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  • Naza Premira no longer Aprilia Malaysian distributor

    This July 31, 2018 sees the end of the distribution partnership between Naza Premira and Italian motorcycle manufacturer Aprilia. It was stated that the dissolution of the partnership is part of a brand rationalisation exercise on the part of Naza Premira.

    Sustainability and profitability were cited as primary reasons behind the parting of ways, which Naza Premira said is amicable. Owners of Aprilia motorcycles can continue obtaining service, spares and warranty support from Naza Premira till September 30, 2018.

    Following this, Naza Premira will continue holding the Malaysian distributorship for the Piaggio and Vespa scooter brands. It is expected that an announcement from Aprilia as to the identity of its new Malaysian distributorship will be appearing forthwith.

  • Tesla may lose top spot in EV market soon – Daimler, BMW, Volvo and Toyota could pull ahead by 2021

    It certainly doesn’t seem like a bed of roses for Tesla right now. A forecast released by PA Consulting Group, which is a company specialising in management consulting, technology and innovation, has revealed that the American automaker could lose its coveted top spot in the electric vehicle (EV) market real soon.

    Based on the findings, the firm said German carmakers such as Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen and even Volvo will pull ahead of Tesla by 2021. The consultancy takes into account each carmaker’s strategy, battery technology, culture, supplier networks, partnerships and financial performance into an overall score.

    For the time being, Tesla will remain at the top for 2019, but PA Consulting said by 2021, when rivals flood the market with more models and variations, Elon Musk’s company will fall to seventh place behind Toyota. By then, Daimler will take the lead, followed by BMW, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance and Volkswagen.

    Volkswagen I.D. Crozz (left), BMW Concept iX3 (right)

    One of the main reasons for this dip is the production issues that Tesla is currently facing with the Model 3. Also cited in the report was the uncertain profit outlook for the California-based company.

    PA Consulting’s head of automotive business, Thomas Göttle said “achieving CO2 targets and improving e-mobility performance go hand in hand. For the manufacturers, however, this also involves great need for action in terms of organisation and personnel.”

    Last month, the Model 3 production bottleneck saw around 23% of those who placed a pre-order have had their US$1,000 deposit refunded. On top of that, the company had to trim its workforce in order to become profitable – about nine percent of its workforce, which equals to 4,000 personnel, had to be let go. It was reported that the laid-off employees would receive “significant” salary payments and stock in Tesla as compensation.

  • SPIED: BMW X7 test unit seen again, pre-production

    BMW’s largest Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) yet has made another appearance, this time spotted by our spy photographers on the back of a truck on its way to a test facility. As the name implies, the G07 X7 will be positioned above the X5, and will offer up to seven seats, taking it up against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLS and higher-specced versions of the Range Rover.

    The forthcoming full-sized SUV will use BMW’s latest CLAR (Cluster Architecture) underpinnings, which currently form the basis for models such as the 7 Series, 5 Series and the recently-unveiled G05 X5, and even the forthcoming G20 3 Series. So far, we know that it will be offered in six- and seven-seat configurations, and that engines will comprise six-cylinder petrols and diesels, as well as a 4.4 litre petrol V8.

    Drive will be sent to all four corners via an eight-speed automatic and xDrive all-wheel drive system. Meanwhile, suspension duties are handled by double wishbones at the front and a five-link configuration at the rear, supplemented by Dynamic Damper Control and Integral Active Steering. Air suspension can be specified too, and can offer ground clearance between 183 mm and 243 mm.

    The leaked features and options list for the xDrive50i variant of the G07 X7 reveal that the new model will featured BMW ConnectedDrive and BMW Connected, along with a host of options including the BMW Display Key.

    These options include remote engine start, comfort access system, automatic soft closing doors, electrically-adjustable comfort seats with massage function, rear-seat entertainment professional, Harman Kardon surround sound system, panoramic glass roof with sky lounge and a five-zone automatic climate control.

