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  • 2018 Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival in Johor – day one

    The Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) Festival promised plenty of action as it moved to Medini City in Iskandar Puteri, Johor for the third round this weekend, and yesterday it certainly lived up to that promise. The Vios Challenge race series was a particular highlight, with the challenging track and unpredictable weather leading to thrills and spills all throughout the day.

    On-track action kicked off with the Sporting Class, and there was chaos right from the start. Polesitter Brandan Anthony from the Dream Chaser team tried to block off Team Nanoplus’ fast-starting Patrick Tam, but Tam went wide and pushed Anthony towards the outside wall. Tam was then punted by Datuk Ken Foo in the ensuing melee and was sent into the inside wall. This ended Tam’s race and brought out the red flag.

    Anthony paid the price of the incident during the restart, as his car was thrown out of alignment, dropping him to sixth place and allowing Hiewa Racing Team’s Wong Chin Eeg, a local Toyota service manager, into the lead. On the same lap, fourth-placed Kenneth Koh from the Panglima City team bumped and bullied his way past Foo at the penultimate hairpin corner.

    Over the next few laps, Anthony fought back to take fourth, before the safety car was deployed due to Goh Eng Peng crashing out on lap five. This set up a thrilling battle when racing resumed on lap eight, with Koh passing Tedco Racing’s Brandon Lim into second before Anthony did the same two laps later. While Anthony was soon onto Koh’s tail, Wong was enjoying a comfortable lead up in front.

    On the final lap, however, Wong outbraked himself into turn four, enabling the two behind him to close up coming into the hairpin. The trio went out of the corner three-abreast, but it was Wong who emerged victorious in the bout, while Anthony just managed to pip past Koh to secure second place.

    The celebrity-packed, rain-soaked Promotional Class was just as eventful. While Shawn Lee and Shukri Yahaya sailed off as usual at the top of the pack, Diana Danielle made a good start and took advantage of Danny Koo’s misshift, taking third coming out of the first corner. Approaching into the hairpin on the second lap, Koo pitched Diana into a spin, causing her to retire from the race.

    Koo was slapped with a drive-through penalty as a result, but he missed the window to come into the pits, disqualifying him from the final results. Behind all this, Janna Nick drove strongly, passing Fattah Amin to take third; however, she ran into the barriers two laps from the finish. This resulted in a slow puncture and allowed Fattah to take the final podium position.

    The last race featuring the premier Super Sporting class was impacted by heavy downpour, with the bulk of the action happening before the second corner. Championship leader Tengku Djan, who started on the second row for Team Nanoplus, tangled with Kenny Lee and spun, taking out Mudah Racing’s Akina Teo – who was pitched onto two wheels into the barrier – and Dream Chaser’s Mark Darwin.

    The safety car was initially deployed as a result of the incident, but the rainstorm that came after meant that it stayed on for 11 laps before race officials decided it was safe again to race. With just six minutes remaining before the 30-minute time limit was up, the rest of the runners took it easy, with William Ho taking the chequered flag ahead of ST Wangan’s Boy Wong and M7 Racing’s Syafiq Ali.

    Aside from all the racing going on, visitors were also able to catch Media Prima’s Drama Sangat bus tour celebrities including Nazrief Nazri, Intan Najwa, Adiba Yunos, Aishah Azman, Raja Afiq, Ruhainies, Zie Zainal and Aliff Yasraff. Superhero Ejen Ali and his pet cat Comot were also present for the children.

    Car enthusiasts were also catered for with the showing of the recently-updated 2018 Vios and the much-awaited C-HR, as well as a drift show featuring Japanese world champion drifters Masato Kawabata and Takahiro Imamura in a pair of Toyota 86s. Food trucks were at hand to provide refreshments as well.

    The Toyota Gazoo Racing Festival continues today with the second round of Vios Challenge races. It is open from 9am to 6:30pm, and admission is free. Visitors will still be able to take part in a lucky draw, with the grand prize being a Vios Sports Edition.


  • BARU: Artikel terkini dalam Bahasa Malaysia

  • MEGA GALLERY: 2018 Renault Megane RS in detail

    The 2018 Renault Megane RS first broke cover last September and quickly found its way to the East via the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Now in its third-generation guise, the hot hatch sports a new 1.8 litre turbocharged four-pot, making 280 hp and 390 Nm of torque. The preceding model had a larger 2.0 litre turbo and came in various tunes, with the top-end being the 275 Trophy-R.

