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  • April 2017 week 1 fuel price – petrol and diesel down

    Yes, it’s not quite the end of the month yet, but March 30 sees the introduction of weekly fuel price adjustments, with the latest prices lasting until April 5. Fortunately, it’s good news all around, with RON 95 petrol, RON 97 petrol and diesel all seeing price decreases.

    As such, starting tomorrow, RON 95 will be priced at RM2.13 per litre (down 17 sen), RON 97 at RM2.41 per litre (down 19 sen), diesel at RM2.11 per litre (down 9 sen) and Euro 5 diesel at RM2.21 per litre (down 9 sen).

    This comes after retail fuel prices remained mostly steady in March, with only diesel fuels being 5 sen more expensive per litre. RON 95 ended 2016 at RM1.90 per litre and climbed 20 sen in January to RM2.10. February brought another 20 sen increase to RM2.30 per litre.

     
  • NextEV Nio Eve concept – ground-up driverless design

    Most recently known for its Nio EP9 electric hypercar, which clocked a Nurburgring Nordschleife lap time of just over seven minutes, NextEV has followed up that act with an autonomous, fully-electric vehicle done in a different flavour.

    The Nio Eve concept is a hatchback with a pair of (rather large) sliding doors, which aims to offer a wide aperture to its interior thanks to the absence of B-pillars. The study appears to be a six-seater with an unconventionally spacious design, one which dispenses with the traditional driver controls such as a steering wheel.

    Vehicular control is managed by NOMI, the onboard artificial intelligence engine with touchscreen glass interface. The AI also functions as a ‘digital companion’, which will customise its occupants’ entertainment and preferences.

    The company calls the Nio Eve concept a robot on wheels, making it clear that the concept’s aim is one of hospitability. The Eve’s front seats are accessed from the main cabin, and is equipped with displays on the active glass when non-autonomous (read: manual control) driving is required. Nonetheless, the automaker says the concept has been developed for autonomous operation from the outset.

    No specific details are available, though NextEV states that it aims to have autonomous electric vehicles available in the US market by 2020. Meanwhile, the China-based company has been reported as receiving funding valued at up to US$600 million (RM2.65 billion), the investment being led by Chinese search engine giant Baidu.

    GALLERY: NextEV Nio EP9

     
  • Land Rover Discovery SVX – on a more rugged path

    The Land Rover Discovery could have a special, more rugged variant in the works, courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division, according to an Auto Express report.

    “I can’t tell you what the SV version of the Discovery will be like but in my mind it will be in between Paris Dakar and Camel Trophy. Somewhere in there is a product waiting to get out,” SVO chief John Edwards told the publication.

    Taken as read, it could mean that the upcoming variant – tipped to be named SVX – will arrive decked out with body cladding, additional equipment such as spotlights, beefier off-road tyres and a revised chassis for even better off-road capability.

    Mechanical specifications are yet to surface, but it is likely to use the range-topping 3.0 litre SDV6 turbodiesel powerplant and eight-speed automatic transmission, with a suitably tuned Terrain Response system for further improved off-road ability.

    Inspiration for the tougher SVX variant is said to be derived from Project Hero, which is pictured here. The offering is an SVO creation made for the Austrian Red Cross as an advanced communication vehicle to help expedite response to disaster-struck areas.

    There’s no firm word on the new Disco variant’s arrival, though SVO indicated a timeline of sorts for new models. “We plan to introduce a new halo product every year for the next three or four years,” suggesting that the SVX Discovery could appear later this year or the next.

    GALLERY: Land Rover Discovery Project Hero

     
  • Petronas and Grab introduce Kad Mesra Grab loyalty programme – savings on petrol and lubricant deals

    Petronas Dagangan Berhad (PDB) and Grab Malaysia have signed a long term strategic partnership, which sees the launch of a new loyalty programme – Kad Mesra Grab. The first of its kind partnership will allow GrabCar drivers to enjoy exclusive benefits and rewards.

