Latest Stories

  • BMW iX pricing confirmed in Thailand – xDrive50 Sport at RM793k, 20 units only, pre-orders start June 21

    It looks like Thailand is going to beat us to getting the new BMW iX – Munich’s flagship electric SUV will be available for pre-orders in the Land of Smiles starting June 21, alongside the iX3. Ahead of the opening of bookings, BMW Thailand has revealed finalised pricing for the car, which will be available in sole range-topping xDrive50 Sport spec.

    Just 20 units of the iX will be offered, priced at 5,999,000 baht (RM793,400) with a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty and a three-year/60,000 km free service package. By comparison, the similarly-sized Audi e-tron 55 quattro retails at 5,099,000 baht (RM674,800).

    But the BMW will have more than enough power and range to overcome the significant price difference, with its twin motors pushing out a total of 385 kW (523 PS) and 765 Nm to all four wheels. So equipped, it gets from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds, has a top speed of 200 km/h and, with its 105.2 kWh lithium-ion battery, delivers a range of 630 km on the WLTP cycle.

    Charging the xDrive50 takes 11 hours using an 11 kW AC wallbox charger; the car also accepts up to 200 kW of DC fast charging, which tops the battery up from 10 to 80% in 35 minutes and adds up to 150 km of range in just ten minutes.

    No information on specs and equipment have been released just yet, but expect the iX to arrive pretty well-specced to justify the high pricing. We know that it will come in Sport trim, which adds more aggressive front and rear bumpers – the former with black X-shaped panels that channel air into the front Air Curtain inlets.

    Built on a dedicated aluminium spaceframe with carbon fibre panels for increased strength and reduced weight, the iX is an X5-sized SUV with a polarising design, sporting a massive closed-off double kidney grille, slim head- and taillights and blocky front and rear fender flares. The company claims a low drag coefficient of 0.25 and a 65 km improvement in range thanks to various aerodynamic elements.

    The minimalist interior, on the other hand, features a distinctive squared-off steering wheel and a curved display panel that runs on the latest BMW Operating System 8. This introduces a new tiled interface and incorporates plenty of vehicle controls – including the climate control – to reduce the number of physical buttons and switches.

    As part of the online pre-order campaign, BMW Thailand is offering a number of goodies to entice buyers, including a free BMW wallbox with installation included, one year of free BMW Protect insurance and an upgraded four-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.

    GALLERY: BMW iX xDrive50 Sport official press images

     
  • SPYSHOTS: A206 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

    With the latest W206-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan and estate having made its debut in February this year, two-door versions of the model line are in the works, and the latest to emerge is the C-Class Cabriolet. Likely to wear the A206 model code in succession of the current A205 C-Class Cabriolet, much of the bodywork remains shrouded, though certain part such as the headlamps can be seen.

    These headlamps appear to be of a similar shape to those on the W206 sedan, and bookend a grille that remains concealed but partly revealing the tristar in the centre, as on the sedan. The front bumper remains covered, however its final forms can be expected to accentuate the car’s visual width.

    Each door on the A206 Cabriolet can be seen wearing a character line that echoes that of the W206 sedan, as well as with exterior door handles of a similar fashion. Up top, the Cabriolet continues to use a fabric roof arrangement.

    Bearing in mind this is an early sighting of a development car, the bootlid of this A206 appears to wear a sharper edge than that of the current A205. The tail lamps here are temporary items that don’t give away the shape of the final product, though the eventual car can be expected to play a variation on the shape of that used on the sedan, which tapers inboard to acute edges. Exhausts are hidden behind the rear bumper, and will likely remain so for production, as with the sedan.

    Powertrain choices for the A206 is expected to echo those of the W206 sedan, in which the engine line-up is now resolutely four-cylinder. A near certainty will be the C300 variant with the M254 2.0litre turbo inline-four petrol, that outputs 255 hp and 400 Nm through a nine-speed automatic in the W206 sedan.

    Petrols and diesels are offered on the sedan and the same is expected for the two-door versions of the C-Class, along with the latest iteration of EQ Boost mild-hybrid drive assistance through a 48-volt system and integrated starter generator.