    Despite having a smaller displacement, the new motor packs five horsepower and 30 Nm more than the Trophy-R, and all that power is sent to the front wheels, either through a six-speed manual or six-speed Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) automatic. It also gets two chassis setups to select from – standard Sport suspension or a more track-focused Cup version. Both come with rally-derived four hydraulic compression bump stops and the brand’s 4Control four-wheel steering system.

    The Renault Megane RS in dazzling Tonic Orange

    The front suspension features an independent steering axis to deliver better precision, but the Cup chassis benefits from a torque sensing limited-slip differential mounted up front. Five drive modes are available – Comfort, Normal, Sport, Race and the customisable Perso. Like before, there’s also an RS Drive button present, but here it’s located on the centre stack and functions as a shortcut to Sport and Race modes.

    While the new range of Meganes look similar on the whole, the RS distinguishes itself by being wider and comes shod with 18- or 19-inch wheels. The front fascia gets larger air intakes with a honeycomb mesh in gloss black, accompanied by the unique RS Vision LED daytime running lights.

    Elsewhere, you’ll find vents behind the front wheels, a functional rear spoiler, rear diffuser and an integrated central exhaust. Inside, it gets RS-specific sports seats with integrated head restraints, and the seats are upholstered in either either fabric or Alcantara charcoal grey trim, finished with contrasting red stitching. A Bose sound system can be had as well.

    A hotter Megane RS Trophy version with 300 hp and 400 Nm will be introduced later this year. Renault says it will get 19-inch wheels, Cup chassis and bi-material brake discs as standard.

    So, what do you think of this new Megane RS?

  • Peugeot adds AEB across Australian model line-up

    Peugeot Australia has stepped up in the active safety stakes with its products, which now include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and a rear-view camera across its model line-up. Better yet, this is done without any increase in price!

    “Autonomous emergency braking is a vital safety assist technology and Peugeot Australia is to be commended for this commitment to make AEB standard across its entire Australian model range. Safety is not a luxury and having AEB as standard provides enhanced safety to consumers,” said ANCAP chief executive officer James Goodwin.

    The entry-level Peugeot 208 Active, in fact, has gotten A$200 (RM632) cheaper with the update, now starting at A$21,990 (RM69,549) in Australia before on-road costs. The 5008 seven-seater SUV will join the other end of the model line-up when it goes on sale in Australia next month, also with AEB.

    Currently in Peugeot’s Malaysian model line-up, only the 308 THP comes with emergency collision braking, a form of autonomous emergency braking.

  • VIDEO: Proton’s soft, “Milo tin” body = unsafe car?

    Most Malaysians would have heard the term tin Milo used to describe a car’s (most likely a Proton or Perodua) “soft” body panels. Until today, a lot of car buyers still do the customary “knock test” in showrooms, to see how soft or hard the body is and by extension, how “safe” or “unsafe” the car is.

    That’s not how it works.

    There’s a lot more to it than just that. Having thin or soft body panels doesn’t necessarily mean that a car is less safe than others. In fact, certain cars use plastic panels to save weight, such as the Renault Megane (front fenders) and Nissan X-Trail (rear tailgate), among many others.

    Body panels are, to put it bluntly, merely the car’s skin, which hardly plays a role in the vehicle’s structural integrity as a whole. Peel off the skin, and you’ll see complex lattices of harder materials designed to absorb crash impacts. That’s what matters most, not the soft or hard body panels.

    Harder isn’t always the best way to go, either. There’s a thing called crumple zones in modern cars. Simply put, you’ll want the car to absorb as much of the energy from the impact during a crash as possible, instead of passing it all to the passengers. Drive an old tank and sure, you’ll feel safe and secure, but you might come off worse in a crash compared to the car itself, and that’s definitely not a good thing.

    Do watch the video above and remember to share it the next time you hear the words kereta tin Milo.

  • AD: Usher in Chinese New Year with great Ford deals

    Usher in the Chinese New Year with a new Ford. Sime Darby Auto Connexion (SDAC) is offering great deals on selected Ford models in its prosperity sales promotion, which runs until February 28.

    The Ford Ranger comes with a free maintenance package for five years or 100,000 km, as well as rebates of up to RM5,000, shopping vouchers and exclusive limited-edition ang pow packets during the promotional period.

    The RM5,000 rebate, vouchers and red packets also features for the range-topping Ranger WildTrak. Even bigger rebates of up to RM23,000 are in store for the Focus and Fiesta on top of the three-year/60,000 km free service package and five-year/200,000 km warranty that are standard with both models.

    During the promotional period, Ford owners can take advantage of a free 27-point vehicle inspection to prepare their cars for the journey home this festive season, and SDAC is offering up to 20% discount on selected parts such as brake components, timing belts and lubricant packages.

