Latest Stories

  • Subaru Viziv Adrenaline Concept teased for Geneva

    Subaru has dropped the first teaser of a new concept which it will present at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. Called the Viziv Adrenaline Concept, the show car takes the form of a small crossover, and the company isn’t providing further details for now.

    Design cues that are apparent to us include hexagonal-shaped front grille that is flanked by slim headlamps featuring C-shaped LED daytime running lights. The grille also meets up with the creases on the bonnet, while the lower apron adopts an angular design.

    Along the sides, the concept sports prominent wheel arches, with those at the front appearing to be joined by a body extension that starts from the front headlamps. There’re also cameras to replace the traditional side mirrors, as we’ve seen in numerous concepts already.

    Based on the teaser image, the new Viziv concept certainly looks like a sporty vehicle, with a low-slung roof and a three-door body style. This writer thinks it’s like a coupe version of the current XV, albeit with a severe exaggeration to its design because it’s a concept.

    Whatever the case, we’ll know a lot more about the Subaru concept when it makes its appearance in Geneva alongside two e-Boxer-equipped models.

     
  • Grab Malaysia “deeply concerned” over agencies’ lack of readiness to regulate e-hailing industry – report

    Grab Malaysia has revealed that it is “deeply concerned” over the lack of readiness by certain agencies to facilitate the industry towards compliance. This follows transport minister Anthony Loke’s announcement last year that e-hailing services such as Grab would be subject to the same regulations as taxi drivers, which include licence registration, vehicle inspection and operational requirements.

    While the e-hailing firm acknowledged and welcomed the decision to regulate the industry, it said regulators should proactively involve all key stakeholders throughout the process, especially when introducing new measures that have previously never been raised.

    Grab Malaysia has issued a statement highlighting the need for agencies to be open to innovative proposals aimed at uplifting the playing field, and to ensure the new rules can be enforced seamlessly with the least cost and burden to the industry as a whole, including the consumers.

    Loke added that there would be a grace period of one year for the e-hailing and taxi companies to comply with these regulations and that they were an extension of the laws already passed in Parliament in 2017, which provided for legalisation of e-hailing services.

    Grab Malaysia’s statement in full

    As many are aware, the e-hailing industry has been given a one-year moratorium effective 12 July 2018 to comply to a set of regulations, and we are quickly approaching the deadline.

    While we welcomed the decision to regulate the industry, we are deeply concerned by what can perhaps be described as a lack of readiness by certain relevant agencies to facilitate the industry towards compliance.

    Furthermore, we have observed heightened enthusiasm by some enforcement agencies in taking rash actions against e-hailing drivers despite the moratorium period.

    On behalf of all our driver-partners and us at Grab, we express our deep concern that the processes and infrastructure necessary to ensure a seamless transition are taken too lightly.

    These issues will not only affect the e-hailing industry, but also the millions of people who rely on e-hailing to get around, and the hundreds of thousands of Malaysians who boost their household income via e-hailing.

    We believe the regulations were originally intended to enhance safety and quality. However, without a transparent and inclusive process, this can instead be distilled as measures leading to higher costs, greater friction and thus, affect service availability for all.

    Our three suggestions for the regulators are to:

    – proactively involve all key stakeholders throughout the process especially when introducing new measures that have previously never been raised.

    – be open to innovative proposals aimed at uplifting the playing fields, and

    – ensure the new rules can be enforced seamlessly with the least cost and burden to the industry as a whole which includes the consumers.

    On our side, with regulations coming into play, we have been taking steps to ensure stronger quality measures are in place for our driver-partners to help them with the transition.

    However, we are compelled to share our views on the processes (or lack thereof) that have been put in place.

    Level of readiness of the regulators

    While we note our Minister’s call for the industry not to wait till the 11th hour to prepare for compliance there are still many moving parts that have yet to be confirmed.

    As a result, we are struggling to give our driver-partners our fullest support and sufficient certainty during the transition period. For instance:

    Training module: It is understood that the PSV training module, which should have been implemented last year, will not be ready until March. With the looming deadline, how do the agencies expect hundreds of thousands of drivers to be trained and certified within 4 months?

    Fortunately, we have previously discussed a viable alternative with our Minister: a digital training platform that delivers the equivalent of six hours (or more) worth of timely, relevant content throughout a driver’s journey.