    More future sightings of the A206 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet can be expected, and with this particular unit photographed by our sources near the Nurburgring, one can expect images of circuit testing for the open-air C-Class in the future.

     

  • Foxconn buys stake in Malaysian tech firm DNeX – potential areas of collaboration to include EVs

    Following the announcement of its collaboration with energy group PTT to build electric vehicles (EVs) in Thailand at the end of last month, Apple supplier Foxconn has entered into another working relationship, this time in Malaysia.

    Local technology firm Dagang NeXchange (DNeX) has announced that the Taiwanese company’s subsidiary, Foxconn Singapore, has become a substantial shareholder in DNeX with its acquisition of 120 million shares from DNeX’s existing shareholders, giving it a 5.03% stake in the Malaysian company.

    This is expected to pave the way for a strong working relationship between both parties, said DNeX group MD Tan Sri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir. He said potential areas for collaboration between DNeX and Foxconn are semiconductor and downstream products, EVs and businesses related to the EV value chain.

    “DNeX is always open to any collaboration with strategic partners and investors that can bring value to the group. We foresee that this latest development can bring great potential to DNeX and we believe Foxconn’s entry can offer opportunities to unlock and create value across the high-technology sector’s value chain and beyond,” he said.

    Separately, DNeX said it is currently finalsing its acquisition of SilTerra Malaysia from Khazanah Nasional. In March, DNeX and Beijing Integrated Circuit Advanced Manufacturing and High-End Equipment Equity Investment Fund Center inked a deal to purchase the loss-making semiconductor manufacturer for RM273 million. DNeX will own 60% of the company.

    Syed Zainal said the outlook for the semiconductor sector is expected to stay bullish with increasing demand continuing up to 2024, which could lead to sustainable positive earnings for SilTerra and DNeX. “This makes the acquisition of SilTerra timely and strategically compelling for DNeX. We are confident that our business in the semiconductor market will grow at a strong pace,” he added.

     
  • 2021 Hyundai Kona N Line teased once more by HSDM

    Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) has once again teased the Kona N Line on its Facebook page, indicating that a local launch is not too far away. The company first teased the sporty B-segment crossover last month, during the virtual launch of the facelifted Kona.

    The new range topper will be dressed in a more aggressive suit, featuring a unique front fascia with larger intakes, a silver front splitter, some fins, as well as triple fake inlets above the grille. There’s the customary N badging around the car, and there’s also model-specific side skirts, large integrated rear diffuser, dual exhaust exits, and turbine-style 18-inch wheels.

    Inside, it will get red seat stitching, metal foot pedals, an upright gearknob with red striping and N logos on the steering wheel, gearknob and seats. Black cloth, leather and suede upholstery options are available, although it’s still unclear which one we’ll get.

    What’s also uncertain is the powertrain offering, though we can expect the N Line to get the Smartstream G1.6 T-GDi petrol engine that makes 198 PS at 6,000 rpm and 265 Nm of torque that peaks from 1,800 to 4,500 rpm. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is the sole gearbox option, sending drive to the front wheels and would propel it from standstill to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds.

    In terms of pricing, the N Line is likely command a slight premium over the standard models. It should also be more expensive than the previous 1.6 Turbo variant which retailed at RM151,888. Expect the car to come with some additional kit to justify the higher price. Anyone excited for this?

     
  • 2022 Nissan Note Aura launched in Japan – design tweaks, premium kit, AWD and FWD e-Power setups

    Nissan has launched the new Note Aura in Japan, which is a slightly redesigned version of the third-generation Note that made its debut last November. The model is set to go on sale in the country this autumn, and will be offered in front- and all-wheel drive configurations.

    According to the Japanese carmaker, the Aura inherits the comfort, powertrain and advanced safety technologies of the Note e-Power that is already available in Japan, but with “added premium furnishings and system enhancements.”

    The exterior revisions begin at the front, where the Aura gets slimmer headlamps that are clearly inspired by the Ariya all-electric SUV. The clusters retain their four-element LED setup and continue to be linked by a black bar at the top of the grille, but their new shape creates a more seamless look compared to the regular Note.