    Plenty of kit as befitting a flagship SAV, then. The BMW X7 is set to be launched at the end of this year, and will be produced at the company’s manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

  • SDAC presents Ford Pop-Up store – sample the Ranger via a virtual reality test drive experience

    Sime Darby Auto Connexion (SDAC) is offering consumers a unique opportunity to experience the Ford Ranger in a different environment beyond the traditional dealership. The pick-up can be sampled via a virtual reality experiential test drive at the Ford Pop-Up store, which will be making six stops across five states in the peninsular.

    The Ford Pop-Up store will showcase an immersive virtual reality (VR) section which will bring customers closer to the T6 Ranger and allow them to virtually experience two advanced driver-assist technologies that the truck is equipped with, namely Forward Collison Alert and Lane Departure Warning/Assist. Through the VR experience, consumers will be able to learn more about these smart and safe technologies found on the Ranger.

    The Ford Pop-Up store will kick off its tour at Subang Parade, Subang Jaya on July 20-22, and the event is open to the public from 10 am to 10 pm daily. The full schedule for the Ford Pop-Up store tour is:

    • July 20-22 – Subang Parade, Subang Jaya
    • July 27-29 – Queensbay Mall, Penang
    • August 2-4 – Tesco Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
    • August 10-12 – Setia City Convention Centre, Setia Alam
    • August 23-25 – Sutera Mall, Johor Bahru
    • September 6-8 – Aman Sentral in Alor Setar, Kedah.

    Customers at the Ford Pop-Up store will also be able to take advantage of the current Seize the Deal campaign, which offers additional rebates of up to 11% on top of the six percent GST savings on the Ford Ranger, for total savings of up to RM19,830.

    Other models involved in the promotional campaign are the Fiesta 1.5L, with rebates of up to 17% for it, and Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost and 5.0L GT models, for which savings of up to RM113,000 can be had. The promotion will run until August 31.

  • Nissan Juke production at Sunderland hits 1m units

    Eight years after the funky crossover shocked the market, the one millionth Nissan Juke has rolled off the line at the Sunderland plant in the UK. On average, a new Juke is built at the plant every 105 seconds. The milestone unit was a Tekna grade car in Vivid Blue, the most recent colour added to the range.

    “Eight years ago we had never seen anything like the Juke before – it created an entirely new segment and brought a distinctive never-seen-before look to the market. Fast forward to today and we have one million customers and Juke remains the segment leader,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, senior VP of manufacturing, supply chain management and purchasing at Nissan Europe.

    “It’s terrific to see that the 2018 model, with all its improvements and personalisation options, is as popular as the version that rolled off the line for the first time in 2010,” he added.

    The Juke was the second crossover to be built at Sunderland, following the Qashqai in 2006. The pioneering Qashqai has been even more successful, with over three million now been built in the UK factory. The other models to have hit seven figures are the Micra (2.4m) and Primera (1.5m).

    The one million figure includes the Juke Nismo version that went into production in 2012. The B-SUV remains a big seller for Nissan, hitting sales of 95,000 last year in Europe. The Juke is officially sold in Thailand and Indonesia, but grey is the only way for Malaysians to stand out in one.

    GALLERY: Nissan Juke, Thai-spec

  • Maserati Levante SUV gets new entry 350 hp petrol V6

    The Maserati Levante is now available with a 3.0 litre V6 engine with 350 hp, which is the MY19 SUV’s entry level petrol variant. This engine, which boasts “Maserati’s signature sound”, will also be offered in the Quattroporte limo. It already features in the Ghibli.

    The 350 hp V6 slots under the 430 hp/580 Nm V6 of the Levante S. The Maserati SUV is also available with a 3.0 litre turbodiesel V6 with 275 hp and 600 Nm. Both the Levante diesel and Levante S are on already sale in Malaysia.

    With the entry petrol engine, the Levante is good for 0-100 km/h in six seconds flat, which is eight tenths slower than the Levante S but still no slouch. Top speed is 251 km/h. The SUV’s NEDC 2.0 combined fuel consumption range is 8.3 to 8.6 km/l while the C02 emissions range is from 268 to 270 g/km.

    Revealed for the UK market at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed, the MY19 Levante introduces goodies such as the optional Adaptive Full LED Matrix headlights and now standard Integrated Vehicle Control (IVC), which is already available on the Ghibli and Quattroporte. Rather than simply correcting instability, IVC helps prevent it for better safety and driving dynamics.

