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  • Nissan says it will make the Safety Shield 360 suite standard on 10 models in the US beginning from 2021

    Nissan is looking to improve the appeal of its cars in an effort to boost sales by not only introducing new or updated models, but also ensuring they are well equipped. The Japanese automaker recently announced that it will make its Safety Shield 360 suite of active safety technologies standard on 10 models in the United States, beginning in 2021.

    “Offering these safety technologies as standard equipment on 10 of our most popular models is an important step forward. This added layer of protection can help keep young drivers safe especially as they are getting used to being on busy roads,” said Andy Christensen, senior manager and lead technology expert of Intelligent Transportation System Research, Nissan Technical Centre North America.

    The announcement coincides with National Teen Driver Safety Week, an annual reminder for parents to have conversations with teens about rules to stay safe while behind the wheel of a car. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the risk of car accidents is higher among teens aged 16-19 than among any other age group; more so during the first few months of driving.

    The Safety Shield 360 suite includes six systems: automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, high beam assist, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and rear automatic braking. Currently, Nissan offers the package as standard on the Sentra, Leaf, Maxima, Kicks, Rogue Sport and Titan, with the latest Rogue (also known as the X-Trail) set to join the list. Three other models that make up the 10 cars are still unknown and will be revealed “in the coming months.”

    These systems are certainly beneficial, as the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) reports that vehicles with forward collision warning and AEB experience a 56% reduction in crashes with injuries. It also states that crashes when reversing went down by 78% in vehicles with rear automatic braking and by 22% in vehicles with rear cross-traffic alert.

  • Porsche sold 191,547 vehicles in the first nine months of 2020 – 5% dip from 2019; nearly 11k Taycan sold

    Porsche has revealed that it delivered a total of 191,547 vehicles to customers worldwide from January to September 2020. That is only a 5% reduction in sales volume (202,318 units) compared to the same period last year, which is a rather commendable feat, all things considered.

    China remains the largest single market for the German automaker, accounting for 62,823 vehicles in the first three quarters of the year. In the same period last year, Porsche sold 64,237 units, so that’s a mere -2% dip. The combined sales for Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East tallied at 87,030 units collectively, representing a 1% increase from the 86,235 vehicles it sold last year.

    Elsewhere, Porsche delivered 39,734 cars (down 12% from 45,062 vehicles) in the US, and 55,483 (down 9% from 60,764 units) vehicles in Europe. In its home market Germany, Porsche shifted 17,462 vehicles, which is a -23% reduction from the 22,705 cars it sold last year.

    As for the cars, the Cayenne SUV continues to be the most popular model, with 64,299 units sold in the first nine months of 2020. The Macan, formerly its best-selling vehicle, trails behind with 55,124 deliveries.

    Sales of the Porsche 911 increased by 1% over the same period last year to 25,400 units, whereas the all-new Taycan found 10,944 new homes globally. That means sales for the Taycan accounts for 5.7% of the total volume, and according to InsideEVs, 29% of all Taycan sales in Q3 2020 were sold in the US.

    “Porsche is demonstrating resilience in the face of the coronavirus crises. Thanks to a fresh, updated product portfolio, we have been able to keep the decline in deliveries to a moderate level,” said Detlev von Platen, member of the executive board for sales and marketing at Porsche AG.

    “The Chinese market has recovered quickly after the lockdown, and demand in other markets is also showing significant growth once again – all of which has contributed to achieving this result,” he added.


  • Ford Bronco – right-hand drive conversion possible?

    The new Ford Bronco is probably the most sought-after 4×4 in the world right now, but unfortunately, the reincarnated go-anywhere machine is only earmarked for the North American market at the moment. However, a new report from Ford Authority does give us some hope that the car may come to right-hand drive markets, including ours.

    “We’ve optimized for left-hand drive,” chief designer Paul Wraith told the publication recently. “But we did look at right-hand drive, and Bronco is intensely famous here in the US but it’s pretty famous, or at least it was famous, elsewhere in the world. We’re always open to doing all sorts of things in the future, but right now, we’re left-hand drive focused.”

