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  • DRIVEN: 2020 Perodua Bezza 1.0G and 1.3AV review

    It may not be the most exciting thing to look at, but there’s no denying that Perodua’s first ever sedan model, the Bezza, has been a commercial success. Since its debut in 2016, over 185,000 units of the Bezza has been sold in Malaysia.

    Hoping to continue that run, the automaker has given the Bezza a significant facelift for 2020, with an upgrade in specs, safety, comfort and even handling, so let’s see if this is still the entry-level sedan that you should all buy.

    We’ll take a look at what’s good, what’s bad, what’s new, what’s old and, most importantly, how it compares against its primary rival, the Proton Saga. Also, which of the two engine variants you should go for if you’re shopping for one.

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  • SPYSHOTS: Mercedes-Benz SL returns to fabric roof, to receive up to 800 hp in SL73 hybrid twin-turbo V8

    The all-new, next-generation Mercedes-Benz SL has been spotted by our spy photographers, and the forthcoming roadster appears to be undergoing some key changes for its next iteration. Firstly, the next SL will mark a return to the fabric roof after preceding generations of the folding hard-top which the German brand started using with the first SLK, and this generation of SL will also feature rear seats.

    This early development car is certainly wearing heavy disguise, which leaves still a considerable amount of the aesthetic to the imagination, though the move to a fabric roof construction will help offset any weight gain from additional equipment to come with the next-generation luxury roadster. This will share underpinnings with the next Mercedes-AMG GT, both of which will use the Modular Sports Architecture and save on development costs as a result.

    With the next SL to be engineered alongside the next AMG GT, the luxury roadster can be expected to be ‘far sportier’ than the current model, said AMG chief Tobias Moers, though it will still have the “perfect compromise between driving dynamics and comfort” in order to fulfil the cruiser brief, Moers said, adding that this forthcoming SL will be made exclusively as a roadster, which means there will no longer be a hardtop.

    It is very much early days in terms of determining the next SL’s engine line-up, however this is rumoured to comprise a 435 hp inline-six, a 522 hp biturbo V8 and the obligatory Mercedes-AMG SL63 version with around 612 hp. This generation may also mark the return of the SL73 AMG badge, the larger numbers denoting not a 7.3 litre V12 but rather an electrified petrol V8 powertrain. This is expected to be a 204 hp motor for a total output of 800 hp and 1,000 Nm of torque, our sources say.

    We can expect plenty more development car appearances in the coming months by the next SL which could debut in 2021 at the soonest, and the next-generation AMG GT sports car sibling that shares its platform is set to follow a year after as a 2022 model. Until then, what do you think of the SL’s return to the fabric roof?

     
  • TAS 2020: A90 Toyota GR Supra left, right and centre

    If you’ve not been to the Tokyo Auto Salon, you’d be forgiven to assume that Makuhari Messe would be a three-day fest celebrating the legends – think R32-R34 GT-Rs, the A80 Supra, FC-FD RX-7, Evo/Subaru, Silvias and Hachirokus, NSX and “real VTEC” Type Rs, you get the drift – and an assortment of kei cars.

    Last year was our first time there, and we were rather surprised to find that the icons were rather hard to come by. Unlike us, the Japanese respect the legends but live in the present. Which is why almost every booth had a Suzuki Jimny, and the FK8 Honda Civic Type R came in second as the most popular TAS 2019 exhibit. The undisputed car of TAS 2020 is the Toyota GR Supra.

    The A90 was everywhere we looked, acting as a canvas for purveyors of aftermarket performance parts, bodykits, wheels and everything else. It even served as a “project car” for the students of Nihon Automobile College. It sure didn’t seem like the A90 was being treated like a pariah for sharing parts with a BMW roadster and being made in Austria.

    We start with the biggest of them all, HKS. The legendary tuner had three cars in its booth, all GR Supras. The one with the famous HKS Super Oil livery is the drift machine of Nobuteru Taniguchi. This one no longer has the BMW B58 3.0L engine under the hood, but the 2JZ-GTE from the previous Supra. Famous for being tuneable to crazy hp, this 2JZ has over 700 horses.