    Unfortunately, to date, the agencies have still not reflected this alternative in the policy wording.

    Instead, current policy still requires physical attendance which has been practised for decades by traditional metered taxis, in spite of a lack of evidence that this has uplifted service quality in any way.

    E-hailing insurance: There are currently insufficient e-hailing insurance products, and the ones on the market will not cater for the vast majority of drivers, especially part-time drivers.

    We would like to call out in particular the great collaborative efforts of Bank Negara Malaysia, Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM) and the insurance companies in Malaysia for their sincere engagement to get across the hurdles.

    However, these changes require alterations to a heavily regulated insurance framework, so the hard deadlines here need to be far more flexible.

    Puspakom: There are limited car inspection locations available nationwide. We currently have driver-partners across 35 cities and major townships in Malaysia; with limited locations, we are concerned that a push for physical inspection will affect the Puspakom system.

    In fact, based on our estimates, full physical inspection for each and every one of the vehicles on our platform may require up to 20 months. Therefore, it is evident that a lighter-touch, digital alternative should be considered to enhance vehicle quality and safety.

    Other e-hailing requirements: A variety of additional requirements, such as the e-hailing road tax, disc and stickers, have not been communicated clearly to the industry. This makes it difficult for us to cascade these information to our driver-partners and is causing significant unrest amongst them.

    For each of the above, we hope that either the necessary preparations are put in place or the ministry will engage the industry further to determine more viable, innovative solutions that will help achieve the spirit of the regulations, without being fixated on the form of these policies.

    Sudden additional requirements and shorter deadlines

    Recently, JPJ has introduced a barrage of new requirements that have not previously been discussed; for instance, fire extinguishers in every car, unique road tax discs and mandatory inspection for all cars regardless of age.

    These were added unilaterally without consultation and seemingly without concern for the financial implications to our driver-partners and passengers.

    As it is, our driver-partners are already burdened with far too many additional regulatory costs and this directly increases the cost of living for them.

    In addition, enforcement agencies are also setting unrealistic deadlines, be it in submitting documents to support an application for the corporate licence, or applying to be an accredited training agency, which was only made available last month.

    Setting unrealistic deadlines, of between 24 hours to a week, does not help in building trust within the industry, and makes it obvious that we are not working together towards ensuring a smooth transition for regulations.

    If the enforcement agencies were serious about this, they would have been more mindful and conscientious of the process required by providing the industry and themselves a realistic timeframe.

    These knee-jerk reactions are not only affecting us but also other members of the industry, especially those who are new to the industry.

    Lack of engagement with the industry

    Over the past few months, we have not had clear communications on the processes from the enforcement agencies. There has not been any meetings with the enforcement agencies or the ministry in the last few months; the last industry briefing was in October 2018 with the now-defunct SPAD.

    Looking at the different parts of the processes, we anticipate some teething problems.

    Hence, on behalf of the industry we have put forth various win-win ways of working with the enforcement agencies, as we firmly believe that cooperation rather than confrontation, will serve to benefit the rakyat the most.

    Overall, we have been hearing a growing voice of concern from the millions of Malaysians who rely on e-hailing for transport or a livelihood.

    Based on the uncertainty, lack of engagement and disproportionate focus on the old interpretation of outdated policies, we fully agree that both the government and e-hailing operators have to work more closely together for the good of the public.

    In the spirit of the New Malaysia, we therefore call upon the authorities to make a stand to provide clearer and more feasible guidelines in facilitating the roll out of the e-hailing regulations.

    We want to ensure that the spirit of the regulation is upheld, and the processes or requirements set are scalable as we move towards creating an innovative regulatory framework for e-hailing.

     
  • 2019 Toyota Yaris: Vios hatch coming to Malaysia soon

    Remember the bright yellow Toyota Yaris that was spotted on a transporter along NKVE last November? Well, this piece of news came straight from the horse’s mouth – UMW Toyota Motor has confirmed that the “Vios hatchback” will in fact be introduced for the Malaysian market, and it will arrive within the second quarter of the year.

