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  • G20 BMW 3 Series spotted in Malaysia – 330i M Sport

    Click to enlarge

    BMW Malaysia is gearing up to introduce the all-new G20 BMW 3 Series soon, and the first few units appear to be on their way to showrooms, as spotted by readers Duncan Loo and Inchek Muhammad.

    Based on the badging seen on these cars, it looks like buyers will have access to the 330i M Sport variant, which is powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. The mill offers 258 PS from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm and 400 Nm, with drive going to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, allowing for a zero to 100 km/h time of 5.8 seconds.

    These cars appear to come as standard with 18-inch bicolour Orbit Grey (Style 790) M light double-spoke alloy wheels, as well as enhanced LED headlamps with U-shaped daytime running lights. The M Sport kit includes a more aggressive front bumper with a larger lower intake, while the fog lamps and Air Curtain inlets are more prominent. Sport Line and Luxury Line models get T-shaped elements in the corners of the bumper instead.

    As for the rear, you’ll find new LED tail lights with a three-dimensional L-shaped design and tinted lenses, while further down, the dual exhaust outlets are highlighted by black trim, with small slits in the corners.

    Click to enlarge

    By comparison, the rear bumpers on Sport Line and Luxury Line models mimic the T-shape elements at the front, and are differentiated by the presence of chrome accents. The colour options (for now) appear to include Portimao Blue, Sunset Orange metallic, and either Alpine White or Mineral White.

    Unfortunately, these photos don’t include a view of the G20’s new interior, which is influenced by the G15 8 Series, G05 X5 and G29 Z4. As a result, the list of equipment that will be offered remains a mystery until launch. However, available features for the G20’s cabin include Live Cockpit Professional, which consists of a 10.25-inch centre screen and 12.3-inch instrument display linked to BMW Operating System 7.0 with the Intelligent Personal Assistant.

    We’ll only get full information when the all-new G20 3 Series is launched in Malaysia, continuing its battle against the W205 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which was given a facelift here in November last year. Which of the two will you pick, and why?

    GALLERY: G20 BMW 330i M Sport at the 2019 Singapore Motor Show

  • 2019 Yamaha YZF-R25 price announced – RM19,888

    Launched the previous January alongside the Yamaha Tracer 900 GT, the 2019 Yamaha YZF-R25 now has official pricing from Hong Leong Yamaha Motor (HLYM) – RM19,888. Expected to be in authorised Yamaha dealer showrooms next week, the YZF-R25 is priced sans road tax, insurance or registration and comes in red or blue, along with a 10,000 km or one year warranty, whichever comes first.

    Closely resembling the YZF-R1 superbike, the 2019 R25 comes with a redesigned fairing and better aerodynamics. According to Yamaha, during the global launch of the YZF-R25 last year in Jakarta, Indonesia, this is good for a 8 km/h increase in top speed.

    There is no change in the engine, with the YZF-R25 carrying the two-cylinder 249 cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled mill from the previous generation. Coupled with a six-speed gearbox, Yamaha says the YZF-R25 is capable of producing 35.5 hp at 12,000 rpm and 22.6 Nm of torque at 10,000 rpm.

    One of the biggest changes to the 2019 YZF-R25 is the inclusion of upside-down forks with gold-anodised fork tubes. At the back, the monoshock has been recalibrated for sporty performance and seat height is now 22 mm lower than the 780mm of the 2018 model.

    The tank on the R25 14-litres and has been reshaped for styling purposes, bringing it inline with Yamaha’s design language for its R-series sports motorcycles. LED lighting is found front and back on the R25 and the instrument panel is an LCD unit with shift light.

    Weighing in at 166 kg, braking is done with single discs on the front and back 17-inch wheels and ABS has been omitted for the Malaysia market. According to sources inside Yamaha, the current 2019 Yamaha YZF-R25 engine is powerful enough on its own and will not be coming with variable valve actuation (VVA).

  • Audi hatching new plan to help it regain lost ground

    Audi is set to present a new plan this May for the restarting of its growth momentum after increased spending on technology and stricter European emissions testing has seen it lag behind key rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Bloomberg has reported.

    Part of its plan includes costs savings by reducing its workforce by up to 15% over the next five years, which will be achieved through early retirements and not filling vacant positions, it reported Handelsblatt as saying. The automaker has a job guarantee which prevents forced layoffs until 2025.

