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  • Geely Jiaji interior and first details revealed – Proton version due out in 2020, after SX11 arrives in 2019

    Earlier this week, exterior images revealed the Geely Jiaji for the first time, though not through official channels. Now, the automaker has finally released a photo set largely comprised of the vehicle’s interior, and also offered some initial details of its first global MPV, which will be launched in early 2019.

    Designed by Geely’s Shanghai design studio, the Jiaji adopts the brand’s new “racing through space and time” design language as seen on the Borui GE and Binrui. Exterior design cues include an ‘expanding cosmos’ grille and meteor head lamps as well as a sculpted waistline and floating roof.

    Dimension-wise, the Jiaji has previously been reported to measure in at 4,706 mm long, 1,909 mm wide and 1,664 mm tall, with a wheelbase length of 2,805 mm. The three-row Jiaji will be offered as a six- or seven-seater, in three seating configurations (2+2+2, 2+2+3 or 2+3+2) to meet different consumers’ needs.

    The automaker says the front end of the interior is very much driver-focused, with highlights including a full-vision dashboard, a luxurious central control panel and a 12.3-inch floating widescreen infotainment display panel.

    Aside from the glitzy presentation and tech, the MPV will have plenty of user-friendly features – novelties include a motion-activated ceiling light in the roof control console, which eliminates the need to search around for the light switch in the dark, as well as an intelligent cup-holder in the centre console area to heat-up or cool-down drinks, depending on that desired.

    Powertrain options have also finally been revealed – there will be three variants offered at point of launch for the MPV, and two of these will feature the Geely/Volvo 1.5 litre turbocharged direct-injection engine in 48V mild hybrid (MHEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) guise.

    On the MHEV version, the 1.5 litre turbo and 48V BSG mild-hybrid powertrain combination offers 188 hp and 300 Nm in the way of output. As for the PHEV, the 1.5 litre turbo is paired with a motor, which is juiced by a 11.3 kWh lithium-ion battery – with power transferred to the wheels by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the combination puts out 255 hp and 385 Nm.

    The third is a regular petrol variant equipped with a 1.8 litre turbocharged direct-injection unit. In use on other Geely models such as the Emgrand GT and X7 Sport, the engine delivers 181 hp and 300 Nm and will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

    The Jiaji is set to make its way here in 2020 and will be badged as a Proton, as a replacement for the Exora. In September, it was reported that the national automaker had secured the use of intellectual properties (IP) and rights to manufacture and sell three Geely models. The Boyue, otherwise known as the Proton X70, is the first of these, and it will be followed by the SX11 SUV (the Binyue) in 2019 and the Jiaji in 2020.

  • DRIVEN: 2019 Mercedes-AMG G63 – high-rise athlete

    We are terrorising the south of France. On the sinewy tarmac snaking through the prized vineyards, this two-and-a-half-tonne behemoth is lapping up everything I’m throwing at it. My co-driver and I are gobsmacked by the way it’s devouring the corners, like raging teenagers devouring Jägerbombs on a Friday night out.

    The V8 snarls through the crackling side-exit exhausts, the speeds rise and fall as this 585 hp skyscraper continues to defy the laws of physics. A small town – one of the myriad spread out across the rural countryside – looms in the horizon, and I hit the brakes to avoid tripping the speed camera. And breathe.

    Alright, enough pummelling the blacktop. We’re pushing for time so I swing onto the onramp and head out on the highway. Nicki Minaj isn’t usually my kind of jam, but here it feels entirely appropriate, and we cruise along to Trinidad’s finest export like a pack of new-money rappers as the sun sets behind us. We roll into the gorgeous fortress surrounding the historic city of Carcassonne with plenty of time to spare before dinner.

    That’s the long and short of the new Mercedes-AMG G 63 – it makes you feel like a rockstar wherever you go, and this absolutely dominates the driving experience.