    The big news is that it will be locally assembled at the newly-built Assembly Services Sdn Bhd (ASSB) plant in Bukit Raja, Klang, where the Vios facelift is also made. The Yaris is currently sold in Thailand and Indonesia, and the latter market gets the 2NR 1.5 litre four-cylinder engine, which is the same unit used by the Perodua Myvi.

    Fitted with DOHC and Dual VVT-i, the engine produces 107 PS and 140 Nm of torque. In Indonesia, it’s available with a five-speed manual or CVT, although it’s very likely that we’ll only get the latter. Other than that, not much else is known, save for the fact that it’s coming. There’s no mention of pricing, either.

    The new ASSB plant is a 670,000 square metre factory that will be producing new passenger cars, including Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs). The existing factory in Shah Alam will solely be producing commercial vehicles like the Hilux. So, what do you think of the Yaris vs the Myvi and Honda Jazz?

    GALLERY: Indonesia-spec Toyota Yaris


    GALLERY: Thai-spec Toyota Yaris

     
  • A90 Toyota GR Supra to be launched in M’sia this year

    Good news! UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) has officially revealed that the new A90 Toyota GR Supra will be making its way to Malaysia this year, so for those who have been waiting for the reborn sports car, get those cheque books ready.

    For now, there’s no word on official pricing or the variants that we will be getting here. Two engine choices are available for the Supra, starting with a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 197 PS from 4,500 to 6,000 rpm and 320 Nm of torque from 1,450 to 4,200 rpm.

    The same engine is also available in a higher state of tune, producing 258 PS from 5,000 to 6,000 rpm and 400 Nm from 1,550 to 4,400 rpm. No surprise that the more powerful four-pot completes the zero to 100 km/h sprint quicker at 5.2 seconds compared to the less powerful unit’s 6.5 seconds.

    The second engine option is a 3.0 litre turbocharged straight-six that offers 340 PS from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm and 500 Nm from 1,600 to 4,500 rpm. It is the quickest of the lot, taking just 4.3 seconds to complete the century sprint. All engines are mated to a standard eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, with drive going to the rear wheels as it should.

    As mentioned earlier, UMWT has yet to tell us what variants will be destined for our shores, or how much they might cost. Nonetheless, it’s an exciting time for fans of the JDM legend. Three words: Supra is back!

    GALLERY: A90 Toyota GR Supra

     
  • Honda confirms Swindon UK plant closure – Turkey to stop making Civic sedan in 2021, but will live on

    Honda has officially announced its decision to close its Swindon, UK plant in 2021. The closure of the factory that makes the Jazz, CR-V, Civic Hatchback and Civic Type R (Swindon is the global hub for the FK8) is part of a move to restructure Honda’s global manufacturing network, and to focus on electrification.

    “This restructure comes as Honda accelerates its commitment to electrified cars, in response to the unprecedented changes in the global automotive industry. The significant challenges of electrification will see Honda revise its global manufacturing operations, and focus activity in regions where it expects to have high production volumes,” Honda said.

    Swindon currently produces 150,000 cars per year, and employs approximately 3,500 people. Consultation with potentially affected employees will begin today, Honda says. Factory aside, Honda’s European HQ will continue to be located in the UK.

    The global restructure will also involve Honda’s operations in Turkey. The Japanese carmaker currently produces 38,000 units per year in the country, but will cease manufacturing current Civic sedan there in 2021. Honda says it intends to continue its business operations in the country and will continue to hold constructive dialogue with Turkish stakeholders.

    “In light of the unprecedented changes that are affecting our industry, it is vital that we accelerate our electrification strategy and restructure our global operations accordingly. As a result, we have had to take this difficult decision to consult our workforce on how we might prepare our manufacturing network for the future. This has not been taken lightly and we deeply regret how unsettling today’s announcement will be for our people,” said Katsushi Inoue, president of Honda Motor Europe.

    Swindon has produced some absolute gems for enthusiasts over the years, as the “home of the Civic Type R hatchback”. See the EP3, FN2 and FK2 alongside today’s FK8 CTR here.

     
  • Perodua Aruz vs Honda BR-V: we compare the service costs of both 7-seat SUVs over five years/100,000 km

    Perodua launched the Aruz just a month ago, with two variants – 1.5X (RM72,900) and 1.5 Advance (RM77,900) – being offered for the seven-seat SUV. The proverbial question on the minds of most people is, “how much does it cost to run the Aruz?” We’re here to answer that question, and as a comparison, we’ll compare the maintenance costs of the Aruz against another popular budget seven-seater, the Honda BR-V.