    The cost-cutting exercise is expected to account for two-thirds of a 15 million euro efficiency push, which the company is aiming to accomplish by 2022. “We’re going to work hard on our cost structures, but operationally we’re going to face a year of cleaning up,” said Audi CFO Alexander Seitz.

    As part of this, the automaker is looking to trim its management ranks for savings and faster decision-making, according to Audi CEO Abraham Schot. He declined to state specific figures as talks with labour unions have yet to be finalised.

    The report said cost increases faced by the German brand came from higher spending on new models such as the e-tron, and a an 800 million euro fine by German authorities for the long-running Dieselgate emissions scandal also cut into profits.

    In product terms, the automaker is targeting the introduction of five fully-electric and seven plug-in hybrid models in the next two years to refresh its lineup. Also, set to broaden its lineup to 30 electrified cars by 2025, the automaker is also considering to switch one of its existing model lines to battery power.

    Elsewhere, the brand is streamlining its lineup of combustion engine cars, with the future of models such as the TT and R8 uncertain. No decision has been made yet regarding successor models, according to development chief Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler.

    The company will be investing 14 billion euros on new technology including autonomous driving, electric cars and digital services by end-2023, and said it will cooperate more closely with Volkswagen and Porsche to help lift returns. It also plans to put a greater focus on its largest market, China.

  • Mercedes-Benz GLC300 Coupe and all-new GLE450 – catch them at the ‘Hungry for Adventure’ Festival

    If you’re hungry for adventure and love outdoor-related activities, then this sounds like just the thing. The Mercedes-Benz Hungry for Adventure Festival happening this weekend promises the chance to get up close with a couple of the brand’s new SUVs as well as partake in a host of exciting outdoor activities.

    The event, which runs from March 22 to 24 at Sentul Depot in Kuala Lumpur, will showcase a new C253 GLC Coupe variant, the GLC 300 Coupe, and there will also be an exclusive preview of the all-new W167 GLE 450. Visitors will also get a chance to test drive the range of Mercedes-Benz models at the event.

    Outdoor and sports activities will include reverse bungee jumping, flying fox and rock climbing, as well as a virtual cycling challenge by Cycology. Kids aren’t going to be left out, with an inflatable playground and a miniature driving town set to keep the little ones busy. Elsewhere, there will be no shortage of food trucks to sate appetites.

    Away from the vehicles, the highlight of the event will be the Hungry for Adventure Live concert on March 23 at 6 pm, with music from Craig David presents TS5, BATE, MC VIBE, CZA and Electronic Theatrical Music, along with a freestyle rap and DJ battle.

    Entry to the concert is by invite-only, but you can receive free passes to the concert by attending the Hungry for Adventure Festival on March 22 and 23 and test driving any of the Mercedes-Benz vehicles at the event. Passes will be given out, but these will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and there will only be a limited number to be given away each day, so be fast about it if you want one.

    The Mercedes-Benz Hungry for Adventure Festival will be held at Sentul Depot, Sentul West on March 22 to 24 from 10 am to 7 pm daily. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook.

    GALLERY: C253 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé

    GALLERY: W167 Mercedes-Benz GLE
    GALLERY: Mercedes-AMG G63

  • 2019 Honda Accord launched in Thailand – 1.5L Turbo and 2.0L Hybrid, priced from RM193k to RM231k

    The 2019 Honda Accord has been launched in Thailand. The tenth-generation Accord ditches the 2.0L and 2.4L naturally aspirated engines from the previous generation for a 1.5 litre turbo engine and a 2.0 litre hybrid version. Similarly, the old car’s five-speed torque converter auto is no more – the range is now CVT-only. There’s no base NA variant.

    The 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo engine, as used in the Civic and CR-V, puts out 190 PS and 243 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 5,500 rpm in this application. This is essentially the “CR-V tune” of the engine, which is stronger than the 173 PS/220 Nm in the Civic.

    The new Accord Hybrid with the Sport Hybrid i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) system combines a 2.0 litre naturally aspirated i-VTEC engine with two electric motors. The Atkinson cycle ICE makes 145 hp/175 Nm, while the pair of e-motors make 184 hp/315 Nm. Total system output is 215 hp, delivered by a CVT auto. The more compact lithium-ion battery pack slots under the rear floor, as opposed to in the previous car’s boot.