    So, a standard non-committal answer then. But Wraith also said that if ever Ford gives the green light, the Bronco’s Ranger platform means it should be a straightforward conversion. “Underneath the Bronco is its closest cousin – if you will – the Ranger…so the platform is capable of right-hand drive,” he said.

    The report noted that the Bronco could follow in the footsteps of the Mustang to be exported to other markets. Doing so has made the pony car the bestselling sports car in the world, and a similar move could enable the Bronco to leave its main rival, the Jeep Wrangler, in the dust. The latter is available in right-hand-drive form but isn’t sold in great numbers outside of North America.

    Taking the Bronco global would also be the opposite of what happened to its Ranger sibling. After years of selling the T6 generation in overseas markets, Ford finally brought the pick-up over to America in 2018.

  • SSC Tuatara is now the world’s fastest production car – 508.73 km/h two-way average; 532.93 km/h Vmax!

    The title for the world’s fastest production car has changed hands yet again, and it is the SSC Tuatara that has claimed the crown. On October 10 this year, the hypercar managed to set an average speed of 508.73 km/h (316.11 mph) following two consecutive high-speed test runs of 484.53 km/h (301.07 mph) and 532.93 km/h (331.15 mph).

    Keep in mind that there is some red tape attached to the record, including the fact that the car making the attempt must be a production vehicle that is identical to what a customer might purchase. The attempt must also be done on public roads to ensure “real world” driving conditions, and the car must run on street tyres and non-race fuel.

    More importantly, the car must travel in opposite directions, clocking its speeds within an hour using a certified GPS measurement system. That is why the higher figure from both runs isn’t the definitive one, and SSC (formerly Shelby SuperCars) ensured that there were officials during the attempt to make sure everything was legit and in order.

    In fact, Dewetron GPS measurements were taken to track the Tuatara on its speed runs, with an average of 15 satellites used to ensure the data reviewed is as accurate as possible to confirm the new record.

    With everything being official now, the Tuatara is your new speed king, brushing off the previous official record holder, the Koenigsegg Agera RS (446.97 km/h or 277.87 mph two-way average), by a considerable margin. SSC chose the same seven-mile stretch of the State Route 160 outside of Las Vegas near Pahrump to set its record, which is also where the Agera RS made history in November 2017.

    We didn’t mention the Bugatti Chiron because its 490.484 km/h (304.773 mph) run performed in September last year was only done in one direction, so by technicality, it doesn’t meet the criteria for the record. Not that it matters, as the Chiron’s Vmax still pales in comparison to the Tuatara’s 532.93 km/h. The same can be said of the Hennessey Venom GT, which topped out at 435.111 km/h (270.49 mph) back in February 2014.

    This isn’t SSC’s first attempt at the record, as its previous creation, the Ultimate Aero TT, managed to claim the title in 2007 with a two-way average speed of 411.76 km/h (255.83 mph), beating the unofficial record set by the Bugatti Veyron set back then.

    “It’s been ten years since we held this record with our first car, the Ultimate Aero, and the Tuatara is leagues ahead. Its performance reflects the dedication and focus with which we pursued this achievement. We came pretty close to meeting the theoretical numbers, which is astonishing to do in a real world setting on a public road. America’s new claim to victory in the ‘land-based space race’ is going to be tough to beat,” said Jerod Shelby, CEO of SSC.

    “There was definitely more in there. And with better conditions, I know we could have gone faster,” said Oliver Webb, who piloted the record run. “As I approached 331 mph (532.69 km/h), the Tuatara climbed almost 20 mph (32.19 km/h) within the last five seconds. It was still pulling well. As I told Jerod, the car wasn’t running out of steam yet. The crosswinds are all that prevented us from realizing the car’s limit,” he added.

    Aside from being the world’s fastest production car, the Tuatara also broke three more world records for the fastest flying mile on a public road (503.92 km/h or 313.12 mph), the fastest flying kilometre (517.16 km/h or 312.35 mph) as well as the highest speed achieved on a public road (532.93 km/h or 331.15 mph).

