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  • 2018 Aston Martin V8 Vantage officially launched in Malaysia – 510 PS, 685 Nm, priced from RM1.6 million

    Aston Martin Kuala Lumpur has officially introduced the new Aston Martin Vantage in the country, the second-generation two-door coupe arriving here nine months after its global reveal. It’s priced from RM1.6 million, inclusive of duties.

    Measuring in at 4,465 mm long, 1,942 mm wide and 1,273 mm tall, with a 2,704 mm long-wheelbase, the Vantage sits on the same bonded aluminium structure as the DB11, but 70% of its components are unique. It also takes a different approach in styling to its larger sibling.

    Design-wise, the new Vantage has a sculptured, athletic shape, clearly displaying many design details from the bespoke DB10 specifically created for the James Bond film, Spectre. With minimal front and rear overhangs, muscular flanks and broad haunches, the new Vantage is certainly not short on presence, and it looks especially sharp to the eye in the metal.

    The interior, meanwhile, features significant gains in occupant space and headroom compared to its predecessor, and stowage space is also up, with useable room behind the seats and generous double-tier storage areas to be found. The boot, meanwhile, offers 350 litres of cargo storage space.

    New rotary and toggle style controls help snazz up the cabin, with the PRND transmission buttons now arranged in a triangular formation, clustering major controls into clearly defined zones. Speaking of switches, there’s no shortage of these on the centre console for the button-loving crowd.

    Standard equipment includes sports seats, keyless start/stop, a tyre pressure monitoring system, dual-zone climate control, park assist and front/rear parking sensors. Other features include a version of Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND Online infotainment system with an eight-inch central LCD screen and an Aston Martin audio system.

    As standard, the Vantage comes shod with Alcantara upholstery, but a full-leather interior is available as an option. and there are plenty of other embellishments to be found, including satin silver accents and gloss black trim as well as saddle leather door pulls.

    There’s only one engine for the car at present, and that’s a 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 from Mercedes-AMG, the M177 as seen in AMG 63-based applications. New engine mounts and a lower-profile wet sump help sit the engine lower in the Vantage, and the mill has been retuned – along with the intake and exhaust – to provide a more AM-styled character and sonic signature.

    Output numbers are 510 PS at 6,000 rpm and 685 Nm of torque from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm, and power is sent along to the rear wheels via a rear-mounted ZF eight-speed automatic transaxle. Performance figures include a 0-100 km/h time of 3.6 seconds and a 314 km/h top speed.

    Tech bits include a speed-sensitive electric power steering, an adaptive damping system with Skyhook, offering Sport, Sport Plus and Track drive modes. Also on, DSC, Dynamic Torque Vectoring and, for the first time on an Aston Martin, an electronic locking rear differential (E-Diff) that works alongside the stability control system to react based on the car’s behaviour.

    As standard, the Vantage comes fitted with 20-inch Y alloy wheels, wrapped in specially-developed Pirelli P Zero 255/40 front and 205/35 rear tyres. Personalisation options include forged units in a variety of finishes.

  • Mercedes-Benz S560 Coupe, Cabriolet now in Thailand – latter is RM2.09m, RM780k more than in Malaysia

    The facelifted Mercedes-Benz S560 Coupe and Cabriolet duo is now available in Thailand, priced at 15.99 and 16.72 million baht respectively for the sporty AMG Premium trim level. That’s 500,000 baht (RM62,532) more than before and equivalent to RM2 million and RM2.09 million, respectively.

    It was earlier this month that Mercedes-Benz Malaysia launched four members of the S-Class facelift range, which included the S450L, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, the Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe and the S560 Cabriolet, as seen here.

    The latter is priced locally at RM1.31 million, which is an astonishing RM780k less than what it costs in Thailand. To illustrate, that difference can get you an AMG C63S Coupe (before GST 0%) and a luxury weekend holiday for two. We get the S-Class Coupe in S63 AMG form for RM1.46 million, which is RM540k less than the Thai S560 Coupe.

    The S560 Cabriolet is powered by a 4.0 litre biturbo V8 engine with 469 hp and 700 Nm of torque, replacing the 4.7 litre V8 from the pre-facelift. The new M176 motor comes with cylinder deactivation tech and is mated to a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission. The big cruiser does 0-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds.

    The A217 S-Class Cabriolet gets new front and rear bumpers, with the face adorned with a familiar diamond grille, chrome-plated front splitter and bigger air inlets. The rear gets new OLED tail lights, with each cluster featuring 33 thin OLED elements that are printed on a glass plate. The luminance varies depending on ambient brightness, driving condition, braking and turn signals; while a ‘light show’ accompanies locking and unlocking.

