Latest Stories

  • No take-off yet for Malaysia’s flying vehicle – CAAM says no authorisation given for EHang 216 test flight

    It turns out that Malaysia’s first flying vehicle prototype, which was supposed to take to the air in a test session tomorrow, will not be doing so, because it has not been cleared for flight. The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) today announced in a statement that the planned test flight of the Chinese-made EHang 216 passenger drone that was scheduled for November 21 has not been authorised.

    Earlier this week, entrepreneur development minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof had announced the event and said that he would be a passenger in the two-seater during its maiden flight here.

    The CAAM stated that while it supports the development of the aerospace industry in Malaysia, it said that all test and demonstration flights must be carried out in accordance with the Malaysian Civil Aviation Regulation 2016 (MCAR 2016) to ensure safety.

    The agency said that the planned location of the test flight at the UNIKL MIAT Hangar Subang is less than 200 metres away from commercial airline and helicopter traffic and clearly within the Subang Airport terminal control zone, which is under strict supervision by air traffic control.

    “In addition to this, the EHang 216 was only issued a special flight permit (SFP) by its State of Design (Civil Aviation Administration of China), which is limited to conduct Research & Development Flights in Grand World Science Park, Guangzhou,” it said in its statement. It added that it is open to consider the request for a test flight of the EHang 216 at an appropriate location, and with the support of the aircraft’s State of Design.

    The agency said it is also carrying out an investigation into the unauthorised demonstration flight involving the passenger drone – which is made by Chinese company Beijing Yi-Hang Creation Science & Technology Co – on November 15 at the same area within Subang Airport.

    The EHang 216 is a passenger drone with eight arms, each mounting two electric motors that are connected to propellers, making for 16 rotors in all. The 360 kg unit features an aero-cab structure capable of accomodating two passengers, with payload rated at 260 kg. Performance figures include a cruising speed of 130 km/h and a flight range of around 35 km.

    News reports indicate that the project, which will see the EHang 216 being introduced here as the Super Dron, is a joint venture between local company EastCap Berhad and two Chinese companies, EHang Intelligent Equipment (Guangzhou) and Strong Rich Holdings. The strategic partnership is set to handle the marketing, operation and maintenance of the Super Dron in the country.

    GALLERY: EHang 216 passenger drone

  • 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback – sleek SUV coupe debuts with 355 hp, 561 Nm; 0-100 km/h in 6.6s, 446 km range

    The production version of the Audi e-tron Sportback has finally been unveiled. It’s the automaker’s second full electric e-tron model after the original, and as implied in the name, the e-tron Sportback features a coupe-esque appearance, much like what the Q3 Sportback is to the regular Q3.

    First, let’s get the juicy bits out of the way. The range-topping e-tron Sportback 55 quattro variant is powered by two electric motors to produce a combined output of 355 hp (265 kW) and 561 Nm of torque, figures that are identical to the standard e-tron 55 quattro. The 0-100 km/h sprint is done in 6.6 seconds, but a boost mode temporarily increases output to 402 hp (300 kW) and 664 Nm. This drops the century sprint time to 5.7 seconds.

    Integrated into the floor of the car is a 95 kWh lithium-ion battery, of which 83.6 kWh is usable, Audi claims. The battery operates at a rated voltage of 396 volts, and can support DC fast charging of up to 150 kW. When plugged in, the automaker says the battery reaches up to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes, and a full charge provides a driving range of 446 km based on WLTP standards.

    There is also the e-tron Sportback 50 quattro that’s fitted with a smaller 71 kWh lithium-ion battery. Here, the total system output is 312 PS (230 kW) and 540 Nm of torque, enabling a 0-100 km/h time of 6.8 seconds and offers a total driving range of 347 km. Top speed is 190 km/h. The charging threshold for the 50 quattro is 120 kW through a DC fast charging outlet, but Audi says the battery can also be charged up to 80% capacity in 30 minutes.

    For AC charging, the supplied Type 2 CCS cable can be plugged into an 11 kW AC outlet, but this can be increased to 22 kW with an optional onboard charging device. The latter, however, will only be available in mid 2020. Charging through a domestic socket is also possible, and this uses a simple 230 volt connection with an output of up to 11 kW. A full charge takes about 8.5 hours.

    Like any electrified car, braking helps recharge the battery – Audi says 30% of the car’s total driving range can be recouped via braking. Stopping power is provided either by the electric motor or electrohydraulic wheel brakes, and Audi says the transition between both systems is homogenous and unnoticeable, all while offering a constant braking force.