    They’ll also get to enjoy a 10% labour discount on selected packages, and customers who spend more than RM350 in a single receipt at an authorised dealer from now until February 17 will receive free Ford merchandise.

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  • Lexus LX570 price drops by RM74k in M’sia to RM850k

    The Lexus LX570 has just received a significant price drop in Malaysia. Launched at RM923,960 in 2015, the flagship SUV now goes for RM850,000, a reduction of almost RM74k. Specs remain unchanged, so this is a genuine price drop, no caveats. If you’d like to know, it’s RM851,872.20 in Sabah and Sarawak, RM454,283.31 in Langkawi and RM 455,092.21 in Labuan.

    The third-generation J200 LX570 is in Malaysia in its latest facelift form, powered by a 3UR-FE 5.7 litre V8 engine, with 362 hp at 5,600 rpm and 530 Nm at 3,200 rpm. It’s paired with an AE80F eight-speed automatic transmission, together with a full-time all-wheel-drive driveline that includes two-speed transfer and variable fore-aft torque split via a Torsen limited-slip differential. It gets to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds, on to 210 km/h.

    It gets full LED lighting on the outside, with massive 21-inch wheels to go with the equally gigantic spindle grille. Under the skin, it gets adaptive variable suspension (AVS), auto height control as well as crawl control. A Multi-Terrain Monitor offers an image display of areas around the vehicle when traveling at low speeds (up to 20 km/h), as well as an underfloor view.

    Highlights inside include the 19-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround System with 16 channels of amplification, and a Rear Seat Entertainment system with dual 11.6-inch screens for second row passengers. On the safety front, the LX570 comes equipped with ten airbags, all-speed active cruise control, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert (plus reverse camera), lane departure warning and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

    Check out its specifications and equipment list on So, what do you think of this, folks?

  • Toyota C-HR Hybrid is the first Thai tax incentive model – gets 75% of 3k bookings so far, March launch

    Thailand has a fresh incentive programme for carmakers to build hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles in the country. Market leader Toyota was the first carmaker to apply for and receive the Board of Investment (BoI) privileges for hybrid cars last year, and it will be the first to roll out a new model under the government’s scheme in early March, Bangkok Post reports.

    The car in question is the Toyota C-HR Hybrid, which will roll out from Toyota Motor Thailand’s Gateway plant in Chachoengsao. According to the BoI, Toyota makes 7,000 hybrids a year, 70,000 batteries and 9.1 million units of other parts such as doors, bumpers and front/rear axles in the Land of Smiles. The company’s total investment stands at 19 billion baht. Thai-made C-HRs will be exported to over 100 countries.

    On the way is a new battery plant targeted for opening by 2019-2020. “Toyota believes the Thai market needs to grow step-by-step from the first stage of the hybrid platform before moving on to plug-in hybrids, battery-fuelled and hydrogen fuel-cell cars,” said Michinobu Sugata, president of Toyota Motor Thailand.

    The report says that six other makers have applied for EV project privileges, and they are Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Suzuki, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Learn more about Thailand’s green car incentives here.

    Toyota Thailand opened order books for the C-HR late last year. Two engine options will be available there – a naturally aspirated 1.8 litre and a hybrid 1.8 litre. The 1.8 Dual VVT-i motor makes 140 PS and 175 Nm of torque, and is paired to a CVT automatic with seven virtual ratios. As is the norm in Thailand, the engine is E85 compatible.

    The hybrid model combines a 2ZR-FXE Atkinson-cycle 1.8 litre engine (98 PS/142 Nm) with an electric motor with 72 hp and 163 Nm. Max combined output is 122 hp, but there’s plenty of torque from rest. The battery that powers the motor is a nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) unit. Toyota claims fuel economy of 24.4 km/l and CO2 emissions of 95 g/km. Toyota’s hybrid system is well-proven, but there’s a five-year warranty for the system and 10-year warranty for the hybrid battery for peace of mind.

    The 1.8L can be had in Entry and Mid trim levels, while the Hybrid comes in Mid and Hi variants. The base 1.8 Entry (979,000 baht, RM120,954) comes with auto halogen projector headlamps, LED tail lamps, 17-inch alloys, black fabric seats, seven-inch touchscreen audio (USB, AUX, Bluetooth) and seven airbags (front, side, curtain, driver’s knee). The top non-hybrid C-HR, the 1.8 Mid (1.039 million baht, RM128,367), adds on fog lamps, leather and keyless entry/push start.