    Before we proceed further, it should be noted that the BR-V’s price tag starts at RM80,989 for the base E variant, while the top-spec V goes for RM87,701 (retail prices mentioned here are on-the-road without insurance). The price gap between both models is between RM8,000 to RM9,800, and while both come with a five-year warranty, only the BR-V gets unlimited mileage (150,000 km for the Aruz).

    Based on data gathered from both carmakers’ websites, the service costs associated with each model is the same regardless of variant choice. Over a five-year period, we discovered that the Aruz is just over RM1,000 more expensive to run compared to the BR-V – RM4,044.59 against RM3,014.12.

    Click to enlarge

    Combing through the details, the Aruz has a higher (overall) running cost compared to the BR-V because of a few noteworthy items. These include more frequent brake fluid refills (every 20,000 km compared to every 60,000 km for the BR-V) and air filter replacements (every 20,000 km compared to every 30,000 km for the BR-V).

    Furthermore, Perodua recommends carrying out tyre alignment, balancing and rotation every 20,000 km at a cost of RM60 each time (totals up to RM300 over 100,000 km), which isn’t listed in the BR-V’s maintenance schedule. The Aruz, being a rear-wheel drive car, requires rear differential oil on top of the usual automatic transmission fluid

    However, the lubricants required for both the Aruz’s four-speed automatic transmission and rear differential, inclusive of gaskets, is still cheaper than the maintenance required for the BR-V’s CVT – service intervals at 40,000 km for both.

    Perodua Aruz service costs (left), Honda BR-V service costs (right); Click to enlarge

    Other observations include more frequent spark plug changes for the Aruz (every 50,000 km) compared to the BR-V’s iridium spark plug replacement at 100,000 km. Coolant top-ups are also required for the Aruz every 40,000 km, while it is only upon inspection for the BR-V across 100,000 km.

    Items not listed are tyres, and with 17-inch (215/60 tyres) ones on the Aruz, replacing rubbers on the Perodua is likely more costly compared to the BR-V, which comes only with 16-inch alloys (195/60 tyres).

    Keep in mind that these figures are based on what is listed on manufacturers’ websites at the time of writing, and that actual prices may vary. Furthermore, these prices are subject to change, especially as Honda is currently offering a 15% discount on parts. Our previous comparison of service costs involved the Proton X70 and Honda CR-V, which you can check out here.

     
  • 2019 Nissan Livina makes world debut in Indonesia – new 7-seater MPV based on Mitsubishi Xpander

    The new 2019 Nissan Livina made its world debut in Indonesia today. Previously spied wearing very little disguise, the new Livina replaces an ageing model that’s struggling to compete in Indonesia’s core Low MPV segment, where the the Toyota Avanza, Daihatsu Xenia, Honda Mobilio and Suzuki Ertiga play in.

    The new boy in this budget three-row MPV segment is the Mitsubishi Xpander, which the new Livina is based on. Most of the Xpander’s sheetmetal have been carried over, but Nissan did make slight modifications to the Dynamic Shield face of its Alliance partner’s donor car.

    As per the Xpander, there are slim daytime running lights sitting above big main beams in a three-tier lighting arrangement, although the LED DRL design is different, and the Mitsu’s trademark chrome strips that give the sunken cheeks look is absent. Without this frame, the grille is bowl-shaped rather than X-shaped, conveniently morphing into Nissan’s “V-Motion” nose.

    Also different from the Xpander is the lower bumper, which has a full-width silver lip and angular fog lamps at each end (vs round fogs on the Xpander, arranged narrowly). The contrasting front lip is visually connected to the silver side skirts.

    Also, the front wheel arches of the Nissan are round instead of squared-off on the Mitsubishi. On the side, that deep wedge of a signature line is present, along with the “floating roof” look created by the small black strip joining the side and rear glass areas.

    At the back, the shape of the taillamp cluster is similar, although the LED signature graphics are different – the Livina sports outward pointing boomerangs. The Nissan’s tailgate is also more simple in design compared to the Xpander, which features lines that mimic the Dynamic Shield face. Lastly, the silver diffuser of the Livina is a two-piece item. We see some X-Trail in the rear.