    Onto design. The e-tron Sportback measures 4,901 mm long, 1,935 mm wide, 1,616 mm tall, and has a wheelbase of 2,929 mm. Interestingly, those dimensions are identical to the standard e-tron, but the Sportback cuts through air more efficiently with a drag coefficient of 0.25 (versus the e-tron’s 0.27 Cd).

    Like the e-tron, the Sportback gets a short Singleframe grille that’s almost fully enclosed, and the SUV features the world’s first digital matrix LED (DML) headlights. The system uses ultra-high-resolution laser projectors, each with more than 1.3 million pixels to precisely illuminate the road ahead without dazzling oncoming cars. DML also enables graphic-verbal communication by projecting characters or numbers onto the road. Pretty fancy stuff, this, but it’ll only be available in mid 2020.

    Next, there’s a total of 13 colours to choose from, including the Plasma Blue metallic that’s unique to the e-tron Sportback. The charging cap is finished in orange, which can also be applied to the brake calipers upon request. Contrasting elements include wheel arch trims and sills that are finished in matte anthracite, whereas the diffuser, door sills and underbody cover are painted in black.

    Opt for the S line package and you’ll get huge 20-inch wheels (upgradable to 22-inch items) and sport air suspension. It also comes with a more aerodynamic front bumper with air curtains, and the matte anthracite panels are given a body colour finish instead. For a sportier look, one can choose the black styling package, which sees items such as the grille surrounds, window surrounds, and side mirror caps painted black. Virtual side mirrors are optional, by the way.

    Inside, it’s pretty much the same as the e-tron SUV, with a dual-touchscreen setup (upper unit measures 12.1 inches diagonally, the bottom unit is 8.6 inches) that includes the MMI touch response infotainment system. The centre stack remains angled towards the driver, too. Also standard is the 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit. MMI Navigation plus and Audi connect are optional.

    There is a slight degree of customisation here. Customers can choose between the standard seat design, sport seats, S sport seats, or special contoured seats with ventilation and massage functions. Depending on your choice, the stitching pattern varies, one of which is reminiscent of electric circuits, Audi says. The Bang & Olufsen Premium 3D Sound System is optional, too.

    Lastly, safety. The e-tron Sportback comes with Audi pre sense basic and Audi pre sense front safety as standard, but this can be upgraded to Audi pre sense 360 which gets all-round AEB functions and the tensioning of seat belts. Depending on the selected safety package, the SUV can be kitted with up to five radar sensors, five cameras, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. Pricing for the e-tron Sportback starts from 71,350 euros (RM329k) in Europe, and the SUV will be built at Audi’s CO2-neutral manufacturing facility in Brussels.

  • Garmin MARQ Driver – race transponder on your wrist, 250 preloaded tracks including Sepang, RM13,500

    Watches and cars. It’s almost a given that once we can afford it, men desire something nice in their porch and on the wrist. Some like one more than the other, but they make a good pairing. Here’s a timepiece that can bridge one’s love for driving and watches – the new Garmin MARQ Driver.

    The MARQ Driver is part of the newly-launched Garmin MARQ collection that also includes the Aviator, Captain, Adventurer, Commander and Athlete.

    All the variants of this “luxury modern tool watch” are pretty self-explanatory – one’s a pilot’s watch (a high-tech GMT Master or Flightmaster, if you like), the Captain is the seafarer (think Seamaster Regatta), the Commander is a tactical “black ops” style watch for soldiers (or military geeks), the Adventurer is like a “Digital Alpinist” and the Athlete is well, for professional athletes.

    We’ll zoom in on the MARQ Driver, which is aimed at those with the need for speed. The most expensive of the lot at RM13,500 (yes, that’s no typo, this is uncharted territory for both the GPS expert and smartwatches – more on the pricing later), the Driver is a 46 mm smartwatch with a titanium case and diamond-like carbon coating. For the racing look, there’s a tachymeter bezel with ceramic inlay.

    The carbon grey titanium case is paired to a matching titanium bracelet with silicone on the inside (the red bits) for a lightweight fit (128g total) and breathability – which is needed as you sweat buckets when racing. Garmin says that the screen is domed sapphire crystal, but the curvature of the crystal isn’t as obvious as on some traditional watches. Under it is a 30.4 mm always-on colour screen in 240 x 240 pixels resolution.