    “The introduction of the more cost effective, entry level petrol engine is as a result of the demand in the market and we expect it to sell extremely well,” said Mike Biscoe, GM of Maserati GB. The 350 hp Levante starts at £61,425 (RM329,605) in the UK. It might eventually reach our shores as well.

    GALLERY: Maserati Levante S GranLusso in Malaysia

  • Proton 1-Tank Adventure fuel efficiency contest begins

    The Proton 1-Tank Adventure for the Central region flagged off earlier today from the Centre of Excellence in Shah Alam, with participants comprising media practitioners, key opinion leaders (KOLs) and celebrities, Proton car club members as well as members of the public taking to the road in a total of 18 cars.

    As the name suggests, the 1-Tank Adventure is a competition to see how far contestants can go on a single tank of fuel. The objective is to complete the two-day route of at least 600 km on just one tank of fuel. The starting point is a petrol station where all participating cars will be topped up with the three-click method, and then their fuel filler lids will be sealed with tape.

    Once on the road, there is a pre-determined check-in time for each checkpoint, which means that participants will have to drive at a reasonable pace somewhat resembling real-world driving – no hypermiling measures, then. It isn’t all about watching the fuel gauge, though; an adventure is promised along the way, with the exploration of food, local cultures and historic sights.

    Prizes worth more than RM100,000 await the winning participants, who will need to have specific models to be eligible for the challenge, namely the Saga 1.3 CVT built from September 2016 onwards, the Iriz 1.3 CVT from September 2014 onwards and the Persona 1.6 CVT from August 2016 onwards.

    To partake in the regional rounds, post a photo of your car on Facebook on Instagram with the caption, “I want to participate!” and tag @ProtonCarsOfficial (Facebook) or @ProtonCars (Instagram). You will also have to hashtag the model you’ll be participating with, as well as the region you’d like to take part in. Once posted, email a screenshot of the post to together with your details.

    Submission of entries to the Proton 1-Tank Adventure for the Central and East Coast regions have now closed, but you can still submit your entries for the East Malaysia region by July 19, the Southern region by July 24 and the Northern region by July 26. Closing time for all regions is 5.00 pm on the aforementioned dates.

    Our man Hafriz Shah is taking part in the current challenge, so stay tuned for more updates throughout the journey.

  • Future Lexus F performance models to be electrified?

    Lexus has revealed that the next step for its F performance brand could be electrification. This, after company boss Yoshihiro Sawa told Auto Express at the Goodwood Festival of Speed that his team is looking to include electrified powertrains to go with traditional petrol engines.

    Currently, all F models to date – IS F, RC F and GS F – run solely on raw V8 power. However, Sawa believes that the division will have to embrace different powertrain choices soon, and also suggested that a standalone hybrid F GT car could even be created.

    “F is very important; with F we have to think of our own original way. One solution could be a pure F GT car, which could be a hybrid with an electric motor and a strong engine, giving a different kind of drive feel. We don’t stick to V8, V10, twin-turbocharged, they’re important but we’re looking at the future. We’d like to find a way to connect to the next era,” he explained.

    “I think that now, we’re in a transitional period. At this moment people say electric vehicles are trendy but three years later, who knows? People like the sound, the dynamics [of combustion engines]. I think we cannot stick to the one solution when it comes to providing emotion,” Sawa added.

    On the subject of EVs, Sawa admitted that the new Lexus UX is considered to be a more likely candidate for a pure-electric version. “We do think about it, but Akio Toyoda [boss of Toyota] wants to provide the freedom of mobility everywhere – not just in the city but also in the jungle, or the desert. We can look to EV but also hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell and normal petrol engines also,” he said, adding that the EV has to be ‘lovable’ and needs to feel luxurious, because that is what Lexus customers expect.

    Now, with all these seemingly in the pipeline, will Lexus finally be seen as a true rival to German premium automakers? Sawa said it would, and that creating a stronger emotional connection with its customers via the GT3 programme and F sub-brand could help as well. The ‘spindle grille’, despite dividing opinions, has seen sales go up ever since its introduction.