    As a whole, while easily recognisable as twins, it’s easy to tell the Livina and Xpander apart. Under the skin, they’re the same. The new Livina is powered by a 1.5 litre engine with 104 PS and 141 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, mated to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Maximum ground clearance is 205 mm on 16-inch wheels, an important stat for Indonesian buyers.

    Equipment highlights on this “trendy techno” MPV include a seven-inch touchscreen head unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED DRLs, 16-inch two-tone alloys, colour multi-info display with eco indicator, reverse camera, keyless entry with push start, tilt and telescopic steering and 12V power outlets for each row.

    There are five variants and four trim levels in Indonesia, and the line-up reads E MT, EL MT, EL AT, VE AT and the top VL AT. All models get dual airbags and ABS/EBD, with the VE and VL adding on Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) and the above-mentioned back-up camera.

    Prices range from Rp 198.8 juta (RM57,532) for the bare bones E MT (15-inch steel wheels, no rear AC blower and radio) to Rp 261.9 juta (RM75,766) for the top VL will all the kit listed above. Six colours are available, including the black and signature Sunset Orange hues seen here. Like what you see? How would the new Nissan Livina compare against our Perodua Aruz?


    GALLERY: Mitsubishi Xpander

     
  • Honda to close Swindon UK plant – to cost 3,500 jobs?

    Honda will reportedly announce the closure of its Swindon car manufacturing facility in 2022, a move that will see approximately 3,500 employees lose their jobs, the BBC reports. The Japanese automaker produced 160,000 units of the Honda Civic in Swindon last year, and over 90% of which were exported to Europe.

    While an official announcement has yet to be made, a UK member of parliament, Justin Tomlinson said he had spoken to Honda, which confirmed it was consulting with ‘all staff’.”There is not expected to be any job losses, or changes in production until 2021,” Tomlinson said.

    The Unite union said the reports, if confirmed, would be a “shattering body blow,” with officer Des Quinn saying “the car industry in the UK over the last two decades has been the jewel in the crown for the manufacturing sector – and now it has been brought low by the chaotic Brexit uncertainty created by the rigid approach adopted by prime minister Theresa May.”

    Des Quinn added that despite having a “grave” impact on workers and their families, the plant closure “will also affect thousands of jobs in the extensive supply chain across the country.” A spokesman for UK prime minister Theresa May said it was “only right that we wait until the company has spoken with the workforce” before commenting.

    Martin Huggins, a Honda worker for 25 years said “we haven’t heard anything at all – all we have seen is what is on our phones. The management have told us nothing at all. This will be a sad day for Swindon as a whole, not just the workers but all the subsidiary companies that go with it.”

    The Guardian report states that Honda workers in Swindon are furious, and at the same time fearful of their future. They blamed Brexit for the likely closure of the plant, with one worker leaving the plant saying the atmosphere inside (the plant) was “clearly not very happy.”

    The person, who like most workers absorbing the news did not wish to be named, has been with the company for 24 years. He, who also blamed Brexit for Honda’s decision to close the plant, had voted for the UK to remain in the EU. Another man asked how he felt as he left the site replied: “Devastated. That’s all I can say.”

    Honda’s Swindon plant is situated on a former airfield and produces both VTEC turbo petrol engines and diesel i-DTEC engines. Honda bought the site in 1985 and established Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) to inspect vehicles pre-delivery. In 1989, the operations expanded to producing engines, and three years later a car plant was added, which began producing the Honda Accord.

    Since then, the site began producing the Jazz, CR-V, Civic and Civic Type R. A second Honda plant opened in Swindon in 2001, raising production capacity to 250,000 a year. However, production has dwindled and is currently running at about half its capacity, further contributing to uncertainties surrounding its future.

     
  • 2019 Mazda 3 for Europe – specifications and gallery

    Mazda Europe has released full specifications of the all-new Mazda 3 for the region, including available engines and equipment. For those who are more interested in how the fourth-generation model looks, there’s also a gallery with 205 photos of both the sedan and hatchback body styles for you to obsess over.

