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  • GALLERY: Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 1.4, 2.0 R-Line

    Earlier this year, Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM) introduced the Tiguan Allspace as one of the industry’s first launches after the government’s movement control order. Aiming to build on the success of the standard Tiguan, this stretched SUV adds two more seats, giving buyers a new seven-seater option.

    Ahead of the release of our video review, we’re bringing you a full gallery of both the 1.4 and 2.0 litre variants so that you can compare the two. Prices start at RM165,031 for the 1.4 TSI Highline – making it just over RM2,000 more expensive than the five-seater model – while the 2.0 TSI 4Motion R-Line is over RM40,000 dearer at RM209,637. Both are exempted from the sales and service tax (SST).

    At over RM200,000, the R-Line model is stepping into cutthroat premium car territory, but at least it has the performance to match. Under the bonnet sits the venerable EA888 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, churning out 220 PS from 4,500 to 6,200 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 4,400 rpm. That’s very nearly the same amount of power as the Mk7.5 Golf GTI, and the torque figure is identical.

    Also upgraded is the drivetrain, featuring a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, 4Motion all-wheel drive and Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive dampers, just like a Golf R. The AWD system in the Tiguan is a little more biased towards off-road driving, with Snow, Off-Road and Off-Road Individual modes. No matter – this people-moving crossover will still get from zero to 100 km/h in just 6.8 seconds.

    The Highline, meanwhile, soldiers on with the familiar 1.4 litre turbo four-pot from the five-seater model, making 150 PS from 5,000 to 6,000 rpm and 250 Nm from 1,500 to 3,000 rpm. Equipped with a six-speed wet dual-clutch transmission and front-wheel drive, it accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds.

    Break out the measuring tape and you’ll notice that the Allspace is 215 mm longer than the regular Tiguan at 4,701 mm, with 106 mm going into the 2,787 mm wheelbase. It is also 26 mm taller at 1,674 mm, but width remains the same at 1,839 mm. Impressively, the 1.4 TSI model weighs only 10 kg heavier at 1,460 kg, but with the larger engine and all-wheel drive, the 2.0 TSI is a whopping 220 kg heftier still at 1,680 kg.

    The increase in length and wheelbase is just about visible to the naked eye, but the Allspace is also differentiated through the silver door mirrors, front fender appliqués, an upswept rearmost side window and fake twin trapezoidal tailpipes. The bonnet is also slightly taller to balance out the taller body. We should point out at this juncture that this car doesn’t get the facelift introduced globally earlier this year.

    On the outside, the Highline is equipped with full-LED headlights, LED combination tail lights and the same 18-inch “Kingston” alloy wheels as the five-seater. The R-Line gains a more aggressive design for the front and rear bumpers, deeper side skirts and an increased use of body-coloured trim, along with 3D-effect full-LED tail lights and 19-inch “Sebring” alloys in a fetching gunmetal grey finish.

    Inside, the Allspace is all but identical save for the sliding and reclining second-row seats and the obligatory third-row pews. Volkswagen is claiming an additional 60 mm of second-row legroom, plus 85 litres more boot space with the rearmost seats folded, at 700 litres (230 litres with all seats up). With the second and third rows folded, the maximum luggage space is 1,775 litres.

    In terms of infotainment, the Highline gets an eight-inch touchscreen and twin physical knobs, while the R-Line receives a 9.2-inch display, full touch controls and gesture control. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard across the board, with the R-Line also gaining navigation.

    The R-Line package also entails a sportier steering wheel (both are flat-bottomed), stainless steel pedals and the R logo embroidered into the seats. Both the Highline and R-Line come with keyless entry, push-button start, triple-zone climate control, eight speakers, a powered tailgate and a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory; the R-Line model adds a powered front passenger seat with the same functions.

    Safety-wise, the Allspace is fitted as standard with six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control, hill start assist and ISOFIX child seat anchors on the second row, with the R-Line also getting hill descent control. Unfortunately, neither of these cars come with autonomous emergency braking.

    GALLERY: Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI Highline
    GALLERY: Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 2.0 TSI 4Motion R-Line

  • DRIVEN: Honda City RS i-MMD – torque of the town

    Unless you’ve gone completely off the grid in the past few months, you would have most certainly caught wind of the new kid in town. Meet the fifth-generation Honda City, one which will be making its official Malaysian debut sometime in October 2020.

    At least four variants are expected to be launched, including the most advanced City RS i-MMD Hybrid. Prospective buyers can expect two powertrain options, the first being a new twin-cam (DOHC) 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated i-VTEC mill, which in India makes 121 PS and 145 Nm and is paired to a CVT. This is likely the standard configuration for the non-hybrid S, E, and V variants.