    The MARQ’s lug width is 22 mm, and you can easily swap out the bracelet with the brand’s other QuickFit straps without a tool. The other MARQ watches come with bands that are tailored for the application – you’ll find a tan brown Italian vacchetta leather strap on the Adventurer and jacquard-weave nylon straps on the Captain and Commander, for instance. There’s also silicone rubber and a silver titanium bracelet for the pilot’s piece.

    As for functions, this tool watch for the (serious) driver has more than 250 preloaded race tracks around the world, including our Sepang International Circuit. The GPS watch sports auto lap splits and live delta time, so if you don’t have a transponder on your car, this can be it. If you have one, the MARQ Driver can be a second one you wear on the wrist for real time pace monitoring.

    Other race timing functions include Lap Time Repeatability (to measure and grade your consistency) and Last Race (summary of your last race). If you’re not behind the wheel, the tachymeter and chronograph let you time cars at the track and calculate speeds, while the Virtual Pit Wall function allows one to gear audio reports of every lap. For those who have racing in their blood and treat Sepang like home, you can even have SIC on the watch’s face.

    Of course, the MARQ is a smartwatch beneath the “customised pro layer” (my words, not theirs) of functions, and with it, you’ll get emails, texts, alerts when paired with a smartphone.

    For music, you can store up to 2,000 songs in the watch or access streaming apps such as Spotify and Deezer and listen through headphones via Bluetooth. There’s also the Garmin Pay contactless payment function, which isn’t a thing here yet.

    As Garmin’s flagship watch range, the MARQ comes with all the sports functions people buy the Fenix and Forerunner watches for, so there’s no need to elaborate. It has a heart rate monitor, tracks all kinds of sports and you can use your MARQ to run a marathon, if you so desire. Also needing no explanation is the GPS capabilities of the watch (GPS, Glonass and Galileo, by the way), as Garmin is an expert in the field.

    For the weekends that you’re not in Sepang pushing your Porsche RS to the limits, the MARQ’s has colour maps for more than 41,000 golf courses around the world, with button targeting and the PlaysLike Distance feature. Last but not least, the lithium battery provides up to 12 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, 28 hours in GPS mode, 48 hours in UltraTrac mode and nine hours in GPS mode with music.

    If like me, you’re not so obsessed about driving, the other tool watches in the MARQ family are more affordable – the Aviator is priced at RM10,500, the Captain RM9,999, the Adventurer and Commander RM9,500 and the Athlete RM7,999. Each has functions specific to the profession as well as a unique look and bezel (GMT for the Aviator and compass for the Adventurer, for instance), but all share the same basic case, smartwatch and tracking hardware, and 100 metres of water resistance.

    Very expensive for a Garmin you say? My personal opinion is the same, but then again this writer is the typical Forerunner customer, and isn’t a professional looking for a serious tool to provide serious data. And if you’re a “watch guy”, go ahead and scoff at this because there are so many “proper watches” and combinations we can think of for the money.

    The Garmin MARQ is clearly not for the amateur sportsman or watch fellas, but for those whose lives and/or vocation depend on precise information. Or the moneyed hobbyist with pro dreams looking for a cool new toy. Also, let’s not forget that today’s luxury watch icons were tool watches back in the day – the likes of the Submariner were used by the military and divers (actual, not desk) before it became an ornament. What do you think?

    GALLERY: Garmin Marq Driver

    GALLERY: Garmin Marq full range

  • Mazda CX-30 M’sia pricing and specs announced – 2.0L petrol from RM143k, 1.8L diesel at RM173k OTR

    The Mazda CX-30 has been priced for the Malaysian market. The Japanese firm’s SUV entry to slot between the CX-3 and the CX-5 will be offered at launch in three variants – a 2.0 litre petrol that will come in base 2.0 and 2.0 High trim levels, joined by a diesel in 1.8D High trim. Here, the base 2.0 and 2.0 High variants are listed at RM143,119 and RM164,119 respectively, with the 1.8D priced at RM173,027 – all prices are on-the-road without insurance for the fully imported CX-30.

    The diesel engine here displaces 1,759 cc, and is a Skyactiv-D unit that produces 116 PS at 4,000 rpm and 270 Nm of torque from 1,600 to 2,700 rpm, while European specifications from July states fuel consumption as rated at 5.1 to 6.6 litres per 100 km.

    For Malaysia, the CX-30 with the 2.0 litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine produces 163 hp at 6,000 rpm and 213 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Both petrol and diesel versions of the CX-30 drive the front wheels only via a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and all versions feature a 51 litre fuel tank.

