Latest Stories

  • Tata Nano – production of ‘world’s cheapest car’ ends

    Nearly a decade after it was introduced, time is being called on the Tata Nano, once billed as the world’s cheapest car. According to news reports, production of the compact city car at the automaker’s Sanand facility in Gujarat, India totaled just one unit last month, compared to 275 vehicles in the same period a year ago.

    The company says that it will now produce the Nano on a made-to-order basis if there is demand coming from dealerships, but in all reality it looks as if the project is pretty much over, and Tata has acknowledged that the car in its present form will not be able to continue beyond 2019.

    It’s a far cry from the year after the car was officially launched into the market. At its height, in 2010, sales amounted to around 9,000 units that year, but has dwindled to virtually nothing. In June, only three Nanos were sold, as opposed to 167 during the same month last year.

    First introduced in 2008, the Nano was the result of Ratan Tata’s vision of wanting to provide those with lesser means a safer alternative to motorcycles in terms of personal transportation. When it debuted, the asking price for the base model was 1 lakh, or 100,000 rupees (essentially, under RM6,000), which made for quite a draw, at least initially.

    The pricing did however mean that the car was basic, and not just in intent – the base model had no radio, power steering, power windows or air conditioning. It had only one wiper and a single wing mirror, and there was no rear hatch, so access to the rear of the car – which is where the 38 PS and 51 Nm 624 cc two-cylinder petrol engine is housed – was only from the inside.

    Aside from no safety kit to speak of, the car itself gained a reputation for catching fire, which didn’t help its cause. In the end, being cheap wasn’t exactly a selling point, especially if going that route wasn’t safe. There’s talk that electrification may resurrect the Nano, but by all accounts it looks simpler to start with a cleaner slate.

  • FIRST DRIVE: MINI Hatch facelift with 7-speed DCT

    The facelifted MINI Hatch has just been launched in Malaysia, priced between RM226,888 and RM283,888, and doubtless many of you would like to find out how well it drives. That’s just as well, as our man Matthew Tong has been to Mallorca recently to take the refreshed fashion-savvy hatch for a spin, and you can watch his drive impressions in the video above.

    But hang on a minute, you may be thinking, what’s so special about a car that doesn’t look that much different on the outside? Well, that’s because most of the changes can be found under the bonnet, with a range of revised engines that are more economical than before. In the Cooper S, it’s a 2.0 litre turbo four-cylinder petrol that makes 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque, boosted to 231 hp and 320 Nm in the John Cooper Works.

    There’s even bigger news in the shape of the new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in the Cooper S (JCW gets an eight-speed automatic), which replaces the old six-speed auto. So there’s much to unpack and assess, and Matt seems to have really enjoyed the entire experience.

    Other less noticeable changes include new LED head- and tail lights (the latter sporting a cool Union Jack design), a revised touchscreen infotainment system and customisable trim pieces. You can read the full launch report here, and if you prefer a written review you can find it here. You can also browse full specifications and equipment of the new 3 Door and 5 Door models on

    GALLERY: F56 MINI Cooper S 3 Door LCI

    GALLERY: F55 MINI Cooper S 5 Door LCI
    GALLERY: F55 MINI John Cooper Works 3 Door LCI

  • Proton to improve products and after-sales; sees Japanese as competitors, not Perodua – CEO

    Proton will be moving upmarket, and will eventually compete with Japanese marques such as Honda and Toyota, and not market leader Perodua. This was mentioned by Proton CEO Li Chunrong at the launch of an upgraded 3S centre in Klang yesterday, reported by The Star.

    “Seriously, Perodua’s product range is entry level. Three months later (when Proton’s first SUV is launched), our product would be a higher-end product. For now, Perodua is our competitor but in three months, it won’t be anymore because our products would be different,” Li said, adding that prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently commented that the SUV is of high quality.

    “In the future, we will bring in products that are updated, new and equipped with the latest technologies. Not old products but new products that are available elsewhere will come here. We will launch (in Malaysia) at the same time as we launch them around the world,” the Proton chief added.