    For the first time, the hybrid is positioned as the range-topping e:HEV variant (the previous City Sport Hybrid i-DCD sat below the City V in the line-up), featuring Honda’s latest two-motor Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) hybrid system. It even has nearly the full range of Honda Sensing, and is the sole variant to get the sportier “Road Sailing” RS treatment.

    Looks aside, what really got people talking was its torque figure – a full 253 Nm to be exact, or just 2 Nm shy of the Proton X50’s 1.5L turbocharged, DI mill. Not quite apples-to-apples there, but we imagine many drawing comparisons between the two (not forgetting the Almera, of course) for obvious reasons.

    Unlike our neighbours in Thailand, we won’t be getting the City’s new P10A2 1.0 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Instead, the decision to introduce the i-MMD hybrid came straight from Honda Japan. If you haven’t read already, Honda Malaysia’s upgraded factories in Pegoh, Melaka is now at the same level of sophistication as Honda Japan, which means the automaker will very likely introduce more CKD i-MMD models in the future.

    Now, the i-MMD hybrid system works slightly differently from the hybrid cars you and I are more accustomed with. Most of the time, it’s the larger of the two electric motors (called the Traction motor, which spins up to 13,300 rpm) that powers the car. The 98 PS/127 Nm 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC four-cylinder port-injection unit, on the other hand, functions as a power unit to recharge the 48-cell lithium-ion battery (likely a 1.3 kWh pack, but this has yet to be confirmed) via the Generation Motor, which also acts as a starter.

    It’s not classified as a full electric vehicle with a range extender, though, because the internal combustion engine (ICE) can provide direct drive (Engine Drive mode) via a single-speed transmission and a lock-up clutch. The ICE only assumes propulsion duties at cruising speeds, because it’s more efficient at higher speeds compared to the electric motor.

    It’s called Multi-Mode Drive for the very reason that it offers three drive modes. The car will always boot up in EV Drive mode by default, and here, the electric motor does most of the heavy lifting. You’ll hear the engine spring to life once in a while to recharge the battery, ensuring that there’s constant supply of juice for the Traction motor. In our brief experience, this operation is executed fairly smoothly and quietly.

    When full acceleration is required, the hybrid system switches to Hybrid Drive mode. The Traction motor is still the primary propulsion unit here, but the engine will rev higher to generate more electricity to recharge the battery. The i in i-MMD stands for intelligent, meaning it automatically alternates between the most efficient drive modes depending on the situation. Sounds complex at first, but not so much now, isn’t it?

    Interestingly, at full pelt, the engine revs rise and fall to simulate actual gearshifts in a conventional slushbox, but does little else besides providing some sense of speed. There is still a fuel tank, obviously, but you can expect fewer trips to the gas station with this setup. Much like the outgoing i-DCD models, the air-conditioning compressor is an electrically-driven unit, so there are no belt-driven ancillaries.

    The new Jazz i-MMD hybrid that’s sold in Europe shares the same powertrain, allowing for a century sprint time of 9.4 seconds and a combined fuel economy of 4.5 litres per 100 km (WLTP cycle). The City i-MMD shouldn’t stray too far off from these figures, plus a head-to-head drag race proves that the i-MMD is indeed quicker than the City Sport Hybrid i-DCD.

    To put it simply, driving the City i-MMD is a lot like driving an electric car – you get the full 253 Nm of torque right out of the gate. Surprisingly, outright acceleration didn’t quite feel as brisk as we had expected, but we suspect the hybrid system could have been nearing its thermal limitations during the test session – we were just one out of nearly two dozen people who sampled the car at full whack, repetitively.

    Maybe we’re wrong, but there’s only so much to be “felt” with just two-thirds of a lap around the Melaka International Motorsports Circuit. We’ll save the in-depth analysis for a proper, full review once the car is launched, but so far, the i-MMD system will have much to show for if it intends to deliver or exceed the level of engagement its Sport Hybrid i-DCD counterpart offered.

    Still, having that much torque makes for effortless standstill acceleration, and power gets channeled to the wheels quicker when flooring the throttle pedal out of a corner, negating the input delay experienced in the already well-tuned City i-DCD. Traction levels are high, too, possibly a result of better suspension tuning and wider front and rear tracks.

    Honda Malaysia is positioning this fifth-gen City as a family car, evidenced from its marketing emphasis on style and safety, rather than the blatant fun-to-drive messaging perpetuated at the launch of the City Sport Hybrid i-DCD. Is the new City more matured, less edgy around the bends, more comfortable on pockmarked roads, and more practical than it has ever been? Perhaps.