    Inside, the dual 12.3-inch screens that form the widescreen cockpit are no longer separated, and there’s a new steering wheel with buttons that respond to swiping motions. There’s a Comand Online infotainment system (with updated interface) that offers 3D HDD GPS navigation and smartphone connectivity, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as wireless charging.

    Here, the ragtop S is equipped with Airmatic air suspension with infinitely variable damper control, and driving assistance systems such as Active Distance Control Distronic and Active Steering Assist. Once again, it goes for RM1.31 million, which is RM780k less than what Thai tycoons pay.

    GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz S560 Cabriolet

  • New e-hailing service diffride launched in Malaysia

    The e-hailing sector has gained a new entrant in the form of diffride, which was recently launched in Malaysia, as reported by The Edge and Malay Mail.

    Unlike other companies offering e-hailing services, diffride says it is the first to offer competitive ride fares for both passengers and its drivers. “We are the first e-hailing service provider in Malaysia to offer this flat fee of RM5 to our driver partners for daily access to connect them to their potential passengers,” said diffride chief executive Hannah Yong.

    “By not requiring them to pay us a percentage of their fares, this means that we can not only offer our riders a more competitive fare rate for their journey, but also allow our drivers to take home a larger amount of their earnings,” she added.

    Payment for diffride services include both cash and cashless options, which are managed via dedicated apps (available for Android phones only currently). For now, there are 2,000 drivers registered to be diffride drivers but the company is expecting up to 6,000 drivers by the end of 2018, with a ridership of 500,000.

    Yong also stated that diffride was the first e-hailing service provider to fully comply with the Ministry of Transport’s regulations, whereby prospective drivers will need to be screened by the the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD).

    “Their cars, which they must either own or be legally authorised to drive, must also be less than eight years old and be of a model that ranks three stars or above on the New Car Assessment Programme for Southeast Asian Countries (Asean NCAP), or its equivalent,” Yong added.

    Later on, telematics technology will be offered to drivers. “This will allow car owners and drivers to track the location of their car, should it be stolen. This system also provides an unbiased performance report, in addition to reviews provided by customers, giving all users a reliable evaluation tool to rely on,” she said.

  • Unwise to drop tolls in current financial climate: Daim

    While members of the government continue to debate the proposed abolishment of highway toll collection, the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) has advised against doing so as part of its recommendations to the government, according to The Star.

    The council’s chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin said that removing all tolls would be unwise given the country’s current financial climate. “We had submitted our proposal, and while the idea is to remove toll completely, at the current financial position it’s not wise to do it at this stage. I think the rakyat will be able to understand,” he told reporters.

    Daim added that the CEP has also received numerous proposals from highway concessionaires on how to abolish tolls, although he noted that those proposals require more scrutiny. “Some of the proposals are not complete and everyone seems to have their own ideas,” he said.

    A gradual abolishment of toll collection over five years was one of the promises made by Pakatan Harapan in its manifesto for the 14th general election, but the plan has been hit with a few speed bumps since the party claimed its shock victory in May. In July, works minister Baru Bian said that while the government is working hard to fulfil its promises, it “cannot rush into things” and that the people should be patient.

    The following month, Baru claimed that the government may need to fork out up to RM400 billion to buyout concessionaires, later saying that the plan had been postponed indefinitely. This earned a rebuke from Damansara MP Tony Pua, who said that the final figure would not reach RM400 billion.

  • ECRL project cancelled – prime minister Tun Mahathir

    The proposed East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project has been shelved due to Malaysia’s need to manage its finances, according to prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

    In reports by The Edge and The Star, the premiere said the Chinese government has been made aware of the decision, and that it understands the financial woes currently facing the current administration. “I believe China itself does not want to see Malaysia become a bankrupt country,” Mahathir said.

    Even so, he stated that the government would have to provide compensation on the cancellation of these projects, which will be negotiated at a later date. “This is due to the stupidity of the previous government,” commented Mahathir.

    Initially, the railway was to consist of two phases; Phase 1 with 21 stations along a 600.3 km line, connecting Kota Bharu in Kelantan to the Integrated Transport Terminal Gombak (ITT Gombak) in Selangor – a future interchange for the Kelana Jaya LRT line – and Phase 2, which comprises 88 km of combined track from Gombak North to Port Klang, and an extension link between Kota Bharu and Pengkalan Kubor.