    In terms of engine options, the Mazda 3 can be had (in Europe) with a 1.8 litre four-cylinder turbodiesel that serves up 116 PS at 4,000 rpm and 270 Nm of torque from 1,600-2,600 rpm. The new SkyActiv-D mill replaces the 1.5 litre and 2.2 litre units previously used, and comes equipped with a single, variable geometry turbocharger and NOx Storage Catalyst (NSC) system.

    On the petrol side of things, there’s a SkyActiv-G 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder with 122 PS at 6,000 rpm and 213 Nm at 4,000 rpm. Improvements made to the powerplant include an upgraded piston skirt and optimised oil ring profile, along with the optimisation of the piston top profile and multi-stage injection.

    Cylinder deactivation technology (also found on the larger 2.5 litre unit), also makes its way into the smaller-displacement engine. As a note, the SkyActiv-G 2.0 for Europe makes less power compared to markets in Asia and the United States, which get higher-output tunes. Additionally, selected markets in the region (like Turkey), get the option of a SkyActiv-G 1.5 litre four-pot (120 PS at 6,000 rpm and 150 Nm at 4,000 rpm) as well.

    The next engine option is Mazda’s much-hyped SkyActiv-X compression ignition engine, although we’ll have to continue waiting for official specifications to be released, as there’s none in the release. However, based on previous documents from Mazda Slovakia, the Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI)-equipped engine is said to make 181 PS and 222 Nm.

    Both the SkyActiv-G 2.0 and SkyActiv-X engines work in accordance with Mazda’s M Hybrid system, which operates on a 24-volt mild hybrid system. Integral components are a belt-driven integrated starter generator (ISG) and a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 600 kJ (0.17 kWh).

    The battery is recharged via regenerative braking, which is then used to supply the car’s electrical equipment, support extended engine off of the start-stop system, and provide assistance when setting off. The belt-driven ISG also enables the system’s motor to move the pistons to a position where they will start again smoothly.

    All engines can be paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic, with the SkyActiv-X option also available with the i-Activ AWD system (hatchback only). Regardless of model, Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) comes as standard.

    For now, both the SkyActiv-G and SkyActiv-D engines meet the Euro 6d-TEMP emissions rating. Looking at the performance figures of the sedan, the petrol version will hit a top speed of 202 and take as little as 10.4 seconds to complete the zero to 100 km/h sprint with a manual ‘box (10.8 seconds with the auto). Meanwhile, the diesel tops out at 199 km/h, with a 0-100 km/h time of 10.3 (manual) and 12.1 seconds (automatic). Unsurprisingly, the diesel has the better fuel economy of as low as 4.8 l/100 km on the combined WLTP cycle – 6.0 l/100 km for the petrol.

    It’s a little different for the hatchback, as the petrol-powered variant will hit 197 km/h, while with a diesel engine, the top speeds are either 194 km/h (manual) or 192 km/h (auto) – zero to 100 km/h times are identical to the sedan, respectively. The hatchback with a diesel engine has a fuel consumption as low as 5 l/100 km, or 6.2 l/100 km with the petrol mill.

    Meanwhile, available equipment for the Mazda 3 include 16- and 18-inch alloy wheels with a selection of metallic finishes, a 7-inch instrument cluster display, windscreen-projected Active Driving Display, eight-speaker sound system (Bose 12-speaker system optional), 8.8-inch widescreen centre display and MZD Connect infotainment system.

    The last item has been updated with new graphics, improved voice recognition and interface structure, the latter now with a split-screen view. Cycling through the menu on the left side of the screen is accompanied by available option on the right side, plus navigation and audio information can be display together.

    On the safety front, the airbag count has been bumped to seven with the addition of a driver’s knee airbag to the front, curtain and front side ones – this is standard worldwide. Mazda’s i-Activsense suite of active safety and driver assist systems has also been given a boost, with a new Driver Monitoring system, Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA) and Cruising & Traffic Support (CTS) – a form of low-speed adaptive cruise control.

    Also available is Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) that works with Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) to prevent the driver from exceeding the speed limit by proposing a speed limiter be active. There’s also a 360-degree view monitor and the Adaptive LED Headlights (ALH) now has an LED array divided more finely into 20 blocks that can be turned on or off independently.

    Other improvements involve the Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) that gains a stop and go function for automatic transmission models, while the Smart Brake Support (SBS) has an extended range of operation (range, bicycle and night-time pedestrian direction and auto braking added to Rear Cross Traffic Alert).