    Rolling stock for the base 2.0 petrol model are 16 x 6.5 J alloy wheels on 215/65R16 tyres, while the High spec petrol and diesel CX-30 are fitted with 18 x 7J alloy wheels on 215/tyres. At 4,395 mm long, 1,795 mm wide, 1,540 mm tall, with a 2,655 mm wheelbase, the Mazda CX-30’s physical size is right in between those of the CX-3 (4,275 mm long, 1,765 mm wide, 1,535 mm tall, 2,570 mm wheelbase) and the CX-5 (4,550 mm long, 1,840 mm wide, 1,675 mm tall, 2,700 mm wheelbase).

    Pricing for the Mazda CX-30 for West Malaysia (left) and East Malaysia (right) – Click to enlarge

    The CX-30 offers as much space between the front occupants as the CX-5, says Mazda, while ample head- and knee room come courtesy of a low rear seat hip point. Luggage compartment capacity is 430 litres with the all seats in position, and 1,432 litres with the rear seats folded.

    Standard kit on the base 2.0 CX-30 include LED headlights, while the 2.0 High and the 1.8D gets LED headlights with the signature illumination. All variants get automatic headlamp operation and automatic levelling, while the 2.0 High and the 1.8D gains LED tail lamps with signature ilumination. Rain-sensing front wipers and rear wiper with washer are standard across the Malaysian CX-30 range.

    The two higher trim levels get Mazda Advance Keyless Entry, powered tailgate and parking sensors at both ends, while power-adjustable and folding side mirrors with turn indicators, sunroof and rear spoiler are standard across all three.

    Inside, the base CX-30 gets manual climate control while the 2.0 High and 1.8D get dual-zone auto climate control with rear seat vents and controls. All launch variants get a retractable cargo cover and LED interior lighting. Front seat adjustment is manual for the driver on the base model and 10-way power-adjustable with two memory banks for the 2.0 High and diesel variants; seat trim is fabric on the base car while the upper two variants get black leather upholstery.

    Infotainment in the CX-30 across the range includes the Mazda Connect with voice control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, full-colour 8.8-inch display, multi-function Commander Control, 3.5 mm auxiliary audio input, Bluetooth, eight-speaker audio and reversing camera with width and length guide lines.

    Similarly, safety kit is the same across the board here; all three variants get front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags, ABS, DSC, EBD, BA, traction control, hill start assist, emergency stop signal, auto hold, auto door lock, and seat belt warning for all occupants. All seats get three-point belts, while the front seat belts are equipped with pretensioners and load limiters with anchorage height adjustment.

    All variants also get ISOFIX child seat mounts and engine immobilisers, while the 2.0 High and 1.8D versions get the advanced safety kit comprising adaptive front lighting, high beam control, blind sport monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, driver attention alert, smart brake support (autonomous emergency braking) and radar-guided cruise control.

    As mentioned, the CX-30 arrives in Malaysia in fully imported form from Japan, though Mazda distributor in Malaysia Bermaz plans to introduce a CKD version later on, which will come from the Kulim, Kedah facility, where the CX-5 Turbo and the CX-8 will also be made. Eight exterior colours are listed for the CX-30 – Soul Red Crystal, Machine Gray, Snowflake White Pearl, Deep Crystal Blue, Sonic Silver, Polymetal Gray, Titanium Flash and Jet Black. The Mazda CX-30 is covered by a five-year/100,000 km manufacturer-backed warranty and a five-year free maintenance package.

    What do you think, folks? Is the CX-30 next on your list? Which variant would you go for?

    GALLERY: Mazda CX-30 at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show

  • Aston Martin DBX to get mild hybrid 3.0L straight-six

    The biggest news story of today is undoubtedly the Aston Martin DBX, Gaydon’s first ever SUV that will open up a new chapter for the company. There’s plenty already released for us to pore over, but at a private preview held in Kuala Lumpur last week, we received a few more juicy morsels for us to digest, courtesy of senior manager of global product management Neil Hughes.

    Firstly, the bad news. Despite all reports to the contrary, the DBX won’t be available with a V12 – at least Aston’s 5.2 litre twin-turbocharged mill in its current form. Hughes said that because the twelve-cylinder has outboard turbochargers, the whole package is simply too wide to fit the engine bay.

    The car was instead designed to accommodate the Mercedes-AMG 4.0 litre biturbo V8, currently found in the Vantage and DB11, which has its turbos mounted between the cylinder banks. The engine has been uprated for SUV duty, equipped with cylinder deactivation and producing 550 PS and 700 Nm of torque.