    Read The Full Story ›

  • Next Mitsubishi Mirage, Lancer being planned, could share platforms with Renault, Nissan – report

    It’s a trying time for sedans and hatchbacks, as SUVs continue to rule the roost and conquest sales. Ford has already made the decision to axe its passenger cars in the United States to focus (no pun intended) on its trucks and crossovers, and as the market continues to contract, we’re sure there are plenty of other carmakers out there who are pondering a similar move.

    You might have thought that Mitsubishi would’ve followed suit, as it hasn’t had a strong passenger car lineup in a very long time. While it has a complete SUV and pick-up range in the form of the ASX, Eclipse Cross, Outlander, Pajero Sport and Triton, the budget Mirage hatchback is the only “regular” car it still sells. But a new report from suggests that the Three Diamonds brand isn’t throwing in the towel just yet.

    According to chief operating officer Trevor Mann, the company is not only considering a replacement for the Mirage, but also for the forlorn Lancer sedan – although they won’t be arriving anytime soon. “If you look at the carpark today there are many small hatches, there are many medium-sized sedans, particularly in ASEAN and to some extent Oceania, China and the US.

    “But the general trend is to move towards SUVs, so at the moment the profitability on small to medium sedan vehicles is squeezed because people are trying to justify their existing capacity. We are reviewing our long-range product plan – we’re not saying yes, we’re not saying no – but obviously we’ve got some ideas in the pipeline,” he said at the unveiling of the facelifted Triton in Thailand recently.

    Indeed, Mann said that the company has already begun development of the next-generation Mirage, but stopped short of confirming the platform on which it will be based – even though it is currently in an alliance with Renault and Nissan, which have the Common Modular Family (CMF) architecture.

    “We haven’t announced anything on the next Mirage, [but] we will be converging on platforms,” he said. “The Alliance has a platform which it calls CMF-B, so it’s likely that the next Mirage will be on the CMF-B platform, but not decided yet.”

    If it does move to CMF-B, it will share its underpinnings with the latest Nissan March, as well as the next Juke, Renault Clio and Captur. And that’s not all, as Mann added that the next Lancer could also be based on an alliance platform. “It wouldn’t necessarily be on the Megane platform, [but] if we are talking about passenger vehicles, depending on the size, it would be on the CMF-C platform,” he said.

    Mann’s comments were echoed by Mitsubishi’s corporate vice president of product strategy, Vincent Cobee, who said that the passenger vehicle market still commands a large portion of the global volume, strengthening the business case for replacements of the two models.

    The next Mirage and Lancer will likely be based on the Common Modular Family (CMF),
    which underpins the latest Nissan March (left) and Renault Megane (right)

    “If we project ourselves five years, the total global market will be 110 to 115 million cars and the passenger cars will still represent 40 to 50 million,” he said. “I know all of you guys write about the growth and emergence of SUVs and it’s correct, its 35 to 37% of the total market today and it’s still growing. But that doesn’t eradicate the fact that there will be 40 to 50 million cars that will be traditional passenger cars.”

    Cobee added that Mitsubishi’s strong presence in the ASEAN pick-up and SUV market is driving the development of its passenger vehicles. “All of that is supporting the development of those cars and the development of the Pajero Sport and the trilogy of Outlander, Eclipse Cross and ASX.

    “What we have said is that as a complimentary offer to enable customers to enter the franchise, and to also satisfy the CO2 regulations, and to cater to those 40 million customers, we will investigate the possibility to look at passenger cars – so we have in our wish list, some intention to do passenger cars. We are contemplating which kinds of segments, which kinds of destinations, while acknowledging the slowly downward trend of that segment, but for sure not a disappearance,” he said.

  • REVIEW: 2019 Yamaha YZF-R15 – lots of fun for RM12k

    We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: if there is one thing Yamaha does and does well, it is making small displacement engines that hit well above their weight class. A case in point is the 2019 Yamaha YZF-R15, its sports bike offering for the 150 cc market and priced at RM11,988.