    One thing is for sure – it is better equipped than ever before. For the first time, the automaker’s advanced Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assist systems is deployed on the City, which is a first in its segment. There’s adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system (AEB), lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning (with steering vibration), and auto high-beam function.

    There’s even forward collision warning with nighttime pedestrian and cyclist detection, whereas the monocular camera now provides a wider field of detection. It should also do a better job at recognising road markings, although the existing system in the Civic 1.5 TC-P facelift that we recently reviewed performed just fine.

    The ACC (with distance control) is commendably polished, as is the steering correction for the lane keeping assist system. Short of Low Speed Follow, this is near Level 2 automation – pretty high tech for a B-segment sedan. The RS also gets Honda LaneWatch with a wide-angle camera, a feature that’s available for the V variant, too.

    Size-wise, the new City is 111 mm longer (4,553 mm), 54 mm wider (1,748 mm), and 10 mm lower than its predecessor. There will be at least five colours on offer, starting with this Passion Red Pearl, Platinum White Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl, Lunar Silver Metallic, and Modern Steel Metallic. So, what do you think of the City i-MMD hybrid so far? Torque to us, below.


  • BMW M division electric model in the works – Flasch

    BMW’s M division have commenced work on a high-performance version of the all-electric i4, said M division chief Markus Flasch according to Car Advice. This will be the first fully electric model to be worked on by the M division, and there appears to be distinct ‘performance’ and ‘high-performance’ segments not too unlike cars such as the M340i and M850i, which bridge the mainstream range and the full-fledged M cars.

    “Next year we will launch the first battery-electric M car in the performance segment, based on the i4, as something to confirm. Then we’re working on hybrid electrified performance and high-performance cars, but it is too early to tell which ones it is going to be,” said Flasch.

    Powered by BMW’s fifth-generation electric drive systems, the i4 four-door coupe appears to be on par with the just-launched M3 and M4, with the electric cars’ 530 PS and 0-100 km/h time of four seconds very close to the 3.9-second 0-100 km/h time attained by the Competition variants of the M3 and M4.

    Steering and lateral dynamics make up a crucial part of an M-badged model’s identity, even for future electric ones

    The raw numbers only tell part of the story, however, as current battery technology for handling the rigours of high performance exertion don’t yet match the expectations of the M division. “On the high-performance battery electric technology, there is still some time that we need until technology is ready, and can take it on with an existing high-performance car like the M3 or M4, but we’re working on that,” said Flasch.

    There’s more to an M car than just outputs and performance figures when it comes to developing electric models, too. “It’s not just about power output and longitudinal performance. (The) question for us is, when can we combine the power of the systems that we develop in the company, and bring it into an M package? (In terms of) steering and lateral dynamics, this is the big question, and sound is another one,” he said.

    The work of creating the feeling specific to M division cars is something the firm has ‘science going on’, though the first and biggest challenge to surmount is the handling of an electric vehicle’s weight, and still offer ‘M-specific, or M-style dynamics,’ the division chief explained.

    Will the forthcoming M version of the i4 overstep into the territory of the latest M3 and M4? Not so, according to Flasch, who reconfirmed that the first M-badged EV will be a performance, rather than a high-performance model, and therefore a step below the full-fledged M cars. Therefore, it appears that the model progression for the i4 will mimic that of its internal combustion siblings – as above, think M440i before M4.

    GALLERY: BMW i4 prototype teaser

    GALLERY: BMW i4 spyshots

  • September 2020 week five fuel price – all increased; RON 95 to RM1.68, RON 97 to RM1.98, diesel to RM1.71

    It’s Friday again, and so it’s time for another weekly fuel price update. Not so cheery news on that front, because motorists will have to pay more for fuel in the coming September 26 to October 2 week.

    According to the ministry of finance, Euro 4M RON 95 petrol will be priced at RM1.68 per litre, up five sen per litre from the RM1.63 it was last week. Meanwhile, RON 97 petrol also sees a five sen hike to RM1.98 (RM1.93 last week).

    It’s the same news for Euro 2M diesel, although the increase is slightly less. The fuel will be priced at RM1.71 per litre in the coming week, up four sen per litre from the RM1.67 it was last week. Correspondingly, Euro 5 diesel, which is 10 sen more expensive per litre than Euro 2M diesel, will be priced at RM1.81 (RM1.77 last week).