    But while a larger powertrain isn’t in the pipeline just yet, Hughes hinted at the possibility of a smaller engine, specifically one displacing 3.0 litres. When pushed, he confirmed that Aston was working on fitting the DBX with Mercedes’ turbo straight-six, which gets a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The DBX, of course, already features a 48-volt electrical system, on which the suspension’s active roll stabilisation operates.

    This M256 engine is fitted to members of Affalterbach’s AMG 53 range, such as the E 53, CLS 53, GLE 53 and GT 53. In these models, it makes 435 PS and 520 Nm, while an integrated starter/generator provides an additional 22 PS and 250 Nm under acceleration.

    Further details on future variants were not divulged, but the DBX’s bespoke platform is reportedly capable of adopting electrified powertrains, so perhaps hybrid, plug-in hybrid and even fully-electric models can be expected further down the line.

    GALLERY: Aston Martin DBX

  • Aston Martin DBX SUV revealed – 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with 550 PS, 700 Nm, 9-speed auto, AWD, from RM798k

    Ever since the Aston Martin DBX bowed as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show back in 2015, we’ve been waiting in anticipation of Gaydon’s first ever SUV. Well, that period is now here, as the covers have finally been pulled off the production five-door, five-seater model, and there’s plenty to digest.

    First thing’s first – despite the company’s collaboration with Mercedes-AMG, this isn’t a reskinned GLE with an AMG engine (which there is, but we’ll talk about that later). It is instead built on a dedicated platform, utilising a bonded aluminium construction that has been made famous in Aston’s sports cars, and built at a purpose-built manufacturing plant in St Athans, Wales.

    Designing the DBX from the ground up has allowed Aston to tailor the car’s packaging to suit its requirements, and the result, it says, is class-leading headroom and legroom both at the front and rear. It has also enabled the designers to sculpt a completely bespoke body that retains more than a hint of the elegance and sportiness evident in the rest of the lineup.

    As with the other cars, an almost slavish devotion to the golden ratio – despite an SUV’s naturally taller stance – has resulted in a long bonnet and low-slung roofline, while the front of the car features the largest of Aston’s trademark grille ever fitted to a production vehicle. It is flanked by slim almond-shaped headlights and separate LED daytime running lights underneath.

    These DRLs encircle ducts that direct air through the front wheel arches to cool the brakes. The airflow then gets channeled out of the large front fender vents through a scalloped section along the flanks, which reduces drag and lift as well as serving as a dramatic design detail. Instead of the sports cars’ prominent rear haunches, you get just a single line running from the front to the rear for a more upright and imposing look.

    Aston has also kept surfacing along the sides clean by incorporating its flush door handles, as well as tucking the rubber seals for the frameless windows and fitting a glass B-pillar cover for a concept car-like uninterrupted look. Further aero tricks can be found in the form of the slotted tailgate spoiler, which allows moving air to flow over the rear windscreen, keeping the latter clear without resorting to an unsightly wiper.

    It also enables air to hit the second spoiler lower down, which features another styling cue from recent Astons – a full-width tail light that flicks upwards towards the centre, something also seen on the Vantage and DBS Superleggera. The bumper features a large diffuser that integrate the twin round tailpipes, and the entire lower section of the car can be finished in either body colour, black or carbon fibre.

    Step inside – noting as you climb in that the doors protect the cutaway sills to prevent you from staining your couture dress or Italian tailored suit – and you’ll find a cocooned cockpit-like environment, with the full-length panoramic glass roof opening the cabin up to some light. If you don’t want that light, you can specify the car with an Alcantara-trimmed powered roof blind to keep it out, a first for the industry.

    Running across the centre is a floating centre console bridge, under which you’ll find some flexible storage space. Along the sides, the decorative trim can be customised in a whole range of finishes, including solid wood and a flax composite that is a distinctive alternative to carbon fibre. The seats, meanwhile, are upholstered in full-grain leather from long-term Aston partner Bridge of Weir.

    The technology is mostly lifted from Mercedes and includes a 10.25-inch TFT LCD infotainment screen in the centre console – sitting above the air vents and below the push-button transmission controls – and a 12.3-inch instrument display. You’ll even find dual-zone, 64-colour ambient lighting that will be familiar to owners of the Three-pointed Star. Apple CarPlay connectivity and a 360-degree camera system comes as standard.