    The Hybrid Mid (1.069 million baht, RM132,083) will net one all of the above plus full LED headlamps, full LED tail lamps and T-Connect telematics. The top 1.8 Hybrid High (1.159 million baht, RM143,203) gets the full works, further adding on navigation and the Toyota Safety Sense pack.

    Toyota says that of the 3,000 orders for the C-HR that it already has, 75% are for the hybrid.

    The much-anticipated SUV is also open for booking in Malaysia. The C-HR will go on sale here in a single 137 PS/170 Nm 1.8L non-hybrid spec. Coming in as a CBU import from Thailand, it will be priced at an estimated RM145,500 OTR without insurance. Full Malaysian specs here.

    GALLERY: Toyota C-HR previewed in Malaysia

  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross – 5-star ASEAN NCAP rating

    The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has been awarded a five-star safety rating by ASEAN NCAP, after a collaborative audit test with the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). The SUV was recently launched in Singapore, where it is available with a 1.5 litre turbocharged engine.

    Like the Perodua Myvi, the Eclipse Cross follows ASEAN NCAP’s 2017-2020 protocol, which now includes a score for Safety Assist Technologies (SAT). This joins the revised Adult Occupant Protection (AOP) and Child Occupant Protection (COP) tests. The latter now accounts for side impact protection (a further 16 points) and head protection technologies (another 4 points) for a total of 36 points (previously 16 points max).

    Click to enlarge

    In the AOP test, the SUV impressed by obtaining 35.14 out of 36 points, with perfect scores in head protection technologies (HPT) evaluation and side impact tests. Moving on to the COP test, the Eclipse Cross managed a score of 43.34 out of 49 points.

    As for the SAT test, a score of 14.50 out of 18 points was awarded for an 81% compliance. For the Singapore market, the Eclipse Cross comes with seven airbags, Active Stability Control, anti-lock brake system, around-view monitor, hill start assist and a forward collision mitigation system. Other items include front and rear parking sensors, electronic parking brake with auto brake hold and automatic high beam function.

    GALLERY: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5T (Singapore spec)

  • Mercedes-Benz User Experience detailed, previewed

    Mercedes-Benz already gave us our first look at the interior of the all-new 2018 A-Class, and is now giving us a detailed insight into its new infotainment system called the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX). The system will come as standard on the next-generation A-Class, which will also be the first model to adopt it.

    Before we get to what the system is capable of, let’s first focus on the hardware that it utilises. On mid- and entry-level versions of the system, an NVIDIA Reilly PX graphics chip is used to render the visuals you see on screen. Meanwhile, the high-end one will get a more powerful NVIDIA Parker 128 chip instead.

    The head unit will come with 8GB of DDR4 RAM, an NVIDIA Tegra X2 computing unit (two Denver cores and four Cortex-A57 cores and depending on the GPU, between 128 to 256 CUDA Cores. In terms of performance, the system is capable of 59,300 DMIPS and 500 GFLOPS. It also runs on the Linux operating system, and handles USB interfaces (USB 2.0, USB 1.1 and Type C for quicker charging).

    On the new A-Class, there will be three versions of the Widescreen Cockpit that will be available – two seven-inch displays, one seven-inch and one 10.25-inch display, and two 10.25-inch display (resolution of up to 1920×720 pixels and 200 dpi).

    Interfacing with the system is done via the touchscreen located in the middle of the dashboard, or via the centre console Touchpad and Touch-Control buttons on the steering wheel. There’s also a heads-up display with a maximum brightness of up to 12,000 cd/m².

    The operating system comprises three levels, each with increasing information density. The first is what Mercedes-Benz calls the Homescreen, which shows main applications (telephone, navigation and radio) along with important information like arrival time and media status.

    Moving deeper into the Basescreen is where the display and controls for one main application is displayed. Important functions such as destination or music search are grouped at the bottom edge of the screen. The Submenu is the final level, and is where seldom-used information and settings reside.

    As for the digital instrument cluster, both the left and right “tubes” can be configured to display a wide range of information, including an analogue clock, range, media information, assistance graphic, navigation map, etc. Swap over to a fullscreen mode, and the entire area of the instrument cluster is used for displaying assistance, journey or navigation. Also available to the driver are three display styles – Classic, Sport and Understated.

    Personalisation is better improved here, where all settings (seating position, ambient lighting, favourite radio station, orientation of the navigation map,personal predictions, etc.) can be saved in a profile, allowing easy swaps between drivers.

    While the improved graphics and tweaked interface are highlights on their own, MBUX also benefits from natural speech recognition that allows the Linguatronic system to obey a more diverse and complex range of commands.