    On the mention of the grille, there’s also a new diamond-shaped pattern for the insert, while LED light strips, which act as daytime running lights, are seen along the sides. The latter ends at the middle point of the grille, after which black trim pieces continue the line towards the bottom.

    Elsewhere, more pronounced side vents have been sculpted on the front bumper, while the lower intake has been reshaped and feature chrome garnish around the fog lamps. Along the sides, the Aura doesn’t differ much from a regular Note, but it does get some snazzy 17-inch aluminium wheels with resin inserts in a gunmetal finish.

    While not immediately obvious, the Aura is actually 1,735 mm wide, which is 40 mm more than the standard Note. The new front bumper, along with a wider rear fender and bumper, contributes to the increase width to convey a wider stance and low centre of gravity, the company says. That’s not all, as the LED taillights are now linked by an illuminated light bar.

    To go along with the tweaked exterior, the Aura comes in 14 body colour variations, including five two-tone combinations and nine monotone options. Some of the two-tone options are pictured here, including Garnet Red with Super Black, as well as Midnight Black with Sunrise Copper.

    Nissan Note Aura (left), Note (right)

    Moving inside, wood-grain trim adorns various parts of the cabin, including the lower instrument panel and centre console, while the door trims, front armrests and instrument panel get a tweed-like fabric overlay. The standard Zero Gravity seats in lower-end variants will get Herringbone-patterned, tweed-like fabric and synthetic leather upholstery, while costlier models are trimmed in genuine leather with a pleated design.

    The “haute couture” interior is joined by a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which are items that the normal Note already gets. Available as an option is a Bose Personal Plus sound system that adds speakers into the front passenger headrests to provide a “premium acoustic experience.” Nissan also says that additional noise dampening in the roof, doors and front door glass help to improve NVH.

    The Aura comes in either G or G Four form, with each available as a “leather edition” that gets the fancier upholstery mentioned earlier. The G receives the same front-wheel drive e-Power setup as the Note, which consists of an EM47 front electric motor rated at 136 PS (134 hp) or 100 kW) and 300 Nm of torque.

    Meanwhile, the G Four gets an all-wheel drive setup that keeps the EM47, but adds on a MM48 electric motor at the rear that provides 68 PS and 100 Nm. In Nissan’s e-Power system, the car is driven strictly by electricity, although there is still an internal combustion engine to charge the lithium-ion battery that powers the electric motor(s). Both front- and all-wheel drive setups feature a HR12DE 1.2 litre three-cylinder petrol engine that makes 82 PS (80 hp) and 103 Nm.

    In terms of pricing, the Aura G goes for 2,610,300 yen (RM97,590) inclusive of consumption tax, while the “leather edition” retails at 2,699,400 yen (RM100,921). Stepping up to the G Four, the price goes up to 2,868,800 yen (RM107,255) and adding on the premium leather bits brings the total to 2,957,900 yen (RM110,582).

    For the sake of comparison, the range-topping, all-wheel drive X Four variant of the regular Note retails for 2,445,300 yen (RM91,417), so the Aura commands quite a premium for all its additional premium goodies.

     
  • Porsche Taycan Turbo S sets EV record at The Bend – 3 min 30.344 secs around the 7.7-km Australian track!

    The Porsche Taycan Turbo S has just set another electric production car record, this time at the second longest permanent race track in the world, The Bend Motorsport Park. It is located in South Australia (100 km away from Adelaide), and is the country’s newest racing circuit.

    The Taycan Turbo S lapped the 7.7 km-long GT circuit with an impressive time of 3 minutes 30.344 seconds, and piloting this Carmine Red model is Porsche Track Experience chief driving instructor and former Bathurst 1000 winner, Luke Youlden. That’s just eight seconds slower than the 3:22.066 production car lap time Youlden set with the 911 Turbo, or six seconds slower than the previous 911 GT2 RS.

    “The lap time of the Taycan just absolutely blew me away. You drive it in a similar way to any other Porsche sports car. The turn-in, handling and acceleration were outstanding. The power out of the corners is definitely where it makes up a lot of time,” said Youlden.