    To be used by Taniguchi in the D1GP championship and FIA Intercontinental Drift Challenge, this drift car comes with HKS’ own widebody kit, Advan Racing GT wheels, a huge GT wing and a deep dish Nardi Classico steering wheel.

    More interesting are the wingmen. The white A90 in you see below (and in the lead pic) is the HKS GR Supra Aero. As its name suggests, this is a showcase for HKS’ widebody kit for the street. Much like Taniguchi’s drift car without the livery and big wing (neat ducktail instead), you can see the details a lot better in white, contrasted with forged carbon. Those red wheels are 20-inch Advan Racing R6 items.

    The subtle black car is the HKS GR Supra Street, which is a showcase for HKS’ performance parts. As tested by Manabu ‘Max’ Orido, the parts (for the stock BMW engine, not 2JZ) include a full HKS Super Turbo exhaust system, fully adjustable HKS Hipermax suspension, HKS Mastery ECU and a cold air intake with HKS Super Power Flow filter.

    Interestingly, we also spotted a special tool kit for the A90 by Tone, as this Supra, which is of course a sister car of BMW and made in Europe, won’t play well with typical tools designed for Japanese cars.

    Another prominent Supra at TAS was a satin green monster by Tachi Oiwa Motor Sports. Not just a concept, TOM’S Supra is a 99-unit limited edition priced at 14.23 million yen (RM570k).

    The tuner synonymous with Toyota didn’t just do an engine swap, but worked on the BMW six-pot to squeeze out 460 PS/579 Nm, which is an extra 120 PS/79 Nm over stock. They did it by changing the turbocharger and intercooler, ECU tuning and a high-flow exhaust system. To match, TOM’S fitted its Advox fully-adjustable suspension and upgraded the front brakes to Brembo six-pot calipers grabbing 380 mm discs.

    The aggressive body styling is quite unique – clearly fatter than the already muscular stock A90, but smoothly executed. The voluptuous side profile is nice, but the rear will be the most common view for most cars on the road – here, there’s a big park bench wing sitting on top of the original integrated ducktail, plus vertically stacked exhaust tips, two on each side.

    The lower body and big diffuser are all in carbon, accented by a lime green pinstripe. If you’re wondering, no those aren’t typically Japanese wheels but Vossens, which is more BMW than JDM. Easier PCD and offset match, perhaps. We also see TOM’S bucket seats made by Esqueleto.

    Other notable Supras include the “Monster GR Supra” exhibited by Work. This is drift champ Daigo Saito‘s work machine, and it’s famous as the first A90 to have 2JZ power. I prefer Max Orido’s A90 though, done up in the iconic Advan livery just like his old Supra. Is there any car that won’t look good in Advan livery? Next to the Yokohama stand was Masato Kawabata’s Toyo-sponsored drift car, the big bro of the 86 that we got to see at TGR Festival Malaysia.

    While team mate Farid was lusting over TOM’S LE, I was attracted to the one by Varis – all show no go, fits this author. The bodykit specialist was clever in drawing attention with a modded A80 Supra, done up in a “Rothmans-style” livery on the Varis Supreme kit. Next to it was a dark grey A90 with the new widebody Supreme 90 kit. Much aero, very fierce. They also had a non-wide A90 there, but might as well go all the way, right?

    Once the euphoria of the GR Yaris launch subsided, Tokyo Auto Salon 2020 became a Suprafest with some sideshows – we’re not complaining, just lusting.

    GALLERY: HKS GR Supras


    GALLERY: TOM’S GR Supra

    GALLERY: Varis GR Supra, A80 Supra

    GALLERY: Max Orido Advan GR Supra

    GALLERY: Daigo Saito Monster GR Supra

    GALLERY: Various modified Supras

     
  • January 2020 week 4 fuel price – RON 97 down 4 sen

    It’s Friday, and as such, time once again for another weekly fuel price update. Good news for RON 97 petrol users, because the fuel is cheaper this coming CNY week (January 25 to 31) at RM2.49 per litre, four sen less than last week.

    With the petrol subsidy programme (PSP) remaining on hold, no change to RON 95 petrol pricing, which continues on at the fixed ceiling price of RM2.08 per litre. The same goes for Euro 2M diesel, which stays at RM2.18 per litre, while Euro 5 diesel – typically 10 sen more – remains at RM2.28 per litre.