    Over to you guys. Do you think such a move would help Lexus be positioned as a true rival to the Germans? And are you a fan of the spindle grille? Leave your thoughts in the comments, below.

  • 2018 Yamaha Grand Filano Hybrid in Thailand, RM7.5k

    Honda’s position as sole hybrid scooter maker in the world did not last long, with Yamaha introducing the 2018 Yamaha Grand Filano in Thailand at a price of 62,000 Thai baht (RM7,500). The Grand Filano is designed for urban use and comes in two variants – with and without ABS.

    The Grand Filano Hybrid is powered by a single-cylinder 125 cc Yamaha Blue Core engine fuelled by EFI, coupled with a Smart Motor Generator. This gives the Grand Filano extra electrical power and save fuel under certain conditions.

    Transmission is CVT, as is the norm with scooters, and this is complemented by engine start-stop with Yamaha’s Blue Core Efficiency engine design philosophy. For the Grand Filano, users have the option of leaving engine start-stop on or off, as desired.

    As befits a modern urban scooter, the Grand Filano comes equipped with all modern conveniences, including keyless start, full LED lighting front and rear and USB charging socket. A 27-litre storage compartment is found under the lift-up seat, along with easily stowable passenger footpegs and a colour TFT-LCD instrument panel in the cockpit.

    Rolling on 12-inch wheels, stopping is done with a hydraulic disc in front and drum brake at the back. Suspension is with conventional telescopic forks and swingarm mounted shock absorber.

    Seat height on the Grand Filano Hybrid is 790 mm and fuel is carried in a 4.4-litre tank, with weight being 102 kg for the ABS equipped version. The 2018 Yamaha Grand Filano Hybrid comes in several colour options, the non ABS model having five while the ABS model gets two.

  • LRT3: Transport ministry says RM15 bil cost reduction will have no impact on performance and capability

    It has been announced that the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3) project linking Bandar Utama to Klang will go ahead, but with development costs significantly reduced – the 37 km-long rail project will now be built at a cost of RM16.63 billion, a RM15 billion reduction from RM31.65 billion. The initial budget was RM10 billion, but project operator Prasarana released a statement last weekend saying that it was fully aware that the allocation was insufficient.

    The cost reduction is being achieved via measures such as reducing the initial number of stations (five deferred, one cancelled) and streamlining their design as well as reducing the number of train sets – from 42 sets of six-car trains to 22 three-car sets – and postponing the completion date from 2020 to 2024.

    The transport ministry, addressing issues raised on the changes made to accomodate the cost reduction, said that the revisions would not have an impact on the system’s ability to perform to expectations, and would translate to lower ticket prices for commuters, the Malay Mail reports.

    It said the size of the stations and the capacity of the trains had been reduced and streamlined as Prasarana’s specifications were well above the necessary requirement of a LRT system and the projected ridership.

    The ministry said the revised specification, such as using a three-car train instead of a six-car train, will be more than sufficient to cater to the current ridership demand. “During peak hours, the forecasted maximum number of passengers per hour per direction is 6,185 in year 2034. This ridership can be accommodated by 22 three-car trains which can carry 6,210 passengers per hour per direction,” it said via the statement.

    It added that further three-car trains can be purchased to increase capacity to meet the demand after the year 2050, and said the LRT3 system was designed to be upgraded from the present interval of six minutes to the shortest interval of two minutes, which is able to accommodate ridership up to 18,630 passengers per hour at peak per direction.

    In terms of the design of the train stations, the ministry said the current stations will be built to cater for four-car train-sets as they should be designed to cater to actual projected demand of passenger load. It refuted claims that a six-train set would be more comfortable to ride in, stating that the passenger loading will be below six passengers per metre square at all times, well within international standards.

    It added that the 22 train set total is in accordance with international standards, which includes the provision for two train-sets being under maintenance and one train-set on standby.

    It said the projected ridership for the provisional stations (Lien Hoe, Temasya, Persiaran Hishamuddin, SIRIM, Bukit Raja and Bandar Botani) would be below 1,500 passengers per day per station in 2020, but added that these stations would be built up progressively as ridership and demand increases.


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Last Updated 12 Jul 2018


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