    With Kad Mesra Grab, drivers are able to enjoy savings on fuel as well as special lubricant deals. Not only that, they are also entitled to Kedai Mesra promotions and can earn reward points for all purchases done at Petronas stations nationwide.

    “We are very excited about this collaboration as it brings together two like-minded organisations whose businesses emphasise on pushing the boundaries to enhance customer experience in the transportation industry. Grab offers tremendous growth opportunities for PDB, leveraging on its wide network of drivers that will further strengthen our position as the leading supplier of fuel and lubricant in Malaysia,” said Aadrin Azly, retail business division head at Petronas.

    “One of the core reasons our co-founders set-up Grab (formerly known as MyTeksi) was to help improve the welfare of drivers – both taxi and GrabCar drivers. Therefore, we are constantly seeking opportunities to recognise and reward our drivers for their partnership,” said Sean Goh, country head of Grab Malaysia.

    “We are constantly improving our driver benefit schemes, by seeking partnerships that helps us add more value to our driver-partners by reducing their daily operational cost thus able to maximise their final income. Aside from the fuel and lubricant benefits and exclusive discounts via the Kad Mesra Grab, they will also receive online shopping vouchers, car fresheners, food & beverage offers and car maintenance benefits,” added Goh.

    The loyalty programme isn’t the only collaboration between both companies either. Moving forward, PDB and Grab is expected to work together on a joint corporate social responsibility programme later this year, involving the participation of Grab drivers to contribute to the betterment of the society.

     
  • Lexus NX facelift set to debut at Auto Shanghai 2017

    After premiering nearly three years ago at Auto China 2014, the Lexus NX is set to receive its first facelift. The updated NX is set to be revealed during this year’s iteration of the motor show in April, where it will share the stage with the LS 500h.

    To go along with the announcement, the carmaker has released a sole teaser image of the new NX, which shows us the car’s redesigned headlights. The current model’s three-in-a-row LED setup has been replaced with a single cluster that groups all three lighting elements together instead. The L-shaped DRL beneath it has also been shortened to suit the new look.

    The rest of the image shows us a “disassembled” NX, where the bonnet, doors, side mirrors, front bumper, and grille have been detached from the rest of the body. The latter appears to retain the same diamond mesh pattern as on the current car.

    According to Lexus, the new NX will come “with an updated exterior design, and interior enhancements that add convenience and functionality.” This could see the addition of features that are found in its more recent models like the LC and new LS.

     
  • Bangkok 2017: Audi Q2 launched, new Thai distributor

    Audi is a new addition to the Bangkok Motor Show list of exhibitors (if it was here before, we genuinely never noticed), and the premium brand’s higher profile coincides with the appointment of a new Thai distributor, Meister Technik. Owned by the prominent Lamsam family, Meister Technik takes over from German Motor Work, which never made the most out of their stewardship of the brand.

    In contrast, German rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW have huge operations here, including assembly, and handle their own affairs. The situation isn’t too dissimilar from what was happening in Malaysia before Audi Malaysia was established.

    The lack of an official presence hasn’t dampened appetite in our markets (just look at the amount of grey market Audis on the road), although it’s a huge mountain to climb being so late on the scene. The lack of ASEAN local assembly also means that Audis will never be as competitively priced/specced as an equivalent BMW or Mercedes.

    Plenty of beautifully-styled metal on show floor to make it this writer’s coffee stop, including R8, TT and A5 coupes, but the Audi Q2 is the most relevant for us. First unveiled a year ago, the junior SUV is Audi’s entry model in Thailand and is set to arrive in Malaysia this year.

    The Q2 is smaller than the Q3, which battles the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. At 4,191 mm long and 1,794 mm wide, the raised five-door hatchback is 197 mm shorter and 37 narrower than the Q3. The Q2 is available here with a 1.4 litre TFSI engine with 150 hp and 250 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 3,500 rpm. This is the same turbo four-pot used in the Malaysian-spec second-gen Volkswagen Tiguan and should provide the smaller SUV with plenty of pep. It’s mated to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch auto.