    The new 2019 Accord won’t be mistaken for the old one, as it boasts a fresh new look with a sweeping roofline. At 4,920 mm long and 1,860 mm wide, the new sedan is 10 mm shorter and 10 mm wider than before. That roofline sits 15 mm lower than before, while the 2,830 mm wheelbase is a significant 55 mm longer. The centre of gravity is 10 mm lower than before.

    The Accord Turbo EL, which is the new entry level variant, comes with 225/50 R17 rubber, whereas the Hybrid rolls on 18-inch wheels with 235/45 tyres.

    As Honda’s flagship sedan in these parts, the Accord Hybrid will come with the full Honda Sensing suite of safety features, including Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow.

    As for equipment highlights, the new Accord is available with goodies such as a head-up display (HUD), seven-inch TFT multi-info display and wireless charging. Three variants are available in Thailand – the Turbo EL for 1.5 million baht (RM192,844), the Hybrid for 1.65 million baht (RM212,129) and the Hybrid Tech for another 150k baht (RM19,282) extra.

    The Hybrid Tech comes with all the bells and whistles, including a sunroof, exterior door lighting, a rear spoiler, red or black leather seats (depending on the chosen exterior colour), HUD, four-point front parking sensors, rear parking assist with four sensors, 360-degree parking camera, cross traffic monitor and Honda Smart Parking Assist System with auto parallel and perpendicular parking.

    In Thailand, the Accord Hybrid goes up against the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which is priced from 1.639 to 1.799 million baht (RM210,659 to RM231,223). What do you think of the new Accord’s looks and powertrain options?

  • Lotus to debut all-new model next year – report

    British sports car maker Lotus is set to unveil an all-new model as part of a five-year plan that has been signed off by parent company Geely, Lotus CEO Phil Popham has confirmed to Autocar. This will be built on existing Lotus architecture, albeit one that is heavily revised, the report said.

    The new model that is set for debut next year will retain Lotus’ hallmark driving dynamics while offering improved practicality over the existing models with better ingress, egress, ergonomics and infotainment for its occupants, thus likely using the Evora as the base for the aforementioned intensive revisions. “There’s this one car, then the new platform,” said Popham, indicating this will be a bridge to the new generation.

    Lotus will then expand its product portfolio to grow beyond the existing sports car range, the report said, with SUVs most likely to figure into the exapansion plan, while a limited-run, electric hypercar halo model could also be produced, although Popham has yet to confirm the latter.

    “The focus for now is on replacing the products we’ve got today – the sports cars. In a long time, Lotus has not had sight of what is required. You need a long-term plan, a product plan and a business plan locked down with investment. We have that plan locked in,” Popham said, adding that all future Lotus models will eventually feature electrification.

    The British sportscar maker is also looking to leverage its being part of a group such as Geely, where it can make use of the design, engineering and manufacturing opportunities for future models beyond sports cars as well as the future of its current engine deal with Toyota, which continues positively for now, Autocar notes.

    “We’re not talking tens or hundreds of millions, but billions,” said Popham of the finances involved with Geely, the CEO adding that all conceptual work and product planning management will remain at Lotus, while packages could be sub-contracted back to Geely.

    Development work on the new sports car architecture has already begun, and it may not retain the current bonded and extruded aluminium base if a better option is available, the report said. This will be developed from the outset to meet regulations in China and North America.

    Its headuquarters in Hethel is already being expanded, with plans approved for a new customer experience centre and museum, the report added. This location will remain the home of its sports cars, with further investments in line for the improvement of its facilities. The manufacture of future models such as SUVs will take place elsewhere.

    “Our DNA of driving dynamics, performance and lack of weight mean different things in different segments, but we’ll be renowned for them in the segments we’re in,” Popham said of the marque’s growth beyond sports cars, citing Porsche as a good example of how to grow, he said.

    Lotus’ future sports cars must also take less time and cost to produce, and be more repeatable to produce, a result of architectures that have remained in production for too long and a reason for its inconsistent quality, the report said. The firm’s sports car range should remain accessible on price, Popham said, and he is not looking to take the price points of its sports car range beyond where it currently sit today.