    Aston has engineered in a few clever touches to maximise interior space. The front seats are derived from its sports cars, which not only provide added comfort and lateral support, but the slim cushions and backrests also adds rear knee room and allow those at the back to slide their feet underneath. Engineers have also minimised the gap between the aforementioned roof blind and the glass to free up much-needed headroom.

    Given that this is supposed to be a family car, ergonomics was also a key area in development. The interior is designed to accommodate both a 99th percentile man and a fifth percentile woman, and the separate central armrests, glovebox design and the positioning of the car’s key control systems were guided by dealership feedback, private global focus groups and Aston’s own Female Advisory Board. A car for everyone, then.

    Open the tailgate and you’ll find 632 litres of boot space, and you can fold the 40:20:40-split rear seats to stow even more luggage; a hard tonneau cover, which can be removed and stowed behind the seats, adds some sound insulation. There will also be a range of option packages offered, such as a Pet package that includes a portable washer for cleaning your furry friends, as well as a Snow package with boot warmers.

    Underneath all the metal and wood and leather sits AMG’s tried and tested M177 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8. This latest iteration produces more power than in the Vantage and DB11 – 550 PS and 700 Nm of torque, to be exact – and it features cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy. So equipped, the DBX will get from zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 291 km/h.

    By the way, there are currently no plans to introduce a V12 version. According to senior manager of global product management Neil Hughes, who was present at a private preview event in Kuala Lumpur last week, Aston’s 5.2 litre mill with its outboard turbochargers simply will not fit (the V8 has its turbochargers mounted between the cylinder banks). There will, however, be a mild hybrid model coming later on.

    Interestingly, the DBX doesn’t utilise the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission found in other models, where it functions as a rear transaxle. Instead, it uses Mercedes’ nine-speed 9G-Tronic auto running directly off the engine, and that’s because it has all-wheel drive – sitting aft of the gearbox is a variable transfer case that sends up to 47% of torque to the front wheels, and there’s also an electronic differential at the rear.

    Hughes said that the AWD system itself was developed in-house and not shared with Mercedes. So is the suspension, despite there being a similar setup used by the GLE – triple-chamber air springs all around, linked to 48-volt electric anti-roll control. The suspension can raise (by 45 mm) or lower (by 50 mm) the ride height and exert up to 1,400 Nm of force on each axle to correct the rolling tendencies of a taller vehicle.

    Aston says that the system provides responsive and engaging handling on the road, as well as the ability to tackle a variety of terrain off it. The use of bonded aluminium is also claimed to provide a stiff structure and keep weight down to a still hefty 2,245 kg.

    Pricing for the Aston Martin DBX in Malaysia starts at RM798,000 before options and applicable local taxes. The first 500 owners will also receive an exclusive 1913 Package that features unique fender badging, side sill plaques and inspection plaque, and each unit will be personally endorsed by CEO Andy Palmer. Prospective buyers can enquire about the new model at the Kuala Lumpur showroom.

  • SPYSHOTS: G30 BMW 5 Series LCI with M Sport kit

    The G30 BMW 5 Series facelift, or Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) in BMW-speak has surfaced on public roads once again, and this time we can see this particular example wearing what appears to be an M Sport bodykit. Starting at the front, the kidney grille looks like it hasn’t grown beyond that of the current model, as exemplified by the G31 station wagon development mule we’ve previously spotted.

    Here, the M Sport kit features a front bumper with three distinct lower sections as on the current model as well as other models with the sportier bodywork. The G30’s sheet metal along the sides are basically unchanged, and further exterior updates are applied to the car’s rear end, where a new tail lamp cluster design can be partially seen here.

    This latest sighting gives us the clearest view yet of its revised daytime running light arrangement, which features more simplified lines as seen on an earlier sighting of a G31 LCI 5 Series development car, at which time its interior with updated instrumentation was also revealed.

    The new instrumentation will likely be the most apparent change within the G30 LCI’s interior, where the latest iteration of the BMW Live Cockpit setup will be found. The aforementioned sighting of the facelifted G30 cabin also revealed that the current centre console arrangement will be carried over, instead of the newer set from the G29 Z4 and the G20 3 Series.

    More in-depth changes for the G30 and G31 LCI 5 Series are likely to be found in the engine bay, namely the introduction of the plug-in hybrid variant that will likely employ the 3.0 litre inline-six from the latest 745e. Instead of the 7 Series’ outputs of 394 PS and 600 Nm of torque, the new PHEV 5 Series will likely be pegged to a lower output in the region of 375 PS.