    The report quotes Li as saying that Proton expects its SUV, which will debut in October, to eventually be the best selling SUV in the country. “For this new product, the direct competitor is the (Honda) CR-V. In China, the (Geely) Boyue consistently outsells the other Japanese marques,” he said.

    It must be said though that traditionally, Japanese cars aren’t top sellers in China, which is dominated by Volkswagen, GM and local brands. According to reports, Honda sold nearly 750,000 CR-Vs worldwide last year, making it the third most popular SUV globally, and the seventh best selling vehicle of any type in 2017.

    Proton’s SUV is based on the facelifted Geely Boyue, which will compete with the CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail in our market. Li said that the Boyue has been tailored for Malaysia, with over 20 components changed.

    “We are also doing many tests on the SUV before it is launched and that is why we are late. We are now doing test drives on the Malaysian roads which are not complete yet. These are to test for local customer needs,” he said.

    With Geely in the driver’s seat, Proton’s turnaround won’t stop at the SUV – the company will launch one new model every year. “We can guarantee we will launch one product every year. For new products, they will be launched at the same time that they are launched in the global markets. In the future, the new products can share the same platform and then they will be tailored to each country’s customer needs and demands to develop the necessary solutions,” Li revealed.

    As for the challenges that lie ahead, Li says that Proton’s brand image is a hurdle, and this will be overcome by improved products and services.

    “What is branding? It is an image, and how do we improve our image? I think there are two ways: first, product and secondly, service. If you have a good product and good service, then your brand will be well. For an improved brand name, it is not only through talk but by doing it right.

    “After-sales service is important and the people, they reflect our corporate culture. The right products and secondly right service that give customer satisfaction,” he said.

    Proton has outlined its quality and after-sales improvement initiatives, as well as its target to top Customer Service Index (CSI) rankings within three years. Full story here.

    GALLERY: Geely Boyue facelift

  • SPIED: W247 Mercedes-Benz B-Class – less camo

    The forthcoming Mercedes-Benz B-Class has been spotted testing again, this time with less camouflage foil. Last seen in December, we know that the new model (tipped to bear the W247 codename) will be based on the new A-Class, and will wear a taller roofline compared to the W177 that was launched in January.

    Given the shared basis with the W177 A-Class, the forthcoming B-Class can be expected to employ most of the four-cylinder engine range which serves in the hatchback, perhaps with the exception of the top AMG 45 models, which in current A 45 form produces 381 hp and 475 Nm of torque. Likewise, driveline options on offer should be a mix of front- and all-wheel drive.

    Though the images don’t reveal much of the car’s interior, the new B-Class can be expected to feature the automaker’s new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system, which in the A-Class can offer up to two 10.25-inch displays. Other changes likely to be carried over from the W177 A-Class include a new steering wheel, new ambient lighting and air-conditioning vents.

    Though unconfirmed, the forthcoming model should also come equipped with select semi-autonomous driving functions which are packaged in the W177 A-Class, namely adaptive cruise control, active emergency stop assist and active lane change assist. The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class is tipped to make its debut closer to the end of the year, or early in 2019.

  • AOS 2018: “Papa Jahat” RM45k prize bike press reveal – custom build C70 kapchai with 600 cc engine

    Last year’s lucky draw winner at the Art of Speed festival (AOS 2018) went home with “Twin Boss” a double-engined Yamaha RXZ but for 2018, the prize is a little different, a 600 cc kapchai named Papa Jahat or “Bad Daddy”. Taking a Honda C70 as its basis, this monstrosity was put together by last year’s prize builder, Mohamad Irwann Mohd Azlan, better known as Cheng, from FNG Works of Ipoh.

    The 27-year old mechanical engineer was commissioned by the organisers of AOS 2018 to put together Papa Jahat for inclusion as first prize in the festival’s lucky draw. According to Cheng, the project was difficult due to the size of the engine which necessitated butchering the C70’s frame, but still preserving the looks and profile of the donor bike.

    A 39 mm PWK Keihin carburettor is mated to the 600 cc four-stroke single-cylinder air-cooled engine with the entire wiring loom replaced . Despite looking that way, Papa Jahat is not lowered but in face, raised a little in front with lengthened leading-link front and 300 mm shock absorbers at the back, along with race shift pattern for the gearbox.