    “We’re going to do a lot on brand positioning, (in terms of) what it is, what it has been, and what it will be. This will then drive everything we do in the business, and most importantly the engineering team. The driving experience is at the heart of that. We will create the most dynamic cars we can but remove the barriers to purchase.” Popham said.

    “There’s an intention to grow (Lotus Engineering), right now it’s about 15% of the group. We have several areas of expertise, in engine testing, lightweighting and aerodynamics, and it complements the group. We’ll do stuff for Geely but (we) can go outside the group. It’s a brand in its own right and adds credibility, while also allowing us to do stuff outside the industry.” the CEO added.

  • C253 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe facelift revealed – updated styling, new 48-volt mild hybrid engine, MBUX

    Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the new C253 GLC Coupe facelift, which joins the updated X253 GLC that was presented just a few weeks ago. Aside from the usual design revisions, the GLC Coupe also sees new technologies being added to it so it can continue its fight against the BMW X4.

    In the case of the former, the GLC Coupe’s face gets a nip and tuck, and features a more angular grille design compared to its non-coupe sibling. This particular unit in the photos is fitted with the AMG Line package; hence the chrome pins within the grille and a new take on the single louvre.

    The standard-fit LED High Performance headlamps are also of a new design, and they come with LED light strips that run along the edge of the clusters, which act as daytime running lights/indicators. Further down, the lower apron is a lot bolder in appearance, with a more pronounced “A-wing” and larger air intakes.

    Along the bottom of the vehicle from front to back, you’ll also find chrome items that make up the front guard, side steps and rear bumper garnish. On the mention of the rear, the GLC Coupe references the latest W167 GLE and GLC with its taillights, which carry ring-shaped graphics within them. Other tweaks include a more expressive diffuser-like element and reprofiled exhaust exits.

    Moving inside, the GLC Coupe remains largely unchanged from before, with the most notable addition being the 10.25-inch touchscreen display (1,920 x 720 pixels) on the dashboard. The alternative is a 7-inch unit (960 x 540 pixels), and both screens are linked to the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system.

    Interacting with the MBUX system is done via a number of ways, including by using the touchscreen, Touch Control buttons on one of two versions of the new multifunction steering wheel (normal and AMG Line), the touchpad on the centre console, gesture control with the Interior Assistant, or by using the “Hey Mercedes” prompt.

    These changes, along with the new 12.3-inch display within the instrument binnacle, are identical to what the standard GLC received a few weeks ago. An optional Energising comfort control combines various in-vehicle systems to create an optimum environment depending on the selected programme.

    The GLC Coupe gets a range of driver assists, with the Driving Assistance Package adding Active Distance Assist Distronic, Active Steer Assist with Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist and an emergency corridor function, Active Speed Limit Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Brake Assist with turn-off and cross-traffic functions.

    At launch, the engine line-up includes the new M264 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit that is used in the GLC 200 4Matic and GLC 300 4Matic. Both feature the EQ Boost 48-volt mild hybrid system, which provides a 10 kW (14 PS) and 150 Nm boost under acceleration, as well as energy recovery and coasting features. The GLC 200 offers 197 PS and 320 Nm of torque, while the GLC 300 has 258 PS and 370 Nm.

    On the diesel side of things, there’s the GLC 200 d (163 PS/360 Nm), GLC 220 d (194 PS/400 Nm) and GLC 300 d (245 PS/500 Nm), all with 4Matic as standard. These variants come with the OM654 2.0 litre engine that replaces the OM651 2.2 litre mill.

    A nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox is standard, as is sports suspension with adapative damping, although the latter can be swapped out for an infinitely-adjustable Dynamic Body Control damping system that can vary the damping force on each wheel, with Air Body Control air suspension also available.

  • Honda Malaysia sold 102k units in 2018; maintained non-national lead, overall No.2 – 95k target for 2019

    Honda Malaysia (HM) had its annual media gathering yesterday where the company announced its sales performance for last year and its targets for this year. 2018 was a rollercoaster year for the auto industry, thanks to a surprise three-month tax holiday, but Honda ended up in its now customary position as the top non-national marque (four consecutive years now) and number two in the overall standings (three years running) behind Perodua.

    En route, the company sold 102,282 units in 2018, which is 6.6% lower than in 2017 and short of its 109,000 sales target for the year. The marque’s 2018 market share was 17.1%, slightly short of the 18% target.