    The yellow car seen here is the actual standard Q2 Thais can buy for an introductory price of 2.299 million baht (a hefty RM294,707), while the grey car is dressed up with 19-inch rims plus carbon effect C-pillar blades (with the four rings logo) and wing mirror caps. So, this or the Mini Countryman?

     
  • 2018 SsangYong Rexton – first official images released

    SsangYong has officially unveiled the 2018 Rexton, which will join the Tivoli as part of the South Korean carmaker’s efforts to renew its brand identity. Previously developed under the project name Y400, the car is heavily-influenced by the LIV-2 Concept from last year’s Paris Motor Show, and will be known as the G4 Rexton in its home market.

    The new car will be the flagship model in SsangYong’s range, positioned above the new Korando and an upcoming seven-seat SUV that was previewed by the XAVL Concept at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. Dimension wise, the Rexton measures 4,850 mm long, 1,920 mm wide, 1,800 mm tall, and has a 2,865 mm wheelbase.

    SsangYong says the large SUV is constructed according to Quad-Frame body structure using 1.5 Gpa giga-steel – a world first. Additionally, it also features 63% advanced high strength steel (AHSS) to provide improved body strength while keeping the weight low.

    The SUV’s exterior styling is almost identical to that of the LIV-2 Concept, save for a few minor edits. The hexagonal-shaped front grille gets three horizontal slats as opposed to the mesh setup on the concept, the headlights are more conventional-looking, and the fog lamps have been pushed upwards into the faux side intakes.

    No shots of the car from other angles were provided but expect the profile and rear to largely mimic that of the Paris concept. Similarly, the cabin adopts the same layout from the concept, with plenty of quilted leather applied on the lower dash and door cards.

    Not much in terms of specification details as the Rexton will only be launched later this week, with sales expected to start in Korea during the first half of this year, and internationally before the end of 2017.

    However, we are told the Rexton “will be powered by both petrol and new clean-burning diesel engines.” All-wheel drive is likely a given considering the “company’s reputation as Korea’s oldest vehicle manufacturer and only 4×4 and SUV specialist producer,” as it says in the official press release.

    Other bits of kit include Apple Carplay and Android Auto with device mirroring for the SUV’s infotainment system, 3D Around View Monitoring (AVM), nine airbags, and a wide 9.2-inch HD touchscreen.

     
  • REVIEW: 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT – so, what’s a nice bike like you doing with an engine like this?

    There is a certain segment of the motorcycle marketplace which wants to have its cake, and eat it. Instead of a hyper-focused high-speed machine, a rider of this sort wants a fast bike, great handling, and to carry everything, including the kitchen sink.

    We are, of course, referring to the sports-touring motorcycle, where versatility and the ability to munch the highway miles in comfort is the prime criteria. The caveat is that the high-speed side of things is not to be denied, and, indeed, comes up high on the list of desirable traits.

    There was a time when the undisputed king of the sports-tourer was the BMW RT. An 1,100 cc machine, with Krauser panniers on either side, was considered to be the core of a sports-cruiser.

    Right up till someone decided that a dual-purpose styled bike, suitably kitted out, offered more in terms of versatility and ease of use. Which brings us to the KTM Super Duke GT, a cruise missile from Mattighofen, Austria.

    Having previously ridden the 2016 Ducati Multistrada 1200, which is practically the KTM Duke GT’s direct competitor, we were in a position to see how the two sports-tourers stacked up against each other. That the two are both V-twins is a given, but what do the bikes do well, and what sets the Super Duke GT apart?

    Read the full review after the jump.