    Key aspects to the Tuatara’s incredible speed runs include a 5.9 litre twin-turbo V8 that produces 1,750 hp when running on E85 ethanol fuel and 1,350 hp on 91 octane petrol. The engine generates a maximum torque of 1,735 Nm and is mated to a CIMA-sourced seven-speed automatic manual transmission (AMT).

    All that grunt propels a car with a dry weight of just 1,247 kg, which is thanks to a carbon-fibre body and monocoque. Aerodynamics also play a role, and the SSC hypercar boasts just 18 square feet of frontal area and a drag coefficient of 0.279. The company notes that from 150–330 mph (241-531 km/h), the car maintained a perfect aerodynamic balance of 37% front and 63% rear, ensuring precision downforce across all four wheels.

    With the Tuatara at the top, let’s see if the Jesko Absolut and Venom F5 can challenge for the title. For now, all hail the new king of speed.

  • 2021 BMW X5 M, X6 M Competition First Edition debut – 4.4L biturbo V8 with 625 hp, extra kit; 250 units each

    BMW has released the First Edition variants of the F95 X5 M Competition and F96 X6 M Competition, the production of which is limited to 250 units each. Both models are made at the automaker’s Spartanburg plant in the US, and can be ordered right away.

    Unique to the First Edition models are the special BMW Individual Frozen Dark Silver paint as seen on the X6 M Competition, as well as the BMW Individual Frozen Marina Bay Blue on the X5 M Competition. Both are matte paints that go well with the staggered Jet Black M light alloy wheels. The front wheels are 21 inches in size, while the rears are 22-inch units. Extras include the M Carbon exterior mirror caps, M Carbon rear spoiler for the new BMW X6 M Competition, plus an M Carbon engine compartment cover.

    Inside, both cars get the BMW Individual Merino full leather trim, finished in the exclusive bi-colour Silverstone/Midnight Blue theme. The seats feature black Alcantara inserts, complete with Sakhir Orange contrast stitching. The orange threading is also used on the door panel trim and leather-covered instrument panel. The BMW Individual Alcantara headliner, meanwhile, is finished in Midnight Blue, and there’s a carbon-fibre First Edition plaque applied to the centre console.

    Besides that, no further changes have been done. The hot SUVs are still powered by the same S63B44T4 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 engine, dishing out 625 hp and 750 Nm of torque. Together with an eight-speed M Steptronic automatic gearbox with Drivelogic and M xDrive AWD (with Active M Differential), both cars will do the century sprint in 3.8 seconds, and 0-200 km/h in 13.5 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h, but can be raised to 290 km/h with the optional M Driver’s Package.

    Other notable features include M-specific adaptive suspension, active roll stabilisation, M Servotronic variable steering, and huge 395 mm cross-drilled and vented discs up front, clamped by six-piston calipers. The rear discs measure 380 mm in diameter, and are clamped with single-piston floating calipers.

    No changes to the driver assistance systems, too. Standard here is the Active Guard Plus, which comprises front collision warning with brake intervention, lane departure warning, active cruise control with stop-and-go function, and the Night Vision system. Parking Assistant is standard, with active park distance control and reversing assistant, but can be upgraded to Parking Assistant Plus, which nets features such as top view, panorama view, 3D top view and remote 3D view functions.

    BMW’s Driving Assistant is standard as well, featuring lane change warning, rear cross traffic alert and rear collision prevention. Customers can upgrade to the Driving Assistant Professional package, which adds on steering and lane control assistant, lane keeping assistant with active side collision protection, lane change assistant, evasion assistant, emergency stop assistant, crossroads warning, wrong-way warning and front cross traffic alert. So, what do you think?

    GALLERY: F95 BMW X5 M Competition First Edition

    GALLERY: F96 BMW X6 M Competition First Edition

  • 2020 MotoGP: Suzuki tops podium and championship

    GP Michelin de Aragon 2020 (Circuit Motorland Aragon)
    photo: MICHELIN

    It was 20 long years, two decades, but Suzuki has finally won a MotoGP with Alex Rins of Team Suzuki Ecstar taking the top step of the podium at the Michelin Grand Prix of Aragon in Aragon, Spain. That wasn’t the only icing on the cake, as team mate Joan Mir now leads the MotoGP World Championship standings with 121 points.