    Given the trickle-feed of G30 and G31 5 Series facelift sightings, we’ll likely see the forthcoming German models on the road again before their respective launches, which are currently rumoured to be towards the end of next year or early 2021 for the sedan, and slightly later in 2021 for the station wagon.

  • 2020 Ford Everest Sport debuts in Thailand – RM193k

    The 2020 Ford Everest Sport has just made its debut in Thailand alongside the updated Ranger line-up, and the sole 2.0 Turbo 4×2 variant is priced at 1,399,000 baht (RM193k). The price is discounted from 1,462,000 (RM201k) as part of a launch promo that ends on December 31, 2019.

    Now, the Everest Sport is based on the Titanium variant, but adds on a number of visual enhancements. Starting from the exterior, the SUV gets a new mesh-type, black radiator grille, bi-LED headlights with squared projector lens (same update as the Ranger Wildtrak and Raptor), and a range of blacked out bits such as the front and rear bumper, the Everest embossment on the bonnet, black tailgate garnish, black side steps, roof rails, and side mirrors.

    To give it a more sinister look, the Everest Sport sits on huge 20-inch gloss black alloy wheels shod with 265/50 tyres, and it gets Sport stickers on the doors, as well as a Sport badge on the rump. For the cabin, it gets a new Hydrographic theme, complete with leather seat upholstery with contrast blue stitching. The dashboard is now covered with leather and features the same blue stitching.

    As for powertrain, the SUV is powered by a turbocharged 2.0 litre four-cylinder diesel engine, producing 180 PS and 420 Nm of torque. It gets a 10-speed conventional automatic with manual shifting on the gear lever, with power routed to the rear wheels. Mechanically, things are unchanged, so it still rides on a ladder frame chassis, gets a double wishbone suspension up front, and a multi-link setup at the back with coilovers and Watt’s linkage.

    Creature comforts include an eight-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen head unit (supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) that’s hooked up to nine speakers, eight-way powered driver’s seat, adjustable second row seat with 60:40 split, and foldable third-row seat with 50:50 split.

    For safety, again, things remain unchanged. As with the Everest Titanium, the Everest Sport gets ABS with EBD and brake assist, hill assist, rollover mitigation risk reduction system, seven airbags with driver’s knee airbag, as well as reverse sensor and rear view camera. Just three exterior colour are available, those being Arctic White, Absolute Black, and Aluminium Metallic.

  • 2020 MINI John Cooper Works GP: 306 hp, 450 Nm, 0-100 km/h in 5.2s, 265 km/h Vmax – 3,000 units only!

    The latest iteration of the top MINI 3 Door has made its debut – enter the 2020 model year MINI John Cooper Works GP. The British brand’s top three-door hatchback model will make its public debut at the forthcoming Los Angeles Motor Show later this week.

    Powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, this produces peak power of 306 hp at 5,000 rpm to 6,250 rpm and 450 Nm of torque from 1,750 rpm to 4,500 rpm. Drive is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with an integrated, mechanical locking differential. Thus equipped, the MINI John Cooper Works GP does 0-100 km/h in 5.2 seconds, and a top speed of 265 km/h.

    A petrol particulate filter helps the MINI JCW GP comply with the Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standard, and the top MINI three-door hot hatch is rated for a combined fuel consumption of 7.3 l/100km and combined CO2 emissions of 167 g/km. Beyond the emissions controls, the three-door John Cooper Works GP features a lower back pressure exhaust, which features matt-brushed stainless steel, 90 mm diameter exits.

    The John Cooper Works GP is visually distinguished by a combination of red highlights applied to the lower bumper intakes, front grille strip, within the large tailgate spoiler and the lower sides of the car, while the carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) aero trim above each wheel also serve as wheelhouse extensions for the wheels and tyres.

    Rolling stock is comprised of 18-inch x 8.0 J wheels fitted with 225/35R18 tyres. The wheels are light alloy forged items which weigh less than 9 kg, according to MINI, and these also wear the GP logo on its hub centres. Braking is handled by four-piston fixed-caliper disc brakes with 360 mm x 30 mm ventilated discs in front, while the rear axle gets single-piston floating-caliper disc brakes. Relative to the John Cooper Works, the JCW GP features wider track widths and a 10 mm-lower ride height.