    Previously, the project was under review by the government to ascertain not just the construction costs (said to be RM80.92 billion) but also the viability of maintain the rail network. The latter, as explained by finance minister Lim Guan Eng, was estimated to be RM600 million to RM1 billion annually.

  • New Lexus ES 300h launched in Thailand – fr RM448k

    The new Lexus ES is now in Thailand, after being launched in Indonesia at the 2018 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show, which we reported from. As with our southern neighbour, the seventh-generation ES is also available in Thailand solely as a hybrid.

    The ES 300h is the choice in the Land of Smiles for tax reasons, the Bangkok Post points out. With an improved hybrid system, fuel economy is up from 20 km/l to a claimed 22 km/l, but it’s the below 100 g/km C02 emissions that has cut excise tax from 16% to 8%, enabling Lexus to maintain entry prices at 3.59 million baht (RM448,545) for the Luxury trim. The Grand Luxury is priced at 3.76 million baht (RM469,827) while the Premium comes in at 4.19 million baht (RM523,622).

    The English language daily says that the ES is aimed at well heeled Thais wanting a fuel-efficient alternative to diesel-powered European executive saloons, but don’t want the additional task of plug-in charging. As in Malaysia, Lexus faces the same CBU vs CKD issues in Thailand, where premium German brands have the local assembly price advantage.

    The seventh-generation XV70 is new from the ground up, and rides on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) GA-K platform, which also underpins the latest Camry. Lexus says it rivals the GA-L RWD platform used for the LC grand tourer and LS limo in terms of rigidity.

    Looking very much like a smaller LS, the new ES is 66 mm longer and 46 mm wider than before, but sits 5 mm lower. The wheelbase has also grown by 51 mm, and all these figures contribute to the sleeker appearance – “provocative elegance” is what the design seeks to achieve. The dramatic spindle grille comes with vertical slats here and the 18-inch wheels are in a “Resonator” design.

    The ES 300h combines a 2.5 litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor that’s lighter, more compact and more power dense. The total system output is 215 hp. Power goes to the front wheels via a CVT automatic.

    In Indonesia, the car we detailed had a largest in class colour head-up display, 12.3-inch central screen, 17-speaker Mark Levinson Pure Play sound system, rear seat controls in the centre armrest (for seats, temp and audio), sunroof, kick-to-open powered boot, panoramic view parking monitor, three-zone auto AC with carbon filtration and nano-e, heated/ventilated seats and full LED exterior lighting.

    An “Ultra Luxury” variant adds on power reclining rear seats, semi-aniline leather seats and acoustic glass rear windows to go with the standard front ones. The outgoing ES was a decent seller for Lexus Malaysia, so this new one should be heading to our market in the near future.

    GALLERY: Lexus ES 300h in Indonesia

    GALLERY: Lexus ES 300h official images

  • Proton Ace the Space contest winners set new Malaysian record for most people inside an MPV

    A 17-year-old record in the Malaysia Book of Records was broken during the finale of Proton’s Ace the Space contest, when 55 people crammed themselves into a Proton Exora to set a new record for ‘most people in an MPV’.

    The record-setting team was Team Girls Power from Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UNIMAP), and they were among the 25 groups (total of 669 participants) that took part in the contest.

    Team Girls Power’s path to the finals saw the team secure a victory in the state qualification round, which saw 39 members squeezing themselves into a Proton Ertiga.

    This feat was enough to get them to the finals at Proton Centre of Excellence, where they would face off against KVT Girl from Kolej Vokasional Temerloh in Pahang, Senawang Triggers from Politeknik Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan and GKL from UiTM Shah Alam in Selangor (the only all male team).

    The contest was a tight one, with KVT Girl and Senawang Triggers managing to insert 53 people each into an Exora. Meanwhile, team GKL mustered 45 people into the MPV. A special award for ‘Best War Cry’ was given to Team Last Minute, also from UNIMAP.

    As champions, Team Girls Power received a cash prize of RM10,000 as well as individual prizes for each member. These include Proton sales vouchers worth RM1,000, smartphones, two TGV movie tickets and an exclusive invitation to the launch of Proton’s first SUV model.

    The Ace the Space contest was organised as a way to showcase the spaciousness of Proton’s MPV line-up as well as to show appreciation and reward loyal Proton fans. This is together with the chance to set a new record in the Malaysia Book of Records.

  • Suzuki Ciaz facelift gets new 1.5L petrol Smart Hybrid

    Three years after the Suzuki Ciaz was introduced in India, the handsome sedan has been given a facelift, bringing with it a thoroughly revised look and a new mild petrol-electric hybrid powertrain option.