    However, surprise of the day, and supreme effort, came from Alex Marquez of Repsol Honda Team, who charged from fourth row of the grid in 11th place to take the second place win. This was a much need confidence booster for both the young rider and Repsol Honda, sorely missing the presence of current world champion and elder brother of Alex, Marc Marquez.

    The fight for the top five positions began with Maverick Vinales Monster Energy Yamaha Racing charging off at the start, followed by Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo, both of Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team. While Quarataro initially showed strongly, issues with front tyre pressure, plus possible injuries suffered when he crashed on Friday and Saturday, saw him finishing in 18th place.

    Cal Crutchlow, riding for LCR Honda Castrol, initially looked promising with a front row start, third on the grid but was quickly caught up by the pack and shunted down to 12th but clawing his way back for an eighth spot at the chequered flag. Vinales, despite leading for much to the initial stages saw Rins going past the Yamaha rider on lap eight.

    With 10 laps to go, it was a Suzuki one-two, followed by Marquez the rookie in third. Posting a very consistent lap times of 1:48, Marquez was fastest on the day, and quickly reeled the leading pair of Suzukis in, passing Mir to slot into second place.

    Mir, currently in the championship points, wisely decided not to mount a challenge, playing a strategic rather than tactical race and settling for third, elevating him to top of the table at race end. Marquez, now with Rins in his sights, tried to get past – which would give him his first ever MotoGP win – but it was not to be, Mir denying him any chance of getting past.

    GP Michelin de Aragon 2020 (Circuit Motorland Aragon)
    photo: MICHELIN

    The MotoGP World Championship table is currently led by Mir, with 121 points, followed by Quartararo, with 115 points, just six points behind. Rounding out the riders with more than 100 points in the bag are Finales with 109 points and Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati Team with 102 points.

    Lying just outside the century points mark is Takaaki Nakagami of LCR Honda Idemitsu with 92 points. With five races left in the pandemic shortened MotoGP calendar, these riders plus their compatriots the succeeding five spots on the table, all have a mathematical chance of finishing on top of the world championship.

  • SPIED: Long-wheelbase Bentley Bentayga seen on test

    The Bentley Bentayga received its facelift in July, which saw the Crewe marque distinguish the ‘regular’ model from the later, higher-performance Speed version with a 4.0 litre V8 biturbo petrol engine with 550 PS and 770 Nm of torque for the former, and the venerable 6.0 litre biturbo W12 producing 635 PS and 900 Nm of torque for the latter. Both transmit outputs to four driven wheels via an eight-speed automatic.

    The British luxury brand has decided to capitalise on the chauffeur-driven market as well, with the appearance of a long-wheelbase Bentayga development unit seen undergoing high-exertion tests at the Nurburgring Nordschleife. The additional length is entirely to the benefit of the rear passenger compartment, as evidenced by the longer rear doors seen on the development vehicle.

    The longer wheelbase Bentayga will be taking aim at the likes of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and the long-wheelbase Range Rover, though that latter is coming to the end of its current L405-generation lifecycle. The fifth-generation Range Rover is estimated to debut late 2021 or early 2022.

    The Bentayga’s 4.0 litre petrol V8 powertrain is almost a certainty for the stretched SUV, though it remains to be seen if the LWB model will get the Speed treatment as well.

    The China market is the likeliest recipient of all things long-wheelbased, and with that country’s luxury vehicle tax in mind, it could be surmised that the LWB version will also get a Hybrid variant, which has been confirmed to join the facelifted line-up later on. For now, the stretched Bentley Bentayga is estimated to debut in 2021.

  • Proton – 49 more employees test positive for Covid-19

    Proton has announced that subsequent to one of its employees having tested positive for Covid-19 on October 14, a further 49 other cases at the automaker have now been detected. All are employees from the engineering division in Shah Alam, and have been reported to the authorities.

    As of now, the company has requested all non-essential personnel working within the Shah Alam facility to work from home as a precautionary measure. The company reiterated that it will “continue to strictly follow all guidelines and procedures as it has been doing from the start of the pandemic.”