    Suspension is specifically tuned for the John Cooper Works GP, with specially adapted auxiliary springs, dampers and stabilisers, while swivel bearings of a new design enable greater camber angles for the front wheels. Rear wheel camber is also increased, and stabiliser bearings with higher preload help optimise roll suppport, says MINI. The underbody tunnel bridge has been replaced by a solid support for the modified rear axle member, while the front suspension is augmented with a strut brace.

    Inside, the John Cooper Works GP is a strict two-seater with reduced sound insulation and an aluminium cross-brace residing where the rear seats would have been. Standard equipment here includes John Cooper Works sports seats trimmed in a leather and Dinamica combination with silver side edges, red accent seams, red belt straps and a GP badge under each integrated headrest.

    Ahead of the driver is a steering wheel trimmed in Nappa leather and a metal centre marking at the 12 o’clock position. Here, the gearshift paddles are metal, 3D-printed items like the numbering badge in the interior, with a honeycomb structure on the paddles’ surfaces.

    Optional within the MINI John Cooper Works GP 3 Door are automatic climate control, the Connected Navigation Plus pack and telephone connectivity with wireless charging. Standard kit includes Connected Media which employs a 6.5-inch central display, and a five-inch, high-resolution digital instrument cluster is also standard.

    The MINI John Cooper Works GP 3 Door will be limited to a product run of just 3,000 units, and delivery to customers will commence in March next year, says MINI.

  • Lexus LC 500 Convertible – open-top stunner debuts

    The Lexus LC may be one of the most gorgeous cars in existence, but for many, the luxurious coupé would be made even better with unlimited sunshine and some wind in their hair. Well, Toyota’s premium division has listened to their pleas with the introduction of the LC 500 Convertible at the ongoing Los Angeles Auto Show.

    As you’d expect, the stunning design has not been hampered one bit by the removal of the carbon fibre roof, remaining an intoxicating blend of sharp creases and smooth curves. The upswept beltline continues to give the impression of the body cocooning the cabin, behind which a tonneau cover – neatly integrated with the rest of the car and featuring two humps aft of the rear headrests – hides the soft-top when it is stowed.

    The profile has also been subtly tweaked for an even more dramatic appearance, thanks to an integrated bootlid spoiler (replacing the active spoiler optional on the coupé) that is kicked up and made wider to accentuate the car’s wide, low stance. It’s also where the third brake light now sits.

    The four-layer roof itself, available in black, blue or beige, has been designed to make the underlying frame invisible when it is up – in order to avoid ruining the silhouette. The fabric has been carefully selected and manufactured to ensure optimal tension, minimal wrinkling and improved sound insulation. The top can be dropped in just 15 seconds and raised in 16, and it can be operated at speeds of up to 50 km/h.

    Inside, it’s just as well-appointed as the coupé, with sweeping surfaces, a digital instrument display with a moving rev counter, a 10.3-inch centre display (unfortunately still linked to Lexus’ god-awful Remote Touch interface, albeit now with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity) and quilted and perforated leather pretty much everywhere you touch. The roof controls are hidden under a palm rest aft of the touchpad.

    Lexus has gone to great pains to retain some of the coupé’s excellent refinement even with the roof down. There’s a transparent polycarbonate wind deflector to reduce buffeting, along with active noise cancellation to filter out unwanted and unpleasant noises. To keep the noise you do want, a sound pipe transmits the V8’s guttural induction roar into the cabin, while an active exhaust valve adds some bark at higher revs.

    Elsewhere, the coupé’s Lexus Climate Concierge finds even greater use here, managing the air-conditioning and the steering wheel, seat and new neck heaters to maintain the ideal cabin temperature, no matter if the top is up or down. It even blows warm or cold air to the backs of your hands when you grip the wheel.

    At this point, you’d probably have noticed that the droptop version is currently only available with pure V8 power, with the 500h hybrid variant nowhere to be seen. The sonorous 2UR-GSE 4.0 litre naturally-aspirated eight-cylinder mill continues to push out 470 hp at 7,100 rpm and 540 Nm at 4,800 rpm, sent to the rear wheels through a 10-speed Direct Shift torque converter automatic transmission.

    To increase body rigidity and maintain the coupé’s handling characteristics, engineers have added and moved various structural braces. The suspension has also been tweaked to suit, with a reduction of unsprung weight at the front improving overall stroke. At the rear, the suspension brace has been reshaped and relocated to further increase rigidity, and it’s now die-cast from aluminium to reduce weight. A Yamaha Performance Damper are also fitted to the chassis to improve ride comfort.


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Last Updated 16 Nov 2019


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