    The 1.5 litre Smart Hybrid replaces the 1.4 litre petrol model, and utilises a new K15 four-cylinder engine making 103 hp at 6,000 rpm and 138 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. Those figures are up by 13% and 6% respectively over the old K14 mill. Paired to the new engine is Suzuki’s next-generation Smart Hybrid system, now equipped with a compact lithium-ion battery.

    The system provides automatic engine start/stop, brake energy recuperation and a torque boost under acceleration, and helps deliver a fuel consumption figure 21.56 km per litre with a five-speed manual gearbox; a four-speed automatic is also offered. The existing 88 hp/200 Nm 1.3 litre DDiS Smart Hybrid diesel remains, making the Ciaz lineup a hybrid-only affair.

    On the outside, the front fascia has been redesigned with new LED projector headlights and daytime running lights joined together by a wider grille, while the chrome-trimmed air intakes have become more assertive and are fitted with LED fog lights. At the rear, there are LED tail lights and some more chrome trim, and the whole thing is finished off with new 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels.

    Inside, you’ll find new matte blonde birch wood effect trim set off with satin chrome accents, plus a 4.2 inch colour multi-info LCD display and eco illumination in the instrument cluster which dynamically changes colour depending on the driving pattern, likely similar to what you’d find on a Honda City and Jazz.

    The facelift also introduces a number of new features, including cruise control and automatic headlights with self levelling. In terms of safety, dual airbags and ABS with EBD have now been made standard, while stability control and hill start assist are offered on models with an automatic transmission.

  • Tesla could build cheaper US$25,000 car in three years

    Elon Musk has revealed that Tesla could be making more affordable cars that cost under US$25,000 (RM100k) in three years’ time, but the company has to work really hard to do that. In an interview with tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee, the Tesla CEO said there’s definitely room for less expensive, quality cars.

    “Yeah, absolutely. A US$25,000 car is something we could do. And if we work really hard we could do that in three years. The key to make it affordable is design, tech improvements and scale,” said Musk. Affordability also comes after having multiple versions and large volume, he added. “It’s a natural progression.”

    Meanwhile, Musk also said his team has way more product ideas than resources to execute. The company recently sought refunds from suppliers (money it had spent with them in the past) in order to increase its profitability and improve liquidity. It was even looking to go private with the backing of a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund.


    Currently, Tesla’s most affordable vehicle is the Model 3 (pictured above). When it was revealed to cost around US$35,000 (RM140k), the pre-orders skyrocketed, with 115,000 bookings collected within the first 24 hours. The cheaper US$25,000 model, should it ever become a reality, could potentially create an ever bigger hype.

    The Model 3 was originally said to cost around US$35,000 (RM140k), but several reports show that it’s hard to buy one for under US$50,000 (RM200k). Besides production delays and order cancellations, a group of German engineers suggested that it costs approximately US$28,000 to build the Model 3, and about US$10,000 of which is for labour and production costs. The rest are material costs.

    For Tesla to sell an electric car at US$25,000, those costs will have to be much lower. Just as a comparison, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is one of the most affordable EVs in the United States, with a starting price of US$29,500 (RM118k). So, what do you think? Could Tesla, a small-scale automaker, have the economies of scale to sell a car at US$25,000?

  • Lucid Motors could gain funding from Saudi Arabia

    According to a Reuters report, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) is in talks to invest in Lucid Motors. This comes following an earlier report that Tesla is looking to go private with the backing of the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund.

    Sources say the PIF and Lucid Motors have drawn up a term sheet whereby the former would invest more than US$1 billion in the latter in exchange for a majority ownership. The funds would come in stages, with the first investment being US$500 million followed by subsequent cash injections depending on company performance.

    The PIF’s decision to invest in tech companies comes as a need to diversify its investment portfolio away from oil-dependent industries. The fund is said to have cash reserve of around US$250 billion, with a good chunk (US$45 billion) already sunk into Japan’s SoftBank Group.

    Should the deal be confirmed, Lucid Motors would gain the necessary funding to follow though on production of its first model. In 2016, the company introduced the Air, a luxury sedan EV with a claimed range of 640 km and output of 1,000 hp. The vehicle would be built at a new US$700 million facility in Casa Grande, Arizona but that goal has been pushed back to 2020 due to a lack of funds.

    GALLERY: Lucid Motors Air


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Last Updated 16 Aug 2018


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