    The swingarm was lengthened by 50 mm over stock while the C70 monocoque frame was hacked to install a steel backbone. This then required the fuel tank to be made smaller, giving some 3-litres of capacity, or in the words of the author, “about enough to start the engine, go around the block and get arrested.”

    Although the build is not quite yet complete and AOS 2018 is only three weeks away on July 28 and 29 at Malaysian Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), Cheng has resolved to finish his work in time. On the final day of AOS, one lucky visitor will get the chance to bring home Papa Jahat, which cost almost RM45,000 to construct.

    If anyone is curious, both the author and his colleague, Durrani Shahrom of‘s BM section, took Papa Jahat out for a spin around the block. The verdict? Scary fast, easily goes sideways and heaps of fun.

  • Toll will be abolished, but later, says works minister

    The Pakatan Harapan government’s promise of abolishing toll collection will be carried out, though the people will have to be patient for it, works minister Baru Bian told The Star. “We are trying hard to fulfil promises in the GE14 manifesto. What we have promised, we will have to do it,” he said.

    The works minister said that there are many things that need to be considered before toll collection can be abolished. “We cannot rush into things,” he added, saying that the recently elected ruling party will do things in a proper manner, when pointed out that the 100-day mark is approaching. “What is important is our desire to fulfil the promises. I would like to ask the people to be patient,” Baru said.

    The ruling government promised in its manifesto that it will gradually abolish tolls over the next five years, and should the government take over all toll operators’ debt obligations, it will need to pay over RM55 billion, excluding compensation. In a separate report, finance minister Lim Guan Eng was quoted as saying the promise to abolish tolls will be looked at once the country’s financial situation improves.

  • Honda, Panasonic to start battery sharing in Indonesia

    Research into an experimental vehicle battery sharing programme is set to begin in Indonesia in December 2018 under the aegis of Honda Motor Co. and Panasonic Corporation. Located in Bandung City in West Java Province, Denpasar City in Bali Province and Kuta subdistrict in Badung Regency in Bali Province, the programme allows e-bike users to swap batteries at selected locations.

    Honda and Panasonic are collaborating to build several dozen charging stations, subsidised by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). Multiple batteries, or Mobile Power Packs, will be charged at these stations and users with low batteries can stop and swap their battery for a fully-charged unit.

    As the third largest motorcycle market in the world, Indonesia has been facing mounting problems with traffic congestion and vehicle emissions and it is hoped that electric vehicles will alleviate some of these issues. The project will be managed by joint-venture company Pt. HPP Energy Indonesia with on-site surveys and local coordination performed by Pacific Consultants.

  • LRT3 project goes ahead, but costs reduced by 47% – 6 stations axed, smaller buildings, less/shorter trains

    The LRT3 project linking Bandar Utama to Klang will go ahead, but with final costs reduced by 47%, from RM31.65 billion to RM16.63 billion, finance minister Lim Guan Eng announced yesterday. Nothing is for free, of course, and the nearly halved costs comes at the expense of several stations and shorter trains, among other things.

    Firstly, five of the planned 26 stations have been deferred, and they are the Lien Hoe, Temasya, Sirim, Bukit Raja and Bandar Botanic stations. Lim said that these stations have low projected ridership. The planned 2km tunnel including an an underground station at Persiaran Hishamuddin in Shah Alam will be cancelled.

    Also, the stations that survived the chop will be smaller – based on existing Kelana Jaya LRT standards instead of MRT stations. Lim added that the timeline for completion of the 37 km line would be extended from 2020 to 2024, and this is to remove “acceleration costs” from the total construction bill.

    Another sacrifice concerns the trains. The original plan was for 42 sets of six-car trains, but the order has been changed to 22 sets of three-car trains. The minister says that the reduced number of shorter trains is “more than sufficient to cope with the anticipated passenger demand until the year 2035 before additional three-car trains need to be ordered.” With less trains in service, the size of the LRT train depot will also be smaller.

