceback, competing in a class with stalwarts such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Opel/Vauxhall Astra. Also playing in this field are the Renault Megane, Peugeot 308, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla Hatchback, Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed.

    The Scala name derives from the Latin word ‘scala’ which means ‘stairs’, and is a step forward for the Czech carmaker in the segment.

    “With the new Skoda Scala we are proposing a new chapter in the compact class of Skoda. It is a completely new development that sets standards in terms of technology, safety and design in this class. Thus we are confident that Scala has the best chance to redefine the segment for Skoda,” said Skoda chairman Bernhard Maier.

    Click to enlarge

    Skoda will be looking to do better than the Rapid with the Scala. “How should I put this? Our presence [in this segment] is very humble. With the current Rapid Spaceback, we didn’t manage to come through to convince people that we are a credible competitor in this segment,” Skoda sales and marketing boss Alain Favey admitted to Autocar.

    Along with the Scala badge, Skoda also released an image of the car’s rear end, which shows the brand spelled out in wide-spaced letters, like what we saw on the China-only Kodiaq GT sketch earlier. It replaces the Skoda logo on the tailgate. Skoda says that the Scala presents its new “emotional” exterior and interior design language – as seen on the Vision RS concept from Paris 2018 – for the first time in production form.

    Due to surface before the end of 2018, the Scala will be the first Skoda to utilise the VW Group’s A0 MQB platform, which already underpins the Volkswagen T-Roc and Seat Ibiza. The next-gen Fabia, set for release in 2020, and Skoda’s upcoming junior SUV will also use the same platform, according to Autocar.

    GALLERY: Skoda Vision RS concept


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Last Updated 01 Oct 2018


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