    Mazda also notes that the Advanced Smart City Brake Support (Advanced SCBS) function has integrated into Smart Brake Support (SBS), whereby the detection method uses a forward sensing camera from the previous infrared detector.

    The new Mazda 3 is built on the company’s SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture, and features a body that uses a straight framework and continuous ring structures. This, along with an increased use ultra-hightensile steel rated at up to 1,310 MPa (30% from 3%), allows for a lightweight, high-rigidity body design. The suspension uses MacPherson struts in the front and a newly developed torsion beam setup in the rear.

     
  • FIRST LOOK: 2019 Volvo S60 – full design walk-around

    Volvo is a brand on form, and the form factor of its latest range is – in our opinion – the main reason behind the carmaker’s recent success. The XC90 and S90/V90 family of large cars kickstarted the design renaissance, followed by the chic XC40 SUV. This momentum will be sustained by the S60 premium compact sedan, which is set to arrive in Malaysia in the final quarter of 2019.

    The third-generation midsize sedan by the Swedish brand was unveiled in June 2018 – it’s the first Volvo to be made in the United States and global distribution will begin in Q2 this year. Malaysia is Volvo’s regional assembly hub, and the S60 will eventually roll off the Shah Alam plant for domestic consumption and exports to Thailand. Early batches could be CBU imports, something not unusual for Volvo Car Malaysia (VCM).

    The international press drive event that happened in California late last year had two variants of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class-rivalling sedan on the platter – the S60 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered and the S60 T6 AWD R-Design.

    It’s early days and local variants have yet to be confirmed, but we’re not expecting the Polestar-tweaked car – stuffed to the gills with branded kit such as Ohlins adjustable suspension and Brembo six-pot brakes – to reach Malaysia as it will be prohibitively expensive. Besides, the 405 hp/670 Nm plug-in hybrid is also produced in limited numbers.

    The T6 AWD is more likely. The most powerful non-PHEV variant is motivated by a 2.0 litre four-cylinder Drive-E engine, which is under the hood of all S60s. In T6 guise, it gets a turbocharger and supercharger to make 310 hp and 400 Nm of torque. The twincharged engine is mated to an Aisin-made eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

    When local assembly starts, it’s reasonable to expect a CKD T5 with 254 hp/350 Nm (FWD, just turbo) and (non-Polestar) Twin Engine plug-in hybrid variants – the latter will be dependent on CKD PHEV incentives by the government, of course.

    As usual, base Momentum, luxury Inscription and sporty R-Design trim levels will be available globally, but expect VCM to champion the latter for its most sporting model. It’s part of a wider trend in the premium segment – see the popularity of M Sport and AMG Line in otherwise far from sporting variants.

    The vital stats all look good, but the new S60’s trump card – for me at least – is the way it looks. Which is fantastic. I’m no Volvo fanboy, and my preference for premium sedans skews towards understated handsomeness (the B9 Audi A4 and B8 Volkswagen Passat happen to be from the same clan), but the S60 could very well be the perfect blend of eye-catching and class.

    Design wise, there’s more going on here than in the S90, and while instantly recognisable as the smaller sibling, the S60’s body sports plenty of touches to make it look more dynamic – a scaled down S90 it’s definitely not.

    A few of those moves – such as the gentle curve of the rear haunches, the faster roofline and the moving up of the rear license plate – are obvious, but there are plenty more subtle yet effective touches. The sport message is further amplified by the R-Design body standard on the T6 AWD and T8 Polestar Engineered, but it’s never OTT.

    These are all explained in detail by Lisa Reeves from the S60 design team. In the walk-around video above, Reeves talks about the new sedan’s proportions (longer, lower and wider; front wheels pushed forward, longer rear overhang) and points out the S60’s “athlete” cues and differences to the S90. The Brit designer also introduces us to the finer points of the S60’s clean and classy cabin, which she personally worked on.

    The hardware is good, but it’s just so easy on the eye, this new S60. If all goes to plan, it’ll be coming to Malaysia in Q4 2019. Stay tuned.

    GALLERY: Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design


    GALLERY: Volvo S60 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered

     
 

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Last Updated 09 Feb 2019



 

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