    In the 150 cc market segment, Yamaha offers two other alternatives, albeit in the scooter side of things. These are the sporty Yamaha NVX 155 – which made it to our “Bike of the Year” list in 2017 and the slightly more conservative Yamaha NMax 155.

    Does the Malaysian market need a third 150 cc offering – third national car project notwithstanding? Well, for the YZF-R15, it addresses a market gap last filled by the Honda CBR150 and Kawasaki KIPS – something a little faster than the run of the mill kapchai and targetted to the young rider who wants a sporty bike with full-fairing that looks the business.

    The business is, of course, looking like you’re going at warp speed while waiting for the lights to turn green on Dataran Merdeka. But there is not a lot lacking in the performance of the YZF-R15, as we were to find out.

    Handing us the key to the YZF-R15, Yamaha’s technical person said to the author, “let me know what you think, I think you will like this engine.” Bearing Yamaha’s racing heritage, especially with 250 cc two-strokes, in mind, we set off on the YZF-R15 to find out what was what with the baby YZF.

    Read the full review of the 2019 Yamaha YZF-R15 after the jump.

  • Mazda gets incentives to make hybrid cars in Thailand

    Mazda is set to produce hybrid cars in Thailand after the country’s Board of Investment (BoI) gave its green light to a 11.48 billion baht (RM1.46 billion) investment application, the Bangkok Post reports.

    The application is for the assembly of finished hybrid vehicles and five core parts – battery, traction motor, battery management, AC/DC converter and inverter.

    “Mazda is ready to implement the plan to become a building block for all eco-friendly vehicles. Thailand has to start producing hybrid versions before improving the local industry and marketing plug-in hybrids and battery EVs in the future,” said Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk, president of Mazda Sales Thailand.

    Mazda isn’t famous for hybrids, but there’s a hybrid version of the current generation Mazda 3 for the Japanese market. The JDM Axela Hybrid licenses Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, paired to Mazda’s own 2.0 litre petrol engine. It’s rated at 30.8 km/l in the Japanese JC08 test cycle. An all-new Mazda 3 is just around the corner, set to debut at the LA Auto Show later this month.

    The Hiroshima-based carmaker – which plans to electrify all its vehicles by 2030 under its ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030’ long-term vision – recently confirmed the return of the rotary engine as a range extender.

    With its investment application approved, Mazda joins Toyota in receiving BoI incentives in the hybrid category. The latter produces the C-HR Hybrid in the Land of Smiles. Plug-in hybrid category incentives have been given to Mercedes-Benz, BMW and SAIC Motor (MG), with Mitsubishi possibly next. Learn more about Thailand’s green car local assembly incentives here.

  • MV Agusta shows 2019 motorcycle range at EICMA

    While Malaysians have somewhat turbulent memories of Italian motorcycle maker MV Agusta, including the infamous sale of the firm for 1 euro and the recent closure of a new Malaysian distributor after barely a year in operation, it cannot be denied the Varese, Italy company makes some very beautiful motorcycles.

    During the recent EICMA show in Milan, Italy, MV Agusta displayed some of their 2019 model range – the Brutale 1000 Serie Oro among them – ranging from super bikes to race oriented track weapons to sports nakeds. With the company claiming a fresh injection of funds and resolution of its financial troubles over the past two years, MV Agusta looks to be re-entering the market on a strong foot.

    Making its debut at EICMA as a concept bike but scheduled for production in the second half of 2019 is the 2019 MV Agusta Super Veloce Ottocento, or Superveloce 800 for those of us who do not speak Romance languages. Derived from the F3 800 sports bike, the Superveloce 800 harks back to the racing machines of the seventies, yellow-tinted windscreen and headlight, mimicking the endurance racers of that era.