    These prices will remain in effect until October 2, when the next round of fuel prices will be announced. This is the 38th edition of the weekly fuel pricing format for this year and the 90th in total for the format, running from midnight on Saturday until the following Friday.

  • Peugeot 508 PSE sedan, wagon unveiled – 360 hp/520 Nm dual-motor PHEV; 2.03 L/100 km, 0-100 km/h 5.2s

    Peugeot has premiered the 508 PSE, the high-performance dual-motor plug-in hybrid version of its 508 in sedan and SW estate bodystyles. This is the ‘quintessential expression’ of Peugeot Sport engineers’ expertise, says the firm, and here appear to rather closely resemble the 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered Concept that was unveiled at last year’s Geneva Motor Show.

    Touted as Peugeot’s most powerful production model to date, powertrain for the 508 PSE is comprised of a 1.6 litre inline-four cylinder direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine that produces 200 PS at 6,000 rpm and 300 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm, and this is mated to a pair of electric motors; the front axle motor produces 110 hp and 320 Nm of torque, while the rear unit makes 113 hp and 166 Nm of torque.

    Total system output is 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque sent to all four wheels, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox handling transmission duty on the front axle. Thus equipped, the 508 PSE does the 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.2 seconds, 80-120 km/h in 3.0 seconds and the standing kilometre sprint in 24.5 seconds. Top speed with full use of the powertrain’s outputs is 250 km/h, or 140 km/h in electric mode.

    The 11.5 kWh lithium-ion battery in the 508 PSE will take less than seven hours to reach a full charge from a standard domestic power outlet, or four hours from a 16-amp reinforced socket. The quickest recharging is done via a 32-amp wall box, which will fully recharge the battery pack in under two hours, says Peugeot.

    For reference, the 300 hp 508 and 508 SW Hybrid use a Type 2 connector, and those are rated for a four-hour charge time from a 3.3 kW 14-amp outlet, while an optional 6.6 kW 32-amp three-phase wallbox charger does a full charge in under one hour 45 minutes. The hybrid battery and drive systems do not encroach upon cabin space in both 508 PSE sedan and wagon versions, says Peugeot.

    Chassis upgrades over the regular Peugeot 508 range include adaptive damping with Comfort, Hybrid and Sport modes, a lowered seat plate as well as front and rear tracks widened by 24 mm and 12 mm respectively, four-piston front brake calipers on 380 mm brake discs, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres on 20-inch wheels.

    The Peugeot 508 PSE offers five drive modes – Electric, Comfort, Hybrid, Sport and 4WD – that control powertrain and chassis settings. Electric mode offers purely battery-powered driving up to 140 km/h, and has a battery-only range of 42 km. Combined fuel consumption is rated at 2.03 l/100 km according to WLTP testing protocol.

    Comfort is a hybrid mode with softened suspension settings for maximum comfort, Hybrid selects powertrain usage automatically for optimised fuel consumption, and Sport summons the full output of the hybrid powertrain and sharpens the throttle map, while steering and damping settings are altered as well.

    The powertrain is set to ensure the internal combustion engine keeps the battery fully charged for maximum output at all times, and the 4WD mode aids traction in slippery conditions. Inside, the 508 PSE adopts the French manufacturer’s i-Cockpit layout with a steering wheel that is given the Kryptonite (lime green) claw motif and Peugeot Sport Engineered branding. Audio comes courtesy of a Focal Audio system as standard.

    Meanwhile, the graphic animations for the driver’s instrumentation and the 10-inch HD infotainment screen also get PSE labelling to set the high-performance sedan and wagon apart from the more mainstream versions, and upholstery for the comfort-fit seats is a mix of leather, 3D-mesh and Alcantara, trimmed in Tramontane grey and Kryptonite stitching.

    Manufactured in Mulhouse, France, the Peugeot 508 PSE sedan and SW wagon is available Perla Nera (black), pearl white and the PSE-exclusive Selenium Grey, and the order books for the hybrid duo will open mid-October this year.

  • 2020 Hyundai i30 N facelift shown, adds 8-speed DCT

    Following in the footsteps of the Hyundai Veloster N, the facelifted i30 N is the next N model to get the South Korean carmaker’s new eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission. Complementing the existing six-speed manual, the gearbox is said to provide a balance between engagement and convenience.

    Aside from the quicker shifts, the DCT also enables three new performance-enhancing features. The first is N Grin Shift, which engages the sportiest engine and gearbox setting for a maximum of 20 seconds, simply by pressing a button on the steering wheel.