     
  • Bangkok 2017: Chevy Colorado High Country Storm

    No new models from Chevrolet at the 2017 Bangkok International Motor Show, so the GM brand brought a Corvette Stingray, a classic truck and a modern day Silverado to entice showgoers. There’s a special edition of the macho facelifted Colorado pick-up truck though, one that’s called the Chevrolet Colorado High Country Storm.

    Based on the top High Country version, the Storm is a Thai-only variant with a plenty of equipment and a more aggressive outlook. The latter is made up of a sport bar, 18-inch alloy wheels, door handles, a tailgate handle, outer belt moulding and a rear bumper with parking sensors all in black. There’s also a black hood decal with the High Country logo, Storm body decals and black wing mirror caps.

    The show car is in a new Blue Me Away colour, and the five other hue options are Pull Me Over Red, Black Meet Kettle Metallic, Summit White, Satin Steel Grey Metallic and Auburn Brown Metallic.

    Convenience features include front park assist and a reverse camera, auto lights and wipers, and a first-in-class Civic FC-style remote-start function. The truck also comes with the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free.

    The safety kit list counts three airbags (dual front plus driver’s knee), ESC, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

    Priced at 1.028 million baht (RM131,582) for the 4X2 and 1.098 million baht (RM140,563) for the 4X4, the Colorado High Country Storm is powered by a 2.5 litre Duramax turbodiesel with VGT, 180 hp and 440 Nm of torque. The Euro 4 engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

     
  • Bangkok 2017: Nissan Note, Thailand’s latest eco car

    The Nissan Note is Thailand’s latest eco car, launched in January. It is Nissan’s third eco car after the March hatchback and Almera sedan, and the company’s final one under Phase 1 of the eco car project, which is now in Phase 2. It has been awhile since there was an all-new model in the affordable eco car segment, so this is notable entry.

    But the Note is not a new model, having been around in second-generation form since 2012. The high-roofed five-door hatch was facelifted in Japan late last year, and the Thai eco car is based on this latest version with the V-Motion grille, boomerang rear LED signatures and flat-bottomed steering wheel.

    However, the JDM Note e-Power’s unique hybrid system is not present here (it’s meant to be affordable), and in its place is the trusty HR12DE 1.2L used in the March and Almera. With 79 PS and 106 Nm of torque, the three-cylinder engine is mated to an Xtronic CVT automatic. Claimed combined fuel consumption is five litres per 100 km or 20 km/l.

    The Note is a Honda Jazz-type of car, and a roomy cabin is one of its unique selling points. At 2,600 mm, the wheelbase is 70 mm longer than the Honda’s, and its 1,535 mm height is 11 mm more. By the way, the 1.5L Jazz is not an eco car in Thailand, and the Note undercuts it in price.

    Two variants are available here, the 568,000 baht (RM72,692) V and 640,000 baht (RM81,905) VL. Standard kit includes halogen projector headlamps, keyless entry with push start, auto air con, Fine Vision meter, a five-inch touchscreen head unit, two airbags, ABS/EBD/BA, Vehicle Dynamic Control and Hill Start Assist.

    The VL throws in significantly more, including LED headlamps and signatures, fog lamps, rear spoiler, 60:40 split folding rear seats (one-piece in the V), anti-glare rear view mirror with display, a seven-inch LED screen head unit with Bluetooth, and steering buttons.

    Active safety features such as Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Nissan Intelligent Emergency Braking, Forward Emergency Braking (with pedestrian recognition), Lane Departure Warning, Around View Monitor and Moving Object Detection are all exclusive to the VL – tech that’s unprecedented in this segment and price point.

    You would think that Honda’s success with the Jazz might have tempted Tan Chong into introducing the Note in Malaysia – which should fare well if priced right, as it’s a roomy and versatile car with relatively interesting design (the Nismo-tuned Note received huge attention on this website) – but the the company has decided not to go for it despite official previews and local sightings of the pre-facelift model.

    Would the Nissan Note be well-accepted by the Malaysian market?

     
 

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