    According to the finance ministry, calculations from the Automatic Price Mechanism (APM) show that RON 95 petrol would be priced at RM2.19 per litre and Euro 2M diesel at RM2.26 per litre if there were no price caps in place. It added that for the period of January 25 to 31, the government will absorb a total of RM49.30 million to subsidise these fuels.

    These prices remain effective until January 31, when the next fuel price update is announced. This is the fourth edition of the current weekly fuel pricing format for the year and the 55th edition in total for the format, with runs from Saturday until the following Friday.

     
  • MARii aims for zero foreign labour in vendor network, phasing out 70,000 personnel by year end – report

    The ministry of international trade and industry (MITI) and the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) collectively aim to phase out the 70,000-strong foreign labour workforce in the local vendor ecosystem by the end of the year, said MARii CEO Datuk Madani Sahari, adding that the target will be spearheaded by national carmakers Proton and Perodua, according to The New Straits Times.

    “MARii has had discussions with Proton and Perodua to collaborate together in reducing foreign labour dependency for the local vendors supply chain. Proton and Perodua have about 200 companies involved in Tier 1 local vendors with a total of 40,000 foreign workers. If we can phase out foreign labour, it would create more employments for the locals,” Madani said.

    The Malaysian government has been phasing out between 32,000 to 35,000 foreign workers in the country from 2014 until 2019, the news daily reported. The local vendor supply chain currently has a workforce of 220,000 working in 641 companies, the MARii CEO said.

    “Previously, the local automotive sector employed about 110,000 (foreign personnel). Presently, we still have about 70,000 foreign workers in the local vendors ecosystem that supply parts for the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) based in Malaysia,” Madani said.

    “We also have done cost-benefit analyses (which found that) hiring local workforce would be more competitive and cheaper (compared to) employing foreign labour. Companies would have saved the cost for the foreign labour levy and passports and visas, hence it is more practical for the local automotive sector to recruit locals, creating more jobs,” he said.

    MARii has partnered with 439 local vendors since 2012 for various programmes, including the Automotive Supplier Excellence Programme (ASEP), MARii Industry4WRD Technology Platform (MITP), Automotive Industry Certification Engineering (AICE), and Industry Professional – Led Certification: Pengiktirafan Percapaian Terdahulu (IPC-PPT), which serve as tools to enhance the participants’ business capabilities in order to meet industry standards, the report said.

     
  • Petronas offers customers a host of rewards this CNY

    With Chinese New Year soon to be upon us, Petronas is offering a variety of rewards to customers to further enrich their festive experience. “This year, we want to reward our customers in a big way. Together with our partners, we are pooling together our resources to throw in a galore of rewards that will appeal to all customers,” said Azrul Osman Rani, Petronas Dagangan Berhad’s (PDB) managing director and CEO.

    “We hope to add joy to this festive season for our customers, and to provide them with a seamless and friction-less traveling experience to make their journey a more rewarding one with Petronas,” he added.

    For starters, Petronas is offering a RM5 cashback to new users who registered with Setel and perform a minimum top-up of RM30 in the e-wallet. If you’re a current Setel user, you can also refer a friend so the both of you will enjoy a RM5 cashback when they top-up the same amount.

    Regardless if you refuel using Setel or the old-fashioned way, a minimum fuel up of RM30 entitles you to Petronas ang pow packets as well as discounts of RM2 off any Tealive beverage at selected stations, and RM6 on a Formula One 6th-time World Constructors’ Championship shirt. All customers will also receive a Shopee promo code, while those who fuel up RM50 and above will also receive a complimentary coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts on top of the abovementioned rewards.

    Selected items from 26 participating brands will also be offered at special prices to ensure you are well stocked on drinks and snacks for the long drive ahead. Should you spend minimum of RM10, you’ll also be able to purchase special edition Star Wars tumblers for only RM49.90.

    Purchase Petronas Syntium (4L) lubricants instead, and you’ll get a Syntium thermos bottle and backpack. Those who are looking to reload their Touch n Go card before setting off can also do so at Petronas stations, as the RM0.50 top-up fee will be waived at all stations nationwide from January 23 to 29.