    The headlight itself is a circular twin-element LED unit accompanied by a yellow LED DRL located just inside the fairing at the base of the windshield. A new sub-frame design allows for the rider to transform the Superveloce 800 between single and pillion riding duties and the adjustable footpegs allow the rider to tailor the bike to fit.

    Targetted at the American market with its red, white and blue paintwork is the Dragster 800RR America. Launched last year, the Dragster America is updated for the upcoming riding season with new LED tail lights and DRL.

    An integrated steering damper is built into the the upper triple clamp and up-and-down quickshifting is standard. Of note are the passenger footpegs which fold away into the tail piece, giving the Dragster 800RR America a sleek, clean profile.

    Another variant of MV Agusta’s Brutale is the Brutale 800 RC, decked in carbon-fibre components including the front fender, inner rear fender, side panels and instrument cluster cover. Forged wheels finished in red along with RC style paintwork complete the look look of the Brutale 800 RC.

    In the middleweight sports bike stakes are the F3 675 RC and F3 800 RC – ‘RC’ standing for Reparto Corse or Racing Department – equipped with MV Agusta’s inline three-cylinder. As a limited edition motorcycle, both the 675 RC and 800 RC come with a dedicated race kit that includes a titanium SC Project full-system exhaust along with carbon-fibre and aluminium components.

    On the touring side of things is the Turismo Veloce RC, which MV Agusta says moves away from a segment “characterised by increasingly heavy and bulky bikes.” The 2019 Turismo Veloce RC comes with what MV Agusta calls the “Smart Clutch System”, or SCS, which allows for either manual or automatic clutch operation.

    GALLERY: 2019 MV Agusta Superveloce 800

    GALLERY: 2019 MV Agusta Brutale 800 RC
    GALLERY: 2019 MV Agusta Dragster 800 RR America
    GALLERY: 2019 MV Agusta Turismo Veloce RC

  • SPYSHOTS: BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe caught again

    The expansion of BMW’s model lineup continues with the upcoming 2 Series Gran Coupé, which has just been spotted again by our spy photographers. Wearing a little less camouflage than before and fitted with a few more production-ready items, we get a better look at the Mercedes CLA-rivalling four-door “coupé”.

    Unlike the actual two-door 2 Series Coupé, which is expected to remain rear-driven in the next generation, the Gran Coupé appears to ride on the front-biased UKL platform also shared with the next 1 Series hatch and sedan – as evidenced by the short bonnet and longer front wheelbase. Still, it will in all likelihood be one slick-looking vehicle, judging by the low, sweeping roofline.

    At the front, this prototype now sports LED headlights with hexagonal daytime running lights and eyebrow-style indicators. The rest of the front fascia is covered up, but we can already see through the mesh that the double kidney grille will be absolutely massive, in keeping with other recent BMW models.

    Moving over to the side, one can spot the frameless windows and elongated six-window glasshouse also found on the other Gran Coupé models like the 4 Series GC. Around the back, the trademark L-shaped tail lights are present and accounted for, but in a departure for Munich the number plate recess sits below the lamps. It remains to be seen if the usual Gran Coupé tailgate will be retained on this car as well.

    Expect the 2 Series GC to come with BMW’s latest three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, paired to either a six-speed manual gearbox, an eight-speed automatic or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and a choice of front- and all-wheel drive – just like the X2. Also like the X2, an M Performance model (likely badged the M235i) should make an appearance too, powered by a 306 hp 2.0 litre mill.

  • New 2020 Kia Soul teased, LA show debut this month

    Click to enlarge

    An all-new generation of the Kia Soul is just around the corner, set for its world debut at the LA Auto Show at the end of this month. A sole teaser image of the 2020 Kia Soul has been released to kick off the countdown – it’s the green car above.

    The Korean carmaker says that the Soul, an “undeniable automotive icon”, will be instantly recognisable (that’s what you do with iconic and/or popular designs, you maintain them) and will come to market with “awesome versatility for everyone.” Drivetrain choices will include turbocharged petrol units and a “gas-free” electric option.