    This is a step up from conventional voice control systems, where you might need you to talk like a robot, including specific terms in your speech to access a particular function. For example, “will the sun be shining tomorrow in Miami?” is now as easily understood as “do I need sunglasses tomorrow in Miami?”

    Much like most modern intelligent personal assistants out there like Siri and Google Assistant, you can activate the system either via a button on the steering wheel or by uttering the keyphrase “Hey Mercedes.” The carmaker claims the system will also understand indirect speech, like when a user says “I am cold” instead of the clear command “temperature to 24 degrees” in order to operate the climate control.

    There is some degree of machine learning baked in too, as the system attunes to the user and non-native speakers better. Furthermore, the software models on the server to learn new buzzwords or changing use of language with time. The system also no longer answers stereotypically, but varies in the dialogue output too. Over time, artificial intelligence gradually turns the car into a personal assistant for the driver.

    With better hardware and software, MBUX will also debut with new and improved Mercedes me connect services. These include, among others, navigation functions based on Car-to-X communication and vehicle locating. A dedicated app can also send a reminder to ensure users leave on time to ensure they reach their next appointment punctually, taking into account traffic conditions (navigation map is supplied by HERE).

    Integration with smart devices is another important aspect of MBUX, with support for Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto and Baidu CarLife. Thanks to watchOS and Android Wear 2.0 support, drivers can access MBUX functions via their smartwatch. Examples of this functionality include sending directions from the smartwatch directly to the vehicle. This also works with the Mercedes me connected services.

    Lastly, augmented reality makes its way into the MUBX navigation function, whereby a video image of the surroundings – taken with the aid of the front camera – is augmented with helpful navigation information. For example, arrows or house numbers are automatically superimposed directly onto the touchscreen image.

    GALLERY: 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class interior

  • Perodua exceeds 2017 sales target with 204,900 units, above 35% market share – aims for 209k in 2018

    Perodua exceeded its 2017 sales target of 202,000 units by posting vehicle sales of 204,900 units last year. That’s 1.1% lower than the 207,100 units registered in 2016, attributed to challenging market conditions, intense competition and strict hire purchase guidelines.

    However, the Rawang-based carmaker comfortably extended its market leading position to 12 years, while maintaining market share at above 35% (35.6%, 0.1% lower than in 2016). “The momentum carried by the Bezza in the earlier part of 2017 and the continued demand for our other models have helped make us the top-selling carmaker in Malaysia for the 12th year running,” said Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh, president and CEO of Perodua.

    As detailed in a separate piece earlier, the new Myvi has been an instant success for Perodua, gaining 36,000 bookings in less than two and a half months after order books opened in November 2017. Of this, 11,000 units have been delivered. The ratio of orders is currently at 85% for the 1.5 litre variants and 15% for the 1.3 litre model. As P2’s original projection was 55:45, the company has backlog to clear, but it’s a “good problem to have” as margins for the top model are higher.

    Production in 2017 declined by 6% to 200,000 units, in tandem with the slightly lower sales. All other parameters went up, including service revenue (up 12%), service intake (up 3%), and revenue from parts and accessories (up 7%). Aminar said that the current forex situation, where the ringgit has regained ground from the US dollar, is also benefiting Perodua’s bottom line, as the company imports in USD and Japanese yen.

    The P2 chief also pointed to the higher service intake ratio for post-warranty cars, which rose from 32% to 36% last year. This means that more customers are choosing to continue servicing their cars with Perodua after the expiration of their warranty.

    Looking forward, Perodua is setting a sales target of 209,000 units for 2018, which is 2% higher than 2017 sales. “Based on our internal calculations, we expect the total industry volume to increase to 590,000 units in 2018, which could see our market share sustained at slightly above 35%,” Aminar said, citing favourable economic conditions and continued momentum from the Myvi as push factors.

    Aside from selling new cars, after-sales is a big and growing revenue stream for Perodua. Service intake is expected to grow by 1.9% to 2.14 million this year, and the network will be upgraded accordingly.

    “While we look to further increase our sales this year, we are also aggressively growing our after-sales business to meet the expected increase in the number of customers moving forward. This will be done by upgrading current facilities to have more bays and by further improving our people’s competencies. This will reduce customer waiting time while at the same time increase intakes,” Aminar explained.

    As for corporate responsibility, P2 will be undertaking a few long-term projects targeted at youth and sports. Perodua’s partner Daihatsu has chosen to go into badminton and the US$350,000 Perodua Malaysia Masters international tournament is now happening in Bukit Jalil, with the finals taking place this Sunday. The Perodua Eco Challenge is another long-standing CR programme by the carmaker.


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Last Updated 18 Jan 2018


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