    He also said the Taycan is not too dissimilar to a petrol-driven car. “It’s unbelievably dynamic. Even though it is a little bit heavier, the batteries are very, very low so the centre of gravity is extremely low, which obviously makes the handling and the braking exceptionally good.” It also has all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, plus the instant acceleration certainly helps around the 35-corner circuit.

    “To be that close to the old GT2 RS lap record around here? Unbelievable. It’s extremely fast. We did repeated 2.5 seconds 0-100 km/h runs in this car and that sort of feel off the corner was also where the Taycan makes up most of its lap time. It’s unbelievable,” Youlden explained.

     
  • 2021 Acura TLX Type S is pace car for the Pikes Peak hill climb – Ant Anstead to drive the 156-turn course

    The just-launched 2021 Acura TLX Type S will be climbing Pikes Peak. The sports sedan will be the pace car for the 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 27.

    Navigating the challenging 20 km Colorado mountain course will be TV personality and self-proclaimed car nut Ant Anstead, who used to host shows like Wheeler Dealers and Master Mechanic. He’s also a co-founder of Radford Motors alongside ex-F1 champ Jenson Button.

    The aggressive-looking TLX Type S is powered by a 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 engine producing 355 hp and 480 Nm of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission channels drive to the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system with torque-vectoring. The Type S sports Brembo front brakes and double-wishbone front suspension, and has an exclusive Sport+ drive mode that further sharpens responses. The 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) time is around five seconds. Check out the yummy sports sedan here.

    Known as the Race to the Clouds, PPIHC is one of America’s longest running motorsports competitions. Since 1916, drivers from all over the world, using a wide variety of vehicles from multiple motorsports disciplines, race against the clock as they take on the 156-turn course, starting at 9,390 feet and climbing to the 14,115 at the summit.

    Last year, a development prototype of the TLX Type S paced the hill climb and Acura vehicles have competed in the event since 2012, recording numerous race records and podium finishes. In 2020, Honda R&D engineer James Robinson beat his own Hybrid record by more than half a second behind the wheel of an Acura NSX with a time of 10:01.913.

    Acura also holds the front-wheel drive record, set by James’ brother and fellow engineer Nick Robinson (10:48.094) in 2018, and the Pikes Peak Open all-wheel drive record (9:24.433) was set by race car driver Peter Cunningham in 2019, driving the Acura TLX GT race car.

     
  • Lancia revival gets underway with new design boss

    If ever there was such a thing as a zombie automotive brand, Lancia would most certainly fit the bill. The storied Italian carmaker has been living in a perpetual comatose state, its range of models whittled down to just one ten-year-old car, the Ypsilon.

    A revival has long been rumoured and owner Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) even merged Lancia’s products with Chrysler’s in an attempt to boost sales, with little success. But the creation of the new Stellantis group seems to have finally lit a fire under the movement, as the building blocks are slowly falling into place.

    The latest news is that Lancia will get a new design boss in Jean-Pierre Ploué, Stellantis’ chief design officer. The Frenchman will lead a “lean and focused team” of young designers from the group’s design studio in Turin. “Lancia’s renaissance is a truly exciting challenge,” he said. “Lancia is an iconic brand which will be restored to its central historical position in Europe, leveraging on its huge potential.”

    Lancia CEO Luca Napolitano added, “I want to welcome Jean-Pierre Ploué. I am very honoured we can leverage on such a diverse team of professionals to work together for the success of Lancia.”

    This follows the announcement of a new management team in March, with former Alfa Romeo product planning boss Paolo Loiotile in charge of products, former Fiat/Abarth sales head Yann Chabert in charge of marketing and communications, former Lamborghini woman Erica Valeria Ferraioli in charge of pricing and Fiat Panda launch architect Roberta Zerbi in charge of both Lancia and Alfa Romeo in Europe.

    It’s been previously reported that Lancia will be working with Stellantis’ other premium brands, Alfa Romeo and DS, to strengthen the group’s presence in the sector. The carmakers will be collaborating on new platforms, powertrains and features to differentiate themselves from their mainstream relatives.