    Meanwhile, N Power Shift engages gears more aggressively when more than 90% of the throttle is applied, delivering unlimited torque to the wheels and giving a more abrupt shift feel. Lastly, N Track Sense Shift, as the name suggests, detects when the roads are ideal for driving quickly – such as racetrack – and adjusts the shift points to suit.

    The 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine has also been upgraded. It still makes 250 PS and 353 Nm of torque in standard form, but cars fitted with the Performance Package now have 280 PS and 392 Nm at their disposal – increases of 5 PS and 39 Nm respectively. So equipped, the car gets to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster than before, although it’s unclear if this is with the manual or the new DCT.

    Underneath, the i30 N gets retuned suspension and steering for better ride and handling, although adaptive dampers, the N Grin Control System with Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom drive modes, and the Performance Package’s electronic limited-slip differential continue to be fitted. On the Performance Package, the front brake discs are now 15 mm larger at 360 mm to provide greater stopping power.

    Hyundai has also sought to reduce the weight of this car with a couple of additions. The Performance Package adds new forged 19-inch alloy wheels that altogether weigh 14.4 kg lighter than the outgoing cast rollers, while available N Light Seats with integrated headrests and illuminated N badging shave off 2.2 kg compared to the standard pews.

    These additions go hand in hand with the revised exterior design, derived from the standard i30 facelift. You’ve got a wider front grille (here with an N-specific Y-shaped mesh), flanked by redesigned LED headlights with arrow-shaped daytime running lights. The triple air intake is similar to before, continuing to come with air curtain inlets that improve airflow around the front wheels.

    While the rear of the Fastback model remains unchanged, the hatch gets a new bumper design. There’s greater use of unpainted black plastic (especially around the number plate recess), and the rear fog lights have been moved further down for a cleaner look. The tail lights also get the same arrow-shaped graphics as the headlights. The twin tailpipes and distinctive triangular brake light remain.

    Inside, there are fewer changes, including Performance Blue seat belt accents and a larger 10.25-inch navigation touchscreen as an option, equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the latest BlueLink connected services.

    Safety has also been improved with more SmartSense driver assistance systems, such as pedestrian detection for autonomous emergency braking, lane centring assist and – on the hatchback – blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. Models with the DCT add braking intervention to blind spot monitoring.

  • Proton X50 – Geely explains downsizing move, three-cylinder vibration countermeasures for 1.5T engines

    Malaysians in general have a preconceived idea of how big an engine should be for each type or car. We’ve encountered many who dismiss 1.0L turbo B-segment cars because of engine capacity, despite the boosted motors having good figures and low end torque that would see them overtake 1.5L NA rivals. C/D-segment cars with 1.5T engines? “Can move ah?” is a common question.

    This is despite engine downsizing being with us for some time now, and plenty of evidence that a downsized turbo engine is capable of much more than its engine capacity suggests. In my opinion, VW Group models are the best poster cars for the downsizing movement (your first time in a modern GTI will tell you it’s all the car you’ll need), and we got to hat tip Honda for introducing downsized turbo engines in the Japanese mass market arena.

    It’s all about fuel efficiency and emissions, which are (rightfully) forced on carmakers. With turbocharging to compensate, an engine can get away with having lower displacement and fewer cylinders. A smaller engine is a more efficient one – they’re also lighter and smaller in size, which adds to the FC gains.

    Of course, many have been converted, and the mindset of most have changed, but the reaction of some to the new Nissan Almera’s 1.0 litre turbo engine proves that some are wedded to bigger is better. You’ve read what we think of this subject; now let’s see what Geely has to say.

    In an article focusing on the 1.5TD engine range and interviewing Hakan Sandquist, Geely’s director of powertrain strategy at CEVT (China Euro Vehicle Technology) in Gothenburg, the company explained the rationale behind the 1.5TD engine family – which houses the X50’s 1.5T and 1.5 TGDi engines – the reason for downsizing, and countermeasures for a three-cylinder engine’s inherent character.

    In addition to the efficiency positives listed above, Geely says that the three-cylinder engine is perfect for compact models for a variety of reasons: the smaller size leaves room for hybrid systems (the 1.5 TD engine range was from the onset designed to support electrification) and gives designers more freedom; while lower weight makes it easier to achieve a 50:50 chassis weight balance in front-wheel-drive models.

    Three-cylinder engines vibrate more; that’s just the way they are. But Geely and Volvo did not see this inherent three-pot characteristic as an unsolvable problem, because they already have the secret sauce for odd-numbered cylinder engines in the pantry. “For years, Volvo has utilised a five-cylinder engine and has extensive experience developing engines for the premium market segment,” Sandquist said.