    “The savings of more than RM15 billion would not only mean a massive reduction in debt to be incurred, but also result in additional savings to the tax-payers of up to RM14 billion in interest cost over the period of the loan financing. The 47% reduction in cost demonstrates that the new government is walking the talk in securing significant cost reductions for excessively-priced projects caused by the poor governance of the previous government,” Lim said.

    The LRT3 project will be restructured to a “fixed price contract” from the previous project delivery partner (PDP) model to prevent future cost overruns. A MRCB-George Kent JV is the construction partner for the project.

  • MINI Hatch facelift launched in Malaysia – Cooper S 3 Door and 5 Door, JCW 3 Door; RM227k to RM283k

    Four years on from its debut, the third-generation MINI Hatch has been given a facelift, which has just been launched in Malaysia. As before, the fashionable supermini is available in two bodystyles, the F56 3 Door and the F55 5 Door, with numerous detail changes on both.

    The 3 Door and 5 Door are available in Cooper S form, with the 3 Door also being offered in the most powerful John Cooper Works variant. The Cooper S 3 Door is priced at RM226,888, while the 5 Door version retails at RM236,888. The JCW, meanwhile, costs RM283,888. All prices are on-the-road without insurance or GST, inclusive of a four-year, unlimited-mileage warranty and a four-year/60,000 km free service package.

    The big news is under the bonnet, where you’ll now find a new 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine from the BMW Group. It benefits from numerous upgrades to the engine itself, the turbocharger, engine electronics, oil supply, intake air ducting, cooling and exhaust. For instance, the direct injection system now delivers fuel at a higher pressure, while the turbo fins are made of a more heat-resistant material. The engine cover is also now made from carbon fibre, making it 13% lighter than before.

    All this means that while outputs on the Cooper S remain identical at 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque, the new mill achieves a five percent improvement in fuel consumption, rated at 5.5 and 5.6 litres per 100 km for the 3 Door and 5 Door respectively. On the JCW, the engine is boosted to 231 hp and 320 Nm, and has a fuel consumption figure of 6.0 litres per 100 km.

    As for performance, the 3 Door goes from zero to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, while the 5 Door completes the same sprint a tenth slower at 6.8 seconds; both will hit 235 km/h. The JCW, on the other hand, blitzes its way to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds before reaching a top speed of 246 km/h.

    Even bigger news is that the old six-speed automatic gearbox has been ditched in favour of a new seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission on the Cooper S, which is claimed to provide smoother, faster shifts with zero interruption. The JCW instead gets an eight-speed torque converter automatic.

    Both sports transmissions will now allow the car to coast in the default Mid drive mode, instead of only in the most economical Green mode. They are operated using a new BMW-style electronic gearlever and paddle shifters on the standard-fit JCW multifunction steering wheel.

    Very few changes can be found on the outside, with the only discernible difference (apart from the flatter MINI badges) being the new light units. The headlights, which are still bi-LED, get redesigned LED daytime running lights – which also function as indicators – that form a full ring around the new projectors. But it’s the intricate Union Jack full-LED tail lights that really steal the show.

    The Cooper S 5 Door goes one further with the fitment of the John Cooper Works aerodynamic kit that consists of an angrier front bumper with a protruding centre air intake, deeper side skirts, a more aggressive rear diffuser design and a larger tailgate spoiler. As for wheels, the 3 Door comes with 17-inch Cosmos Spoke alloy wheels, while the 5 Door gains JCW Track Spoke rollers – both are finished in black.

    The JCW gets the same exterior kit as the 5 Door, plus an even bigger rear spoiler, piano black instead of chrome exterior trim and unique side scuttles on the front fenders. It rolls on 18-inch JCW Cup Spoke alloys hiding larger JCW brakes with red brake callipers, and linked to retuned suspension with adaptive dampers.

    On the inside, the Cooper S 3 Door receive the new MINI Yours Illuminated Cockpit, which consists of trim panels featuring stylised Union Jack graphics, lit up in 12 available colours. The 5 Door makes do with Black Chequered trim, but the seats on both models are upholstered in Cross Punch Carbon Black leather.

    The JCW stands out with bespoke sports seats upholstered in Carbon Black leather and Dinamica microfibre, as well as Glowing Red interior trim, JCW-badged side sill plates (also fitted on the Cooper S 5 Door) and stainless steel pedals. Like the Cooper S 3 Door, it also gets the MINI Yours Illuminated Cockpit.