    As a yearly tradition, Petronas will also be offering complimentary Nescafe coffee and snacks via its Coffee Break Campaign at 160 participating stations. The company also partnered with Hong Leong Yamaha Motor to provide motorcycle inspections, while health screenings by St. John Ambulance Malaysia (SJAM) will be offered at selected stations.

    Petronas’ partnership with SJAM will also see fuel be sponsored for 50 ambulances that are ready to provide assistance where needed. The campaign’s partner, Road Safety Department (JKJR), will also be carrying advocacy programme on tips to stay safe on the road.

    Last but not least, Petronas’ Mesra Bonanza campaign is still ongoing, so don’t forget to participate before the closing date on January 31. All you need to do is spend a minimum of RM30 on fuel or Kedai Mesra items to be in the running to win monthly prizes, where 1,000 winners will be rewarded with 20,000 Mesra points (equivalent to RM200).

    For the cash prizes that will be awarded every two months, customers need to spend a cumulative of RM500 within a period of two months. Prizes include RM100,000 each for three grand prize winners while 14 winners will be rewarded with RM3,000 cash each.

     
  • 2020 MotoGP: Mission Winnow Ducati Team

    In a presentation in Bologno, Italy, Ducati Corse unveiled the 2020 Ducati Desmosedici GP20 in Mission Winnow Ducati Team colours. Ridden by Andrea Dovizioso (#04) and Danilo Petrucci (#9), this year’s Desmosedici GP20 comes in red with black and chrome accents.

    Last year’s racing season saw Dovizioso come in second in the world championship standing with 269 points and two race wins. Team mate Petrucci was sixth in the championship with 176 points and one race win.

    For 2020, Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse general manager, said the team is still not satisfied. “We can’t say that we are completely satisfied as our ultimate goal remains the same: winning the championship title. 2020 will be even more intense and demanding with 20 races scheduled in the calendar, and our rivals will be even more competitive,” said Dall’Igna.

    Speaking about Ducati’s racing efforts and the trickle down effect on Ducati’s road-going performance machines, Ducati Motor Holdings chief executive officer Claudio Domenicali said racing is a fundamental part of the company’s DNA and will remain so. “If we sum the R&D done for the production line, for racing and the assets needed to produce new models, the global Ducati R&D is worth more than 10% of the revenue,” commented Domenciali on Ducati’s investment in racing technology.

    The Desmosedici GP20 will make its debut at Sepang International Circuit on February 7 to 9 for the official MotoGP test. The 2020 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix will be held on the weekend of November 1.

     
  • Toyota GR Supra instrument cluster from BMW: report

    The platform and componentry sharing between the G29 BMW Z4 and the Toyota GR Supra is well documented, and the Toyota coupe has at times been criticised for not being as Japanese as it perhaps should be. There’s a variety of BMW parts visible around the cabin, though the Supra’s instrument cluster has been identified as unique to the Japanese brand – until now.

    Design Works was acquired by BMW in 1995, and so became part of the larger BMW group family which meant it was no longer allowed to work on projects for other, competing automakers, Motor Trend reported. The design firm’s work in collaboration with other brands is put on display on its site, including brands such as The North Face, John Deere, Asus, Konica Minolta and more.

    There was, however, no indication of the Toyota Supra on that list, though why both BMW and Toyota chose to keep this little trait a secret is unknown, given that the commonalities between the G29 Z4 and the Supra are well documented; the identification plate on the Supra even states that it is ‘Made by BMW’. Motor Trend found that the driver instrumentation graphics and physical cluster were designed by BMW’s Designed Works, in addition to the other BMW-sourced parts.

    Not only were both the G29 Z4 and the GR Supra developed from the same architecture at the same time, both cars are produced by BMW’s manufacturing partner Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to find yet another component, or set of components that are German rather than Japanese in provenance.

    To recap, the B58B30 3.0 litre turbocharged inline-six petrol unit in the Supra is the same as the engine that powers the Z4 in its M40i guise, producing 340 PS from 5,000 rpm to 6,500 rpm and 500 Nm of torque from 1,600 rpm to 4,500 rpm, both transmitting to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.