    It reassured customers that the Centre of Service Excellence (COSE) and showroom at its Shah Alam facility undergoes disinfection hourly, and all customer facing personnel follow a rigorous procedure to ensure safety protocols are adhered to.

    Proton added that it has been adhering to official protocols and is continuing its efforts with more stringent actions to ensure prevention of further spread. It said that contact tracing is ongoing and a Covid-19 team is monitoring the situation very closely.

  • Ford Europe to miss CO2 emissions targets after Kuga PHEV recall, buy credits from other manufacturers

    Ford is looking to buy emissions credits from other carmakers to meet its European carbon dioxide targets so that it can avoid hefty fines for missing them. According to Autocar, the Blue Oval was due to hit those targets this year until it recalled the Kuga plug-in hybrid and placed a stop-sale order.

    The setback means that the company won’t be able to achieve the targets “on our own”, it said in a statement. As such, Ford will need to buy credits from higher-performing carmakers to offset its own emissions. At least it won’t have to pay too much – the European Federation of Transport and Environment said that Ford was less than 1.4 grams per kilometre from meeting its targets at the start of the year.

    No indication on who Ford will buy its credits from just yet, but the news comes days after Renault announced it was going to open its emissions pool to other carmakers, hinting that a collaboration between the two is possible. Volvo is also said to be considering doing the same.

    The Kuga plug-in hybrid recall is a blow to Ford’s electrification efforts, as the car had accounted for half of all Kugas registered across Europe in the second half of the year. The company pulled the PHEV from sale after four fires were reported, likely due to the batteries overheating. Owners who have received their cars were advised not to charge them up and drive them only in EV Auto mode until the issue is resolved.

    Issues with passenger cars aside, Ford is expected to meet its targets for light commercial vehicles, so much so that it is planning to open its own pool for other manufacturers. “We have filed separately our intent to form an open pool so other OEMs – including Volkswagen AG – can benefit from the positive CO2 performance of our light commercial fleet,” it said.

    This isn’t the first time a carmaker is buying credits from another. Last year, it was revealed that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) spent “hundreds of millions of euros” to offload its emissions to Tesla.

  • New Isuzu MU-X teased – debuts in Thailand on Oct 28

    The third-generation Isuzu MU-X has been officially teased, with the three-row SUV set to make its first debut in Thailand on October 28. In a 15-second video clip posted on Isuzu Thailand’s YouTube and Facebook pages, we get to see bits of the all-new MU-X, albeit with very little lighting.

    Judging from what we can make out, the MU-X will be styled to look different from the latest D-Max it is based on, unlike the second-generation model. For starters, the front end is “softer” and more rounded compared to the aggressive look of the pick-up truck, with slimmer headlamp clusters that sport a distinctive lighting signature.

    Patent images that we posted last month also show fog lamps positioned lower down, along with a smaller front grille that keeps the “fanged” slats also seen on the pick-up. Around back, the taillights are sleeker than on the outgoing model, and they have the “Isuzu” script between them.

    Referring to the Japan Patent Office filing again, the glasshouse of the new MU-X has also been completely redesigned and no longer features oversized C-pillars to break the continuous window line. This change sees the D-pillars carrying the main body colour rather than being part of the previous model’s wraparound rear window, complemented by a rising beltline and pronounced haunches.

    No details about the powertrain, but the MU-X should get the same engines as the D-Max. In Thailand, the pick-up is offered with a choice of two four-cylinder turbodiesel engines. The first is a RZ4E-TC 1.9 litre unit rated at 150 PS and 350 Nm of torque, while the second is a 4JJ3-TCX 3.0 litre with 190 PS and 450 Nm. A choice of two six-speed transmissions – manual and automatic – accompany these engines, along with two- and four-wheel drive.

    GALLERY: Third-generation Isuzu MU-X patent images

    GALLERY: 2017 Isuzu MU-X facelift (Malaysian market)

    GALLERY: 2020 Isuzu D-Max V-Cross 3.0 Ddi 4×4 M A/T Double Cab (Thailand market)


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Last Updated 17 Oct 2020


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