    Also fitted on both the Cooper S 3 Door and 5 Door is a revised MINI Visual Boost infotainment system, now with a touchscreen – albeit still the smaller unit measuring 6.5 inches, rather than the 8.8-inch item fitted to the JCW. The latter also receives a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a head-up display, Qi wireless smartphone charging and a panoramic sliding sunroof.

    Other standard features include MINI Logo Projection puddle lights, Comfort Access keyless entry, a toggle switch engine starter, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, reverse sensors and a reverse camera. Safety-wise, all models come with six airbags and Dynamic Stability Control with an electronic differential lock, but none are offered with autonomous emergency braking.

    The colour palette includes Chilli Red and Pepper White across the range, with the Cooper S also available in White Silver, British Racing Green and the new Starlight Blue. The 5 Door version receives an exclusive Emerald Grey, while the 3 Door gets Thunder Grey and the also-new Solaris Orange.

    Moving over to the JCW, the high-performance model is offered in Rebel Green and Midnight Black as its exclusive hues. The Cooper S 3 Door and 5 Door is available with a black or white roof, door mirror caps and sports stripes, while the JCW has them in either black or red.

    Interestingly, MINI Malaysia is introducing MINI Yours Customised Accessories for the first time in South East Asia. The service offers retrofitted accessories like the side scuttles, the dash fascia, illuminated door sills and door projectors all personalised to the owners preferences. Buyers can design their accessories at

    Read our review of the facelifted MINI Hatch from Mallorca, Spain here, and browse full specifications and equipment of the 3 Door and 5 Door at

    GALLERY: F56 MINI Cooper S 3 Door LCI

    GALLERY: F55 MINI Cooper S 5 Door LCI
    GALLERY: F55 MINI John Cooper Works 3 Door LCI

  • Bentley Mulsanne W.O. Edition by Mulliner – 100 units

    Bentley has unveiled the Mulsanne W.O. Edition by Mulliner, a special edition of the Crewe marque’s range-topping model limited to 100 units to commemorate the marque’s centenary in 2019. Named after founder Walter Owen Bentley, each unit of the latest car features a piece from the founder’s personal 8 Litre car, which was the last model he designed for the company in 1930.

    The W.O. Edition is distinguished by features including an interior colour split trimmed in Heritage Hide, which is made to reflect the aged patina as found in vintage vehicles, as well as Beluga wheels in black, a cocktail cabinet or bottle cooler. The latter is where the touch of vintage hardware comes in; the cabinet or cooler features a piece of crankshaft from W.O. Bentley’s own 8 Litre car.

    This limited edition can be specified on any of the three Mulsanne variants in the line-up – the Mulsanne, Extended Wheelbase and the Speed – and thus, the basis mechanical specifications of each version remain, namely a 6.75 litre biturbo V8 – 505 hp/1,020 Nm in the Mulsanne, 530 hp/1,100 Nm in the Mulsanne Speed – driving the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Most of the distinguishing features are on the interior of the car.

    The illuminated cocktail cabinet features a marquetry scene depicting the front matrix grille and headlight of the 8 Litre, and the display window reveals said piece of crankshaft from W.O’s personal 8 Litre, with an inscription detailing the Bentley artefact’s significance. Four different types of wood were used for contrast and depth for the marquetry piece, while aluminium is used for highlights, signature and geometric pattern.

    Diamond-like borders run along each side, and the piece is finished with Walter Owen Bentley’s signature. There are distinct W.O. Edition features on the exterior as well, such as Onyx paintwork, a W.O. Bentley signature badge on the lower bumper and centenary badging on the self-levelling wheel centres and door treadplates.

    Of course, the special edition Mulsanne can be customised to almost any extent via the carmaker’s Mulliner division for personalisation. The Bentley Mulsanne W.O. Edition by Mulliner is set to make its public debut at the Monterey Car Week in August, and customer deliveries will commence in 2019.

    GALLERY: Bentley Mulsanne Speed in Malaysia


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Last Updated 12 Jul 2018


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