    An army of measures are there to neutralise the enemy. The 1.5TD range features counterweighted crankshafts, dual-mass flywheel with centrifugal pendulum absorber damper, single balancing shaft, low noise timing belt, high stiffness oil pan, asymmetric oil pump impeller, and an engine compartment and vibration dampener. All these “have effectively eliminated perceivable engine vibrations,” Sandquist says.

    Geely claims that noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) in models powered by 1.5TD engines is on par or better than some equipped with four-cylinder engines. The carmaker says that electrified versions of the engine should further reduce vibrations, as most of the sensation is felt during engine start-up and at low engine speeds. In hybrids, the electric motor takes care of these situations before the ICE comes in.

    All Volvo Engine Architecture engines (VEA forms the foundation of the 1.5TD) are designed to accommodate a combination of turbochargers, superchargers and electric systems – this allows Volvo and Geely to offer consumers different levels of power outputs within the same engine family. Like building blocks.

    With the 1.5TD, Geely and Volvo set out to create a “highly responsive, compact and powerful premium-quality three-cylinder engine”. With a low inertia turbocharger, traditional turbo lag is minimised and “nearly imperceptible” while giving the engine the endurance it needs at higher speeds. Geely claims a smooth and linear power output similar to much larger NA engines.

    Built to be modular and electrification-ready, the 1.5TD has plug-and-play support for mild hybrid, range extender, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid systems. An example is the plug-in hybrid “Twin Engine” version of the Volvo XC40. Geely claims that the 1.5TD has the potential to meet future Euro 7 emissions levels, and global fleet CO2 targets past year 2030.

    Finally, durability. Volvo and Geely say that they tested and validated the 1.5TD above and beyond the prevailing industry standard. The engines are designed to last 15 years or a distance of 350,000 km, higher than the norm of 10 years or 200,000 km.

    Jointly developed by Geely and Volvo at Volvo’s R&D centre in Gothenburg, CEVT China Euro Vehicle Technology in the same Swedish city, and the Geely Research Institute in China, the 1.5TD engine range is produced around the world following the Volvo Global Manufacturing System. The engines share over 90% of the same global suppliers through the Chinese carmaker’s global joint procurement system.

    The 1.5TD family has three base variants. The range starts with the 1.5T PFI, which is the 1.5T in the X50 Standard, Executive and Premium. PFI stands for port fuel injection. The next one is the 1.5TD using direct injection – this is the 1.5 TGDi in the X50 Flagship. There’s also a 1.5T Miller designed specifically for hybrid applications. The variable valve timing in this PFI mill is adjusted to enable the engine to run on the more fuel efficient Miller cycle.

    All three engines in the 1.5TD family are 1,477 cc three-pot turbos with similar bore and stroke measurements of 82 mm and 93.2 mm. What differs is the compression ratio, which is expected because of the different fuel injection systems – it’s 10:1 for the 1.5T PFI, 10.5:1 for the 1.5TD (1.5 TGDi) and 11.5:1 for the 1.5T Miller PFI.

    The 1.5T kicks things off at 150 PS (110 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 226 Nm of torque available from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm; the 1.5TD (1.5 TGDi) does 179 PS (132 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 255 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm; while the 1.5T Miller is good for 143 PS (105 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 215 Nm of torque from 2,500 to 4,000 rpm. The 1.5TD figures will be 177 PS (130 kW) if tuned for RON 92 petrol, and 177 PS is what Proton quotes.

    The Malaysian carmaker has also revealed claimed fuel consumption figures – 6.4 litres per 100 km (15.6 km/l) for 1.5 TGDi Flagship and 6.5 litres per 100 km (15.4 km/l) for the non-DI 1.5T engine that powers the rest of the X50 range.

    We’ve already covered the X50 extensively from the media preview that happened last week, and you can check it out here. Below are the spec-by-spec differences that we know so far. Bear in mind though that the images you see here are of the top Flagship variant – Proton has yet to reveal the other variants in the metal.