    However, Honda managed to surpass the 100k units mark, which was first breached in 2017. All HM’s locally assembled models ended the year as segment leaders, and the City B-segment sedan contributed 32% to the final tally, followed by the Civic (16%) and CR-V (13%).

    Over the past few years, HM has been introducing its three pillars of technology: Honda Sensing, VTEC Turbo and Sport Hybrid i-DCD. Acceptance of these have been growing; the company says that the Accord with Honda Sensing contributed to 18% of model sales (of over 3,600 units) in 2017-2018, and the figure goes up to 33% of the 20,600 CR-Vs sold during the period.

    As for turbo, Honda was the first Japanese carmaker to introduce a downsized turbo engine in the mass market C-segment with the Civic FC in 2016. The company has shifted over 41,000 units of the segment leader since, and of the total, 58% have the 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo engine, which is also available in the CR-V.

    The company says that its Sport Hybrid i-DCD-equipped models (City and Jazz) “also received good acceptance from the market.” Last year, HM launched the Honda Odyssey facelift, a premium CBU imported MPV with Honda Sensing as standard.

    On the after-sales front, HM saw 11% growth in service intake last year over 2017. It’s the highest ever level for the company, complemented by another record in the sales of Honda Genuine Parts, which saw a jump of 25%.

    Looking ahead, HM anticipates a 2019 total industry volume (TIV) of 580,000 units; based on that, it’s targeting sales of 95,000 units with target market share of 16%. A challenging market is the reason for the lower projections.

    The company has outlined three key strategies for continued growth, and they are the improvement of customer service standards, the strengthening of its dealership network and the introduction of new models. Unlike the media gatherings of previous years, HM did not release any news/teaser of upcoming new models yesterday.

  • FIRST DRIVE: 2019 Honda HR-V Hybrid – RM120,800

    The arrival of the Honda HR-V facelift in Malaysia sees a brand new variant being introduced to the market, and that is the HR-V Hybrid. At RM120,800, the Hybrid costs a mere RM4,000 less than the top RS. But just what do you get for the money?

    To start, there’s a new 1.5 litre direct injection four-cylinder petrol engine, delivering 132 PS at 6,600 rpm and 156 Nm at 4,600 rpm. This is mated to a 22 kW/160 Nm electric motor (with a Blue Energy lithium-ion battery supplying power), and together they produce a total system output of 152 P and 190 Nm. On paper, this figure exceeds what the 1.8 litre SOHC engine makes, and is close to that of a 2.0 litre NA engine.

    Much like the City and Jazz Sport Hybrid i-DCD, the HR-V gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that channels drive to the front wheels. Unfortunately, the Hybrid skips out on Honda’s Variable Gear Ratio steering system, which is available exclusively for the HR-V RS.

    Just so you know, Malaysia is the only other market outside of Japan to get the HR-V Hybrid. Find out what we think of the electrified crossover in the video above. As usual, leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Enjoy!

    GALLERY: Honda HR-V 1.5L Hybrid

  • Ford to cut over 5,000 jobs in Germany, some in UK

    In a bid to return to profit in Europe, Ford plans to cut over 5,000 jobs in Germany. The US carmaker will also reduce its workforce in the UK and has offered voluntary redundancy programmes for employees in both countries, it said in a statement.

    “Through these programs and other initiatives, Ford of Germany expects to reduce its headcount in excess of 5,000 jobs, including temporary staff,” the company said, adding that the total number of positions affected in Britain is yet to be determined.

    The Detroit carmaker, which sells the popular Focus and Fiesta hatchbacks in Europe, also announced it would streamline its lineup by “improving or exiting less profitable vehicle lines,” although it didn’t elaborate on which models would be culled.

    This move is part of a turnaround plan announced by Ford in January that would involve thousands of job cuts and possible plant closures and the discontinuation of loss-making vehicle lines.

    According to Reuters, Ford of Europe has been losing money for years and pressure to restructure its operations has increased since main US rival General Motors raised profits by selling its European Opel-Vauxhall brands to France’s Groupe PSA, the maker of Peugeot and Citroen. Ford’s turnaround plan is targeting a 6% operating margin in the continent.

    Ford recently entered into an alliance with Volkswagen, although the partnership does not involve cross-ownership like the Renault-Nissan model.


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Last Updated 16 Mar 2019


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