    The latter, the Soul EV, will be available in select retailers in select markets with limited availability, Kia says. The rest of the Soul range is set to go on sale next year in North America.

    The uniquely-styled crossover made its debut a decade ago and was reloaded in 2013 with a new chassis and bigger body, but with its signature looks intact. From the teaser above, it’s likely that the next-gen Soul will continue the evolution – we can see a box-like shape with a vertical hatch and tail lamps; the latter with new graphics. The floating roof effect remains, but there’s Soul branding on the rearmost pillars now and no contrast-coloured top.

    There have been rumours – and we’re sure Naza Kia has thought about bringing it in before – but Malaysia never received the Kia Soul. Would the funky crossover have succeeded here?

    GALLERY: Spyshots of 2020 Kia Soul EV

  • HRE and GE create the first 3D-printed titanium wheel

    HRE Wheels and GE Additive – via its Addworks division – have unveiled the world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheel. The HRE3D+, as it’s called, is a prototype made with an advanced titanium powder and created with Electron Beam Melting (EBM) technology, which uses an electron beam to melt and fuse fine layers of titanium powder into a solid piece.

    The process deposits a bed of fine titanium powder a layer at a time, resulting in very little wasted material, unlike traditional subtractive methods like machining from a solid forging.

    Comparatively, 80% of material is removed from a 45 kg forged block of aluminium in creating a traditional aluminium monoblok wheel, while the 3D build only removes 5% of the material used. The temporary support material is recycled, further improving efficiency.

    Following the removal of this surplus, the mating surfaces and threads are CNC machined post-printing, to ensure tight tolerances of assembly. The wheel is then hand finished and cleaned, and because titanium has excellent corrosion resistance, the wheel needs no additional powder-coating or clear coat layer protection.

    The HRE3D+ was produced in five separate sections on two EBM machines and then combined using a custom centre section and bolted to a carbon-fibre rim using titanium fasteners.

    The companies say that the goal of the HRE3D+ project was to test the capabilities of additive manufacturing in a practical application, essentially exploring new wheel design technologies as well as seeing how advanced materials like titanium can be harnessed to create complex designs.

  • Subaru WRX STi Diamond Edition for South Africa – 348 hp, 464 Nm, 0-100 km/h in 5.03 secs, only 30 units

    This year marks the 30th anniversary of Subaru Tecnica International, and to mark the occasion, Subaru Southern Africa has launched the limited edition WRX STi Diamond Edition. Only 30 examples will be offered, with first deliveries expected to begin in January next year.

    Developed by the company’s technical team, the WRX STi Diamond Edition is the most powerful STi model to be launched in the region. Under the hood, the 2.5 litre turbocharged flat-four petrol engine gets a new performance exhaust and a complete remap.

    As a result, it now makes 348 hp and 464 Nm of torque, which is 52 hp and 57 Nm more than a regular WRX STi. In a 0-100 km/h sprint, the Diamond Edition takes 5.03 seconds to make the run, while the standard car takes 5.76 seconds. It is also quicker from 0-160 km/h, taking just 13.7 seconds compared to 14.76 seconds – the top speed for both remains the same at 255 km/h.

    Other driving-focused bits include an uprated chassis, which now comes with a STi engine brace, as well as a set of Brembo brakes that feature six-pot calipers at the front and dual-pot at the rear.

    Those calipers are finished in High Viz Yellow to ensure they are noticed, as is the body kit fitted to the Diamond Edition. The car also sports 18-inch Dark Gunmetalic alloy wheels (shod with 245/35 tyres) that are installed on top of 20 mm spacers to give it a more appealing stance.

    On the inside, there is model-specific dashboard inlays, an exclusive numbered panel, red-stitched leather steering wheel, gear lever and parking brake, a seven-speaker 440W Harmon Kardon audio system and a seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


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Last Updated 01 Nov 2018


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