    2020 Proton X50 1.5T Standard
    Gets as standard:

    • 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder MPI engine
    • Around 150 PS and 226 Nm of torque
    • Seven-speed (wet) dual-clutch automatic transmission with manual mode (no paddle shifters)
    • Four airbags (front and side)
    • LED headlamps and DRLs
    • 17-inch alloy wheels
    • Quad exhaust pipes
    • Full carbon fibre-print bodykit
    • Fabric seats
    • Rear air con vents
    • Digital instrument cluster
    • Eight-inch touchscreen infotainment unit
    • Reverse camera
    • Electronic parking brake with auto brake hold

    2020 Proton X50 1.5T Executive
    Adds on:

    • Six airbags (front, side, curtain)
    • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
    • Automatic headlamps
    • Front fog lamps
    • Leatherette seats

    2020 Proton X50 1.5T Premium
    Adds on:

    • Tyre pressure monitoring system
    • 18-inch alloy wheels with red brake callipers
    • Powered driver’s seat
    • 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment unit
    • 360-degree camera

    2020 Proton X50 1.5 TGDi Flagship
    Adds on:

    • 1.5 litre turbocharged direct injection three-cylinder engine
    • 177 PS and 255 Nm of torque
    • Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS)
    • Dual-tone exterior (black roof and pillars)
    • Panoramic sunroof

    GALLERY: 2020 Proton X50 1.5 TGDi Flagship

    GALLERY: 2020 Proton X50 colour options

    GALLERY: 2020 Proton X50 official images

  • Harley-Davidson exits India motorcycle market

    As part of its global restructuring plan, dubbed “Rewire”, Harley-Davidson will be ceasing sales and manufacturing operations in India, as well as reducing staff count by 70. This comes after a turbulent start to 2020 for the iconic American brand, including the appointment of a new chief executive officer, Jochen Zeitz, and a new chief financial officer from outside the industry, Gina Goetter.

    In a press statement, reported by Indian website, Harley-Davidson India said its manufacturing facility in Bawal will be closed down, and the sales office in Gurugram will be significantly downsized. However, there was no significant information on how Harley-Davidson will support its existing customer base in India.

    There are currently 33 Harley-Davidson dealerships across the Indian sub-continent with the report saying each will have different contract terms although there was no clear indication of how existing Harley-Davidson customer would be supported in terms of service and spares.

    With Harley-Davidson’s exit, this will likely mean the demise of the Street 750 model which is manufactured in India. It is speculated the India market will be supported by Harley-Davidson’s plant in Thailand but there is no concrete information thus far.

    Harley-Davidson entered the India market in 2009, opening its first dealership in July 2010 and leading sales figures for the premium motorcycle market there for several years. Sales numbers there were lead by the Street 750 model, followed by certain CKD models that were assembled in its assembly plant in Haryana.

    In the last financial year, Harley-Davidson sold fewer than 2,500 units in India, and between April-June 2020, only about 100 Harleys were sold in India. This made the Indian motorcycle market one of the worst performing international markets for Harley-Davidson with the overall downturn in its international sales and the Cover-19 pandemic.

  • 2020 Honda City: CKD production in full swing, Melaka factories upgraded to be on par with Honda Japan

    Local assembly of the 2020 Honda City at Honda Malaysia’s assembly plants in Pegoh, Melaka has gone in full swing, ahead of the fifth-generation B-segment sedan’s big debut in October. While not confirmed, there could be as many as four variants on offer, including the most advanced City RS e:HEV variant with the new i-MMD hybrid powertrain.

    Our source from Honda Malaysia said local assembly preparations for the City RS i-MMD hybrid began as early as five years ago. This timeline provided a sufficiently large window to equip both the No. 1 Line and No. 2 Line factories with upgraded machineries, robots and tooling. Improvements have also been made across the production lines, from assembling the shell and body panels, welding and paint processes, to final inspection phases.

    For welding, the fifth-gen City goes through an additional, fully robotised “inner welding” process, which helps improve the car’s structural rigidity. Then, it goes through a six-stage painting process, which includes submerging the entire shell in a pool of anti-corrosion agent, as well as a water bath to check for leaks.

    These steps are said to improve the production quality of its CKD cars, and at the same time accommodate some of Honda Motor Company’s most advanced production equipment. These upgrades were largely necessitated by the introduction of the City i-MMD hybrid in Malaysia, which is the first country in the world to get the car. This also means the plant is capable of producing other i-MMD models in the future.

    The new i-MMD powertrain and IPU

    In order for the City i-MMD hybrid to benefit from EEV tax breaks, at least 30% of all its main components (which includes the hybrid powertrain, driveline systems, body and interior parts) must be locally sourced. Even the hybrid battery pack, known as the Intelligent Power Unit (IPU), is methodically assembled by hand in a static-free, temperature controlled (constant 25 degrees) environment.

    Honda Malaysia said it has taken several measures to ensure that no faulty IPUs get delivered to customers. One way of doing this is to assemble and install the batteries in a car within 180 days from the date the lithium-ion cells are manufactured. This alone significantly reduces the defect rates, but in case a faulty IPU is produced, it either gets returned to the manufacturer, or responsibly recycled by Honda Assembly Malaysia.