    To reinforce its renewed focus on styling, Lancia will release the first part of its “Elegance in Motion Since 1906” docufilm on Thursday, which will feature Napolitano talking about the company’s design heritage.

     
  • 2022 Subaru Ascent gets a new Onyx Edition in the US

    Subaru has introduced a new Onyx Edition for the Ascent three-row SUV in the United States, which sits between the existing Premium and Limited trim levels for the 2022 model year, with other options being the Base and Touring.

    Priced at USD37,995 (RM156,349), the Onyx Edition builds upon the Premium trim and offers seating for up to seven people across a 2-2-3 layout. The theme here is black, with the colour being used for the exterior paint finish as well as the badging and 20-inch wheels.

    Inside, the new trim level is fitted with seats that are wrapped in StarTex upholstery, which is useful when dealing with young, messy occupants, as the water-repellant material is durable and easy to clean.

    There are also special floor mats as well as additional equipment over the Premium, including a heated steering wheel, keyless access with push-button engine start, a hands-free powered liftgate, reverse automatic braking and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink.

    Other standard features carried over from the Premium include an eight-way powered driver’s seat, heated front seats, an eight-inch infotainment system, second-row captain chairs and a triple-zone climate control system. For an additional USD2,200 (RM9,053), customers can add on an optional package that includes a panoramic moonroof, navigation system and a retractable cargo cover.

    All Ascent trim levels come with Subaru’s EyeSight suite of safety and driver assist technologies, which include adaptive cruise control with lane centring, steering-responsive LED headlamps with high beam assist and a seat belt reminder for every seat. Given the Onyx Edition is based on the Premium, it also gets blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.

    Power continues to come from a FA24F 2.4 litre turbocharged flat-four petrol engine that provides 260 hp (264 PS) at 5,600 rpm and 376 Nm of torque. As with most Subaru models, a Lineartronic CVT sends power to all four wheels via the brand’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.

     
  • Lordstown Motors chief executive, chief financial officer resign amid allegations of misleading investors

    Electric vehicle company Lordstown Motors has weathered the departure of its chief executive officer Steve Burns, and its chief financial officer Julio Rodriguez, after a report from a board committee found inaccuracies in parts of the company’s disclosures on vehicle pre-orders, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    A board committee within Lordstown Motors was formed to investigate allegations made by investment research firm Hindenburg Research that claimed the electric vehicle start-up had misled investors about the strength of its pre-order reservations, as well as regarding progress towards the start of production.

    “It’s the latest in a pretty problematic list of developments,” said Jon Lopez of investment bank Vertical Group, adding that Lordstown Motors isn’t expected to be able to establish itself in an increasingly competitive EV market. “The probablility of that [happening] was low to begin with, and has decreased,” Lopez said.

    Hindenburg Research also asserted in its report that Lordstown Motors’ September launch date for the Endurance EV truck was unrealistic, however this claim was rejected by the Lordstown Motors. The Wall Street Journal reported that the EV start-up has also wound back its production target, now expecting to build half of its previously planned 2,200 truck output for this year.

    Lordstown Motors gets its name from Lordstown, Ohio where a General Motors-LG Chem joint venture was established to produce batteries for GM’s future EV models

    Lordstown Motors attributed the downscaling to higher-than-expected costs from pandemic-related expenses, supply chain issues and external engineering support.

    The company also said that it would be unable to reach full production volume without raising more capital, saying late last month that it expects to end the year with US$50 million to US$75 million (RM206 million to RM309 million), down from the US$200 million (RM823 million) forecast in March.

    The disclosures from Lordstown Motors largely verifies the concerns raised in his earlier report, said Hindenburg Research founder Nathan Anderson. “The top two executives don’t resign when allegations are [without merit],” he said.

    Lordstown Motors gets its name from Lordstown in Ohio, where a Chevrolet facility was located for the production of the Cruze. Job losses at the plant resulting from the discontinuation of the Cruze became a political issue involving then-US president Donald Trump, and the site was sold by General Motors to Lordstown Motors. This was where the GM-LG Chem joint venture would establish a battery plant for GM’s future EVs.

     
 

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Last Updated 10 Jun 2021