    GALLERY: Toyota GR Supra (Malaysia-spec)

     
  • Maserati lets us listen to its new electric powertrain

    Maserati has previously announced its plans for the electrification of its vehicle line-up, and is now giving us a sample of what’s in store. The Italian carmaker has begun the testing phase of its new electric propulsion systems, and is letting us hear them in action.

    That may sound odd considering the company’s history of developing cars that emit lovely noises from an internal combustion engine, but the company is assuring its customers that its EVs will have an “unmistakable sound.” Just so its known, while electric motors run rather silent, they still emit a whine and whistle, which Maserati are aiming to amplify and use it to enhance the driving experience.

    “During this experimental phase, the sound that will characterise the electric engine will also be developed. The next full electric models will have a distinctive signature sound, already a unique attribute of all Maserati cars equipped with traditional combustion engines,” the company said in an official release.

    Maserati’s electric powertrains are currently being developed at its facility in Modena, with all research and development work being carried out complete in-house. The company also noted that the GranTurismo and GranCabrio will be its first cars to adopt the electric powertrains, and will be built at its Turin production hub.

    If there’s any concern that Maserati will complete abandon internal combustion engines, rest assured that this will not happen. The company has previously stated while EVs and plug-in hybrids will be part of its line-up moving forward, there’s no possibility that the whole range will ever go fully electric.

     
  • Hyundai pick-up truck may get Genesis GV80 inline-six

    The new inline-six diesel engine which powers the Genesis GV80 could also go into the future Hyundai pick-up truck, Car Sales reported. “(For) this engine, we can have so many applications. (Hyundai) also make commercial vehicles and so on, so this engine will be out there for quite some time,” Hyundai R&D chief Albert Biermann told the Australian website.

    This suggests that the new inline-six diesel will almost certainly be employed for powering other models that the engine can be fitted to, as the company will want to maximise its returns after the development of a new engine. Is it a confirmation that it will go into vehicles outside the Genesis banner, though? “We have not finally decided yet,” Biermann said.

    In the Genesis GV80, the turbodiesel straight-six produces 278 PS and 600 Nm of torque; if installed in the forthcoming Hyundai pick-up truck in the same state of tune, this would endow it with more power and torque than the Mercedes-Benz X 350 d, which has 258 hp and 550 Nm of torque, and the Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 TDI, which has 258 hp and 580 Nm of torque in its most potent guise.

    Though previously the X-Class was rumoured to have a V8 variant in development, such a model is less likely because this mid-sized pick-up segment is predominantly focused on four-cylinder variants, and the X-Class range as a whole was reportedly due to be dropped from Mercedes-Benz’s product line-up.

    Hyundai chose to develop an inline-six diesel because it is inherently refined, and the longitudinal layout posed no packaging problems in the GV80, just as it wouldn’t be an issue in a large commercial vehicles, Biermann said. “It just makes the smoothest power. We developed the car from the beginning – the new platform (which will underpin the next G80 sedan) was already considered with that engine,” he said.

    That the GV80 is bound for the European market with the diesel six-cylinder engine shows that Hyundai wants to spread the engine’s development costs over the widest possible range of applications, the Australian website noted, and Biermann confirmed that the GV80 will meet Euro 6 ‘Step II’ emissions regulations.

    “There was a time, two years ago, when everybody was saying ‘diesel is over’, but now you have people saying: ‘with this new diesel technology, the air that comes from the tailpipe is cleaner than the air (the engine) sucks in, right?’ It is like that with the next level, so will it die or not die? Time will tell,” Biermann said regarding the viability of diesel in Europe.

    Regardless of the outlook for diesel, Hyundai is ready, along with hybrid, mild hybrid, PHEV, fully electric as well as fuel-cell models in development, Biermann said, also adding that the 3.0 litre inline-six diesel is compatible with hybrid drive, though he did not elaborate further.

    With Genesis head William Lee stating that the luxury brand will skip hybrids and head directly to EVs, hybrid drive applications for the diesel inline-six appears to be focused outside the Genesis brand, which adds weight to the idea of this powertrain going into other future Hyundai models.

     
 

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Last Updated 25 Jan 2020



 

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