    The i-MMD’s 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC engine is also assembled in this facility via a 19-step procedure. The previous Sport Hybrid i-DCD hybrid powertrain was also built in the same premise, by the way.

    Other upgrades include a more uniformly lit paint inspection bay (as seen in the picture above) to help reduce paint defects, as well as repurposing old spray booths for a new spray foam injection process to fill hollow cavities in the City’s lower frame. This process is claimed to improve NVH levels by 33%.

    Honda Malaysia has invested quite a sum to improve its CKD operations. Presently, the company said the new City i-MMD production line is just as sophisticated as Honda Japan. Production training for the fifth-generation Honda City also began well over a year ago, so now it’s all systems go.

    Production capacity, however, remains unchanged. Both plants are still capable of outputting 100,000 passenger cars (combined) annually. The facility also has a 2.1-km test track, an R&D facility, and several pre-delivery inspection centres with a combined capacity to house close to 16,000 new cars at a time.

  • 2020 Honda City RS i-MMD – more details and photos, variant features the full Honda Sensing safety suite

    More details of the 2020 Honda City – in its range-topping RS e:HEV variant form – have emerged. At the recent visit to Honda Malaysia’s assembly plant in Pegoh, Melaka, the company showcased production of the fifth-generation B-segment sedan ahead of its market debut next month and also offered more info on the particular variant with the intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) hybrid powertrain, part of an expected four-model line-up for Malaysia.

    First up, general dimensions. The new City measures in at 4,553 mm long, 1,748 mm wide and 1,467 mm tall, making it 111 mm longer, 54 mm wider and 10 mm lower than its predecessor. The wheelbase dimensions haven’t been revealed, nor has kerb weight and other relevant numbers.

    Exterior-wise, specifications include new LED headlights (only for RS and V), LED daytime running lights and new LED tail lamps. The Road Sailing variant comes with additional dress-up kit in the form of a gloss black front grille, a carbon-pattern front lip, a diffuser on the rear bumper as well as mirror covers and a ducktail spoiler finished in gloss black. The RS is the only variant to ride on 16-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, with the rest of the model range featuring single-tone silver wheels.

    The company still hasn’t decided to reveal the interior of the local model, but we know that there will be rear-air-con vents, and the RS will come with an electric parking brake, the only variant to have it. Elsewhere, a remote engine start function (as seen on the Civic) for the variant is a segment first.

    As previously highlighted, the City will feature Honda Sensing. This suite of active safety features is not available in Thailand, meaning that Malaysia will be the first market in ASEAN to get the system on the City.

    It was not detailed earlier if the City would come with the full complement, but we can now report that it will on the RS. The Sensing suite consists of:

    • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
    • Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS)
    • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
    • Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
    • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
    • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
    • Auto High-Beam (AHB)

    Although the Low Speed Follow (LSF) function has been omitted, the Sensing suite on the City gets a wider view camera to better recognise road boundaries, and the system now comes with pedestrian and cyclist detection capability.

    The car will also get Honda’s LaneWatch side-camera system, and from what we’ve gathered, LaneWatch will also be found on the variant just below the RS, the V grade, similar in execution to the HR-V, although the SUV doesn’t feature Sensing.

    The exterior colours for the car have also been revealed, and there are five to choose from, namely Modern Steel Metallic, Passion Red Pearl, Platinum White Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl and Lunar Silver Metallic.

    Otherwise, the rest of the info so far has been what was divulged previously. In terms of powertrain, Malaysia will be the first country in the world to offer the City with the two-motor i-MMD hybrid system, which is currently only offered on the Jazz.

    The hybrid system consists of a 98 PS/127 Nm 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, which does not power the car but functions mainly as a generator with the help of an integrated electric motor (which also acts as a starter).

    A larger second motor, which churns out 109 PS and 253 Nm, provides propulsion. As explained previously, because the electric motor mostly drives the car, the i-MMD system does away with a traditional gearbox, but the engine can provide direct drive at higher speeds using a lock-up clutch and a single-speed transmission, as it is more efficient than an electric motor at those speeds.

    Aside from the hybrid, the City will be available as a petrol-only model, powered by a new twin-cam (DOHC) 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated i-VTEC mill, which for the Indian market offers 121 PS and 145 Nm, paired with a CVT. While specific variant grades – or any hint of pricing – haven’t been revealed, it’s safe to expect the usual S, E and V variants when the time comes.


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Last Updated 19 Sep 2020